Darragh Kerins and the diminutive gelding are on a hot streak.
Irish luck was running at the HITS-On-The-Hudson II, June 4-8 in Saugerties, N.Y.
Darragh Kerins and Night Train followed up their thrilling win in the $100,000 Budweiser Grand Prix of Devon (Pa.) on May 29 with another victory in the $50,000 Waldorf-Astoria Grand Prix.
Kerins, of Ridgefield, Conn., joined five other horse-rider combinations in the jump-off. When he took the field on the 9-year-old, Zangersheide gelding, Hillary Dobbs had the lead on Corlett with a clean round in 38.41 seconds.
Dobbs has been on a hot streak, winning the open jumper championship at Devon and then traveling to Saugerties to win the $50,000 EMO Grand Prix on May 1 aboard Corlett.
Kerins knew she’d be tough to beat. And she’d have another shot at it, with her second ride, Marengo, to jump off after Kerins. “I was worried,” he admitted.
“I knew Hillary is always very fast as is Rebecca [Johanson-Hoffman, the last to go],” said Kerins. “I knew Hillary would not leave very much room to be beaten. So I gave it my all, and it worked out for the best.”
There weren’t many spots to make up time on the jump-off course, but Kerins used Night Train’s speed on the long gallop to the last fence. “I took a real shot at it, and think that is where I made up for the time,” he said.
When the timers flashed 37.37 seconds, the lead was his. “I knew I was definitely beatable, but I kept my fingers crossed and hoped for the best,” he said.
He didn’t have to wait long to see if he had won—Dobbs and Marengo couldn’t catch the time, finishing clear in 38.23 seconds for second, and Johanson-Hoffman had a rail down.
Kerins and Night Train won three grand prix classes at the HITS Saugerties venue in 2007 and then topped the $80,000 New Albany Classic Invitational (Ohio).
Night Train, who stands just 15.1 hands, found his way into Kerins’ life 1 1⁄2 years ago through fellow Irishman Conan Conway, who is the barn manager for owner Hunter Harrison’s Double H Farm. Kerins was impressed with Night Train’s ability immediately.
“When I took him over the jumps the feeling over the fences was unbelievable for a little horse. He tried his heart out all the time,” he said.
Harrison and his daughter, Cayce, asked Kerins to take over the ride on the then-7-year-old. “We started in the 7-year-old Young Jumper division. Then, as an 8-year-old, we started moving him up and he progressed very quickly,” Kerins said.
Darragh wasn’t the only family member to lead a victory gallop at Saugerties. His wife, Sarah, rode Allie to the blue in the low junior/amateur-owner jumper classic.
“Allie is brilliant and happy doing what she does,” said Sarah, an amateur rider who helps her husband run their Innisfree Stables. She saved time on course “because I never took a pull; I just kept galloping. There is no other way to do it on her—she likes to go,” continued the Waterford County, Ireland native.
An ocean away, the family luck continued, as Sarah’s brother, Francis Connors, won the Ballivor Grand Prix in Ireland. “So Sunday was a good day,” she said. “I hope they come more often!”
Brynn Seltzer’s week didn’t start well—she got bucked off on the first day of the children’s hunter, 14 and under, division. But the next day, the Katonah, N.Y., rider turned her disappointment around, riding Gryffindor to third and fourth places. She finished the weekend with the best children’s rider award.
Up until a year ago, the former eventer was riding her Palomino Welsh gelding, Make Me Smile, but she decided to move on and began training with Ruth Nicodemus of Fox Hill Farm. When “Smiley,” her pony, started showing his 16 years, he became the short stirrup mount of Nicodemous’ daughter and Seltzer
started to lease Gryffindor, or “Harry,” from Michael Kirby.
Seltzer hopes to qualify Harry, 8, for the Zone 2 Hunter Finals and plans to move up to the junior division eventually.
She hopes to also show in the 3’6″ equitation classes. “I prefer the equitation, but I like doing the hunters. The time I spend in the hunters is good experience for me,” she said.
Lion King Rules
Lindsay Mohr has aspirations of becoming a professional trainer. With the tricolor in a section of the adult amateur, 18-35, hunters aboard Lion King, she’s showing she knows how to win.
Mohr, of Long Valley, N.J., is a freshman at Centenary College (N.J.) and majoring in equine studies. She’s honing her teaching skills informally with her 11-year-old sister, Kristen, who shows Mohr’s former junior hunter, Marvel, in the equitation division.
“Most of the time things go smoothly between us without any sibling rivalry but every now and then we have a little bickering. Yet, when she does well, I know I had a part in it,” Mohr said.
Mohr has been showing for six years and rides with Stacia Madden and Krista Freundlich of Beacon Hill Show Stables. Mohr found Lion King, a 17.1 hand, Dutch Warmblood, at Beacon Hill and when she tried him, “I fell in love with him,” she said.
Though she graduated from the junior divisions in 2006, Mohr still wants to compete in the USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals, which are open to riders up to the age of 21. For that goal, she’ll take back the reins of Marvel.
She also wants to qualify with Lion King for the North American League Adult Hunter Finals (Pa.) as well as the Washington International Horse Show Adult Hunter Championship (D.C.).