Two-for-Two! Leslie Burr-Howard Clinches $35,000 Keystone Classic Speed Stake CSI3* at Pennsylvania National Horse Show

© Taylor Renner: Leslie Burr-Howard and Donna Speciale
Leslie Burr-Howard secured her second FEI win at the 2016 Pennsylvania National Horse Show with Donna Speciale in the $35,000 Keystone Classic Speed Stake CSI3*.

Harrisburg, Pa. – Oct. 21, 2016 – The 2016 Pennsylvania National Horse Show is proving to be Leslie Burr-Howard’s time to shine with two back-to-back FEI wins in Thursday’s $40,000 PA Big Jump CSI3* and in Friday’s $35,000 Keystone Classic Speed Stake CSI3*. Prior to winning last year’s $85,000 Grand Prix de Penn National, Howard hadn’t found much success in Harrisburg since first competing at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex almost 50 years ago. Yet things are finally turning around for Howard as she’s on her way to sweeping the FEI competition and defending her grand prix title at this year’s event.

“I’m not going to say anything right now,” said Howard. “It’s gone too well. I could easily have a rail tomorrow night too, but it’s been a fun show so far.”

In the one-round speed competition, designed by Bernardo Costa Cabral, on Friday, 21 athletes vied for top honors, but only seven were able to cross the finish line with all of the rails intact.

Ireland’s Daniel Coyle, who finished second to Howard on Thursday, was the early clear pathfinder of the class aboard Susan Grange’s Tienna in 50.89 seconds. They held the lead for the entirety of the class until Howard entered the ring as the second to last rider to compete over the short course.

Howard (USA) piloted Sudreau and Howard’s Donna Speciale to a speedy and faultless performance for the win, once again just barely keeping the top spot out of Coyle’s reach with 4/10ths of a second separating the two, in 50.41 seconds. The rivalry between Irish rising star, Coyle, and Olympic veteran, Howard, began over the summer, but lately Coyle hasn’t been able to catch a break from Howard’s winning streak.

© Taylor Renner: Daniel Coyle and Tienna
Daniel Coyle and Tienna

“It all started at Spruce Meadows,” laughed Howard of her and Coyle’s rivalry. “This is now like the fourth or fifth time this has happened to Daniel. Donna Speciale is just such a fast horse across the ground. [Daniel] has a very fast horse but my horse has one of the fastest strides and fastest jump even though she’s extremely careful. She’s like a bullet in the air. There’s no hang time. His horse jumps very high and he had a little more hang time in the air than I did so that’s where we won it.

“My plan stayed the same for the whole way,” continued Howard. “She’s very reliable about doing what you ask her to do. I was a little concerned when I walked the course because I’ve only done one class with her indoors. I was a little concerned because the first line was very tricky, but once I got in there and jumped A of the double I knew that she was going to be right with me pretty much every way. It was an interesting course. It’s hard to criticize because I just won. I think it was a little more twisty-turny than I normally like. My style is usually more of a flowing course. Thank goodness I had the right horse for it tonight. It was an excellent course, not really my type, but my horse liked it.”

It was Mario Deslauriers (USA) and Cherrypop, owned by Wishing Well Farm LLC, who rounded out the top three in 52.84 seconds, while Howard and Donna Speciale also won the Open Jumper Speed championship.

© Taylor Renner: Mario Deslauriers and Cherrypop
Mario Deslauriers and Cherrypop

Howard bought Donna Speciale in December and has high hopes for the 8-year-old KWPN mare, but as an experienced veteran of the sport, having won a team gold medal at the 1984 Lose Angeles Olympics and a team silver medal at the 1996 Games in Atlanta, she understands how humbling and unpredictable the sport can sometimes be no matter how hard you try to prepare for the unexpected.

“Horses are funny,” said Howard. “I had this mare two weeks ago at a horse show and I don’t think we won a ribbon. It just wasn’t our week. She’s won a lot of classes this year. She’s won at the Hamptons and at Spruce. She just sort of had an off week though. I didn’t know coming in, having never shown her indoors, what to expect. The same with the horse that won last night. He’s been building all year to be a really top, nice horse, but it was also my first time indoors with him as well. You sort of have to just take one show at a time and build and work on what didn’t go right, and if it did go right, try to remember what went right and how you got there.

“I’m hoping Donna Speciale will do the top level,” continued Howard. “For sure she’s a winner and I’m quite sure she’ll win at 1.50m. I’m hoping she’ll win at 1.60m.”

One thing is clear, Howard’s in top form and looking to take her talented string of horses as far as she can go including claiming Saturday’s $100,000 Grand Prix de Penn National CSI3*.

“Anything could happen, but what I do have right now is the nicest collection of horses,” said Howard. “I’ve had some nice horses the last 10–12 years, but I haven’t had a string like this really since 12–15 years ago with S’Blieft, Priobert de Kalvarie and Nick of Diamonds. It was just an incredible string and the one I have now is building to be, I think, as nice as those guys.”

© Taylor Renner: Callie Smith and Bigshot
Callie Smith and Bigshot

Immediately following the $35,000 Keystone Classic Speed Stake CSI3* was the $10,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic where Callie Smith bested a starting field of 17 entries and four in the jump-off to lead the final victory gallop with Smithfield Farms, LLC’s Bigshot at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show on Friday evening.

