Lexington, KY – August 14, 2015 – For David Beisel, the Bluegrass Festival Horse Show holds incredible memories, yet there is one in particular that stands out for him. It was three years ago exactly that David Beisel and Ammeretto, owned by Equine Holdings, LLC, entered into only the second grand prix of their show jumping partnership during the week of the USHJA Hunter Derby Finals, and they won. Friday night, under the lights of the Rolex Stadium, it was déjà vu for Beisel as he entered into a 12-horse jump-off with the small but mighty warmblood stallion, winning the $25,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic, presented by Zoetis.
“Before the jump-off, as I was getting ready to go over the course, I was thinking to myself that it was three years ago that he competed his second grand prix, and now, here were are,” Beisel smiled. “I knew that if I had a little faith in him, and with the good partnership we have now, that it all would work, and it did.”
Out of a field of 47 horse and rider combinations, Beisel and Ammeretto rose to the top of the leader board, besting 11 fellow contenders during an exceptionally fast jump-off. Shane Sweetnam and Easy Contact Humlan, owned by Sweet Oak Farm, were the first to tackle the shortened course, designed by Allen Rheinheimer. Although they posted the quick time of 40.487 seconds, he left the door open just enough to let Beisel take his shot.
Beisel sat ringside during the course change, observing Rheinheimer’s changes to the track. He noted that deeper cups were added to the skinny, warranting a tight turn back, and the black oxer originally the 11th obstacle of the opening track was narrowed, allowing for a tight rollback. It was the race to the final oxer with Ammeretto that would have spectators on the edge of their seats.
“I knew I really had to take a shot to the last one,” Beisel explained. “Allen had made the black oxer quite narrow, and I hoped to turn back as tight as I could and trust that he would hop over it. It didn’t come up exactly how I would imagine, but he gave a huge effort. I tried to be smooth to the in-and-out and then trusted him to fly to the Hagyard. He did just that.”
Ammeretto and Beisel have a special partnership, rooted in time and trust. Ammeretto originally found a home with Beisel as a 3-year-old, and now, seven years later, the pair have an unspoken understanding.
Beisel continued, “He is such a smart horse, he really truly enjoys competing and jumping. I think he totally understands to adjust his speed out there and slow up for the jumps. If I have an error in the jump-off it is usually because I am pulling on the reins and mess up his rhythm. I think staying out of his way is the best way to go.”
Beisel and Ammeretto stopped the clock in an astonishing 38.229 seconds.
Sweetnam did not want to take no for an answer tonight. Having already lost the lead to Beisel, as well as to the 18-year-old Emanuel Andrade who posted a clean and speedy effort in 39.962 seconds, he returned on his second qualified mount, Eregast Van’t Kiezelhof.
Although Sweetnam gave it a gamble on the course, his time would still fall 1/10th of a second shy of Beisel’s winning time, landing from the oxer in 38.332 seconds for the second place, pushing Andrade into third.
“This horse was also second in the most recent Hagyard Challenge I did two weeks ago. He was close then and close again tonight. David is a very fast rider,” Sweetnam said. “Eregast Van’t Kiezelhof is not the fastest horse in the world, but he's learning to be faster, as you saw tonight. He makes my job quite easy. I just have to find the jumps, and I think we'll have a chance.”
All three top finishers plan to return to the Rolex Arena on Sunday afternoon for the $40,000 Bluegrass Festival Grand Prix, sponsored by Audi of Lexington. For Beisel, he is aiming for even bigger purses and dreams.
“We plan to jump the HITS Saugerties $1 Million Grand Prix and the [American] Gold Cup and to keep trying to climb up the ranking list,” Beisel concluded. “It is a dream of mine to get on the short list for Team USA, so I want to keep chipping away at getting more points and prove that [Ammeretto] is a competitor. I cannot thank Equine Holdings enough for their support, you cannot do this without owners, I am blessed to have them and for them to back our goals.”
Fourth place was awarded to Sweetnam for his earlier round aboard Easy Contact Humlan as the first of the class, while fifth place was won by Victoria Colvin and Echo Von T Spieveld with a clear effort in 42.645 seconds. Amanda Derbyshire and Lady Maria BH rounded out the top six as the last of the clear efforts in a conservative 48.232 seconds.