Get Your Tickets for the $100,000 CSI3* ONNI Group Grand Prix 1.50M Aug 14 @ 2 pm

A Gallop Gets the Win for Jaimie Ackerman and Driek in CSI3* tbird 1.35m

Clear rounds were hard to come by in the CSI3* tbird 1.35m. Jaimie Ackerman (CAN) and Driek posted the only double-clear performance to take the win, crossing the timers of Peter Holmes’ shortened track in 41.22 seconds.

Bretton Chad (CAN) and Zirkana Adelheid Z finished second as the only other combination to make the jump-off; they pulled a rail at the final fence (40.65 seconds). Gareth Graves (CAN) and Cassius Z finished third with a single time fault in the first round.

“I think that there were points [on course] where you were kind of galloping across the field, so you could really open up, and then points where you kind of had to pull it back together,” Ackerman said.

“We kind of went for the more forward gallop, and it really worked out for us today.”

Ackerman and Driek have been partnered for three years, and the 14-year-old gelding has brought Ackerman to her first international classes. Based out of Vancouver, she trains with Lisa Carlsen and Dayton Gorsline out of Alberta.

“[Driek] is the first horse I’ve ever done FEI [classes] on,” she said. “Last year was my first FEI event ever at this horse show, so I just love the whole experience, and I’m learning as I go.”

Jaimie Ackerman (CAN) and Driek. Photo ©tbird/Quinn Saunders

$1,500 CSI3* tbird 1.35m

  1. Driek / Jaimie Ackerman / CAN / Jamie Ackerman / 0/0 41.22
  2. Zirkana Adelheid Z / Bretton Chad / CAN / Stone Ridge Farms / 0/4 40.65
  3. Cassius Z / Gareth Graves / CAN / Jillian Halina / 1 71.4
  4. Cameron Diaz 5 / Guillermo Obligado / Milberry Farm, LLC / 4 68.94
  5. Congress de la Charmille Z / Kimberly Wallace / CAN / Kimberly Wallace / 6 72.82
  6. Fair Katie VDH / Maddy Riddle / CAN / Brian Wander Helm / 8 67.56
  7. Quidamo F / Kara Chad / CAN / Kara Chad / 7 78.08
  8. WH Contiago / Madison Sproule / USA / Madison Sproule / 38 100.77

Sampson Starts a Streak in Steel-Craft Doors Cup 1.50m

Matthew Sampson (GBR) did not take long to start a winning streak at Thunderbird Show Park. In his first trip to Langley, he won his second international competition in the span of three days Friday, topping an eight-horse jump-off in the CSI3* Steel-Craft Doors Cup with Ebolensky.

It was a comfortable victory, both in appearance and as indicated by the clock. The pair posted a winning time of 37.86 seconds. Karrie Rufer (USA) and Stern dei Foletti came closest (38.33 seconds), with Vanessa Mannix (CAN) and Catinka 25 third (39.8).

“Ebolensky has such a big stride,” Sampson said. “I just tried to keep it smooth and hope it was enough. I didn’t want to go crazy, because she’s going to jump the [CSI3* ONNI] Grand Prix on Sunday.”

Peter Holmes’ (CAN) 1.50m track flowed rhythmically around the expansive Fort Grand Prix arena, and the 21-strong field bounded across the pristine grass surface, with nine producing a clear first round effort. When Jamie Gornall (GBR) elected not to return for the short course, it shrunk the jump-off field slightly to eight, and Mannix set the tone as the first rider to return. Sampson and Ebolensky, however, created separation with a most expedient turn back to the vertical at Jump 7 and a bold gallop to the penultimate line, for which he didn’t take a pull at the reins.

“She’s an amazing horse,” Sampson said. “It makes my life so much easier.”

Matthew Sampson (GBR) and Ebolensky. Photo ©tbird/Quinn Saunders

Sampson and Ebolensky, whom Sampson owns in partnership with the Evinson family, have had a successful summer, having also won the CSI5* AKITA Drilling Winning Round at Spruce Meadows in July. The pair jumps clear 63% of the time at 1.50m, according to JUMPR App. Sampson has had the now 13-year-old mare since she was just seven.