“It means a lot to win this class,” said Smith. “I came back on my really fast horse a couple of years ago and there was four of us in the jump-off but I messed up so I was having a little bit of a flashback coming back today. I was like, ‘Oh, there’s four again, I can’t mess up!’ It was a good win. It was something that I have been wanting for a while. It was awesome. It feels really good.”

As the second pair to return in the jump-off, Smith and Bigshot posted the first double-clear round in 38.764 seconds, which went on to hold throughout the remainder of the tiebreaker.

“I thought the course was really good,” said Smith. “He was jumping a little careful when we were schooling so I was a little bit nervous going in but he was super and he jumped everything exactly the way I wanted him to. I think he only touched one rail in the first round so he was really solid and I thought the lines rode nice. Everything was really good and built to welcome you.”

Thaisa Erwin and Deville, owned by Hollberg Equestrian, finished in second place behind Smith in 39.529 seconds, while Alexa Lowe-Wiseman and Stella De Lannay, owned by Windsor Farm Sales, rounded out the top three as the fastest of the 4-faulters in 39.235 seconds.

“I know Alexa goes really fast but when she had one down I think she probably slowed up a little bit,” said Smith. “Thaisa is my barnmate in Florida and I know she likes to go fast so I was a little nervous for that one, but she was a second slower than me. I told her not to go fast when she went in the ring but she didn’t really listen to me!”

© Taylor Renner: Alexa Lowe-Wiseman and Stella De Lannay
Alexa Lowe-Wiseman and Stella De Lannay

Wiseman also clinched the Amateur-Owner Jumper championship with Stella De Lannay for their efforts showcased throughout the second week of the 2016 Pennsylvania National Horse Show. After a long day of searching and worrying about her missing dog, Mondo, Wiseman got the news that he had been found as she was walking down the ramp to compete in Friday’s classic.

“My dog went missing 24 hours ago and I was home in Upperville looking for him all day and I got up here and I still thought he was lost,” said Wiseman. “As I was walking to the ring at 9 p.m., they told me somebody had found him. The whole day I was visualizing him coming home and Stella doing really well today. I’ve been practicing the power of positive thinking and I have to say it all came true here so that was really great.

“Stella is a wonderful 10-year-old Selle Français mare that I just got at the beginning of the year and I’ve been getting to know her in the amateurs and she stepped up to the grand prix level over the summer and has really finished nicely,” continued Wiseman. “We came here to finish off the year great and she did just that. She was so wonderful. That was a really tough, technical track I have to say. She is supposed to be ready and hot out of the gates for Week One’s WEF grand prix. This is a great note to end on with her until then.”

Results: $35,000 Keystone Classic Speed Stake CSI3*, sponsored by Harvest Seasonal Grill and Wine Bar

1 121 DONNA SPECIALE Leslie Howard (USA) Sudreau & Howard 0 50.41
2 32 TIENNA Daniel Coyle (IRL) Susan Grange 0 50.89
3 67 CHERRYPOP Mario Deslauriers (USA) Wishing Well Farm LLC 0 52.84
4 31 RIDLEY Daniel Coyle (IRL) Susan Grange 0 53.45
5 47 MARK Q Kevin Babington (IRL) Kevin Babington 0 54.21
6 96 WANNICK WH Christine Mc Crea (USA) Candy Tribble 0 57.45
7 39 COOPER Conor O’Regan (IRL) Erin Walker 0 61.84
8 84 VANILLA Elizabeth Madden (USA) Abigail Wexner 4 50.13
9 90 CHECKPOINT U Katherine A. Dinan (USA) Grant Road Partners LLC 4 58.81
10 64 NOUGAT DU VALLET Katherine A. Dinan (USA) Grant Road Partners LLC 4 67.47
11 115 RETIRO Peter Lutz (USA) Gallagher & Meller 4 71.24
12 159 ZANTOS II Andrew Kocher (USA) Mko Equestrian LLC 8 52.46

Results: $10,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Amateur-Owner Jumper Classic, sponsored by The Doubleday Foundation

1 821 BIGSHOT Callie Smith Smithfield Farms, LLC 0 61.426 0 38.764
2 956 DEVILLE Thaisa Erwin Hollberg Equestrian 0 66.673 0 39.529
3 802 STELLA DE LANNAY Alexa Lowe-Wiseman Windsor Farm Sales 0 60.067 4 39.235
4 977 DAKOTA Callie Seaman Callie Seaman 0 62.499 4 42.553
5 1224 IDA GOLD Richard Neal Richard Neal 4 60.883
6 869 CORONA SB Jazz Johnson Merton Jazz Johnson Merton 4 65.434
7 124 COBERLINA Kelly Tropin Orchard Farm 4 66.194
8 849 CAKAO 2 Anastasia Bezsylko Anastasia Bezsylko 8 56.521
9 1004 CARUSO Cynthia McGrath Wynnwood Farm 8 64.497
10 894 LASCANA 3 Teri Kessler Teri Kessler 12 64.273
11 978 FAEMES VAN T POELZELHOF Callie Seaman Callie Seaman 12 64.745
12 1236 COCONUT Z Jean Sheptoff Jean Sheptoff 12 66.053

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