Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2024

Omona And Kelly Make It Count For Hampton Classic Vicotry

Omona may not show as often as many junior jumpers, but when she competes with Carolyn Kelly in the tack, the 10-year-old mare makes each step count.

After most of the summer off and a fourth-placed finish at the North American Junior and Young Riders Championships (Va.), Omona and Kelly traveled to Southampton, N.Y., and took control of the $25,000 Calvin Klein Show Jumping Derby at the Hampton Classic, Aug. 27-Sept. 3.

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Omona may not show as often as many junior jumpers, but when she competes with Carolyn Kelly in the tack, the 10-year-old mare makes each step count.

After most of the summer off and a fourth-placed finish at the North American Junior and Young Riders Championships (Va.), Omona and Kelly traveled to Southampton, N.Y., and took control of the $25,000 Calvin Klein Show Jumping Derby at the Hampton Classic, Aug. 27-Sept. 3.

But the week’s soggy weather made the junior/amateur-owner derby an atypical contest. The first round was held in the grass grand prix ring as scheduled, but after Saturday’s heavy rainfall, footing concerns began to rise not only for the derby class, but also for the $150,000 Prudential Grand Prix class that was to follow.

“I was a little disappointed at first that [the final round] wasn’t going to go in the field because this horse is so good over the natural obstacles,” Kelly said of Omona. “But then again, I was a little nervous about the grass footing getting torn up before her going so late in the class.”

The 29-entry class moved to the auxiliary sand jumper ring Sunday morning, which remained spotted with puddles. But with the brunt of the storm passed, the footing healed nicely under the charge of the grounds crew and the fragmenting clouds.

With no serious slips or spills, 10 horses advanced to the jump-off, including Omona and Kelly’s other gray jumper, Rulanda.

After seven combinations, the fastest faultless time rested at 34.48 seconds, posted by Corina and David Tromp. Kelly and Omona took over the lead by conquering the course in 33.63 seconds. With only one horse between Omona and Rulanda, Kelly dashed back to the warm-up ring to prepare Rulanda.

Superfly and Josephine Nash became the last pair with the opportunity to unseat Kelly from the top of the class. But when a rail dropped in the mud, Kelly knew she’d secured the win. The question was with which horse?

“I still stayed focused on riding Rulanda, but I was able to take a deep breath because I knew that Omona had already gone really well. I was just going to try to beat my time,” said Kelly.

Rulanda also ended up with 4 faults at Fence 4, but they did beat Omona’s time. During Friday’s qualifying round, Rulanda took top honors while Omona’s time prevailed as the fastest four-faulter in the class.

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“It’s really nice that she gets to win a big-money class like this,” said Kelly. “Especially since we try not to over-show her.”

Kelly, who trains with Chris Kappler, got Omona last year from Ditmar Guglar in Germany and only showed her a handful of times after the Winter Equestrian Festival (Fla.).

Now, in her last year as a junior, Kelly plans to compete at the fall indoor shows while entering her freshman year at Princeton University (N.J.). Still, she’s looking to start Omona in the amateur-owner jumpers and remains confident in the horse’s ability to achieve grand prix status.

“I rode her in the grand prix at Blaineville (Que.), and she only had one rail down but that was totally my fault. But she jumped unbelievably and is definitely capable of the bigger heights,” Kelly said. “I always joke that she’s braver and more competitive than I am. We get in the ring, and she knows exactly what she wants to do.”

Mid-Accord Is A Natural
Mid-Accord, another horse with a knack for natural obstacles, carried Maggie McAlary to victory in the $10,000 W�lfer Estate Equitation Championship on Friday evening over a spooky course on which many of the 10 qualifying riders experienced problems.

The division began on Thursday with 35 competitors and was whittled to the top 10 scorers receiving an invitation for Round 2. Competition among the qualifiers promised to be solid with a distinguished order including Brianne Goutal, Julie Welles, Nikko Ritter and Hardin Towell, to name a few.

But even more daunting for most riders was the final round course–a course that saw no clean rounds. “[The first round] was a normal equitation course without the natural elements. Today was a little surprising for some horses having to go over all those natural elements. So I just made sure I was ready,” said McAlary.

The most common problems came from a bank along the ring’s top border heading away from the in-gate. Half of the class lost crucial points over that bank.

Ritter returned seventh in the order of go with an initial score of 87. He and Clover Count managed a smooth round but had 4 faults from a rail down and earned a final score of 169, good enough to take the lead. Goutal next rode beautifully aboard her Mon Gamin and, after a rail, added an 86 to her initial round of 89 to take the lead with 175.

Welles returned to the ring in second position with a 90, but in a surprising turn of events, their final score only reached 166 after Sander hesitated at the bank and had a rail.

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It came down to McAlary. She needed an 84 to unseat Goutal from the top. “The bank is one of the naturals my horse actually does best,” said McAlary.

She entered the final round of competition with the top score of 91, and after a gorgeous performance she scored a 95, but like the others, lost 4 points for a rail. Nevertheless, her total of 182 was more than enough to seize victory and keep Heritage Farm atop the rankings for this class for a third consecutive year.

After four years with McAlary as a jumper, Mid-Accord transitioned well to the equitation ring. “The biggest thing we’ve had to work on was the hunter line,” said McAlary. “He’s a great jumper, but we kind of had to flatten him out a bit.”

McAlary’s trainer, Andre Dignelli, added, “We’ve really been working a lot with him this whole year, and so far it’s been excellent. It’s all coming together. He likes this job better.”

He continued, “Maggie’s a great rider. I’ve trained a lot of great riders over the years, and Maggie has a beautiful style and so does this horse. Today, he jumped like these fences were made for him. I was thrilled that she started on top and managed to keep her lead.”

First Time’s A Charm
Contrary to Mid-Accord’s transformation, Taylor Cechini and her 14-year-old, Dutch Warmblood Cashmere converted from equitation to hunters and are starting off well with the large junior, 15 and under, championship in her first trip to the Hampton Classic.

After taking fifth in their first class, Cechini took a breath to sort out some nerves. Then they won the second over fences class the first day. “We both started out a little bit nervous for our first class,” said Cechini.

After finding their composure, the duo became unstoppable. On the second day, Cechini and Cashmere won both over fences classes and collected 31 points for the tricolor. “He was just perfect today,” Cechini said. “All I had to do was make sure I was relaxed, and then he just flowed with me.”

Cechini, Flemington, N.J., bought Cashmere from Kathy and Harold Kamine two years ago, originally with equitation aspirations.

“I did the 3-foot equitation with him for a little bit, but we knew the bigger equitation classes wouldn’t be right for him. So we decided to start him in the hunters,” Cechini said. “I haven’t really been doing junior hunters that long–I dabbled a little bit last summer, so this was definitely a big show to win.”

Cechini joined her sister, Lauren, this summer and started training with Jennifer Bauersachs in July. “They’ve really taken great care of [Cashmere]. He gets turned out at night now, which he really seems to enjoy a lot better. He seems happier,” said Cechini.

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