Lexington, Kentucky – August 20, 2021 – Showjumping competition at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show returned to the Rolex Arena Friday, August 20, to welcome athletes for the $25,000 Bluegrass Classic. As the concluding class of the day, 52 horse-and-rider combinations entered hopeful to close out Friday’s competition with a win. Just nine pairs managed clear rounds over the tactful course, and it was ultimately Daniel Geitner (USA) and Fazous who managed two double-clear efforts to take home the lion’s share of the prize money. Grace Debney aboard her mount Boheme De La Roque is crowned second, while Camille Maddrix (USA) and Jack Straw round out the top three.
Canadian course designer Peter Grant set forth a 12-obstacle track and an 84-second time-allowed to challenge the athletes. The track, which took up every square inch of the Rolex Arena, saw faults at varying locations. Athletes found jump three to a triple combination challenging, causing several rails and retirees. Entering the ring just past the halfway mark in the original posted order, at 38, Daniel Geitner (USA), from Aiken South Carolina piloted Fazous, to one of the only nine clear rounds of the night.
Just eight pairs returned for the jump-off to contest a shortened 7-obstacle course that featured more open gallops and fewer technical lines than round one. The jump-off was made more interesting by the fact that six of the eight rounds were from riders that had qualified two horses, Jessica Mendoza (GBR), Grace Debney (GBR) and Geitner (USA). Geitner had the advantage of watching three riders compete before him before he took his shot at the win. Fazous, who has been part of Geitner’s program for a year and a half, used his long stride and quick footedness to stop the clock in a time of 39.055. The time immediately was faster than both Mendoza (GBR) and Debney and also featured a 0-fault score. The 11-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Oak Ledge Farm is no stranger to the Grand Prix field, with wins most recently in the $25,000 Nutrena Grand Prix American Standard at the Aiken Summer Classic I.
Great Britain’s ladies, Mendoza (GBR) and Debney, showed up in force tonight with the initial clear rounds on course. Debney was the closest behind Geitner with a short course time of 40.833 and no faults on Boheme De La Roque, while Mendoza (GBR) and Cassanova 499 also produced a double clear round with a time of 43.987.
Alabama’s Camille Maddrix (USA) surprised the crowd with her first-round performance with Jack Straw, an 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding, who has been her most recent grand prix partner. The pair completed the first round of competition fault-free at a time of 80.353. When she returned for the jump-off, the team did their best to catch Geitner but fell just shy with a time of 43.010.
Showjumping competition will continue at the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show Saturday, August 21, beginning at 8 am with the 1.40m Open Jumper and Young Horse jumper classes. The day’s highlight will be the conclusion of the Platinum Performance/USHJA International Hunter Derby Finals. The final Grand Prix of the Kentucky Summer Horse Show series will be held on Sunday afternoon.
From the Winners Circle
Daniel Geitner – Winner of the $25,000 Bluegrass Classic
“He is a 10-year old and I have had him for a year and a half. We brought him up to this level and he has all the talent in the world, really a star and a half. This was a great experience for him because he has not jumped much under the lights so I was really excited that we got to practice that. Obviously, he enjoyed it as well.”
On having two in the jump-off:
“I was lucky that my two horses went a little later and I could watch a few go ahead of me. I knew that I had a fast rider (Debney) behind me but I have about thirty years on her, so I had to use a little of that experience to my advantage. Overall the competition was great. His natural foot speed is quick enough to win as long as I can steer him around the right track and he is one his form he is quick enough to win on his own.”
On competing in the USHJA Derby Finals and the Grand Prix in the same day:
“It is a long day! We started at five this morning and it is certainly feeling a long way away now. I really enjoy doing both (hunters and jumpers) and doing both keeps me sharp. I do well when I am busy all day. If I have to sit around all day and do nothing, I would have worked myself up into a mess, so it was good that I had the Derby to keep me busy. It will be the same tomorrow because we will have a couple in the Derby.”
On showing at the Kentucky Horse Park:
“It is fantastic here! The horses love it with the green grass and the trees. They just naturally feel at home here. We have been hacking out on the fields all week and the ring is amazing and huge and the lighting is great. We are blessed to have this facility so close to our home.”
On Fazous’ owner:
“Oak Ledge Farm, Michael Wren, own him and tonight was special because Michael got to be here and we do not get to see him much, so it was nice to win with him in the audience.”
Final Results – $25,000 Bluegrass Classic
1) Daniel Geitner (USA) & Fazous – 0 / 0 – 39.055
2) Grace Debney (GBR) & Boheme De La Roque – 0 / 0 – 40.833
3) Camille Maddrix (USA) & Jack Straw – 0 / 0 – 42.010
4) Jessica Mendoza (GBR) & Casanova 499 – 0 / 0 – 43.987
5) Grace Debney (GBR) & Faro – 0 / 0 – 46.254
6) Nicholas Dello Joio (USA) & Centuria 7 – 0 / 4 – 45.941
7) Jessica Mendoza (GBR) & Heat Of The Night – 0 / 4 – 46.492
8) Daniel Geitner (USA) & Vesta De Lavardin – 0 / 8 – 45.006
9) Filip De Wandel (BEL) & Manhattan Van T Leeuwerikenhof – 0 / 83.542
10) Theo Genn (USA) & Damokles – 1 / 84.652
11) Hayley Barnhill (USA) & Falco Z – 2 / 85.365
Photo: © Lenore Phillips