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_25_000 Hagyard Grand Prix Award Photo. Photo by Lenore Phillips.jpg

Sydney Shulman topped a very competitive field of 50 horse-and-rider combinations to win the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic aboard Hannah Patten's Curby du Seigneur. Fifteen of those rides came back for the jump-off and 11 of those rounds saw double-clear jumping efforts.

Thursday's win for Shulman was arguably one of the hardest fought of her professional career on a horse that she has only competed at the grand prix level one other time. Great Britain's Amanda Derbyshire finished a mere .09 seconds behind Shulman on Sibell BH and rounded out the top three with Cornwall BH, both owned by Gochman Sport Horse LLC.

For Shulman, the victory was unexpected and very special as it marked only the second time she had ridden Curby Du Seigneur in a grand prix and the first time ever competing with him under stadium lights. Last week during the Kentucky Summer Horse Show, the pair won the Under 25 Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon. Although Shulman had previously won this same class two years ago, she was wary about how she could possibly top a grand prix that included world-class riders such as Shane Sweetnam, Sharn Wordley and Pablo Barrios as fellow competitors. In the end, by allowing the 9-year-old Belgian Warmblood's natural speed and carefulness to prevail, she was able to achieve one of the most important victories of her career to date by racing across the finish line in 39.216 seconds.

In addition to Curby Du Seigneur, Shulman rode Ardente Printaniere, a horse she recently purchased from McLain Ward, to a double-clear finish and placed seventh in the large class in a time of 41.421 seconds.

All three of Amanda Derbyshire's horses entered in the class produced double-clear efforts in what ended up being a bittersweet loss to her friend Shulman. The two have been competing against one another in grand prix competitions for several years and can often be seen cheering each other on from the sidelines.

Hot on Derbyshire's heels in the jump-off was Sweetnam who rode an impressive four horses in the first round, managing to advance three of those mounts to the jump-off. Sweetnam rode Seabrooke LLC's Baloppi to a fourth place finish in 40.267 seconds.

Thursday's class marked the halfway point for riders who are vying for an opportunity to win the Hagyard Challenge Series, which will award the rider with the most points at the end of the summer with a bonus prize of $50,000. The class was populated by riders who represented 10 different countries, all of whom gathered to compete over a track designed by Mexican course builder, Florencio Hernandez.

The horses that qualified for the $50,000 Kentucky Summer Grand Prix will have tomorrow off before returning to Rolex Stadium at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night. On Friday, amateur competitors will rule the stadium including the Low Children's Jumpers and Amateur Jumpers.