Chawke Saves Best for Last in Hillcrest Show Jumping “Seize the Day” Grand Prix 1.30m

Langley, BC – Through 18 riders in an action-packed jump-off in the Hillcrest Show Jumping “Seize the Day” Grand Prix 1.30m, the leaderboard couldn’t have been much closer. First and second were separated by a half-second. So, too, were third through eighth.

Then James Chawke entered the arena and blew the entire class open. Last to go, he and Alison Locke’s Nacara van Berkenbroeck Z took the most expedient of tracks around Joey Rycroft’s (CAN) short course, crossing the timers nearly three seconds in front (27.94s). Catherine Brentzel (USA) and Quintago VA finished second (30.39s), with Georgia Knight (CAN) and Ecolano vs Romano third (30.97s).

“The horse is very fast, so I know that if I’m a bit smart about my plan, I should be right up there,” Chawke said. “There were a lot of horses in the jump-off. Of course, it’s handy being last, because then you know what you have to do. You’re not taking any unnecessary risks and you have to kind of go fairly fast.”

Chawke weighed the risks that came with a leave-out no one else had attempted between the jump-off’s first two fences, and he determined riding an eight-stride track was the best strategy for success. It was smooth sailing from the moment he left the ground to the first jump.

“I walked one to two, and I thought there would be an eight there,” Chawke said. “I figured most people would do nine or ten [strides], but I knew eight was there if I needed to, so I didn’t actually watch that many. But I saw [Brentzel] before me go the last little bit. She looked very fast, so I figured I probably should try and get eight there and be tight back to the double if I could.”

Chawke has been partnered with the 10-year-old bay for about a year, and it’s been a successful summer for the pair, with the gelding also winning the Diamond Valley Ranch U10 Young Horse 1.35m at the Summer Fort Welcome. After his latest victory, he’ll get a well deserved rest before a winter season of showing in Thermal, CA.

“He’s a very good jumper, very careful. He’s got quite a bit of blood and is a bit strong, but he’s improved,” Chawke said. “He’s got a great mindset. He always wants to do the right thing. He’s always trying to win.”

Hillcrest Show Jumping “Seize the Day” Grand Prix 1.30m
Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time

1. Nacara van Berkenbroeck Z / James Chawke / IRL / Alison Locke / 0/0 27.94
2. Quintago VA / Catherine Brentzel / USA / O’Neill Show Jumping LLC / 0/0 30.39
3. Ecolano VS Romano / Georgia Knight / Georgia Knight / 0/0 30.97
4. Caponerhall / Kaylie Martinoff / CAN / Inga Martinoff / 0/0 31.61
5. Eloise / Rachel Cornacchia / CAN / Eventyre Farms Ltd / 0/0 32.02
6. Livius P / Lilah Nakatani / USA / Lilah Nakatani / 0/0 32.03
7. Lucky Strike / Andrea Strain / CAN / Andrea Strain / 0/0 32.29
8. Fenelon WF / Kassidy Keith / CAN / Kassidy Keith / 0/0 32.36
9. Infostar / Georgia Hunt / CAN / Georgia Hunt / 0/0 32.86
10. Darling Sherlock / Niko Keshtkar / CAN / Niko Keshtkar / 0/0 33.27

Betker Moves Up in Equine Essentials CET Regionals

Langley, BC — Throughout the two days of competition at the Equine Essentials CET Regionals in the indoor arena at Thunderbird Show Park, Sloane Betker kept herself in the hunt.

She didn’t win either of the Flat/Gymnastic or Jumping Phases, but she was close, finishing third and fifth, respectively. That was all she needed to make the top six, all of whom returned for a final “jump off” style course to determine the final placings.

This was where Betker, with a strong show jumping background, could shine. She received the highest marks of the jump-off phase to take a narrow victory over Chloe Mache, with Colby Winther Konig finishing third. Georgia Knight secured fourth honors; these four earned invitations to compete in the CET Finals at the Royal Horse Show later this fall.

“My goal was just to be top four. I wasn’t going in to win; I just wanted to stay consistent,” Betker explained. “I was aiming for CET Finals again this year. Last year I ended up third at the Royal, and my goal this year was to qualify and have another shot.

