Aaron Vale and Quidam’s Good Luck win the $127,000 Hollow Creek Farm Grand Prix CSI3* at the Kentucky Spring Classic. (Photo © Kendall Bierer).
It was not chance tonight that secured the victory for Aaron Vale (USA) and Quidam’s Good Luck during the $127,000 Hollow Creek Farm Grand Prix CSI3*. Tonight, it came down to raw speed and power. Vale bested a field of 41 competitors during the highlight event, claiming his second consecutive Saturday night victory with a blazing jump off ride, breaking the beam in 40.96 seconds.
Thirteen horse and rider combinations were able to master Bernardo Costa Cabral’s opening course, moving into a jump-off that would rival the day’s earlier Preakness Stakes.
Margie Engle (USA) and Royce, owned by Elm Rock Partners LLC of Wellington, FL, were the first to clear the serpentine of seven obstacles. As only the second to take on the shortened track, Engle knew that she had some of the sport’s fastest riders hot on her heels. Engle stopped the clock in 44.770 seconds with the hopes of putting enough pressure on the consecutive riders for rails to fall in an attempt to catch her pace.
Todd Minikus (USA) and Quality Girl, owned by the Quality Group of Loxahatchee, FL, entered the ring two rounds later with his eye on the prize. He executed a textbook jump-off course, posting a time of 41.180 seconds, but a rail at the final oxer would cost him the victory.
Abigail McArdle (USA), a young rider known for her speed and consistency, rode Cade, owned by David McArdle to a clean round just ahead of Engle in 44.08 seconds. Her lead would not hold long as Scott Keach (AUS) tripped the timers two seconds quicker with Fedor, owned by Southern Cross Equestrian of Reddick, FL, landing from the final obstacle in a clear 42.09 seconds.
Vale was next in the ring with Quidam’s Good Luck, and knew that he could leave nothing to chance. They dashed to the second obstacle of the course, a double combination in a speedy nine strides to shave the seconds, and compensate for the additional stride in Vale’s plan to be cautious at a tricky vertical set in the middle of the ring.
As soon as they landed from the vertical, at a 19-second pace, it was down to the wire, using the open space to the oxer to cover the ground. They made a tight left rollback to the signature sponsor fence of the class, the Hollow Creek Farms vertical, and raced for the final distance to jump the last fence of the class and trip the timers in 40.960 seconds.
Vale said, “I used his Thoroughbred quickness and hit the gas and made him run down to the oxer on the end. I wasn’t looking at the clock – sometimes you can look at the clock, but tonight there wasn’t enough time to do that. I caught a good spot there, and just wanted to make sure I didn’t do something too stupid at the last fence. About halfway down the line I could tell I was in a spot that he could jump it from.”
The only remaining rider to challenge Vale’s time was the 18-year-old Eugenio Garza (MEX) with Bariano. Richie Moloney (IRL) put in a more conservative clean round in 44.67 seconds with Carrabis Z, owned by Equinimity LLC of Wellington, FL, but Garza did not hesitate to go for the time.
“You scared me there,” Vale said to the young rider shortly after the end of the class. Garza was able to claim the second place just behind Vale in 41.280 seconds, only a 3/10ths of a second differential.
Garza said, “Honestly, we saw Aaron go, and as always, he is incredibly fast, so I thought, ‘Why not? We will try to get it.’ We had so much fun out there. My horse jumped unbelievable, I couldn’t have asked more from Bariano. He really gave it his all, and I had a blast out there, I really did.”
“I heard the spectators, it is hard not to lose your head a little bit, I have before,” Garza laughed. “I saw Aaron go, and he was very fast. We did 10 strides to the double and then we caught a very nice one off of the vertical. From there, we really just pushed and went for it—It really all flowed together. We had really good distances. I think it is just that Aaron is very fast. He has years of experience, and hopefully one day we can catch him.”
The $127,000 Hollow Creek Farms Grand Prix CSI3* earmarks a page in history for the Kentucky Spring Classic, as it is the largest grand prix earnings offered during the series. Tonight marks Vale’s second consecutive Saturday night victory, earning valuable Longines Rider Ranking points for the pair.
Vale concluded, “I am just thrilled that the horse went so well; it is nice to do it in back-to-back weeks. It has been a great two weeks of jumping here. He has had a super two weeks, and my other horses have made progression to be able to do this. The whole barn has done really well. It has been a great Kentucky.”
The Kentucky Spring Classic will conclude tomorrow with the $50,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix, which will count for the valuable points earned towards the USEF Ranking List.
RESULTS: $127,000 HOLLOW CREEK FARM CSI3*
1 847 QUIDAM’S GOOD LUCK AARON VALE USA 77.55 40.96
2 1086 BARIANO EUGENIO GARZA MEX 78.87 41.28
3 1002 FEDOR SCOTT KEACH AUS 78.70 42.09
4 120 CADE ABIGAIL MCARDLE USA 75.58 44.08
5 487 CARRABIS Z RICHIE MOLONEY IRL 77.50 44.67
6 644 ROYCE MARGIE ENGLE USA 76.92 44.77
7 58 ENTRE NOUS LAUREN TISBO USA 76.67 45.59
8 1293 QUALITY GIRL TODD MINIKUS USA 73.20 4 41.18
9 1156 QUINCY CAR FERNANDO CARDENAS COL 79.36 4 46.16
10 1101 ALLURE G HECTOR FLORENTINO DOM 80.51 4 48.25
11 867 CHELLANA B DANIEL ZETTERMAN SWE 78.02 8 42.56
12 916 BUGATTI JUAN ANDRES RODRIZUEZ GUA 81.81 8 47.28
Source: Kendall Bierer