Leslie Howard and Donna Speciale Earn the Perfect Score to Claim $35,000 Salamander Hotels and Resorts Accumulator Class CSI4* at CP National Horse Show

Written by: Taylor Renner
Client: National Horse Show https://www.nhs.org
Release Date: 2016-11-04

Lexington, Ky. – Nov. 4, 2016 – The CP National Horse Show featured a different style of show jumping competition on Friday evening with the $35,000 Salamander Hotels and Resorts Accumulator Class CSI4*. Local groups were invited out for “Barn Night” to watch as Leslie Howard (USA) and Peter Howard’s Donna Speciale took the top prize of the evening.

“It’s always a fun class, especially with the gambler jump at the end,” said Howard. “The mare I rode tonight — I’ve had her for less than a year. Her name is Donna Speciale and I think she’s pretty special.”

The class featured 10 obstacles of increasing difficulty, where points were awarded for each fence cleared. Obstacle one jumped without fault was worth one point, obstacle two jumped without fault was worth two points and so on.

A final fence option called ‘The Joker’ was worth double points. However, if a rider opted for ‘The Joker’ and knocked it down, those points were deducted from the total score. Twenty-four international horses and riders strived to clear the Michel Vaillancourt-designed course for a perfect score of 65 points. Ten athletes were able to do just that, finishing with no faults and jumping the high point ‘Joker’ fence without error. Thus, between those 10, it all came down to time.

Paige Johnson (USA) and Salamander Farm’s Luke Skywalker 46 were the first to achieve a perfect score of 65 points in 56.18 seconds to take the early lead, but would eventually secure fifth place in the end.

Georgina Bloomberg (USA) and Manodie II H, owned by Gotham Enterprizes LLC, were next to add themselves to the list of perfect scorers in 52.01 seconds to best Johnson’s time by four seconds and take over the lead. However, Bloomberg would go on to finish with third place honors.

Richie Moloney (IRL) and Slieveanorra, Wednesday’s winners of the $35,000 Shelby Drazan Foundation International Open Jumpers Welcome Speed CSI4*, also cleared the course for 65 points in 50.29 seconds to move ahead of Bloomberg and take second place by the end of the night.

Howard entered the ring eight rounds later with the 8-year-old KWPN mare, who recently won the $35,000 Keystone Classic Speed Stake CSI3* at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show. The pair finished clear for 65 points in 50.02 seconds to outpace Moloney’s time by 2/10ths of a second to move into the top spot on the leaderboard.

“It was a pretty straightforward course,” said Howard. “I think everyone had the same plan. The numbers were straightforward. I’m lucky my horse is fast on the ground and in the air so I didn’t do anything special. I just had a faster horse!”

Kristen Vanderveen (USA) and Bull Run Jumpers, Inc.’s Bull Run’s Testify was the final entry to claim a perfect score but was not fast enough to catch Howard’s impressive speed in 54.81 seconds to rank fourth in the overall standings.

After Friday night’s win, Howard is now turning her focus to Saturday’s big class, the $250,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Lexington CSI4*-W, where she will ride her trusted grand prix mount Gentille Van Spieveld.

In preparation for Saturday, Howard said, “[Gentille Van Spieveld] had a nice flat tonight and hopefully he will do well tomorrow. You never know — it’s horses!”

Preceding Friday’s $35,000 Salamander Hotels and Resorts Accumulator Class CSI4* was the second round of the $100,000 USEF Under 25 National Championship, presented by Deeridge Farms, Elm Rock LLC, the Strauss family and Kasowitz, Benson, Torres and Friedman LLP.

Hilary McNerney went two-for-two, after claiming Thursday’s first round of competition, with her own Z Acodate DDL. With eight advancing to the jump-off from an original starting field of 24, McNerney was one of two to finish double clear around the technical shortened track.

Abigail McArdle and Plain Bay Sales’ Adamo were the first to jump clear in 38.160 seconds and looked to be the only faultless finishers to claim the win, until McNerney and her 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare bested McArdle’s time by two seconds in 36.430 seconds as last to go in the jump-off to take the blue ribbon. Brett Burlington and Alden Burlington’s Bluf took home third place as the fastest of the 4 faulters in 35.500 seconds.

“To be honest I’m still in shock,” said McNerney. “It’s always a little nerve racking to be the last one in. I wanted to focus on riding well and riding the course and not getting too excited, but I can’t help myself. I wanted to focus on the plan and stick to it and let it be what it would be. I was really happy with the fact that we got into the jump-off.

“It was a challenging course from right off the bat,” continued McNerney. “That tight turn to the vertical and then having a skinny to that rollback — I bet some people turned too tightly there because it’s hard not to. Then the last jump was a thousand miles away, and you are trying to go for the time. My horse knows when it’s a jump-off and gives it her all. I just got [Z Acodate DDL] in February. She’s done some big classes and she knows what she’s doing. I showed her this summer over in Europe. We’ve done a couple of 2* and came in second a lot so hopefully these wins are making up for it.”

Going into Sunday’s final round of competition with two wins already under her belt, McNerney is sitting in good standing and feeling confident but also grateful for the opportunity to compete in this year’s $100,000 USEF Under 25 National Championship at the CP National Horse Show.

“I remember last year I was watching this on the livestream,” said McNerney. “I was like, ‘My goal is to get here and to win a class.’ Yesterday I was able to check that off my list and today is just the cherry on top.

“For Sunday, I’m focusing on riding well and doing the best that I can do,” continued McNerney. “I have to trust my horse. I have an amazing horse and I just want to enjoy the ride.”

Kicking off jumper competition on Friday at the CP National Horse Show was the $10,000 T & R Development Amateur-Owner/Junior Jumper class, which played host to 31 horse and rider combinations. Only seven jumped clear in the one-round speed class, but Vani Khosla and her own Billy Mexico proved to be the fastest in 61.092 seconds to take the win. Finishing two seconds behind Khosla and in second place was Alexandra Pielet and Co-Pielet, LLC’s Helene Ve in 63.136 seconds. Daisy Farish and her own Great White rounded out the top three in 65.845 seconds.

The ASPCA Maclay National Championship will kick-off at 6 a.m. on Saturday with other highlight classes including Saturday’s $250,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Lexington CSI4*-W and Sunday’s $100,000 USEF Under 25 National Championship.

The world’s top international competitors return for the 2016 CP National Horse Show Nov. 1–6 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky.

General admission tickets for Friday are only $5 and $10 on Saturday and Sunday, and can be purchased here. Children 12 and under are admitted free.

With over $800,000 in prize money offered, the 2016 edition of the CP National Horse Show has again been designated a CSI4*-W event by the FEI. The international Open Jumpers will compete for almost half a million dollars in prize money, while the top rated hunter divisions have a total purse of $195,000. Meanwhile, $130,000 in total is offered to the Amateur-Owner and U25 Jumper divisions.

Founded in 1883 at the original Madison Square Garden, the National Horse Show is America’s oldest indoor horse show, firmly established as a major fixture on the international sports and social event calendars. The National Horse Show Association’s primary activity is the annual production of the National Horse Show and all ancillary events.

For more information on the National Horse Show, please visit our website.