“When I went into the jump-off, I knew that I had to step up,” she added. “We were all super close, and I knew that one mistake could cost us the top four. I just went for it, and it all came together.”

Betker has had a banner year, winning her first USHJA International Hunter Derby—also aboard Crack—at the Summer Fort Classic and representing Canada at the North American Youth Championships. Her equitation and derby mount, Crack, was originally leased until her family bought him outright at the lease’s conclusion.

“I think the way he goes and his style is just really suited to the equitation ring,” Betker shared. “He has quite the personality. You can’t tell how he is going to behave until you are in the ring, but when he is on his game, there is no better horse.”

Equine Essentials CET Regionals 
Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Score

1. Crack / Sloane Betker / CAN / Sloane Betker / 79/85/86
2. Fanta / Chloe Mache / CAN / Chloe Mache / 83/86/83
3. Bit Ticket / Colby Winther Konig / CAN / Sorine Winther / 80/87/81
4. Cortofino / Georgia Knight / CAN / Brabant Holdings Inc. / 81/78/85
5. Annorlunda / Locklyn Williamson / CAN / Graham Williamson / 78/83/80
6. Black Pearl / Katrina Klimach / CAN / Katrina Klimach / 73/82/82
7. Pac Man TW / Amara Gottwald / CAN / Amara Gottwald / 63/77
8. Special K IV / Bianca Duronio / CAN / Katie de Witt / 61/72

No Bridle, No Problem for O’Neill and Clockwise of Greenhill Z in CSI3* tbird Grand Prix

Langley, BC – Two fences from home in the first round of the CSI3* tbird Grand Prix Saturday at Thunderbird Show Park, a clear round looked unlikely for Uma O’Neill (NZL) and Clockwise of Greenhill Z.

Heading toward the penultimate vertical, Clockwise’s bridle slipped over his ears. The tack fell beneath his nose, but the stallion held onto his bit.

Instead of trying to pull up, O’Neill determinedly continued on, managing to steer right to the final oxer. The pair cleared the fence and returned without issue to the ingate, where the stallion was safely stopped, and his bridle was repositioned—not that he seemed to need it at that point.

The pair would go on to win the class, besting a five-horse jump-off in the final international Grand Prix event of the 2023 Thunderbird Show Park season.

“It was very wet from the rain, and as I kept going around the [first round] course, I noticed that there was more and more bonnet sticking up above his ears,” O’Neill shared. “Over [the B element] of the triple [combination] I got a little concerned, and cantering to the Odlum Brown oxer, I thought the bonnet might be covering his eyes, and I wasn’t quite sure where his vision was, but he still felt amazing.

“I landed off the next jump, and the bridle went over his ears,” she continued. “He started to back off, but I kept my leg on, and he felt confident, so I decided to keep going. There was only one jump left, and he felt great.”

They jumped clear again in the second round, crossing the timers of Joey Rycroft’s (CAN) short course in 41.11 seconds. Jaehee Jeon (KOR) finished just behind the winning pair in second with Kadans van de Mispelaere (41.78s), followed by Kassidy Keith (CAN) and Havana, who had the time but also a single knockdown on their scorecard (4/40.57s).

There was an option to sneak inside of the combination to the vertical three fences from home in the jump-off, but the top three combinations all elected to forgo it, after Tiffany Foster attempted the track and had the rail down aboard exciting 8-year-old, Kadans. That pair ultimately finished fourth.

“I watched Tiffany go, and I was not confident, especially turning right, about the inside turn after the double,” O’Neill said. “I decided that the best decision for me was to go quickly around to that vertical. If anyone wanted to try that inside turn after me, they would be taking that risk. [Clockwise] just felt really on it and smooth and followed me everywhere.”

O’Neill and Clockwise have been partnered for nearly a decade, climbing the ranks from the junior jumpers and the North American Youth Championships (then called the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships) to the Tokyo Olympic Games. The stallion is feeling as fresh as ever at age 16. According to Jumpr App, this year Clockwise is jumping clear 40 percent of the time at 1.50m.