“She’s a strong character. She knows what she wants,” Sampson said. “I kind of just go with her. She’s a little bit fussy in the mouth sometimes, but the more you try to correct her, the more she’s like, ‘Leave me alone. I’m going to jump anyway!’”

Simple is best for Ebolensky, who goes in minimal tack. She wears no martingale and prefers a soft bit.

“She’s just good. I’m very lucky to have her,” Sampson said.

Matthew Sampson (GBR) and Ebolensky stand for the winner’s presentation. Photo ©tbird/Quinn Saunders

$37,200 CSI3* Steel-Craft Doors Cup 1.50m

  1. Ebolensky / Matthew Sampson / GBR / Matthew Sampson / 0/0 37.86
  2. Stern dei Foletti / Karrie Rufer / USA / Morning Star Sporthorses, LLC / 0/0 38.33
  3. Catinka 25 / Vanessa Mannix / CAN / Vanessa Mannix / 0/0 39.8
  4. Clockwise of Greenhill Z / Uma O’Neill / NZL / Uma O’Neill / 0/0 39.81
  5. Chic D Emma Z / Samantha Buirs-Darvill / CAN / Samantha Buirs-Darvill / 0/0 43.19
  6. Sea Plus / Capt Brian Cournane / USA / Capt. Brian Cournane / 0/0 43.93
  7. Cunningham 4 / Christopher Lowe / CAN / Christopher Lowe / 0/4 42.71
  8. Castlefield Dream / Julian Cournane / IRL / 0/8 37.5
  9. Chacco’s Fleur PS / Jamie Gornall / GBR /Jamie Gornall / 0/WD
  10. Gamble / Conor Swail / IRL / Asta Torokvei / 4 74.53

Bourgeois Dominates Amy Brattebo Real Estate USHJA National Hunter Derby

No rider was busier in the Amy Brattebo Real Estate USHJA National Hunter Derby than Nicole Bourgeois. The Sherwood, OR based professional brought five entries forward to the class and ultimately claimed four of the top five placings. That included the victory, which came aboard Hilary Sonse’s 9-year-old gelding Wayfinder.

The pair received scores of 91 and 92 over the course of the two rounds for a 183 winning total. Dustin Goodwin and Dolce’ Dacapo finished just behind them with a 182 total, with Bourgeois and Duck Duck Goose third (176.5).

“[All five] are very seasoned derby horses, so I’m very lucky,” Bourgeois said. “I’ve had most of them for many years, and we’ve done quite a few derbies at this point, so I feel pretty confident on all of them. Dustin was on a 6-year-old, and I’m on 9, 10, 14 and 19-year-olds. I’m very lucky.”

Partnership certainly played a role in the class, which featured a course that spanned two Thunderbird Show Park arenas. The top two pairs separated themselves from the field after the first round, with Goodwin and Dolce’ Dacapo leading after the classic round with a score of 92, a point ahead of Bourgeois and Wayfinder. But Bourgeois got the upper hand in the second round, and a two-point advantage in the handy round ultimately earned her the victory—her second in two weeks, after topping the USHJA National Hunter Derby at the Split Rock Hunter Jumper Tour in Portland, OR (USA) last Saturday.

“In the handy, I thought any of [my horses] could have won,” Bourgeois. “Wayfinder is definitely a ‘10’ jumper and is probably the most handy of them in that fact that he’s a little bit smaller. We just came off of a win last week, so were riding that high.”

Wayfinder also doubles in the Amateur-Owner hunter divisions with his owner, but Bourgeois has primarily enjoyed the ride while Sonse was pregnant and delivered a son less than two months ago.

“She may come up here in a couple weeks,” Bourgeois said. “I get him to myself for the next week or two, but hopefully she comes up and shows in the Amateur Owners.”

