Lexington, Kentucky, USA – May 10, 2023 – Show jumping competition was back in action in the Bluegrass state to kick off the summer. After a successful winter season across the country, riders were eager to get boots on the ground in Kentucky. A beautiful day set the stage for the jumpers at the Kentucky Horse Park and a full slate of competition was highlighted by the $38,700 1.45m Welcome Speed CSI 3*. 30 horse and rider athletes stepped foot into the renowned Rolex Arena Wednesday afternoon for the coveted class, marking the first official day of competition at the Kentucky Spring Horse Show. With their sights set on starting their 2023 Kentucky Horse Show resume off on a high note, riders piloted their mounts swiftly and efficiently on course in hopes of claiming the first prize of the series. At the conclusion of the talented class that saw 13 clear rounds, it was ultimately Cathleen Driscoll (USA) who topped the leaderboard with the fastest round of the afternoon aboard Donald Stewart’s 12-year-old Polish Warmblood mare, Flotylla.
Guilherme Jorge’s (USA) 14-effort course offered a more agile approach, located close together in the middle of the ring at Rolex Stadium. Several bending lines and rollback jumps forced the riders to prepare to get through the jumps effectively while not sacrificing their time. In a class set for speed, the riders were allowed 82 seconds to maneuver the track that featured two double combinations and six oxer fences. With many of the entries being no stranger to the big stage in Kentucky, it was a fight to the finish for the top spot.
Driscoll dominated the class, with two of her three rides finishing in the top three. Set for third in the order of go aboard her winning mount, Flotylla, Driscoll posted a speedy round of 63.890 seconds, which proved to be too quick to beat amongst the field of talented competitors. Flotylla put together an impressive performance and showed her comfortability with Driscoll in the irons. The pair is coming off of a lengthy resume at the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL this winter, where they built on their long standing partnership with several podium finishes.
After a successful first ride, Driscoll took to the ring confidently aboard her second mount Arome. It was a race against herself to take over the top spot. Driscoll and Plain Bay Farm’s 13-year old Selle Francais gelding put together a flawless effort of their own, but ultimately came up just a second short of the time to beat, crossing the line at 64.890 seconds. Driscoll took a very similar approach with her second mount, guiding him quickly through the bending lines and over fences. As a relatively new partnership, the duo is still building their relationship and trust with one another. Coming off their winter season in Wellington, a second place finish to start of KSHS is a great resume builder for them.
The only other rider to crack the top three was Shane Sweetnam (IRL) aboard Ashley Vogel’s 12-year-old Selle Francais mare, Birdy du Thot. Sweetnam, a veteran in his own right, pioneered his mount to a flawless effort of their own. It was sheer speed, not rails, that separated him and Driscoll. Birdy Du Thot, most typically under the direction of his owner, Vogel, took to the ring fearlessly under the commands of Sweetnam. The pair has a short resume working together, with only a few rides at this year’s Winter Equestrian Festival. Regardless of their fairly new partnership, Sweetnam and Birdy Du Thot came up just short of Driscoll’s second ride aboard Arome, closing out the top three with a time of 65.120 seconds.
Jumper competition during the Kentucky Spring Horse Show continues Thursday, May 11, with the $38,700 Spring Classic 1.45m CSI 3* at 5:30 PM EST. Action in Rolex Stadium comes to a head Saturday, May 13, for the first evening grand prix of the season featuring the $145,100 Hagyard Lexington Grand Prix CSI 3* at 5:30 PM EST.
Final Results – $38,700 Welcome Speed Lexington, KY CSI3*
1) Cathleen Driscoll (USA) & Flotylla – 0 / 0 – 63.890
2) Cathleen Driscoll (USA) & Arome– 0 / 0 – 64.890
3) Shane Sweetnam (IRL) & Birdy Du Thot – 0 / 0 – 65.120
Source: Press Release from Kentucky Horse Shows
Photo: © Shawn McMillen Photography