“I have so much confidence in him. I know he knows the job, and it’s just about keeping him fresh, happy and loose in his body. He’s ready to go,” O’Neill said. “He had a little bit of a lighter spring and summer this year. He came back feeling really fresh. He spent most of that time swimming at Premier Equine Center [in Oakdale, CA]. It’s been super beneficial at his age, just keeping his fitness up with less concussion on his joints.”

Many memorable results have come at tbird over the course of their partnership, including a win in the 2018 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Vancouver, when they produced the only clear effort of the class.

“Tbird is a place that has really done a lot for my career and Clockwise’s career,” O’Neill said. “We’ve had many special memories here, and the Tidball family and staff at tbird have always felt like family.”

CSI3* tbird Grand Prix 1.50m
Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time

1. Clockwise of Greenhill Z / Uma O’Neill / NZL / Uma O’Neill / 0/0 41.11
2. Kadans van de Misplelaere / Jaehee Jeon / KOR / Brother Fortune Equestrian Ltd / 0/0 41.78
3. Havana / Kassidy Keith / CAN / Kassidy Keith / 0/4 40.57
4. Kadans / Tiffany Foster / CAN / Artisan Farms LLC / 0/4 43.12
5. Un Diamant des Forets / Jim Ifko / CAN / Eventyre Farms Ltd / 0/8 39.95
6. NKH Carrido / Brooke Morin / USA / Strasburg Morin Inc / 3 91.74
7. Odysseus / Kyle King / USA / Patricia Vasey / 4 83.65
8. Capitale 6 / Charlie Jones / GBR / Morning Star Sporthorses / 4 86.19
9. SIG Chiari / Kyle King / USA / Kyle King / 4 86.28
10. Igali LN / Braden James / CAN / James James Sport Horses / 4 86.32

Cerolino Makes Strides in CSI3* Winning Round 1.45m

Langley, BC – Last to return in the CSI3* Winning Round 1.45m Friday evening at Thunderbird Show Park, Kyle King (USA) had only himself to beat for a second consecutive victory aboard Odysseus.

On paper, “Odie” was the undeniably faster horse of his two mounts. But on this occasion, it was stride that prevailed over footspeed. As Odysseus pulled a rail at the combination three fences from home, it sealed the win for 10-year-old Cerolino.

The scopey grey gelding crossed the timers of Joey Rycroft’s (CAN) course in 40.41 seconds. Bretton Chad and Grandeur WP finished second (41.18s), with Stephanie Valdes and Cyber Lady Z third (43.19s).

“Cerolino has tremendous scope. I did him in a five-star about a month ago,” King said. “He’s a slower jumper and scopier type, but I really have high hopes for him this season in the three and four stars continuing on.”

Both King and Odysseus and Tiffany Foster and Jetouelle-S posted swifter times, but a rail apiece pushed them farther down the leaderboard in the uniquely formatted competition, in which the top 10 performers from the first round, regardless of score, return for a jump-off on a clean slate.

I just compartmentalize. I put [my last round away], and I tried my best shot on Odie,” King said. “I kept seeing everybody getting deep [into the combination], which is perfect for Odie. He did a quick little step when he read it, and it got long for me [when] he needed to get deep there. So, he just got a little bit belly flat there, which is unfortunate because he had the time.”

Cerolino, meanwhile, put forth a deceptively quick round, positively eating up the ground with his massive step. He and King were also the only combination to attempt and execute a leave-out in the final line, doing just seven strides to the last fence, a liverpool oxer.

“I was also pretty gappy to that third jump on the angle,” King explained. “I thought about doing one more [stride there] for a second, [but] I just know this horse has tremendous scope and sometimes can be a little slower on the front end. So, I thought it was the right choice, and it was pretty gappy, but that also saved me some time. I was a little slow after that, but then he was very good down [the] last line, and I was able to get the seven.”

King has had the ride on Cerolino since the fall. According to Jumpr App, the pair is jumping clear at an impressive 57 percent clip at the 1.45m height, averaging just 2.07 faults.