Nicole Bourgeois and Wayfinder stand for the winner’s presentation. Photo ©tbird/Quinn Saunders

$5,000 Amy Brattebo Real Estate USHJA National Hunter Derby
Place / Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Score

  1. Wayfinder / Nicole Bourgeois / USA / Hilary Sosne / 183
  2. Dolce’ Dacapo / Dustin Goodwin / CAN / Jordan Pierson / 182
  3. Duck Duck Goose / Nicole Bourgeois / USA / Amy Bean / 176.5
  4. Mc Queen / Nicole Bourgeois / USA / Barbara Lovre / 176
  5. Tic Tac Toe / Nicole Bourgeois / USA / Amy Bean / 173
  6. Darwin / Quinn Partridge / USA / Gillian Baird / 170.5
  7. Cheers! / Dustin Goodwin / CAN / Elizabeth Boylan / 170
  8. Jembey van’t Eigenlo / Rodney Tulloch / CAN / Christine Maclean / 167.5
  9. Gabriel IV / Rodney Tulloch / CAN / Donna Rooney / 162
  10. Jumping Jack Flash Z / Jenny Graham / CAN / Jenny Graham / 153.5

Rufer Has Winning Reunion in CSI3* Maui Jim Challenge 1.40m

As of a week ago, Karrie Rufer (USA) hadn’t shown Vertige de Galarzacs in nearly two years.

Thursday at Thunderbird Show Park, she realized the time apart may have done the partnership some good. The duo bested a 10-horse jump-off to win the CSI3* Maui Jim Challenge 1.40m.

They crossed the timers of Peter Holmes’ (CAN) shortened 1.40m track in an uncatchable 42.17-second time. James Chawke (IRL) and Howard du Seigneur finished just a few ticks of the clock behind in second (42.44 seconds), with Nicole Haunert (USA) and Camalita third (42.91 seconds).

“He’s got a big step, and he has the most scope of any horse in my barn,” Rufer said. “So, you know if you do the big [classes], you never have to really worry about where you’re putting him [at the jumps]. But he was really rideable today and just super brave.”

The tone for the jump-off was set up the track’s firs line, which walked in eight strides but offered the option to do one less if the line was jumped in with pace. Knowing the large stride she had at her disposal, she went for the lesser number, executed, and carried that rhythm throughout the remainder of the fences.

“As Kyle King was coming out of the ring, I was like, ‘What do you think about seven?’ He said, ‘It’s simple. Just do it,’” Rufer said. “So, I walked in and just kind of hooked it from [fence] one on. And [Vertige de Galarzacs] was just ready to go and just be really careful.”

Rufer acquired the big bay known as “Vince” at the end of 2019, and while the partnership started strongly, things stalled when the global pandemic slowed competition down worldwide. She decided to sell the horse and placed the gelding in the hands of Irish riders Darragh Kenny and Michael G Duffy. When Rufer’s fiancé Kevin Winkel was missing a top horse, Rufer shared the mount with him—until a recent injury took Winkel out of the saddle.

“They’ve been getting along great. [Kevin] has done a beautiful job with him,” Rufer said. “He’s way more rideable than when he was when I was when I started two years ago. Kevin’s like, ‘Are you going to take him back?’ I said, ‘No, I’m just keeping him fit.’”

Photo ©tbird/Quinn Saunders

Rufer is keeping busy with nine horses onsite at tbird. With Winkel out a few more weeks, Rufer’s goal for Vince is stay in form for her fiance’s return, when the plan will be to contest the fall World Cup circuit together as husband and wife.

“Hopefully [Kevin] will come back, and they’ll won’t have missed a beat,” she said. “[Vince] has been great. He’s an awesome horse.”

Photo ©tbird/Quinn Saunders

$8,800 CSI3* Maui Jim Challenge 1.40m
Place / Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time

  1. Vertige de Galarzacs / Karrie Rufer / USA / Morning Star Sporthorses, LLC / 0/0 42.17
  2. Howard du Seigneur / James Chawke / IRL / Ramsay Equestrian, Inc. / 0/0 42.44
  3. Camalita / Nicole Haunert / USA / Blue Gate Stables, LLC / 0/0 42.91
  4. Peninsula Swanky / Samara Heinrichs Prak / CAN / Samara Heinrichs Prak / 0/0 43.21
  5. Kadans van de Mispelaere / Jaehee Jeon / KOR / Brother Fortune Equestrian / 0/0 45.09
  6. Casturano / Samantha Buirs-Darvill / CAN / Meredith Ellis / CAN / 0/0 48.47
  7. Messi 10 / Uma O’Neill / NZL / Uma O’Neill / 0/4 46.22
  8. Chap II / Meredith Ellis / CAN / Meredith Ellis / 8 47.38
  9. Coffee to Go / Kyle King / USA / Spruce Meadows Ltd / 0/18 55.38
  10. Cato Minor J / Maddy Riddle / CAN / Maddy Riddle / 0/29 74.41

Matthew Sampson Inches Away With CSI3* tbird Speed 1.45M Victory 

Langley, BC – Aug. 10, 2022 —Matthew Sampson (GBR) has quickly made an impression in his Thunderbird Show Park debut.

