Langley, BC — Matt Sampson (GBR) couldn’t quite call his partner in the CSI3* tbird Challenge a “catch ride.”
But it had been a while since he’d shown the 11-year-old Curraghgraigue Obos Flight. Flying in from Europe for the Summer Fort Classic CSI3*, Sampson reunited with the gelding for a win in Thursday’s CSI3* tbird Challenge.
The pair crossed the timers of Peter Holmes’ (CAN) short track in 40.53 seconds. Bretton Chad (CAN) and CSF Princess Blue finished second (40.86s), with Katie Kruger (CAN) and Goodwill VB third (43.43s).
It’s been a busy year since Sampson first visited Thunderbird Show Park last August, winning three international classes. This year, he’s spent more time in Europe, while Kara Chad (CAN)—his partner in both business and life—took the reins on “Jack.” But while Chad had three horses of her own in FEI this week at tbird, Sampson had just one, so she lent back the ride.
“I’ve had him since he was seven. So I know him inside out. I rode him completely until April this year, and then Kara took him over,” Sampson explained. “She was great [on him]. He won a few really good classes in Spruce at the summer series. Kara has got three horses already in the three star this week, so we [said], ‘Well, while I’m here, I’ll jump him again.’ She’s going to ride him again after this week.”
Sampson showed off the confidence he has in the gelding, getting out of the tack and hunting across ring to the second fence, where he did two fewer strides than the runners-up. He shaved more seconds off his time to the penultimate fence, a lengthy gallop lane to a vertical.
“He’s so fast, just naturally,” Sampson said, “and he kind of knows. He knows his job. Kara has been riding him for a few months, so she’s done the hard work. I just jumped on him and enjoyed it.”
A year ago, Sampson was hoping to gain entry into more five-star shows. Now, he’s won three five-star Grand Prix events. According to Jumpr App, he’s jumping clear 61 percent of the time when jumping 1.40m in 2023, across all horses.
“Coming [to North America] last year was one of the best things I’ve ever done. Obviously for me from coming from England, it’s a massive financial risk and an output to bring all the horses here. But luckily it really paid off,” Sampson said. “I had a great bunch of horses and owners and all the horses went from strength to strength. Luckily that made it possible to be able to get into more shows this year.”
CSI3* tbird Challenge 1.40m
Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time
1. Curraghgraigue Obos Light / Matthew Sampson / GBR / Matthew Sampson / 0/0 40.53
2. CSF Princess Blue / Bretton Chad / CAN / Stone Ridge Farms LLC / 0/0 40.86
3. Goodwill VB / Katie Kruger / CAN / Caledonia Stables / 0/0 43.43
4. Castros / Meredith Ellis / CAN / Meredith Ellis / 0/4 44.66
5. Luikan Q / Brian Morton / CAN / Attache Stables / 0 74.3
6. Chicago CM / Eric Krawitt / CAN / Eric Krawitt / 0 75.83
7. Glacier ZF / Shauna Cook / CAN / Zeidler Farm Canada 2017 Ltd / 4 77.3
8. Fair Play D’Esquelmes / Nyah Chernoff / CAN / Stump Lake Ranch and Cattle Co Ltd / 4 77.94
9. Zamira Z / Isauro Flores / CAN / Isauro Flores / 6 82.4
10. Pasquinelle / Emily Fitzgerald / CAN / Emily Fitzgerald / 8 82.97