The highlight of the Kentucky Spring Classic took place on Saturday evening with the $134,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix CSI3*, honoring the late Mary Rena Murphy. Hosted in the Rolex Stadium, top horse-and-rider combinations took to the ring hoping to walk away with the week’s highest honors and prize money. After 40 athletes tried their hand, it was Alex Granato (USA) and Page Tredennick’s Carlchen W who excelled with clean and quick rounds to take the night’s victory.
The course, designed by Kelvin Bywater (GBR), featured a total of 16 efforts. Challenging athletes with a number of technical elements, such as a triple combination (oxer-vertical-oxer) where numerous pairs fell victim to the second element, five athletes produced clear rounds. The first clear round of the night was produced by Ivan Christiansen (ECU) and his own Olivia Z, who were ninth in Saturday’s order of go. Following their standard, Ali Wolff (USA) and John Wolff’s Quirie 2 were next, coming in under the adjusted time-allowed of 76 seconds with zero jumping faults. Following the halfway drag break, three more athletes would add their names to the jump-off including Karl Cook (USA), Andrew Welles (USA), and Granato.
With a total of five horse-and-rider combinations advancing to the jump-off, Christiansen took to the ring first and once again set the pace with a clear round and a swift time of 49.08 seconds. Entering the ring next, 29-year-old Wolff would best Christiansen’s time by two tenths of a second but fell victim to an unlucky rail. After Cook and Welles both tried their hands at the course, dropping various rails, Granato and his partner of five years, Carlchen W, entered the ring as last to go. The 11-year-old Mecklenberg gelding is a crowd favorite in jump-offs, thanks to his incredible speed and careful style. The pair stopped the clocks at an impressive 46.26 seconds, almost three seconds faster than Christiansen.
Granato and Carlchen W have proved to be fierce competitors together for a number of years, especially gaining notable placings during the 2019 season in Wellington, Florida. The pair dominated at the CP Palm Beach Masters Winter Classic CSI4*-W, hosted at Deeridge Farms, by winning both the $71,200 Suncast® Palm Beach Masters World Cup Qualifier and $208,200 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Wellington CSI4*-W. Carlchen W will help Granato keep a busy schedule through the remainder of the year, traveling to the Upperville Colt & Horse Show in Virginia, in addition to representing the United States in Falsterbo and Hickstead this summer.
Finishing the challenging class in second place would be Christiansen and Olivia Z. Representing Ecuador, Christiansen and Oliva Z, have recently placed in the top ten at CSI1* events in Quito, Ecuador, in January, 2019. Olivia Z, a 10-year-old grey mare, is a promising partner for Christiansen as they look to future competitions together.
Wolff and Quirie 2, a 12-year-old Warmblood ultimately ended the night in third place. Prior to the Kentucky Spring Classic, Wolff and her longtime partner Casall found themselves in the top three on multiple occasions during the Kentucky Spring Horse Show, including the $36,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic and the $134,000 Kentucky Spring Grand Prix CSI3*. Wolff and Quirie 2 have been partnered together since 2015, with placings up to the CSI5* level.
The Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix is held every year in honor of the late Mary Rena Murphy, an important part of American horse show history. Murphy was known for helping many top hunter and jumper professionals begin their careers, in addition to being a successful horse show organizer. She began her career in her hometown of Lexington, Kentucky. She is most known for promoting the Kentucky Horse Park and helping shape the park into what it so well-known for today, world class hunter and jumper shows that not only cater to world class competition, but also to all levels of the equestrian sport.
Competition will resume in the Rolex Stadium at 7:30 a.m. Sunday for the final day of the Kentucky Spring Classic, highlighting national jumper competition with the $15,000 Under 25 Grand Prix followed by the $35,000 Bluegrass Grand Prix.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Alex Granato – $134,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix CSI3* winner
On Carlchen W:
“He’s been amazing. We’ve been together for five and a half years so we have a really fun partnership and we’ve gotten to know each other really well. He’s coming off of a great winter. We haven’t done much the past 7 weeks. We went to Mexico for the Nations Cup where he actually didn’t feel in his best health because the travel was a little hard on him. We’re using this to gear up for our spring circuit. He’s back to feeling himself and he’s really happy.”
