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Debbie Stephens Captures Second Consecutive $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic Victory, Jumps to Top of Series Earnings

Written by: Alex Thomas
Client: Kentucky Horse Shows LLC
Release Date: 2007-08-09

Lexington, KY – August 9, 2007 – It was an early start this morning at the Kentucky Summer Classic for the fourth round of the Hagyard Challenge Series, with the sun barely making it over the horizon. The first horse took to the Johnson Arena at 7:30a.m., starting off the scheduled field of 36. With the first three riders pulling rails, Debbie Stephens of Palmetto, FL, tackled the challenging course and became the first rider of the day to finish with zero faults. Stephens was equally impressive in the jump-off, where she navigated All Star, owned by Centennial Farm, to the only clean jump-off trip of the day.

Out of 36 starting entries, only eight riders mastered the first course without fault. The field of eight was later narrowed to seven when Kim Prince and Carnivale did not return for their jump off round, guaranteeing Prince eighth place.

In the first round, Andrew Welles and Cypria 6 had the quickest four-fault effort of the day with a time of 81.511 seconds, narrowly edging-out his second mount, Kartouche VD Watening, by less than eight-hundredths of a second. The two horses secured ninth and tenth place, respectively.

Course designer Richard Jeffery constructed a difficult track which included 12 numbered jumps and two combinations, a double at fence 9 and a triple at the end of the course. Fence 12c, a tall vertical at the end of the combination, ended up being the most difficult obstacle on the course. A total of 15 riders pulled the rail – many of whom were clear up to that point. Stephens and All Star proved adept at clearing the combinations today.

Stephens brought three horses to the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic this morning, including Quik, the horse she rode to a first place finish a week ago in the first $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic. Her mount All Star would prove to be the only horse with the athletic ability required to navigate the final combination of the course, which was used in both the first round and the jump-off. The pair completed the short course without fault in 38.552 seconds.

In the first round, Margie Engle was added to the list of riders with a rail down at fence 12, narrowly missing an opportunity to become the first and only rider with multiple mounts in the jump-off. Engle would take Hidden Creek's Wapino of Oak Creek, WI, through a clean round and four-fault jump-off round to clench second place.

All Star, standing in at 18 hands, was by far the largest horse in the class this morning, and perhaps of the entire Kentucky Summer Classic competition. Stephens admits it's unusual for such a large horse to emerge on top after a complex course with a competitive jump-off field.

“I didn't think I'd win,” she explained, “because I know he's not a fast horse, and I looked at the field behind me and said ‘way faster.’ I was hoping that maybe the top riders would go too fast and have a rail, and I would maybe place 3rd or 4th. I would have been very pleased with that because he jumped great.”

Stephens, who went first in the jump-off, was well aware of All Star's speed capabilities going into the tie breaker. “He isn't a fast horse” she admitted. “You're never going to be able to make him a fast horse, so in a way it's easy. It didn't bother me going first; I'm going to go the fastest that I can go on him and jump the cleanest I can. He's not a cat - you know, being 18 hands, he's a big, scopey, rangey, big-strided jumper, so I always try to use his stride to my advantage. He jumped the combinations well, so I didn't have to set up to it, whereas Margie did and then her horse caught the front rail with his hind. I could gallop in because I knew he'd back up at B.”

Margie Engle had the quickest jump-off trip of the day at 35.675 seconds, but she admits that finding the right pace was difficult with the course set forth by Richard Jeffery. “I had a good round,” she said. “I tried not to go too fast - medium, but I wanted to be fast enough to stay in the race. He was very good in the hard parts, but I think in those situations I kind of slowed him up and set him up.”

Stephens, who has won two of the four Hagyard Lexington Classics in the Hagyard Challenge Series, plans to continue showing in the series. “There are three competition classes left,” she said, “two $5,000 classes and one $50,000 class in September. I won't be here for the $5,000 classes, but I'll definitely be here for the $50,000 in September.”

When asked what drew her to the Kentucky Summer Classic and the Hagyard Challenge Series, she complimented Hagyard's approach to the Kentucky Horse Shows and their inclusion of a $30,000 Leading Rider Bonus for the highest-netting rider. “We don't have many series that offer some sort of bonus anymore,” she explained. “It could be a car, it could be money, it doesn't matter – I think that this is a fabulous thing that Hagyard has done, because we, as riders, would like to have goals. This is great. Now I'm riding for the series, and it's really nice. You don't see that anymore. You’d win a grand prix, you go to the next grand prix, and this really ties things together, not only for the sponsor, but for the owners and for the riders as well.”

The Hagyard Challenge Series features seven grand prix events throughout the summer at the Kentucky Horse Park and is made possible by the sponsorship of the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute. The final event, the $50,000 World Cup qualifying grand prix, is scheduled for the Kentucky National Indoor Horse Show on September 28, 2007. Additionally, the Hagyard Challenge Series the rider with the most prize money will be awarded the Leading Rider Award, worth $30,000.

Competition continues tomorrow at the Kentucky Summer Horse Show with the $5,000 1.40m Open Jumpers. The $40,000 Kentucky Classic Grand Prix, which is a member event of the AGA Grand Prix Series, will be held on Saturday, August 11, at 6:30 p.m. in the Johnson Arena.

Results of Class 270 - $25,000 HAGYARD LEXINGTON CLASSIC
Kentucky Summer Classic Horse Show
August 8-12, 2007
1 124 ALL STAR DEBBIE STEPHENS 0.00 87.448 0.00 38.553 $7500
2 1042 HIDDEN CREEK'S WAPINO MARGIE ENGLE 0.00 83.417 4.00 35.675 $5500
3 1009 OCTOBER HILL'S ON TARGET ERIN DAVIS 0.00 83.369 4.00 37.971 $3250
4 229 QENA 2 COLIN SYQUIA 0.00 84.800 4.00 38.619 $2000
5 105 ORLEY KELS BONHAM 0.00 83.825 4.00 40.748 $1500
6 642 PANDUR 292 BILL MORONEY 0.00 86.998 4.00 41.080 $1250
7 792 VICTOR III SHANE SWEETNAM 0.00 81.014 16.00 55.671 $1000
8 1159 CARNIVALE KIM PRINCE 0.00 82.990 ret. $750
10 324 CYPRIA 6 ANDREW WELLES 4.00 81.586 $500
11 695 INDY STAR II LAURA BOWERY 4.00 81.829 $500
12 302 NIGHT AND DAY 8 JEANNE HOBBS 4.00 82.263 $500

Photo Credit: Debbie Stephens and All Star, winners of the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic Grand Prix. Photo © 2007 Alex Thomas/Phelps Media Group. Photograph may be used only in relation to this PMG press release.


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