The Classic Champions Developing Jumper Tour kicked off its fifth show of the eight-part tour Wednesday at the Kentucky Summer Classic with a talented collection of up-and-coming young horses tackling the 5, 6 and 7-year-old divisions. While Aaron Vale and Gray’s Inn topped the leaderboard in the 5-year-old class held in the Walnut Ring, the Rolex Stadium saw David O’Brien emerging victorious with the fastest double-clear round in the 7-Year-Old Jumpers. The 6-Year-Old division followed, where Vale topped the leaderboard once again, this time competing three horses in the class before riding away with a one-two finish with Vander Esch and Carina, respectively.
The course for the 7-Year-Old Jumpers was designed by Bobby Murphy with 12 jumping efforts which tested the development of the young horses. First in the ring and first to advance into the immediate jump-off was Gabriel Matos Machado on his Duth Warmblood mare, Hollywood-V. They tripped the timers in 45.065 seconds but brought down a rail on the last oxer to finish on four faults.
Only two more horse-and-rider combinations in the class qualified for the jump-off, Grace Long on Happiness VD Hazel HOF and O’Brien on Merly Chin SCF. Long and Andrew Kocher’s Happiness VD Hazel HOF are coming off a win in the division last week during the Kentucky Summer Horse Show and were hoping to win consecutive blue ribbons. Though the pair did jump double-clear with a quick pace finishing in 41.452 seconds, O’Brien was confident in his mount’s ability to step up his game.
O’Brien advanced to the jump-off aboard Spy Coast Farm LLC’s Merly Chin SCF, a Belgian Warmblood mare sired by Spy Coast Farm’s stallion, Diktator Van De Boslandhoeve. The mare won the reserve championship title at the 2018 Developing Jumper Tour 6-Year-Old Finals hosted at the Kentucky National and the pair have won multiple 7-year-old classes so far this season. The brave and speedy chestnut mare flew around the jump-off course, finishing double-clear in 40.818 seconds to receive the win. Long and Happiness VD Hazel Hof settled for second place, while Machado rounded out the top three with Hollywood-V.
Following the conclusion of the 7-year-old division, a different course designed by Murphy was set in the Rolex Stadium for the competitors in the 6-year-old division. Riders took to the 11-effort course and Jennifer Waxman was the first athlete to make it into the jump-off with Nightshade SCF. Owned by Spy Coast Farm LLC, the 6-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding finished double-clear in 44.593 seconds. Evan Coluccio and Tikita Z were the next pair to qualify for the jump-off but had an unfortunate rail to end on a four-fault finish.
Vale’s second horse in the class, Vander Esch, a Belgian Warmblood gelding owned by Thinks Like A Horse, jumped clear to advance into the jump-off where he overtook Waxman’s time, breaking the timers in 40.113 seconds. With one final horse to compete, Vale knew he had the class won but the question was whether Carina could beat Vander Esch’s speedy time. Vale and Carina, a chestnut Warmblood mare owned by Lori Osterstock, jumped double-clear and tripped the timers in 40.113 seconds hot on Vander Esch’s tail but a hair too slow to go into the lead.
Vale has had quite the successful season so far with his mounts, racking up many top finishes in Lexington, Tryon and Ocala. He is developing Carina up the levels with the intent of her owner, Osterstock, picking up the ride on her in a few years. Osterstock was thrilled by her horse’s performance stating, “This developing horse program is fabulous because the young horses get the opportunity to jump courses designed by the best in the world and it’s a great learning experience for them.”
Classic Champions, Inc. brings European principles to course design for young jumpers, and helps young horses to become the future stars they can be, offering competition opportunities that are both sporting and educational. With specific classes for 5, 6 and 7-year-old horses, the Classic Champions Developing Jumper Tour features adapted heights, type of fences, lines and turns, as well as experienced, specifically trained course designers at top-notch show venues.
“This is the most exciting opportunity that we’ve had yet. We wanted to provide young horses with the best educational opportunity so they have the best possible experience in the ring,” explained Cynthia Hampton, founder and president of Classic Champions, Inc. “We have the whole series followed by a championship, which is really optimal for showing the development of the young horses. The championship will take place here at the Kentucky [Horse Park] in September.”
The tour will culminate with the year-end championships, which also features their 4-year-old division at the Kentucky National Horse Show, held September 18-22.
Jumper action at Kentucky Summer Classic continues in the Rolex Stadium Thursday with the Open Jumper 1.40m and concludes with the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic at 6:30 p.m.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
David O’Brien – Developing Jumper Tour 7 Year-Old Jumpers winner
On Merly Chin SCF:
“I’m feeling good about her performance today — she jumped around very easy. It’s nice these young horses classes exist so you can develop them without having to run against 40 horses in the 1.30m. For her, she’s been a slow progress. We didn’t do much with her as a 5 year-old. As a 6-year-old, she was second in the finals here last year and she won the finals in Tryon. This year, I didn’t do as much here because we were taking embryos off her then I started her back again in May in Tryon. This is the first week she showed in Kentucky all year.”