“He’s owned by Ilan Ferder, and I’m lucky enough to be able to produce him,” King said. “I’m hoping we can just keep climbing the ranks and get jumping in bigger and bigger classes.”

CSI3* Winning Round 1.45m
Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time

1. Cerolino / Kyle King / USA / Ilan Ferder / 0/0 40.41
2. Grandeur WP / Bretton Chad / CAN / Stone Ridge Farms LLC / 4/0 41.18
3. Cyber Lady Z / Stephanie Valdes / CAN / Wendy Valdes / 6/0 43.19
4. Jericho / Laura Jane Tidball / CAN / Thunderbird Show Park Ltd. / 3/0 45.6
5. Jetouelle-S / Tiffany Foster / CAN / 5 Roosters / 0/4 38.41
6. Odysseus / Kyle King / USA / Patricia Vasey / 0/4 39.4
7. Igali LN / Braden James / CAN / James James Sport Horses / /4 41.1
8. Castros / Meredith Ellis / CAN / Meredith Ellis / 8/4 44.05
9. Messi 10 / Uma O’Neill / NZL / Uma O’Neill / 3/4 45.2
10. Diva de Talma / Catherine Brentzel / USA / Catherine Brentzel / 4/8 38.89

Meet 2023 U25 Series Champion Georgia Knight

When 19-year-old Georgia Knight laid out her short- and long-term goals for her 2023 season at Thunderbird Show Park, she hoped she could get her feet wet in the U25 division—that way, she could be a real contender in 2024.

She may have underestimated herself.

Knight, 19, won her U25 debut at tbird in May, and when the series concluded at September’s Harvest Celebration, Knight captured the overall series title with her runner-up finish in the MarBill Hill U25 League final. The Victoria, BC native has gone from strength to strength this summer with her two mounts, Onyx and Ecolano vs Romano, while training under the tutelage of Lizzie Gingras.

“My goal was to maybe get to the U25 this year—but for sure, next year. And then things just started to come along really well with both of my horses,” Knight said.

It’s the juxtaposition of two horses with strong characters, along with Gingras’ coaching, that has helped the former hunter rider take her riding to the next level. Onyx, an 18-year-old veteran gelding, has been around longest; Knight initially leased the fiercely brave and competitive gelding for a year from owner Joelle Froese. That has since been extended.

“He took me from 1.20m to 1.40m,” Knight said of Onyx. “Actually, we jumped a couple 1.45m [classes] in California this year, and I never thought I would be able to do that until Onyx came into my life. He’s not easy—he’s a horse you have to partner with and ride him the way he wants to be ridden.”

Onyx’s enthusiasm for showing has been a tremendous source of confidence for Knight, while also helping her improve her physical strength. While many horses can tend to become more energized at horse shows, Onyx is more laid back in the show ring, choosing to save his antics for training at home.

“He’s the hottest horse I’ve ever ridden, except he doesn’t do it when he’s in the show ring,” Knight revealed. “I’ve gotten very strong riding Onyx.  At home he’s so hot, and then when I get in the show ring here, he actually becomes quite lazy.”

Onyx also kept Knight going in the face of tragedy. Seeking a horse of her own with which to climb the ranks long term, Knight thought she found the perfect partner when she acquired “Cass” in early 2022. Two weeks into their partnership, a freak accident resulted in the horse having to be put down.

It took a several months for Knight to recover from the loss and move forward, as she re-started her search to find a suitable mount. In July 2022, she made a last-minute decision to travel to Calgary for a trial aboard Ecolano vs Romano. “Romeo” landed off of a jump, brought his head up abruptly and knocked Knight squarely in the face.

She bought him anyway.

“He’s such a nice horse, it was something I could deal with,” Knight said. “I could figure out a way not to get hit in the face.”

Still, there was a learning curve, and Romeo proved to be a demanding partner, intolerant of repeated mistakes. The bay forced Knight to evolve from her light, hunter-styled seat and ride every fence accurately—not to mention, he added a layer of complexity to her warm-up with his distaste for head-on traffic. When Romeo challenged Knight, Onyx built her confidence back up. Then a turning point came in July at Rocky Mountain Show Jumping.

