American Kyle King is not accustomed to taking the ‘conservative clear’ — he’s only done it twice in his career and both times with Ilan Feder’s 10-year-old Holsteiner Cerolino.
On Saturday afternoon at Thunderbird Show Park, it was the smart strategy in the 1.50m CSIO5* Paladin Cup. As the final of six horses to take the field for Peter Holmes’ (CAN) jump-off track, King watched as rider after rider pulled rails at speed. He knew the assignment: leave the rails up and go quick enough to not amass too many time faults. For someone as hardwired for speed as ultra-competitive King, taking the ‘safe route’ does not come naturally.
“It’s the second time [taking the slow clear] has happened to me in my life and it’s been on that horse twice,” laughed King. “I almost blew it the first time in Thermal… [so] I was like, ‘Nah, I don’t want to be in this position again.’”
With no double clears on the leaderboard, however, the steady clear was the wise choice. This time Cerolino left the rails up, crossing the timers in a steady 48.38 seconds. Santiago Lambre (BRA) and Chattanooga took runner up position with four faults in 38.37. Erynn Ballard (CAN) and Game Over settled for third with four faults in 39.39.
“[Cerolino] has a big, big stride, and so I can drop strides everywhere and he’s very agile. When I first started riding him I thought he was always going to be a little bit slow. But he’s not, especially in a field like this. Today was slow, but I was just trying to go clear. I thought he really tried for me and jumped super the second round.”
Three of the six combinations to contest the short course had the ‘tbird Canoes’ jump down and when asked, King said he took extra care at the fence to ensure success.
“Even in the first round, I wanted to make sure I got really straight to it. It’s a little bit stuck in a funny position.”
Together for about a year, the pair has averaged 57% in clear rounds and top ten finishes at the 1.45m level in 2023 (Jumpr App).
“We bought him for one of my clients, who then ended up wanting to trade him out to another horse,” explained King. “While that was happening, Cerolino didn’t really do all that much. So [owner] Ilan Feder told me that I could produce him a little bit further… And he’s just been money ever since. He makes a cheque every show. He’s just really, really consistent.
“I’ve been a little bit unlucky this week —I should have won the other night. I had the time with one jump down. I had one jump down yesterday. It finally came out today.”
$38,500 CSIO5* Paladin Cup 1.50m
Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time
1. Cerolino / Kyle King / USA / Ilan Ferder / 0/0 38.38
2. Chattanooga / Santiago Lambre / BRA / Hf Farms / 0/4 38.37
3. Game Over / Erynn Ballard / CAN / Ilan Ferder / 0/4 39.39
4. Chakkalou PS / Patricio Pasquel / MEX / Gestüt Lewitz / 0/4 41.92
5. Menko vd Wellington / Andrew Bourns / IRL / Andrew Bourns / 0/4 45.87
6. Zeusz / Santiago Lambre / BRA / Lévai Csilla / 0/4 47.72
7. Landon / Kent Farrington / USA / Haity McNerney / 3 86.51
8. Seringat / Patricio Pasquel / MEX / Ainhoa Manero / 4 77.23
9. Cadeau Z / Mandy Porter / USA / Risen Eq Holdings LLC / 4 81.26
10. Etundel de Marocy / Karl Cook / USA / Signe Otsby / 4 81.71