On why she’s so special:
“She’s very well-bred. She’s by the Spy Coast stallion Diktator van de Boslandhoeve and her mother is Werly Chin De Muze. The half brother [Kirschwasser SCF], Shane jumped in the Nations Cup in Florida. It’s a bloodline where the dam’s side breeds champions. Derly Chin de Muze is out of the same mother that did the Olympics in Beijing. We breed a lot every year [at Spy Coast Farm] and the young horses come into my care around 3 years-old.”
On what’s next:
“She’ll compete one more week here — most likely the Bluegrass Festival and then she’ll have a break until the [Classic Champions Developing Jumping Tour] finals. We will do the finals here in September and then she’ll do the Young Horse Show Series final in Tryon.”
On the Young Horses classes being offered at the Kentucky Horse Shows:
“It’s very good. You can’t develop a horse without getting into the main rings and getting them to be exposed to everything. It’s nice to compete in the young horse class because even in the warm-up, you don’t have all the 1.30m horses or the Adult Amateurs warming up with you so you have a calm environment to prep them.”
On the course:
“It was pretty straightforward. This is probably one of the harder rings to jump in. If I could jump anywhere, it would be here just because of the water and everything. They end up backing up a bit more in there but it’s great to get them really exposed to the environment by offering these classes.”
Aaron Vale – Developing Jumper Tour 6 Year-Old Jumper winner
On winning the class and placing second on another mount:
“It’s always fun to go one-two no matter what class it is. These horses have been competitive in the 6-year-old division this year so it’s not a surprise that they did well. The horse that won today may not be as consistent as Carina, but he’s talented. He’s a bit funny to get a bridle on and I keep changing different things on it and found one today that he seemed to be happy in. He had a real nice round and hopefully he will continue liking that bridle. He has a ton of ability and athleticism, and finding a bridle that he’s happy in may be the key. Hopefully I’ve cracked the door there.”
“This is a little mare — we are getting her ready for his owner to show in a year or two. She’s won way more classes than you can count in the 6-year-old division, so she’s really competitive. She’s brave and she’s not really big, so sometimes we have to put in an extra stride in a line here or there, but she’s honest. She has some quickness to her which lends itself to a lot of blue ribbons. She’s naturally fast.
On his favorite aspects of developing young horses up the levels:
“I can’t afford older horses ready for grand prixs and I enjoy having three to four young horses coming up each year. Hopefully some of them turn out to be really good horses one day. With Cynthia of Classic Champions supporting these young horse classes, the entry fees make it attractive to compete the young horses. It’s really nice with this program that they are providing the opportunity to develop young horses at an affordable cost. It’s really nice this week that the 6-year-old division was held in the Rolex Stadium — it’s been held in the Walnut Ring for the majority of the year, so it’s nice for them to see a new ring and get more mileage. Neither of them seemed too phased today by it. She’s really brave and has been to more shows than the winning horse. She’s not affected by the venue and they both handled themselves really well today. It’s fun to do something different with them.”
Developing Jumper Tour 6-Year-Old Jumper
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Faults | Time / R2 Faults | Time
1. Vander Esch / Aaron Vale / Thinks Like A Horse / 0 | 39.747 / 0 | 39.747
2. Carina / Aaron Vale / Lori Osterstock / 0 | 67.980 / 0 | 40.113
3. Nightshade SCF / Jennifer Waxman / Spy Coast Farm, LLC / 0 | 71.230 / 0 | 44.593
4. Tikita Z / Evan Coluccio / Hidden Ridge International / 0 | 69.840 / 4 | 52.719
5. Falena OPL / Lauren Persons / Oakhaven Partners, LTD / 4 | 66.296
6. Gallup / Aaron Vale / Thinks Like A Horse / 4 | 71.622
7. Nanette SCF / David O’Brien / Spy Coast Farm, LLC / 11 | 91.137
Developing Jumper Tour 7-Year-Old Jumpers
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Faults | Time / R2 Faults | Time
1. Merly Chin SCF / David O’Brien / Spy Coast Farm LLC / 0 | 74.018 / 0 | 40.818
2. Happiness VD Hazel Hof / Grace Long / Andrew Kocher / 0 | 68.649 / 0 | 41.452
3. Hollywood-V / Gabriel Matos Machado / Gabriel Matos Machado / 0 | 73.904 / 4 | 45.065
4. Crazy Gomez / Michelle Pia / Split Rock, Inc. / 4 | 74.01
5. Ti Amor B Z / Megan Bash / Cleveland Equestrian / 4 | 77.330
6. Biscotti / Megan McDermott / Owner / WD