Chief is taking Ella McCaw (USA) to heights she never thought possible. Sunday afternoon at Thunderbird Show Park, the pair jumped to the win in the $15,000 MarBill Hill U25 League 1.40m during Thunderbird Show Park’s West Coast Classic.
Clear rounds weren’t abundant in the difficult class, with only McCaw and Thursday’s U25 winner, Hayley Mercer, navigating the course fault free. “I think he really knew today was a big day,” McCaw said of the 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Verdi x Argentinus). “He really tried his heart out to jump clean and gave his best effort ever. He took me around my first 1.40m and he was the best.”
McCaw improved with each round aboard Highland Stables, LLC’s Chief in the U25 division. Thursday she took home a top 10 finish, moving into fifth place on Saturday, and taking the win Sunday to close out a stellar week.
The pair has been together for close to a year and a half thanks to a connection from her trainer, Lauren Crooks. This week saw their debut in the MarBill Hill U25 League. McCaw scored the win after Mercer, aboard Crown Royal, dropped two rails on the short course, relegating her in second. Third place went to Sonny Brigade and Jennifer Clark as the fastest four-faulters.
“My mom, my grandma, and my sister all rode and I’ve followed in their footsteps,” McCaw said of her journey through the sport. “I’ve been riding since I was four or five, and I’ve been showing at Thunderbird the last 10 years moving up the ranks. I did my first .70m here and now all the way up to the U25. It’s the best feeling ever, especially to have Chief with me. He’s my main man and he’d do anything for me. I feel like anything’s possible that I never thought I could do, especially winning a U25.”
With big goals to move into senior classes, McCaw focuses on having fun while also trying her best. “I just love to ride and have fun,” she continued. “Winning is so fun and I would love to do some bigger classes like the Welcome and Grand Prix classes in August. I rode today with crystals in my pocket that I bought at the crystal shop in Fort Langley. The crystals are supposed to wash away negative energy and help manifest your dreams, so I had those in my pocket today and it worked!”
Points from this week’s MarBill Hill U25 League will contribute to overall standings, and riders will compete for top honors in the MarBill Hill U25 Final at tbird in the fall.
$15,000 MarBill Hill U25 League 1.40m
1. Chief / Ella McCaw / USA / Highland Stables, LLC / Highland Stables, LLC / 0/4/48.82
2. Crown Royal / Hayley Mercer / CAN / Hayley Mercer / 0/8/51.35
3. Sonny Brigade / Jennifer Clark / CAN / Jennifer Clark / 4/85.86
4. C’Diam De Ste Anne / Jarne Francken / USA / Patti Kits / 4/90.39
5. Princessa / Shaelynn Enders / CAN / Joyce Enders / 4/90.45
6. Casino / Emmeline Adamick / USA / Emmeline Adamick / 5/91.62
7. Golden Power W / Ashley Arnoldt / CAN / Jennifer Arnoldt / 17/95.15
8. Enzo / Jarne Francken / USA / Seabright Investment Consultants Ltd / 31/113.97