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LUIS BIRABEN EARNS HARD-FOUGHT WIN IN $50,000 KENTUCKY SUMMER GRAND PRIX

_50_ 000 Kentucky Grand Prix Award. Photo by Lenore Phillips.jpg

The conditions could not have been more perfect for an evening grand prix in the Rolex Stadium on Saturday night. The $50,000 Kentucky Summer Grand Prix saw 43 entries that competed over a course designed by Mexican course designer Florencio Hernandez. While the course did not initially seem daunting in size or technicality, only four riders returned for the jump-off. In the end, Luis Biraben of Argentina triumphed by completing the jump-off in a time of 43.737 seconds on his 8-year-old gelding Eres Tu. Hot on his heels was Martien Van Der Hoeven on Zerro Leone who gave a double-clear effort in 46.134 seconds. Young rider Kaely Tomeu finished third on Siboney Ranch's Gentille and Amanda Derbyshire rounded out the top four on Luibanta BH, who is owned by Gochman Sporthorses LLC.

After walking tonight's grand prix course, Biraben did not expect that he would have much difficulty qualifying more than one of his four mounts for the jump-off. Although the course was not overly high or posed any perplexing questions, rider after rider finished with a rail down or just over the time-allowed. Biraben credits his ability to ride his youngest mount, Eres Tu, to a clear round with the gelding's heart, scope and sharp mind. Although Eres Tu recently turned only 8 years old, he completed each jump like a seasoned professional. For his winning efforts, Biraben was also presented with the Kentucky Summer Classic Leading Rider Award presented by Envisian Products, LLC. Biraben, who is a native of Argentina, recently moved to the United States and splits his time between Wellington, Florida, and top shows on the East Coast.

Van Der Hoeven took the early lead in the grand prix class on his grey gelding, Zerro Leone. The pair were third in the original order-of-go and seemed to have no difficulty completing the course in the tight time-allowed. Van Der Hoeven has successfully competed Zerro Leone, who is owned by Augusta Pines Farm of Spring, Texas, in several major grand prix events including the $225,000 Sapphire Grand Prix at the Devon Horse Show as well as the Mary Rena Murphy Grand Prix, which is annually held during the Kentucky Spring Classic. He and Zerro Leone will make their next appearance together at the Hampton Classic Horse Show and the HITS $1 Million Grand Prix in Saugerties, New York.

Tomeu and Derbyshire were the only two female athletes to produce clear rounds in the Rolex Stadium. Each of them had a fast round but were unable to complete the short course without 4 faults. Derbyshire, who was second on Thursday night in the $25,000 Hagyard Classic Grand Prix, was also one of several riders to have multiple horses in the class, piloting three in all.

Even though the Rolex Stadium will not see grand prix competition next week, Sunday will include a full day of jumping for riders who are competing in the WIHS/NAL Children's Classic and Adult Classic. The Bluegrass Festival Horse Show will mark the return of jumper competition to the Kentucky Horse Park on Aug. 15-20.