On the jump-off:
“He’s so naturally fast and I’m really lucky with that in a jump-off. This is really is the best he has felt in a jump-off. He had a great circuit, but this is the smoothest, most consistent jump-off that he has had in a while. I changed the tack a little bit this week. We used a little bit different type of noseband and I felt like his reaction to my timing was better through the corners so it really made him a lot faster than I was really even planning to be which was nice because then I could let off a little pressure down the last line and not take too much risk. He jumped [fence] one to two so well and I wanted to be sure to get away from [fence] two quickly so that I could be a little bit patient into the double [combination] off of a long gallop. Into a vertical-oxer double [combinations], he is sometimes a little more focused on the oxer so I wanted to give him enough time to balance there. He rode great and it came up just right for us tonight and it felt really good. After that I just tried to stay real efficient and quick without being too greedy.”
On his upcoming plans with Carlchen W:
“We kicked off competition here in Kentucky and next we will do Upperville [Colt & Horse Show]. I think we will do one week in Tryon which is building up to July where we’ll head to Europe for the Nations Cups in Falsterbo and Hickstead.”
On Kentucky Horse Shows:
“I love Kentucky in general. We have based here for the last four summers. They do a great job here and it’s a fun show to kick off our spring series. The horses love it here and it’s a nice change in atmosphere after getting out of Florida so we always make it a purpose to get here.”
Alex Granato and Carlchen W with the family of the late Mary Rena Murphy
On the grand prix:
“For me it’s enjoyable to see what this horse show started from with 200 stalls to where it is now, jogging 108 FEI horses last week. It’s just great to see the quality of competitors we have and to see what the [Kentucky] Horse Park has come to – watching from what the first grand prix [classes] were and to hear about how the Horse Park has the best footing and the best facility in the country. It’s nice to have the class with all of these riders here and we hope for good things and more to come. It’s great to have all the generations here and it means a lot to me and our family with the tradition of doing this grand prix, but also having the competitors that come every year to enjoy the show and enjoy being here.”
On tonight’s class:
“Alex won it in the end as the fastest with a horse that jumped great. I sold a horse to Ali Wolff, who was third, many years ago when I used to train a lot so it’s nice to see her to come in and be competing here. Karl Cook won on Thursday night and was fifth in tonight’s class. I enjoy the class and seeing all of the competition. I thought tonight’s class ended great. There was the right amount in the jump-off and the last horse won it so it can’t get much more exciting than that. We hope for many more and we’re looking forward to next year already.”
$134,000 Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix CSI3*
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / R1 Faults | Time / R2 Faults | Time
1. Carlchen W / Alex Granato / USA / 0 | 75.63 / 0 | 46.26
2. Olivia Z / Ivan Christiansen / ECU / 0 | 74.95 / 0 | 49.08
3. Quirie 2 / Ali Wolff / USA / 0 | 73.44 / 4 | 48.87
4. Primo Troy / Andrew Welles / USA / 0 | 73.26 / 4 | 49.75
5. Caillou 24 / Karl Cook / USA / 0 | 74.50 / 8 | 49.48
6. Donner / Peter Leone / USA / 1 | 76.32
7. Colorado 210 / Luis Biraben / ARG / 4 | 69.48
8. Country Boy / Andrew Kocher / USA / 4 | 71.10
9. Shorapur / Kevin Babington / IRL / 4 | 71.61
10. MTM Vivre Le Reve / Brian Moggre / USA / 4 | 71.93
11. Fee Des Sequoias Z / Juan Manuel Gallego Martinez / COL / 4 | 72.54
12. Rocksy Music / Richie Moloney / IRL / 4 | 73.71