Leslie Burr-Howard and Donna Speciale © Al Cook – alcookphoto.com
Leslie Burr-Howard, Darien, CT, locked up two consecutive victories at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, presented by The Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund, winning the $35,000 Keystone Classic, sponsored by Harvest Seasonal Grill and Wine Bar, with Donna Speciale, owned by Sudreau and Howard. For the second consecutive night, Irish rider Daniel Coyle took second place, this time on Tienna, owned by Susan Grange.
“It’s great to win!” said Burr-Howard. “I was a little concerned when I walked the course because this show was her first time jumping indoors and the first line was a little tricky. It was an interesting course, it had more twists and turns than I liked. My style is more of a flow. Thank goodness I had the right horse tonight. It was an excellent course for my horse, she really liked it.”
Coyle set the pace with the first of seven clear rounds in the field of 21 on the Bernardo Cabral-designed course. Going fourth in the order on Tienna, they crossed the timers in 50.89 seconds. For much of the class it looked like they would not be caught. Irish Olympic veteran Kevin Babington went clear on Mark Q in 54.21 seconds. Christine Mc Crea and Wannick WH went slower, but left the rails up to finish in 57.45 seconds. Coyle tried to beat himself on his other mount, Ridley, but his clear round time 53.45 seconds was not fast enough. Mario Deslauriers and Cherrypop shaved off enough time to finish in third place with a clear round score of 52.84. Ireland’s Conor O’ Regan and Cooper posted the slowest clear of the seven finishing on 61.84 seconds.
Burr-Howard stepped into the ring late in the order and her rapid round of 50.41 thrilled the crowd, but not Coyle, who then moved down to second place. Coyle believed the starting order held the key to victory.
“I think if I had been later in the order I might have been able to catch her,” said Coyle. “Both of my horses jumped brilliantly, but I really wish my first horse would have had a better chance of catching Leslie. I always knew she was going to be a threat. We have been battling it out since Spruce Meadows, each of us taking turns winning, but she’s gone ahead of me once too many now.”
Burr-Howard will try to make it three for three and defend her title on Saturday in the marquee event, the $100,000 Grand Prix de Penn National. She will attempt the hat trick on Gentille Van Spieveld, owned by GJ Stable, the same horse that she won with in 2015.
“I’m not going to say anything yet, because it’s gone too well,” said Burr-Howard. “
Source: By Jamie Saults