Luis Biraben Earns Hard-Fought Win in $50,000 Kentucky Summer Grand Prix PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lenore Brown-Phillips   
Sunday, 06 August 2017 12:16

The conditions could not have been more perfect for an evening grand prix in the Rolex Stadium on Saturday night. The $50,000 Kentucky Summer Grand Prix saw 43 entries that competed over a course designed by Mexican course designer Florencio Hernandez. While the course did not initially seem daunting in size or technicality, only four riders returned for the jump-off. In the end, Luis Biraben of Argentina triumphed by completing the jump-off in a time of 43.737 seconds on his 8-year-old gelding Eres Tu. Hot on his heels was Martien Van Der Hoeven on Zerro Leone who gave a double-clear effort in 46.134 seconds. Young rider Kaely Tomeu finished third on Siboney Ranch’s Gentille and Amanda Derbyshire rounded out the top four on Luibanta BH, who is owned by Gochman Sporthorses LLC.

After walking tonight’s grand prix course, Biraben did not expect that he would have much difficulty qualifying more than one of his four mounts for the jump-off. Although the course was not overly high or posed any perplexing questions, rider after rider finished with a rail down or just over the time allowed. Biraben credits his ability to ride his youngest mount, Eres Tu, to a clear round with the gelding’s heart, scope and sharp mind. Although Eres Tu recently turned only 8 years old, he completed each jump like a seasoned professional. Biraben, who is a native of Argentina, recently moved to the United States and splits his time between Wellington, Florida, and top shows on the East Coast. For his winning efforts, Biraben was also presented with the Kentucky Summer Classic Leading Rider Award presented by Envisian Products, LLC.

Van Der Hoeven took the early lead in the grand prix class on his grey gelding, Zerro Leone. The pair were third in the original order-of-go and seemed to have no difficulty completing the course in the tight time-allowed. Van Der Hoeven has successfully competed Zerro Leone, who is owned by Augusta Pines Farm of Spring, Texas, in several major grand prix events including the $225,000 Sapphire Grand Prix at the Devon Horse Show as well as the Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix, which is annually held during the Kentucky Spring Classic. He and Zerro Leone will make their next appearance together at the Hampton Classic Horse Show and the HITS $1 Million Grand Prix in Saugerties, New York.

Tomeu and Derbyshire were the only two female athletes to produce clear rounds in the Rolex Stadium. Each of them had a fast round but were unable to complete the short course without 4 faults. Derbyshire, who was second on Thursday night in the $25,000 Hagyard Classic Grand Prix, was also one of several riders to have multiple horses in the class, piloting three in all.

Even though Rolex Stadium will not see grand prix competition again for a few weeks, Sunday will include a full day of jumping for riders who are competing in the WIHS/NAL Children’s Classic and Adult Classic. The Bluegrass Festival Horse Show will mark the return of jumper competition to the Kentucky Horse Park on Aug. 15–20.


Luis Biraben

On the course:
“When I was walking the course, it walked normally, and even nice, but it did not produce many clear rounds at all. The last line was definitely the hardest part of the course. For me, who was showing four horses in the class and only had one in the jump-off, the win was a big accomplishment.”

On Eres Tu:
“I have had Eres Tu for two years. I found him in Holland and I continue to be impressed by him. He is only 8 years old this year but has such a great mind and is incredibly scopey. He is really easy to ride.”

On showing in Kentucky:
“This is my first time here in Kentucky. I love it here — the grounds are beautiful and the stadium courses are well built and never boring. Lexington itself is also great with tons of things to do.”

Martien Van Der Hoeven

On Zerro Leone:
“We’ve had this horse for two and a half years. I bought him from Darragh Kerins and Maarten Huygens. He is a horse we are excited to get to jump in these classes. He’s come along nicely in the past two years. Leone has had a great couple of weeks here and he is starting to show that he can be reliable — that consistency is nice. I’m really pleased with him.”

On his performance:
“As far as the first round is concerned, I was really happy with it. It was quite a difficult course and time-allowed played a factor. The jumps and striding were careful so obviously, I’m very happy with my horse for getting through to the jump-off. In the jump-off, with only four, I wanted to ensure that I was double-clean and then hopefully the chips would work. I was a bit slow but very happy with the result.”

On the course:

“I think the jumps were delicate in a sense with the striding — you had to be accurate with where you wanted him. I thought Florencio was very creative where he put the jumps. Most of the horses put out pretty good effort, but near the end of the course, they got a little bit tired coming toward the end gate. That last line with the skinny coming home with double oxers before that seemed to be the line that determined the class.”

Florencio Hernandez (Course Designer)

On his thoughts of designing the course:
“I always try to give the riders a challenging course. Tonight wasn’t very high or overly hard but I tried to make sure that there were rails everywhere. Ideally, I wanted seven riders to be clear and it turned out to be a little more difficult than that.”

On the most difficult aspects of the course:
“I was not surprised that the last two lines seemed to be the most challenging of the course. I set it up so that if the riders did not have a really good six or seven strides after the triple bar, they would have A or B down for the double vertical combinations. In the other line, however, I was a little bit surprised because I built it not too wide and I thought it would be easy but it seemed to surprise everyone.”

On the results of the class:

“I am happy with the results of the grand prix and the riders told me that they are happy because there were faults everywhere, including the time. It was challenging and made for some healthy competition.”


$50,000 Kentucky Summer Grand Prix:
1. Eres Tu / Luis Biraben / Luis Biraben & Miguel Madero / 74.013 / 43.737
2. Zerro Leone / Martien Van Der Hoeven / Augusta Pines Farm / 77.743 / 46.134
3. Gentille / Kaely Tomeu / Siboney Ranch / 75.397 / 4 / 41.447
4. Luibanta BH / Amanda Derbyshire / Gochman Sporthorses LLC / 77.314 / 4 / 42.663
5. Wamira / Sydney Shulman / BCF Group LLC / 1 / 77.314
6. Jingo Didieu D’Arras / Filip De Wandel / Five Way Farm LLC / 2 / 79.078
7. Heliante Ter Wilgen / Hector Florentino / Marion S. Head / 2 / 79.832
8. Baloppi / Shane Sweetnam / Seabrook LLC / 4 / 73.032
9. Sibell BH / Amanda Derbyshire / Gochman Sporthorses LLC / 4 / 74.559
10. Ziezo / Scott Lenkart / Fleur De Lis Farms / 4 / 75.354
11. Caiman De Sequoias / Sharn Wordley / Sharn Wordley and the Sky Group / 4 / 75.718

12. Boo Van Het Kastanjehof / Andrew Welles / Peter Welles / 4 / 75.837 

Kentucky Horse Park