The 31-year-old managed to beat the venue’s winningest rider in Conor Swail (IRL) in the feature class of the Summer Fort Welcome’s opening day. He and the Evison family’s Curraghgraigue Obos Flight won the CSI3* tbird Speed Wednesday in the most memorable of fashions: The pair’s winning margin was just one one-hundredth of a second.

“My god, it doesn’t get any closer,” he said.

The winning time over the 1.45m track was 63.84 seconds. Swail and Gamble were relegated to second with their 63.85-second time. Kyle King (USA) and Etalon finished third (64.85 seconds).

Peter Holmes’ track offered choices, and Swail took the most expedient track available, utilizing the open water option on course. But Sampson had natural quickness—and a hot streak—on his side. He and the 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse entered the Summer Fort Welcome off a tremendous Spruce Meadows circuit in which they won an eye-opening five classes at the two- and three-star levels.

“Conor [and I] kind of did similar strides around the course,” Sampson said. “I think my horse is probably naturally a bit quicker than [his], but Conor did the option to the water jump—which I didn’t do—which was definitely a quicker option. So, I kind of brought us back on level terms, and I think just luckily I was on the right side of the time.”

Sampson and “Jack” have been partnered for the last three years, after Sampson acquired the ride when the bay was seven, from the horse’s breeder, Baden Powell.

“I just loved his character. He’s is very ‘gamey,’ I’d call it. He really wants to win, and he’s ultra careful, and you know, he’s fast and he’s brave,” Sampson said. “He’s just an all-around good horse, really. And I felt like that the first time I kind of jumped him. He actually won at the Dublin Horse Show as a 4-year-old, which is quite a big deal in Ireland.”

Matthew Sampson (GBR) and Curraghgraigue Obos Flight. Photo © tbird/Quinn Saunders

But a big part of Jack’s success has been his management. Despite his winning record, Sampson hasn’t been tempted to test him too much. He excels at the 1.40m and 1.45m heights, with just one start at 1.50m this year.

“I don’t ask him to jump big every class, just because he gives so much heart in every class he jumps,” Sampson said. “But he’s just so consistent around the ranking classes.

“I think [I] just don’t take advantage of [his effort]. That’s my opinion,” he added. “You never take advantage of how much your horse is trying to do for you, you know?”

The Summer Fort Welcome CSI3* kicks off three weeks of international competition in August at tbird. Competition resumes Thursday with the CSI3* Maui Jim Challenge 1.40m and the Amy Brattebo Real Estate USHJA National Hunter Derby.

Tickets are available for the week’s feature, the CSI3* ONNI Grand Prix, set for Sunday, Aug. 14 at 2pm PT.

Sampson and Curraghgraigue Obos Flight stand for the winner’s presentation. Photo ©tbird/Quinn Saunders

CSI3* tbird Speed 1.45m

  1. Curraghgraigue Obos Flight / Matthew Sampson / GBR / Evison Family / 0 63.84
  2. Gamble / Conor Swail / IRL / Asta Torokvei / 0 63.85
  3. Etalon / Kyle King / USA / / 64.85
  4. Catinka 25 / Vanessa Mannix / CAN / Vanessa Mannix / 0 66.92
  5. Sea Plus / Capt. Brian Cournane / USA / Capt. Brian Cournane / 0 73.04
  6. Kitting des Hausseurs / Vanessa Mannix / CAN / Vanessa Mannix / 0 74.71
  7. Crown Royal / Hayley Mercer / CAN / Hayley Mercer / 1 80.03
  8. Sig Chiari / Kyle King / USA / Sig International, Inc. / 4 70.62
  9. Clockwise of Greenhill Z / Uma O’Neill / NZL / Uma O’Neill / 4 72.92
  10. Fiestamunde / Julian Cournane / IRL / Julian Cournane / 4. 74.3

Three Weeks of International Competition Kick Off at tbird’s Summer Fort Welcome CSI3*

Langley, BC Aug. 9, 2022 — The depth of talent at Thunderbird Show Park will be showcased over the course of the next three weeks in Langley, as tbird kicks off a three-week stint of international competition Aug. 10–14 with the Summer Fort Welcome CSI3*.