“I wanted to jump the Grand Prix there, because they tend to be slightly softer than Thunderbird,” Knight recalled. “Even though I’d only jumped the 1.25m there, I said I was just going to do it. I said [to myself], ‘I’m going to ride really hard and try to get it done, and I did, and then it just went up from there.

“I think pushing myself to just jump bigger made me ride better,” she added, “and it got me over the hump with [Romeo].”

Thunderbird Show Park recognized Knight’s commitment to her sport as one of three riders awarded the George & Dianne Tidball Legacy Scholarship (18–25 age group) in mid-September. The scholarship—which includes horse show benefits like waived entry, nomination and stall fees, along with a $1,000 cash riding bursary—is awarded annually to “individuals who exemplify hard work, dedication to the sport of equestrian, good sportsmanship, and leadership.”

“I actually did not expect to win. It was a nice surprise,” Knight said. “To be able to help my parents next year, because they’re letting me take this time off [from full-time university studies] to achieve my goals, is really cool. But also, I’ve always really wanted the scholarship, because I feel like I’ve been coming to tbird for a really long time, and it’s honestly like home for me. Just to be able to represent it [is special].”

While Knight is unsure of whether she’ll pursue show jumping as her profession, she’s eager to take the sport as far as she can, with her eyes set on the U25 division at the Royal Horse Show later this fall. She’ll tell you, what drives her most is simply a love for the animal. Knight forwent a university soccer career to commit fully to riding after high school, and when she’s not working with her own horses, she’s helping to treat others, working part-time as a veterinary technician.

“I honestly just can’t imagine my life without horses in it,” Knight said. “I love them, and I love being around them, and I had a decision to make: Do I play soccer, or do I ride? And it was a [no-brainer]. I can’t imagine never riding.”

Plans Come Together for Ifko in CSI3* tbird Qualifier

Langley, BC – Jim Ifko (CAN) had a plan for the CSI3* tbird Qualifier before he even saw the class’s course map.

His goal was simply to keep his horse relaxed and to not let too much out of the tank ahead of Saturday’s CSI3* Grand Prix.

I was hoping that we’d have just a comfortable round—[but] of course, you always want to get in the jump-off,” Ifko said. “Then in the jump-off, I actually just wanted to have a nice smooth—let’s call it ‘relaxing,’ if you will—round. I know my horse is fast anyway, but if I try and go too fast then he’s gone [and] we’ve lost everything over the last class.”

It turns out that cruising speed for the spectacular 15-year-old stallion Un Diamant des Forets is still good enough to best a competitive eight-horse jump-off. Ifko and his mount took the victory Thursday evening in the Thunderbird Jumper Arena with a winning time of 39.64 seconds.

Kyle King (USA), fresh off a win in Wednesday’s CSI3* tbird Speed, finished second with SIG Chiari (42.01s). Charlie Jones (GBR) and Capitale 6 were third (42.7s).

Joey Rycroft’s (CAN) jump-off asked riders to make choices, as he offered several opportunities for inside turns while also keeping in the track the combination that fell most often in the first round. Ifko and Un Diamant des Forets navigated the more difficult track flawlessly.

“I tried to just be smooth and as relaxed as possible and just keep a lid on things and he was really rideable,” Ifko said of his mount. “So, all the short turns worked out really well. And the plan actually just kind of worked out.”

Ifko has been partnered with “Monty” for more than seven years, and the duo has recorded 13 international victories together. According to Jumpr App, they finish in the top 10 at a 38% clip when jumping at the 1.45m height.

Originally, however, their partnership was unplanned. Ifko was shopping for mares in Europe when he came upon the stallion. Ultimately, Ifko returned home without having purchased a single mare, but the stallion became a permanent addition. Monty is an active breeding stallion at Eventyre Farms near Calgary, AB, covering a few mares before heading to tbird to compete.

“I think the biggest surprise when it comes to the story of finding him is the fact that he was literally a horse that we looked at on the way to the airport,” Ifko shared. “So, it was a last minute thing. But as soon as I rode him, I knew—I wasn’t 100% sure how far along, height-wise he would go—but I knew that he was going to be a competitive horse along the way. And as it turns out, it’s exactly the way I was thinking.”

