Venezuela’s Angel Karolyi claimed redemption in a thrilling rematch versus Quentin Judge of the United States to win the $210,000 Cenovus Energy Classic Derby at the CSI5* Spruce Meadows ‘North American’ tournament in Calgary, AB.
Two major derbies are held at Spruce Meadows each summer, with Karolyi and Judge last facing off in a two-man tie-breaker in the $210,000 CNOOC Nexen Cup Derby on June 8. On that occasion, Judge emerged the victor.
Karolyi got his revenge in the $210,000 Cenovus Energy Classic Derby, when he and Judge were yet again tied with a perfect score of zero faults after 30 challengers attempted two-time Olympic course designer Leopoldo Palacios’s notoriously difficult derby track, which has remained unchanged for the past seven years.
In the first round, Karolyi negotiated the natural obstacles, including the dreaded devil’s dyke, to post a perfect score of zero aboard Indiana 127, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Indoctro x Voltaire) owned by Hollow Creek Farm. Six horses later, Judge managed the exact same feat riding HH Dark de la Hart to force a rematch.
In June, Karolyi had produced a fault-free jump-off effort, only to have Judge eclipse his time by more than two seconds. This time, Karolyi left nothing to chance, laying it all on the table with another clear effort in a blistering fast time of 38.13 seconds. Judge succumbed to the pressure, dropping two rails for eight faults, conceding victory to Karolyi.
“I had a feeling I was going to have to jump-off and when Quentin went clear, I thought, ‘Well, here we go again, buddy!’” said Karolyi. “Today, I chose a different tactic for the jump-off. At the ‘National’ tournament in June, I went a bit safe to be clear and Quentin was faster. This time, I thought, ‘if I lose, it’s not going to be because I went too slow!’”
The victor’s spoils included a $60,000 share of the prize money.
“I’m glad I finally got a win in an important class like this one,” said Karolyi, 27, who was recently named to the Venezuelan team for the upcoming 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France, with his other top mount, Amigo. “It’s a very special win for me. It’s not only the biggest win of my career, but also with a horse that I really believed in.”
In addition to winning the $210,000 Cenovus Energy Classic Derby, Karolyi and Indiana 127 opened the ‘North American’ tournament with a fifth place finish in the $33,500 1.45m AON Cup and placed fourth in Friday’s $50,000 1.50m Lafarge Cup.
“He is finally showing me this year that I was right in believing in him,” said Karolyi of Indiana 127, who he has been partnered with since the fall of 2012. “This horse impressed me at the beginning of the Spruce Meadows Summer Series when he produced a beautiful round and finished second to Quentin. This time, I’m just glad to be the winner.”
Karolyi will continue to compete in the Spruce Meadows Summer Series, which concludes with the CSI5* ‘Pan American’ tournament from .
Karolyi was a member of the gold medal team for Venezuela at the 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, before representing his country at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. The 2014 FEI World Equestrian Games taking place will mark his first World Championship appearance.
For more information on Angel Karolyi and Hollow Creek Farm, please visit www.hollowcreekfarms.com.
Photo by Spruce Meadows Media Services