|Benjamin Meredith Brings Home the Blue in $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic|
|Written by Lauren Baker|
|Friday, 05 August 2016 11:32|
Following an intense jump-off race during Thursday’s $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic, it was Benjamin Meredith who bested the field of horses and riders to celebrate the win aboard Shader Sporthorses LLC’s Anabelle 28.
“She did a fantastic job tonight,” Meredith said. “I was very impressed. I started riding her again at the end of Florida this season so it’s only been about five months. This is only the third time I’ve sat on her, and she’s been great.”
In the first round, Marina Azevedo’s course saw 58 entries. Rails dropped often at a difficult triple combination and the final fence, dashing many riders’ hopes for a clear round. Only nine horse-and-rider combinations were able to clear the challenging track to advance to the jump-off.
Among those nine was Shane Sweetnam, who piloted Saturday’s grand prix winner, the Blue Buckle Group LLC’s Cobolt, to the night’s first clear. Sweetnam and Cobolt were the first to return for the jump-off and delivered a quick, clear round to set the time to beat at 40.048 seconds.
“We jumped the first clear round, and I did everything exactly as planned,” Sweetnam said. “He jumped really nice, and I knew there was a strong group after me so I wanted to try to put as much of a target there as I could. I don’t think I could have been much faster. I thought he handled it great.”
Meredith and Anabelle 28 returned to the ring after several jump-off rounds fell short of taking over Sweetnam’s lead. Meredith saved valuable fractions of a second by taking a stride out, doing eight where Sweetnam had done nine to blaze past the timers in 39.423 seconds – just sixth-tenths of a second faster to take the lead.
“To the two last oxers, I just flew and it came up right,” Meredith said. “It was great. It was pretty much an all around gallop in the jump-off, so we took the hackamore off and she was so solid.”
Meredith, who is based in Wellington, Florida, said his client, Meghan Shader, and her parents, Anna and Scott Shader, purchased the mare in 2014 as an 8-year-old.
“She’s done some young rider classes with Meghan,” Meredith explained. “We decided she has too much quality, and she’s too careful, so we put her in the grand prix. She needs to focus and listen; she likes to take over a little, which is why we bought her for her owner. We’re figuring out a happy medium, and it’s all coming together this year.”
Pablo Barrios also returned to challenge the leaders aboard his own A S D Farfala, finishing clear in 41.195 seconds to finish in third place, thereby regaining his lead in the Hagyard Challenge Series standings.
Finishing in fourth place was Lorcan Gallagher, who rode Spy Coast Farm LLC’s Venturo 9 to double clear rounds, finishing with a jump-off time of 41.929 seconds — just fractions behind Barrios.
Fifth place went home with Rebecca Conway and Blue Hill Farm LLC’s Tahiti Island, who turned in the final double clear round of the night in 46.722 seconds. The sixth place finishers were Francisco Zamudio and St. Bride’s Farm’s Caramello Z, who turned in a fast round at 39.904 seconds, but picked up an unlucky four faults for dropping a rail.
The title sponsor, Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, is one of the oldest and largest equine veterinary practices in the world. Founded in 1876, the institute offers a staff with qualifications unparalleled by any single non-university veterinary group in the equine industry. Hagyard veterinarians have dedicated themselves to the health and well being of the horse.
The facility at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute offers 13 digital radiology systems, 1.5 Tesla Siemens MRI, nuclear scintigraphy, an on-site laboratory, an on-site pharmacy, full medical and surgical services, 24-hour emergency services and hyperbaric medicine. The practice has performed veterinary medicine for more than 137 years and is currently composed of over 50 experienced veterinarians, with 13 board certifications in specialty areas of medicine, surgery and theriogenology. For more information on the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, please visit www.hagyard.com.
The Kentucky Summer Classic will continue Friday, with upcoming highlights including the $50,000 Kentucky Summer Grand Prix, presented by GGT Footing and the $5,000 Hallway Feeds USHJA National Hunter Derby. For more information about the Kentucky Summer Horse Shows series, please visit www.kentuckyhorseshows.com.