“I only remember something like this when I was last in Aachen 20 year ago,“ said Mexico’s Santiago Lambre.
“I’ve never competed in an atmosphere like this, it’s incredible. They filled the stadium!” seconded USA’s Eve Jobs.
“It’s absolutely amazing the atmosphere here,” concurred Ireland’s Conor Swail.
With 10,635 enthusiastic spectators on hand to watch the inaugural $225,000 Kentucky CSI3* Invitational Grand Prix—the latest addition to the Saturday line up at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event (LRK3DE) in Lexington—it was a show jumping event to remember for the riders.
But for none more so than, Lambre.
Riding the 10-year-old KWPN gelding Dingeman, the Mexican rider captured the win in the two-round cumulative score format that saw the top ten advance to the second round.
All ten jumped clear in the first round, setting the stage for a foot race in round two. With the top four posting double clears, the winner was determined by their time in the second round.
Lambre stopped the clock in a blazing time of 48.9 seconds, bumping Jobs and Venue D’Fees Des Hazalles from the lead (49.62 seconds). Swail and Rubens LS La Silla took third in a time of 50.64.
“I knew Eve had gone fast, so I tried to go really fast and turn tight to number nine,” said Lambre. “I think that was the difference.”
While this is the first year an international Grand Prix has been held in conjunction with the LRK3DE, it may not be the last, said Equestrian Events, Inc. (EEI) president Stewart Perry, organizer of the only four-star event in North America.
“I have a prejudice in this because I own a show jumping horse and my daughter is a show jumping rider,” he said. “But our spectators have told us they want something else to do. The reining worked. The concert [last year] worked. But clearly, the show jumping is a truly outstanding addition. We’re thrilled. EEI is proud to have [show jumping producer] Derek Braun as our partner and we are strongly looking at doing this again next year.”
“Show jumping in general can be an exciting sport,” agreed Braun, founder of the Split Rock Jumping Tour.
“And the platform of the three-day is really second to none in America. To combine them was a natural fit. I’m honored and humbled to be a part of it. This is the type of event that can progress our sport forward, and I think we can create something even more exciting.”
The final phase of the LRK3DE takes place on Sunday with a nail-biting finale that has the top five separated by less than a rail. Watch it on USEF Network.
The next leg of the five-part SRJT takes place May 23–27 with the Lexington International CSI2* and will be broadcast on Horse Network Live.