The schedule has expanded to offer a 1.35m division in addition to its 1.45m and 1.50m features, and that has drawn a competitive pool of both up-and-coming talent and established veterans. Thirty-six athletes presented 64 horses at Tuesday’s inspection, and competition kicks off Wednesday, Aug. 10 with the CSI3* Two Phase 1.35m, CSI3* Happy Welcome 1.40m and CSI3* tbird Speed 1.45m.

The headlining athlete is a familiar name, as tbird’s winningest rider Conor Swail (IRL), now the World’s fourth-ranked show jumping athlete on the prestigious Longines Rankings, returns to his home away from home with the experienced Gamble and a newer mount in Clear Concept.

Uma O’Neill (NZL) returns to tbird with Clockwise of Greenhill Z, with whom she won the 2018 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Vancouver at tbird. The New Zealand Olympian will also bring forward 8-year-olds Messi and London’s de Muze for their respective tbird debuts.

Also among the accomplished group are Alicia Gadban-Lewis (CAN) and Vanessa Mannix (CAN), the respective winner and runner-up from the 2021 Canadian Show Jumping Championships; Matthew Sampson (GBR), winner of the 2022 RBC Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows; Nations Cup veteran Ben Asselin (CAN); and five-star veteran and tbird’s local U.S. rider, Kyle King.

The nine-class international schedule will conclude Sunday, Aug. 14 with the CSI3* ONNI Group Grand Prix at 2:00 pm PT. Tickets are on sale now at

Featured Classes

Wednesday, August 10

  • CSI3* Two Phase 1.35m
  • CSI3* Happy Welcome 1.40m
  • CSI3* tbird Speed 1.45m

Thursday, August 11

  • Amy Brattebo Real Estate USHJA National Hunter Derby
  • CSI3* Maui Jim Challenge 1.40m

Friday, August 12

  • CSI3* tbird 1.35m
  • CSI3* Steel-Craft Doors Cup 1.50m

Saturday, August 13

  • CSI3* Sandhack Realty Classic 1.35m
  • CSI3* Winning Round 1.45m

Sunday, August 14

  • Maui Jim Grand Prix 1.40m
  • CSI3* ONNI Group Grand Prix 1.50m

Catch all the action from the Fort Grand Prix Arena live on tbird TV.

I. Zapo Takes Statement Win in Odlum Brown Ltd Grand Prix

One could say the odds were in Kyle King’s (USA) favour Sunday at Thunderbird Show Park.

Bringing forward four horses for the Odlum Brown Ltd. Grand Prix, he was the busiest rider on course. But his winning mount not only surprised him; the horse also made a believer out of his owner.

Besting a seven-horse jump-off that included his student—and Friday’s Welcome winner—Brooke Morin (USA), King rode Greg Tomb’s I. Zapo to the 9-year-old gelding’s first career grand prix victory, crossing the timers of Joey Rycroft’s (CAN) shortened 1.40m course in 39.81 seconds. Morin settled for second behind her coach (41.47 seconds), with Katie Kruger (CAN) and her longtime mount Goodwill VB third (42.88).

“[I. Zapo] honestly showed me a lot of character today,” King said. “Last to go, I was just really excited to feel the kind of step that he has. He has a stride like Secretariat, and on the big grass field, I could really let him open up.”

I. Zapo has had a few different riders in the last year, as Tomb originally purchased the gelding to be his personal horse. But when work pulled Tomb away from the saddle more than he’d envisioned, he turned the reins over to King. Ultimately, Tomb decided the best course of action was to sell the horse, so King sought to get I. Zapo miles with a younger rider. Along with King, talented 20-year-old (and King’s employee) Jarne Francken (BEL) rode I. Zapo, earning strong results in tbird’s U25 division at the Canadian Premier CSI5* in May.

