East Dorset, Vermont — Darragh Kenny of Ireland is the rider to beat at the Vermont Summer Festival after winning the $10,000 Hickey Freeman & Bobby Jones Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets, in East Dorset, VT.
Kenny, 21, is nothing if not competitive, especially with Palona, the grey mare he had ridden to victory in the $30,000 Battenkill Grand Prix, Presented by Devoucoux, five days earlier. Kenny had four mounts in Friday’s $10,000 Hickey Freeman & Bobby Jones Open Welcome Stake including Palona, his final ride of the day. Having already taken three trips around the track set by course designer Conrad Homfeld, Kenny knew exactly what he had to do in order to win.
It would take a very fast ride to catch his stable mate, Hillary Dobbs, who turned in a clear jump-off round in a time of 37.85 seconds with Marengo. However, Dobbs would have to settle for second because Kenny precisely and efficiently piloted the mare through the timers to stop the clock in 37.31 seconds.
“There was no point going in the ring to finish second,” said Kenny, who works for Missy Clark and John Brennan and their North Run Stables in Warren, VT, where Dobbs also trains. “My horse was so brilliant.”
Kenny and Palona, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare owned by Alexa Arute and Olympic Dreams LLC, successfully avoided trouble at fence 10, a wide oxer positioned in the far end of the ring which gave the impression of jumping into the VIP tent. The fence was the downfall of Dobbs on Corlett, Jimmy Torano with Caldam d’Or and Maria Schaub and Stedet’s Leroy, who were all members of the 10-horse jump-off from the original 22 starters.
Kenny did, however, face difficulties after warming Palona up for the competition. Originally scheduled to be the fourth horse on course in the $10,000 Hickey Freeman & Bobby Jones Open Welcome Stake, Palona pulled a shoe which the blacksmith had to put back on. Moving down to the bottom of the order meant that Palona had to warm up all over again for the class. But clearly the shoe incident did not affect the horse’s performance or stamina as she delivered two clear rounds in the day’s fastest time.
Despite not winning, Dobbs of Sussex, NJ, took home second place with Marengo as well as third with Marlo after stopping the clock in 38.24. Louis Jacobs of East Aurora, NY, and Kachina were fourth, edged out by a mere 4/10 of a second.
Kenny also jumped double clear to place fifth with Bazooka de Muze, and had four faults in the jump-off to finish seventh with Trade Wind Farm’s Obelix. With his results to date, Kenny, who hails from County Offaly and has represented Ireland in the European Young Riders’ Championships, has put himself firmly in the hunt for the $10,000 Sir Ruly Open Jumper High Score Award, given to the top ranked competitors at the conclusion of the Vermont Summer Festival’s six week run.
In the hunter divisions, Louise Serio reaffirmed that her reputation as one of the best hunter riders in the country is well deserved. Serio was presented with two division championships, one for the Green Hunters, where she won three of five classes with Bridget Hallman and Merry Leggs’ Do Tell, and then returned to the ring with No Stranger, for owner Rachel Geiger, where she won four out of five classes in the Green Conformation Hunter division. The only class she did not win on No Stranger, was won by Summer Catch, also ridden by Serio.
The Vermont Summer Festival continues with the third week of competition, the Manchester Classic Horse Show, highlighted by the $30,000 Manchester Classic, Presented by the Equinox Resort, on Sunday, July 19. American Olympic gold medalist Conrad Homfeld has taken up course designing duties in the grand prix ring for week three. Homfeld has been selected as the course designer for the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games which will be held for the first time outside of Europe in Lexington, KY.
Running through to August 9, 2009, the six-week Vermont Summer Festival is the largest “AA” rated hunter/jumper horse show in New England, as well as the richest sporting event based on purse in the state of Vermont, offering more than $750,000 in prize money. Visit our website for more information on the 2009 Vermont Summer Festival, e-mail or call (802) 362-9023.
$10,000 Hickey-Freeman & Bobby Jones Open Welcome Stake, Presented by Manchester Designer Outlets
|2||Hillary Dobbs||Sussex, NJ||Marengo||0:0||37.885|
|3||Hillary Dobbs||Sussex, NJ||Marlo||0:0||38.246|
|4||Louis Jacobs||East Aurora, NY||Kachina||0:0||38.661|
|5||Darragh Kenny||Ireland||Bazooka de Muze||0:0||39.020|
|6||Kirk Webby||New Zealand||Hennessey||0:0||40.731|
|8||Jimmy Torano||Ft. Lauderdale||Caldam d’Or||0:4|