September 12, 2014--When Darragh Kenny and Gatsby entered the ring as one of the last to go in today's $34,000 Don Little Memorial Welcome Stake, the time to beat sat at 76.040 seconds. That time, held by Jessica Springsteen and Vindicat W, had been set nearly 50 rounds before and looked like it would remain untouchable.
But by the time Kenny and Gatsby trotted off the grass grand prix field at Old Salem Farm, they had blown Springsteen's time out of the water by nearly 5.5 seconds and clinched the biggest victory of the day at the American Gold Cup CSI4*-W.
"He's unbelievable," Kenny said of Gatsby. "He's a very fast horse, and he's very easy to go quick on. He's so careful, and he just wants to win. He's truly a fantastic horse."
Alan Wade set the course for today's highlight class, which was run according to FEI Art. 238.2.1 with riders pinned according to penalties and time with no jump-off.
Of the 71 starters, 10 produced clear rounds, with Candice King and Kismet 50 paving the way as the early clear pathfinder in a time of 81.50 seconds.
King and Kismet 50's time was toppled by the next to go clear, as Springsteen, of Colts Neck, NJ, and Vindicat W shaved more than 5 seconds off to take over the lead. Seven of the remaining clears turned in great efforts but all finished more than a second outside of Springsteen's time. Paul O'Shea and Skara Glenn's Sienna would come the closest and end up being the eventual third place finishers with a time of 77.840 seconds, while fourth place would go to Schuyler Riley and Dobra de Porceyo who had a time of 78.580 seconds.
Only Kenny and Gatsby made beating the time look easy as the cleared the final vertical with plenty of room and seconds to spare.
The large margin of victory over the 70 other horses competing was an impressive feat in itself, but perhaps equally impressive is the fact that the win today marks Kenny and Gatsby's third victory in a row.
Owned by Allison Toffolon of Bronxville, NY, Gatsby came to Kenny for the ride when Toffolon went off to school this fall at Southern Methodist University. Since then, Kenny has shown the 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse four times, finishing second the first time out and first in all three of their last efforts, including the win in the $15,000 Merill Lynch Speed Derby and the $10,000 Open Jumpers, both at the Hampton Classic.
"He's been absolutely incredible. I'm lucky to get the chance to ride him," Kenny said.
Toffolon will return to the saddle on Gatsby during the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL, but in the meantime, there is no place that Kenny would rather have the ride on the stallion than at the American Gold Cup.
"I love this horse show. It's a great horse show with a great atmosphere," Kenny said. "They run it really well. The footing is super, and it's a really enjoyable horse show to be at."
Kenny continued, "If I had to pick one thing? It's the atmosphere. It feels like a top show in Europe."
Prior to Kenny's victory, the juniors and amateurs took their turn on the grass field for the $3,000 High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumpers, and it was Michael Hughes' turn to ride away with a win. He took the top call with Luxina while second place went to Catherine Tyree and her own Don't Go, with Richard Neal and his mount Quadam rounding out the top three.
$34,000 Don Little Memorial Welcome Stake Results
PLACE ENTRY # HORSE NAME RIDER NAME JF1 TF1 AF1 TIME 1
1 209 GATSBY DARRAGH KENNY 0 0 0 70.570
2 257 VINDICAT W JESSICA SPRINGSTEEN 0 0 0 76.040
3 336 SKARA GLEN'S SIENNA PAUL O'SHEA 0 0 0 77.840
4 269 DOBRA DE PORCEYO SCHUYLER RILEY 0 0 0 78.580
5 241 SAMSON II KIRSTEN COE 0 0 0 79.680
6 161 EREGAST VAN'T KIEZELHOF SHANE SWEETNAM 0 0 0 80.230
7 423 SCOUT DE LA CENSE MARIO DESLAURIERS 0 0 0 80.500
8 463 SANDOR DE LA POMME CATHERINE TYREE 0 0 0 81.070
9 218 KISMET 50 CANDICE KING 0 0 0 81.500
10 541 DAKOTA PAIGE JOHNSON 0 0 0 84.730