“I really like his character. He likes the sport, he wants to do it, and he has a lot of scope,” King said of I. Zapo. “He’s now been good for three different riders.”

With a breakout win now on his resume, I. Zapo’s plans are changing.

“I think as of today, he might be off the market,” King said. “I just got off the phone with Greg. The horse changed our minds for us.”

King had plenty to celebrate, as he and Morin shared the top two placings for the second time this week. While Morin was able to learn from her coach’s jump-off in Friday’s Welcome, this time around, King had the advantageous position in the starting order.

“I was rooting for [Brooke] today in the jump-off, and I honestly didn’t know if I could catch her,” King said. “I had one of my top horses Etalon in there as tune-up class, and I gave it a good shot, but we had a cheap rail in the jump-off. I didn’t think I’d be able to catch her on a young horse, but I knew once I landed off the second to last jump that we could just keep on ticking. It was a lot of fun.

“I’m excited to see what [I. Zapo] can really do.”

$20,000 Odlum Brown Ltd Grand Prix

1. I. Zapo / Kyle King / USA / Greg Tomb / 0/0 39.81
2. NKH Carrido / Brooke Morin / USA / Strasburg Morin, Inc. / 0/0 41.47
3. Goodwill VB / Katie Kruger / CAN / Caledonia Stables / 0/0 42.88
4. Etalon / Kyle King / USA / Christine Maclean / 0/4 40.02
5. Verdi de Laume / Denise Youell / USA / Farpoint Farm, Inc. 0/4 46.13
6. Crown Royal / Hayley Mercer / CAN / Hayley Mercer 0/4 47.12
7. Coffee To Go / Kyle King / USA / Spruce Meadows Ltd / 0/8 48.75
8. Casturano / Samantha Buirs-Darvill / CAN / Meredith Ellis / 1 88.48
9. Argus van Orshof Z / Georgia Hunt / CAN / Georgia Hunt / 4 83.54
10. D’Artagnan / Zoe Conlee / USA / Zoe Conlee 4 83.86

Refreshing Win for Courchaine and Lemonade BF in CSJ 6-Year-Old Showcase

At Bosch Farms in Red Deer County, Alberta, Femke Courchaine (CAN) and her team have made a habit out of breeding winners, particularly in tbird’s young horse divisions.

On Saturday at the Western Family, Courchaine rode two homebreds to wins in the Crooks Show Jumping Young Horse Showcase, topping the 4-Year-Old class with Nacho Libre BF and the 6-Year-Old Showcase with Lemonade BF.

“We breed between four and 10 foals a year. There must be 15 horses at this horse show that we bred,” Courchaine said.

Lemonade’s win, earned by way of a two-horse jump-off, kicked off the day’s feature competition in the Fort Grand Prix Arena. Last to contest Joey Rycroft’s (CAN) shortened 1.25m track, efficiency proved the key to victory, as Courchaine and her mount got the better of pathfinders Samantha Buirs-Darvill (CAN) and Maria 111. Ayla Martinoff (CAN) rode A Crown Royale to third as the fastest four-faulters of the first round, which caught many combinations at the end of the course.

“When I walked the last line [in the first round], it seemed like it would ride as a gappy seven [strides], but by the time we finished the course, [the line] got very quiet on us,” Courchaine said. “With all the galloping [on course] and most of the distances quite far apart, when we finally had a line [at the end], it was hard to bring your horse back together.

“[In the jump-off], between the first two fences, we were just very direct,” she added.

Lemonade is familiar with tbird, having won at the venue as a 5-year-old. The grey (Carambole—Vanilla Shake) sat out her 4-year-old season while in foal.

“We’re going to see how far we can go with her,” Courchaine said. “We breed, we train, and we usually sell [our horses]. We really enjoy coming out to tbird.”

