Lexington, Ky.—May 13
“When we walked the course, I thought, ‘There’s the WEG again over here,’ " said Mario Delauriers, the winner of the $75,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix at the Kentucky Horse Park—the second half of a U.S. Show Jumping Team Observation Event. Deslauriers won the speed leg of the show jumping competition at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games—held in this exact arena.
“[It was a] big course today,” he continued. “I thought the lines were complicated—it depended on how your horse rode today. I think if you had a horse that could do the adds where you needed to and a little on the normal stride where you needed to be, the course rode nice.”
Reed Kessler with Mika and Beezie Madden with both of her mounts—Simon and Cortes C—returned for the jump-off, but Kessler jumped clear while Madden had a rail with both geldings. Deslauriers beat Kessler’s second round time by .35 seconds to win.
Kessler also rode Cylana, her Olympic selection trials winning mount. They placed 11th.
“I think both of my horses couldn’t have jumped any better,” said Kessler, 17, whose family just bought a farm a few miles away from the Kentucky Horse Park. “Mika was fantastic. In general, before the trials, he was a little bit greener. I think it really raised his sights, and now he’s a mature seasoned horse.”
Kessler had one rail down with Cylana, at 7A, the first in a combination of double verticals, which arrived five or six strides after the open water. Deslauriers also had the same rail with his second mount—and the winner of this year’s American Invitational, Cella. (They placed 10th overall.)
“It was funny, when we were walking, [Katie Prudent, her trainer] and I were kind of hovering over do we do five or do we do six to the double verticals after the water," said Kessler. "And our first instinct was five, and we ended up changing our minds and doing the six going second [in the day’s rotation with Cylana]. [Jonathan Asselin and Makavoy] before me did five and had 7A down. Looking back, watching how Beezie did it—she made it look like better in the five.”
Six horses had 7A down.
Madden placed third with Simon, who won the $50,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic two nights ago, and came in fourth with Cortes C.
“I thought both horses were great. I thought the course was difficult,” said Madden. “I think it’s a good testament to the candidates we have here because there weren’t a lot of clears, but there were a lot of 4-faulters.”
Eight of the 16 horse and rider combinations posted 4-fault rounds.
“Cortes, I think he has Olympic scope—he’s been making a mistake here and there, and I think today he came through,” she continued. “And like Reed said, her horse has gained a lot of experience through the trials, and I think mine has too. And Simon is a very experienced horse. He was already a world class horse before we got him, and I’m just starting to get together with him and know his moves and he knows my moves, and I thought today it all came together.”