CSI3* tbird Qualifier 1.45m
Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time

1. Un Diamant des Forets / Jim Ifko / CAN / Eventyre Farms Ltd / 0/0 39.64
2. SIG Chiari / Kyle King / USA / Kyle King / 0/0 42.01
3. Capitale 6 / Charlie Jones / GBR / Morning Star Sporthorses LLC / 0/0 42.7
4. Kadans / Tiffany Foster / CAN / Artisan Farms LLC / 0/0 42.94
5. Cunningham 4 / Christopher Lowe / CAN / Christopher Lowe / 0/0 43.01
6. Rhapsody / Sarah Lottis / CAN / Kevin Lottis / 0/4 41.55
7. Heartvit ZH / Tracey Epp / CAN / Tracey Epp / 0/4 45.94
8. Klasse One / Tracey Epp / CAN / Tracey Epp / 0/4 48.25
9. CSF Princess Blue / Bretton Chad / CAN / Stone Ridge Farms LLC / 4 74.74
10. Clockwise of Greenhill Z / Uma O’Neill / NZL / Uma O’Neill / 4 76.22

King Commands CSI3* tbird Speed 1.40m

Langley, BC – Wednesday at Thunderbird Show Park, it appeared as though Kyle King (USA) was in a race against himself.
 
He and Patricia Vasey’s Odysseus positively blew the field away in the CSI3* tbird Speed 1.40m, the opening international class of the final competition of tbird’s 50th Anniversary season.
 
Crossing the timers of Joey Rycroft’s (CAN) track in 59.66 seconds, King and “Odie” were more than six seconds faster than runners-up Uma O’Neill (NZL) and Messi 10 (66.07s), who produced the first clear round of the class and held the lead for its majority. Tracey Epp (CAN) and new mount Klasse One finished third (67.03s).
 
“He’s just a fast horse,” King said. “You don’t have to push him anywhere and, you just kind of follow him, keep the balance right. He’s a gamer.”
 
Rycroft set a winding track, maximizing the space of the Thunderbird Jumper Arena. The long gallop lanes offered between far-away related distances were paired with sharp rollback turns, and strategically placed decorations dared riders to attempt even tighter inside turns.
 
King was one of the few who accepted those challenges, executing a flawless right-handed hairpin turn to the final line that set himself even farther apart in a class in which he was already up on the clock.
 
“I feel like I know him really well,” King shared. “Now I can turn short as I want to verticals. Oxers sometimes I need let him see the back rail a little bit. But in a lot of circumstances he’s a fast enough kind of horse that if there’s an option of an inside turn to an oxer or around, I can around and still be just as fast. He’s that type.”
 
King has been partnered with Odie since August 2022, when owner Patricia Vasey handed him over the reins after herself developing the horse up to 1.40m. According to Jumpr App, Odysseus finishes in the top 10 44% of the time when jumping 1.40m.
 
“Odie is definitely a main source of my string now and for the foreseeable future,” he said.
 
“He’s proven to be a horse for me in the money classes. Whether he’ll be a big Sunday 1.55m Grand Prix horse or not, I’m not sure. But he’s a very solid, good jumping weapon in my string. I’m very lucky to have him.”
 
CSI3* tbird Speed 1.40m Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time
1. Odysseus / Kyle King / USA / Patricia Vasey / 0 59.66
2. Messi 10 / Uma O’Neill / NZL / O’Neill Show Jumping / 0 66.07
3. Klasse One / Tracey Epp / CAN / Tracey Epp / 0 67.03
4. CSF Princess Blue / Bretton Chad / CAN / Stone Ridge Farms LLC / 0 67.06
5. Kadans / Tiffany Foster / CAN / Artisan Farms / 0 68.26
6. Cunningham 4 / Christopher Lowe / CAN / Christopher Lowe / 0 70.54
7. Igali LN / Braden James / CAN / James Sport Horses / 0 73.04
8. Rhapsody / Sarah Lottis / CAN / Kevin Lottis / 4 59.7
9. Grandeur WP / Bretton Chad / CAN / Stone Ridge Farms LLC / 4 63.34
10. Comme tu Veux Z / Ashley Papalia / CAN / Ashley Papalia / 4 64.85

Returning Champions Presented at BCHJA Finale CSI3*

Langley, BC — Thunderbird Show Park hosts the final event of its 2023 season this week in Langley with the BCHJA Fall Finale, featuring three-star international competition and the CSI3* $100,000 Grand Prix.

