Lexington, Ky. – August 21, 2022 – As competition at the 2022 Bluegrass Festival Horse Show winded down on Sunday afternoon, top show jumping athletes and their Grand Prix mounts took to the Rolex Stadium one last time to vie for championship honors in the $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix, sponsored by Audi of Lexington. Unphased by Kentucky’s sunny, rainy, and windy weather, Savannah Hemby topped the class aboard Juju VDM, with Jimmy Torano aboard Chewbacca in second, and his other mount Kochio Z in third.
A total of 30 horse-and-athlete combinations tried their hand at Peter Grant (USA)’s 13-effort course for round one. A tight time allowed of 79 seconds gave many combinations trouble as they picked up time faults on their way around the course. A triple combination, wide oxers, and tall vertical fences posed as tricky places in the course for many. Mattias Ekeroth and Haydee M were third to contest and the first to go clear in 78.091 seconds, just inside the time allowed and proving their strong partnership. Torano and his own Chewbacca, forced a jump-off round by galloping through the timers slightly faster than Ekeroth at 77.033 seconds, starting a clear round trend.
Upon completion of the first round, seven horses were to contest over the shortened track including David Oberkircher aboard his two rides, Vulkato and Upper. Returning in the order that they first went clear, Ekeroth and Haydee M led the way over the seven-effort track, but a knockdown at the second oxer kept them out of top contention and put them in 6th place overall. Torano and the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding gave their second double clear effort of the week, riding to a time of 44.676 seconds and into the lead.
Oberkircher and his first of two rides, Upper, a 14-year-old Selle Francais gelding owned by Southfields Farm LLC, laid down a clean ride but an unfortunate rail at the final fence earned them a 5th place finish at the end of the two rounds.
Next to contest, Hemby and her own 13-year-old Warmblood Mare, entered the Rolex Arena for a second time to battle it out for the blue ribbon. Riding with style and smarts, Hemby piloted “Juju” to a new fastest time of 43.998 seconds with only two rides left to go. Both Torano and Oberkircher contested on their second entries in the class, but neither Torano’s ride, Kochio Z, nor Oberkircher’s Vulkato was able to overtake the top spot settling for third and fourth respectively.
At only 21 years old, the Texas-based rider, and her mount of one year, Juju VDM, are certainly ones to watch. The duo has earned top ribbons at Lamplight [IL], Great Lakes Equestrian Festival [MI], Tryon International Equestrian Center [NC], and most notably took home a win in the $25,000 Pin Oak Grand Prix in her home state of Texas.
Competition at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show will conclude on Sunday evening. The Kentucky Horse Park will see horse show action beginning again on Wednesday, August 24th, with the KHJA Horse Show.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Savannah Hembly – $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix Winner
On her horse:
“My horse’s name is Juju, she is 13 years old, I’ve had her for exactly a year now and just started competing at the Grand Prix level. She just comes out every time with so much heart and she’s the best.”
On the first round course:
“It rode really well. I rode the first round exactly as I had planned. I felt it was a little bigger [in height] than the other day, with some of the rain I know that didn’t really help some people, but I rode it just how I walked it and was super happy with how I rode.”
On the jumpoff:
“The jump-off was nice, she really likes to get on that good gallop and this course and the ring allowed me to do that.”
On the tight time allowed:
“I was a little nervous at first because the first 2 people went over, but she’s naturally so quick so I don’t usually have to worry about that. I just tried to find the spaces that I could to make up for that time.”
On future plans:
“This is the end of our summer circuit, so we head back to Texas for a few weeks, and then we will be back here for the Split Rock Shows in September and October.”
Place / Horse / Rider / Owner / R1 Time | R1 Faults / R2 Time | R2 Faults
1. Juju VDM / Savannah Hemby / Savannah Hemby / 77.853 | 0 / 43.998 | 0
2. Chewbacca / Jimmy Torano / Jimmy Torano / 77.033 | 0 / 44.676 | 0
3. Kochio Z / Jimmy Torano / Jimmy Torano / 74.042 | 0 / 41.955 | 4
4. Vulkato / David Oberkircher / Southfields Farms LLC / 78.250 | 0 / 44.005 | 4
5. Upper / David Oberkircher / Southfields Farms LLC / 78.916 | 0 / 45.348 | 4
6. Haydee M / Mattias Ekeroth / Mattias Ekeroth LLC / 78.091 | 0 / 45.441 | 4
7. Carlson 135 / Francisco Goyoaga / Ashland Farms / 76.273 | 0 / 45.526 | 4
8. Gideon / Kelli Cruciotti Vanderveen / Serenity Farm / 79.043 | 1
9. Frasier / Samantha Schaefer / Bonne Vie LLC / 79.279 | 1
10. Vanturo / Thaisa / Michael Smith / 79.859 | 1