$1,750 CSJ 6-Year-Old Showcase

1. Lemonade BF / Femke Courchaine / CAN / John van den Bosch / 0/0 40.52
2. Maria 111 / Samantha Buirs-Darvill / CAN / Bryony Reid / 0/0 42.92
3. A Crown Royale / Ayla Martinoff / CAN / Ayla Martinoff / 4 77.36
4. Diamondo SZ / Kendra de Wilde / CAN / Belle Song / 4 79.21
5. Choco de Nyze Z / Ashley Papalia / CAN / Ashley Papalia / 4 83.18
6. King du Petit Marais / Brooke Hartwick / USA / Brooke Hartwick / 4 83.20
7. Gaby de Vesquerie / Gareth Graves / CAN / Justine Ness / 4 83.53
8. Qing Kunta / Christie Peter / USA / Christie Peter / 4 85.82
9. HHS True Blue / Bianca Ciarla / USA / Hailey Ciarla / 6 91.09
10. Pauly D / Liz Ashton / CAN / Ben Asselin / 16 85.25

King Impresses With ‘Beyond Her Years’ Syrah du Pieroux Z in Crooks Show Jumping 7-Year-Old Showcase

Kyle King (USA) has high hopes for his 7-year-old mare Syrah du Pieroux Z, and Saturday at Thunderbird Show Park’s Western Family, the chestnut Zangersheide (Silver Deux de Virton H D C—Elize de Brinco) showed yet another dimension in winning the Crooks Show Jumping 7-Year-Old Showcase, the day’s feature in the Fort Grand Prix Arena.

Just three combinations were able to navigate Joey Rycroft’s (CAN) first round 1.35m track without fault, and none did so with the ease of Syrah, who caught eyes with her professionalism. With the advantage of returning last in the jump-off, King made up his time and then some following a swift left turn to the penultimate vertical.

Their winning time was 35.33 seconds—a full four seconds fastest. James Brennan (IRL) finished second aboard Amy Berman’s New York (39.74 seconds), with Laura Jane Tidball and Ruby third (40.41).

“I thought I was a little slow with the first right turn [in the jump-off], and I kind of [took a risk],” King said. “She’s just so scopey and brave. We turned up [to the penultimate fence], and [the distance] showed up. I saved three seconds there, I think! Then I was able to cruise all the way home. She’s very brave and very capable of jumping off a short turn.”

King has been developing Syrah since the end of her 5-year-old season; he purchased the mare, in partnership with Stuart Belkin, at the recommendation of friend and colleague Niko Goyette in Europe.

“She’d had a foal at a young age, and [Goyette] had been developing her and called me and thought I should buy her,” King recalled. “It happened to be good timing for me.”

The pair has capitalized on the opportunity to jump young horse divisions at a myriad of venues, taking wins from Langley to Thermal (USA) and San Juan Capistrano (USA). At tbird, the locally based-King appreciates the opportunity to develop his up-and-coming mounts on the expansive grass field that characterizes the Fort Grand Prix Arena.

“What an opportunity to get out on the field with these horses. It’s incredible,” King said. “I feel happy that I’m a local here, and I try to take full advantage of the young horse divisions here. It’s nice to see that the support [for them] is getting bigger and bigger each year.”

With eyes toward a big future, King is focused on keeping Syrah confident and successful. He plans to keep the mare in the 7-year-old division for the remainder of the year before progressing to some 1.40m classes in 2023.

“She’s been stepping through the age classes with ease. She’s very scopey—a ‘beyond her years’ kind of mare,” King said. “We have high hopes for her to compete at highest level.”

$1,750 CSJ 7-Year-Old Showcase

1. Syrah du Pieroux Z / Kyle King / USA / Kyle King / 0/0 35.33
2. New York / James Brennan / IRL / Amy Berman / 0/0 39.74
3. Ruby / Laura Jane Tidball / CAN / Thunderbird Show Stables / 0/0 40.41
4. Cantana / Kyle King / USA / Kyle King / 4 75.33
5. Gare du Lyon / Gareth Graves / CAN / Gareth Graves / 4 78.39
6. HHS Sandy Lane / Hailey Dyck / CAN / Hailey Dyck / 4 81.93
7. Colorado M / Quinn Partridge / USA / Elizabeth Smith / 5 84.50
8. Phancy Girl / Kayla Paulson / USA / Kayla Paulson / 6 85.15
9. Leonardo / Hope Enders / CAN / Hope Enders / 8 80.19
10. Comme Tu Vex Z / Ashley Papalia / CAN / Ashley Papalia / 8 82.81

Ashley Arnoldt ‘Lights Up’ DHP Canadian Hunter Derby

Jennifer Arnoldt’s Light My Fire has found his calling in the hunter ring.

