Lexington, Kentucky – Victor Segovia of Venezuela jumped to victory in the $60,000 Country Heir II Grand Prix on Sunday, June 16, at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY. The 36-year-old topped a competitive field of 24 to take the win aboard Romeo, a 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by The Romeo Group.
Only four riders managed to contest the first round track cleanly to advance to the jump-off. Segovia put in a second clear performance in a time of 43.96 seconds to secure the win. The only other rider to jump fault-free was Juan Ortiz, also of Venezuela, who finished runner-up aboard Accordance with a time of 45.35 seconds. Ireland’s Shane Sweetnam riding Fine Man incurred four faults to take third while David Beisel and Ammeretto placed fourth with an eight-fault total.
“Lately, I’ve been trying to go fast at the beginning of the jump-off and by the end, Romeo gets strong and I have trouble turning,” said Segovia, who came back first in the jump-off order. “This time, we decided to go for a nice, clear round; we didn’t do the inside turns or try to leave strides out. Our strategy was to let those who followed do the inside turns and leave out strides and see if they made a mistake. Shane and David are very fast, and even though Juan has a naturally slower horse than mine, I was worried as I had been conservative in my track and knew that I had left the door open.”
In addition to winning the $60,000 Country Heir II Grand Prix, Segovia and Romeo also posted a number of impressive performances earlier in the week, finishing fifth in the $8,000 Half Million Jumper Classic on Wednesday, June 12, and seventh in the $25,000 Grand Prix on Friday, June 14. Segovia advanced to the jump-off in both classes, going double-clear in the $8,000 Classic and finishing with four faults in the $25,000 Grand Prix jump-off.
“He’s a hot horse, very hot and strong,” said Segovia, who first began campaigning Romeo three years ago for Brooke Gilece and The Romeo Group. “I’ve been very patient with him. Every time he’s bad, I try to kill him with kindness instead of getting after him, and that seems to work. In the barn, he is so sweet and anyone can handle him, but when I get on, it’s a whole different story. He’s only 15.3hh but when I put my foot in the stirrup, he thinks he’s 17hh. He’s super cocky, which is why I think he’s not afraid of the big jumps. He’s very special. I’m super grateful and feel very lucky to have him.”
Segovia trains with Andrea King and fellow Venezuelan, Angel Karolyi, who operate Hollow Creek Farm in Aiken, SC. Segovia began working with Hollow Creek Farm at the beginning of 2013 and has since noticed a big difference in Romeo’s performance.
“I’ve been working with Angel and Andrea since the beginning of this year and it’s been super,” said Segovia, who scored the first grand prix victory of his career in the $25,000 Carolina Real Estate Co. Grand Prix at the Aiken Spring Classic Finale, SC, in April. “The difference has been a ‘180’ in how the horse is going. I started having clear rounds at the Live Oak International in March, and it’s been going really well ever since. I am so thankful to Andrea, Angel and the Andrade family to be a part of the Hollow Creek Farm team.”
Fellow Hollow Creek Farm rider Emanuel Andrade also enjoyed tremendous success at the Country Heir II competition. The 16-year-old took home seventh, ninth and 11th in the $60,000 Grand Prix riding Walter 61, ZZ Top v/h Schaarbroek Z and Crossfire 10 respectively, having incurred four faults with each in the first round. Aboard Crossfire 10, Andrade also placed ninth in the $25,000 Grand Prix after incurring one time fault in the first round.
Andrade also dominated the Junior Jumper divisions, capturing both the Championship and Reserve Championship titles with Carboni and Casanova Junior respectively in the Low Junior/Amateur-Owner division.
Andrade also took the Reserve Championship title in the High Junior/Amateur-Owner division riding Tiny Tim, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. The pair finished second in two classes during the week and seventh in the $10,000 Junior/Amateur-Owner High Jumper Classic on Saturday, June 15. He also earned wins in the High Junior Jumper division with La Fe Forli and Walter 61. In the Open Jumpers, Andrade won a 1.25m class with Oxford and two 1.30m classes with Costa.
Hollow Creek Farm has the unique distinction of winning three prestigious titles at the 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL. Andrade was named the Leading Jumper Rider, King was named the Leading Jumper Trainer, and Hollow Creek Farm was named the Leading Jumper Owner.