Thirty-five equine athletes were brought forward Tuesday for the international horse inspection—a competitive group of horse-and-rider combinations already with winning records during tbird’s 50th Anniversary season.

A powerful female lineup will be on display this week, as Tiffany Foster (CAN), Bretton Chad (CAN), Kassidy Keith (CAN) and Brooke Morin (USA) all return to tbird after recording memorable victories in August and September.

Just a week ago at the Harvest Celebration, Keith topped the MarBill Hill U25 League final for the third consecutive year, doing so aboard her longtime partner, Havana. In August, this pair also jumped double-clear for a third-place finish in the CSI3* The Keg Grand Prix—the biggest finish of their respective young careers.

Local favorite Foster claimed four international victories at tbird in August, including the CSI3* Kubota Canada Winning Round 1.45m with Jetoulle-S at the Summer Fort Classic. The 9-year-old mare has blossomed under Foster’s tutelage this summer and may jump her first international 1.50m class at the BCHJA Fall Finale.

Chad revealed a talented mount of her own this summer in 9-year-old CSF Princess Blue, who was best in the Maui Jim Grand Prix at August’s Summer Fort Welcome. The agile bay will contest the second three-star event of her career this week. Meanwhile, Morin will return to the level with her veteran partner NKH Carrido, with whom she jumped her first five-star classes in Calgary this summer. In August, the duo took a U25 win at tbird, setting them up for a confident finish to their season in Langley.

Travis Root (USA) shined brightest at the jog, receiving the Equi-Products Best Dressed Award. Sporting an orange tbird logo cap and ribbon, Root went home with a $100 gift card for his standout style down the jogging lane.

Competition at the Summer Fort Classic CSI3* kicks off Wednesday with the CSI3* tbird 1.40m Speed.

All classes in the Thunderbird Jumper Arena Arena stream live on tbird.ca.

Tickets are available for Saturday’s CSI3* $100,000 Grand Prix 1.50m at tbird.ca/tickets.

Montserrat OS Breaks Through With MarBill Hill U25 1.40m Win

Langley, BC — Over the last two weeks at Thunderbird Show Park, Charlie Jones (GBR) and 8-year-old Montserrat OS have been mightily close to victory.

The pair finished second in the U25 division at last week’s Summer Fort Welcome, and at the Summer Fort Classic, they were runner-up in the Diamond Valley Ranch U10 Young Horse competition.

In their last class of August, the pair broke through with a victory in the MarBill Hill U25 1.40m, besting a seven-horse jump-off. Jones praised his horse as he exited the ring, referencing the fact that his mount hadn’t touched a pole at the entire show.

Their winning time was 39.18 seconds. Jones’ student Olivia Stephenson (CAN) finished second with Deister Z (41.95s), while George Knight and Ecolano vs Romano finished third (4/38.63s).

“I absolutely love him,” Jones said of his mount. “He’s all class. He’s so careful, and he just jumps whatever’s in front of him.”

Jones and his partner Bretton Chad acquired Montserrat OS at the beginning of the gelding’s 7-year-old year. While shorter than 16.2h, the striking black horse has displayed a heart far larger than the height of his withers.

“He’s absolutely tiny, but he’s like a lion. He goes in [the ring] and he just pulls himself up, and he’s actually very strong sometimes,” Jones described. “So he really makes up all the lines. For me, he is one of the most fun horses to ride.”

With an impressive two weeks under their belts, Jones will now look to step Montserrat OS up to more international classes.

“I’d like to find a good two-star schedule for him. He’s about ready for a ranking class or a CSI2* Grand Prix, so I want to do that next,” he said. “But I think in the near future, we’ll come back here in September and go from there.”

