Kenny Claims $15,000 Merrill Lynch Speed Derby at Hampton Classic :: The Hampton Classic

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Kenny Claims $15,000 Merrill Lynch Speed Derby at Hampton Classic

Victory keeps him leading the $30,000 Longines Rider Challenge

Bridgehampton, NY, Aug. 29, 2014 - With a scorching round on Gatsby in the $15,000 Merrill Lynch Speed Derby, Darragh Kenny padded his lead in the $30,000 Longines Rider Challenge, the bonus that goes to the rider who earns the most open jumper points during the Hampton Classic.

Gatsby's time of 71.765 seconds created a gap of more than 1 second between him and KM What Ever RV (Jeffery Welles/72.664) and Fineman (Shane Sweetnam/72.997).

Kenny stands atop the Longines Rider Challenge with 208 points, ahead of fellow Irishmen Richie Moloney (155) and Sweetnam (140). Welles stands fourth with 115 points.

The 39th annual Hampton Classic Horse Show runs Aug. 24-31. The Hampton Classic features world-class equestrian competition, with more than 100 classes of competition including jumper, hunter, equitation, short stirrup and leadline classes, as well as competitions for riders with disabilities.

Kenny, 26, of Ocala, FL, said he particularly enjoyed the Merrill Lynch class, his second victory of the week on Gatsby, who also finished second in a third class. "It was really a tough class, a fast class! But he's been amazing this week. He felt like he was really trusting me today, and I'm very lucky to be able to ride him," said Kenny.

Gatsby's owner, Allison Toffolon, normally shows the gray gelding, but she's gone off to college.

Kenny said, though, that he couldn't take any credit for preparing Gatsby for his performance this week, as he'd been showing in Europe all month in preparation for riding on the Irish team at the Alltech FEI Word Equestrian Games next week. He gave the credit to his partner and assistant, Maggie McAlary.

"I said the other day that it was just my day to win, but now I'm hoping that maybe this is my week-and that I can hold on to this lead," even though he's not going to be here on Sunday for the $250,000 Hampton Classic Grand Prix, presented by Land Rover, because he flies to France on Saturday night. "We're having a great week, and I hope we can finish it up well," Kenny added.

Kenny will be riding in this afternoon's $50,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Qualifier, presented by Longines, and Saturday's $40,000 Longines Cup, presented by the Crown Family. Those two classes count for 1.5 points in the Longines Rider Challenge. Sunday's Hampton Classic Grand Prix, Presented by land Rover, counts for double points.

Karen Polle, of New York City, galloped Bottom Line to a time that was by far the fastest to collect the blue ribbon in the $10,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner Welcome Stake. Her time of 59.562 seconds bested second-place Michael Hughes on Luxina (70.935) and third-placed Lucas Porter on Mill's Georgia (72.24).

Each of the three top-placed riders jumped two horses in the 60-horse class, but only Polle, 22, earned a better score on her second mount. Hughes, winner of the Sam Edelman Equitation Championship in the Grand Prix Ring on Thursday, lowered three rails on his second mount. Porter just caught the last jump on his second horse, although his time would have only been good enough for second place.

On Bottom Line, a 15-year-old mare, Polle was the 55th starter. "It's definitely an advantage to go late in a speed class, to see where you can save time and how the lines are riding when you're going fast," said Polle.

"But she's so fast , and I just let her go on at her own speed. I just steer her," added Polle with a smile.

Polle, a junior economics major at Yale University who trains with Mario Deslauriers, bought Bottom Line four years ago. "She was already a seasoned horse, and I got her to help me move up to he bigger classes. She's seen everything, so a big ring like this doesn't faze her at all-and she loves the grass.

"Really, she's perfect-and she won the class for me. I just try to stay out of her way," said Polle.

The Hampton Classic features six show rings, a Boutique Garden with more than 70 vendors, and a wide selection of dining options, on its 60-acre show grounds. The Classic's world-class equestrian competition attracts many of the nation's top professional and amateur riders including Olympic medalists.

The Classic's world-class field of Grand Prix riders competes daily in the Classic's open jumper division, which features an FEI-recognized Grand Prix on three consecutive days, Friday through Sunday, Aug. 29-31: the $50,000 Douglas Elliman Grand Prix Qualifier, presented by Longines, on Friday, the $40,000 Longines Cup on Saturday, and Sunday's $250,000 Grand Prix and FEI World Cup™ Qualifier, presented by Land Rover, a qualifying competition for the 2015 Longines FEI World Cup Final in Las Vegas next April.

The rider who accumulates the most points in the horse show's Open Jumper division wins the $30,000 Longines Rider Challenge.

For those who can't make it to the show grounds, a complimentary live webcast of all Grand Prix ring classes will air on
the Hampton Classic website, produced by ShowNet and courtesy of Longines.

In addition, WVVH-TV, the official Long Island television station of the Hampton Classic, broadcasts up to five hours of competition and highlights each day during the Classic. These broadcasts can also be seen on line at www.wvvh.tv. Most of the Classic's other classes will also be available on ShowNet.biz.

Further information on the Hampton Classic Horse Show is available at the Hampton Classic website at www.hamptonclassic.com or by calling 631-537-3177. Hampton Classic Horse Show, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable corporation.