The 10-year-old Hanoverian stallion was imported from Germany in March 2021 as a jumper, but after showing up to 1.35m in North America, his rider Ashley Arnoldt thought his talents might be better suited elsewhere. Now a top Amateur-Owner hunter and the reigning Western Canadian Hunter Derby Champion, Light My Fire and Ashley added the DIHP Canadian Hunter Derby (Open 3’6″ section) at the Western Family to their growing resume.

The duo received a score of 103 from the judges. Sloane Betker finished second and third aboard Kensington (102) and Crack (101), respectively.

“He’s the most perfect hunter,” Arnoldt said. “He’s super cool. He jumped up to 1.40m in Europe, and he was bought to be a jumper. I jumped him up to 1.35m, but I thought he could be a hunter, and from that first day [in the hunter ring], he never looked back.”

Just how cool of a customer is “Lenny”? The chestnut also has a “side job” as a breeding stallion at Arnoldt’s family’s Dreamscape Farm in Langley. Arnoldt competes as an amateur, while her mother runs the breeding operation. Dreamscape Farm stands 13 stallions, including Light My Fire.

“He’s just so easy and so simple,” said Arnoldt, 21. “He can go from breeding to the horse show and then go right back to breeding.”

The Canadian Hunter Derby is held in a unique one-round format, where riders receive a base score before bonus points are added for high performance options and handiness.

“When I walked the course and [saw] the first jump, I wasn’t sure whether to go right and take a wider turn or challenge [ourselves] with a handier turn,” Arnoldt said. “We took the [harder turn], and he nailed it. I knew from then that we were going to have a good day!”

Friday’s class served as a qualifier for the Canadian Hunter Derby Finals, which will return to the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto, ON—canceled in 2020 and 2021—after being staged at the Royal West in Calgary, AB last year. Arnoldt and Light My Fire finished second in Calgary and have their sights set on moving up one more place on the podium.

“I’d love to be Western Champion again and head out [to Toronto] and compete,” Arnoldt said.

Rodney Tulloch bookended the podium in the 3’3″ section, open to junior and amateur riders, along with professionals aboard Green 3′ and 3’3″ and Young Hunters. His top mount was Gabriel IV, who received a winning score of 111. Kassidy Keith finished second with Celebrate (108), with Tulloch and Carson third (106).

$3,000 DHP Canadian Hunter Derby 3’6” Open

1. Light My Fire / Ashley Arnoldt / Jennifer Arnoldt / 103
2. Kensington / Sloane Betker / Sloane Betker / 102
3. Crack / Sloane Betker / Pat Beattie / 101
4. Island View / Denise Tidman / Denise Tidman / 100
5. Arctic Bay / Sonja Sward / Sonja Sward / 98
6. Africa ZF / Samantha Smith / Rachel Ash / 97
7. Cleverboy / Stephany Powers / Debbie Boyle / 95
8. Hamilton / Brianne Hujber / Brianne Hujber / 93.5
9. Bugatti / Jennifer Tims / Jennifer Tims / 91
10. Limited Edition / Drew Croasdale / Drew Croasdale / 85

$3,000 DHP Canadian Hunter Derby 3’/3’3” Junior/Amateur/Green

1. Gabriel IV / Rodney Tulloch / Donna Rooney 111
2. Celebrate / Kassidy Keith / Sarah Appel / 108
3. Carson / Rodney Tulloch / Rodney Tulloch / 106
4. Talaro PS / Philippa Melski / Mila Anderson / 104
5. Dolce’ Dacapo / Dustin Goodwin / Jordan Pierson / 103
6. Naltaire / Rodney Tulloch / Karen Iacoviello / 101
7. Fanta / Chloe Mache / Chloe Mache / 100.5
8. Corona OS / Charlotte Reeve / Brooklyn Deacon / 100
9. Momma Citta / Ruby Wall / Ruby Wall / 95.5
10. Look at Me / Elizabeth Lawson / Chloe Lupul / 95