MarBill Hill U25 1.40m
Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time

1. Montserrat OS / Charlie Jones / GBR / Bretton Chad / 0/0 39.18
2. Deister Z / Olivia Stephenson / CAN / Olivia Stephenson / 0/0  41.95
3. Ecolano vs Romano / Georgia Knight / CAN / Georgia Knight / 0/4 38.63
4. Gutascha / Stella Chernoff / CAN / Stump Lake Ranch and Cattle Co Ltd / 0/4 39.11
5. Onyx / Georgia Knight / CAN / Joelle Froese / 0/4 40.98
6. Naxos 27 / Dylan Jordan / CAN / Miriam Ameli / 0/4 41.1
7. Gernice van de Postbaan / Danielle Vahdat / USA / Danielle Vahdat / 0/4 45.02
8. Ielinea JTL / Jaydan Stettner / CAN / Jaydan Stettner / 4 80.07
9. Laviata / Cashelle Levasseur / CAN / Gerard Developments / 4 84.99
10. Diamantina vh Scheefkasteel Z / Samantha Smith / Y & R Sporthorses LLC / 8 84.13

Rhapsody Meets Potential in Domino High Voltage Grand Prix 1.40m

Langley, BC — When Sarah Lottis (CAN) traveled to Europe and saw a 4-year-old named Rhapsody, she didn’t need to be convinced that the young horse had talent.

“The way that he was and the way that he free jumped at only four years old really made us think that he was going to be really, really special and potentially going to be one of my top horses. He’s really becoming that very quickly,” Lottis said.

Now 10, Rhapsody jumped Lottis to victory in the Domino High Voltage Grand Prix 1.40m Sunday at Thunderbird Show Park. The pair bested a competitive three-horse jump-off, crossing the timers of Peter Holmes’ (CAN) short course in 41.24 seconds. Justin Prather (CAN) and Grazie finished second (42.13s), with Tiffany Foster (CAN) and Kadans third (4/44.75s).

“That was a really fun jump off. When you only have three in it, that’s a really awesome way to have it, because, you’re first, second or third already,” Lottis said. “But [I was] going behind Tiffany Foster, who we all know can go really fast, and Justin Prather—he’s actually one of my long-term best friends—who I know can put everything on the line.”

Last to jump-off, Lottis was able to watch her competitors. She deduced she could pull ahead by utilizing her horse’s stride.

“I watched [Prather] go and I was like, ‘My horse has a huge stride. I think I can actually probably leave out and be a little bit quicker.’ So I wasn’t sure I could catch him, but I thought I had a pretty good shot. And so we went for it and tried to get it done.”

Lottis is based in Campbell River on Vancouver Island, where she also works as a Registered Nurse. Juggling multiple hats, she has been a regular competitor at Thunderbird Show Park for more than a decade. She has her sights set firmly on tbird’s September shows, where she hopes to step Rhapsody up to the international level. It would be a first for both horse and rider.

“The plan is to jog in September and do his first FEI week and hopefully jump the 1.50m class for the first time in the second week,” she said. “He’s turned into such a competitor that really wants to do it and really wants to jump clear.”

Domino High Voltage Grand Prix 1.40m
Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time

1. Rhapsody / Sarah Lottis / CAN / Kevin Lottis / 0/0 41.24
2. Grazie / Justin Prather / CAN / Bradon Equestrian Ltd / 0/0 42.13
3. Kadans / Tiffany Foster / CAN / Artisan Farms LLC / 0/4 44.75
4. Casirado 3 / Mandy Porter / USA / Risen Eq Holdings LLC / 4 79.42
5. G-Star / Kara Chad / CAN / Kara Chad / 4 82.4
6. Filoucha / Philippa Melski / USA / Buffy Hanschka / 4 84.51
7. Aztlan / John Perez / COL / John Perez / 8 79.89
8. Livius P / Lilah Nakatani / USA / Lilah Nakatani / 8 81.22
9. Correct Blue SZ / Kyle King / USA / Mykaela Palleschi / 8 81.48
10. Dorado / Darrin Dlin / CAN / Timberlea Farms Ltd / 8 83.56

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