Lexington, Ky. – Nov. 4, 2021 – Show jumping competition made its debut at the 2021 National Horse Show (NHS) Thursday, November 4. Welcoming some of the world's top show jumping athletes and their mounts, the CSI4* designated competition featured a star-studded lineup of 37 horse-and-rider pairs representing nine nations, including the United States, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Great Britain, Brazil, Russia, Switzerland and Israel, for the $72,900 International Welcome Stake CSI4*. Of the powerful partnerships, it was the United States’ Karl Cook and Caillou 24 who kicked off jumper competition at the 138th National Horse Show in winning fashion, leading the victory gallop at the conclusion of the class. Earlier in the afternoon, McLain Ward (USA) rode Catoki to best a 36-horse field in the $36,600 International Speed CSI4*. In the EquiJet $5,000 Junior Jumper class, Mimi Gochman (USA) claimed the top spot with Celina BH, and Skyler Fields (USA) rode Cornetta to victory in the North Star $5,000 Amateur-Owner Jumpers.
Portugal’s Bernardo Costa Cabral crafted the 13-obstacle course fit for the CSI4* status. Cabral’s winding path led athletes and their horses on a tour of the Alltech Arena. A triple combination at the far end of the arena was the source of many rails tipping to the ground, leaving a number of pairs out of contention for the tie-breaking jump-off, and a final oxer jumping away from the in-gate tested horses' focus and perseverance over the 1.50m to 1.55m fence-height course. Erynn Ballard (CAN) and Jack Van’t Kattenheye were the pathfinders of the first-round course, producing the first clear effort. Two trips later, Ward (USA) would force a jump-off after turning in a clear round aboard his 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games mount, Contagious. Eight others would add their names to the jump-off roster, including Margie Engle (USA), Aaron Vale (USA), Santiago Lambre (BRA), Kent Farrington (USA), Cook (USA), Alessandra Volpi (USA), Jordan Coyle (IRL) and Shane Sweetnam (IRL).
Kent Farrington on Austria
Returning first for the shortened 8-effort jump-off course was Ballard and Jack Van’t Kattenheye. A series of long, flowing lines left the option for athletes to gallop their mounts in order to decrease the number of strides between fences in hopes of shaving seconds off the clock. Ballard navigated a swift track with Jack Van’t Kattenheye, but rolled two rails in the process, leaving the door wide open but setting the pace at 33.85 seconds. Immediately following, Ward and Contagious put the pressure on remaining competitors, riding a clear track in 32.96 seconds. Next, to try their hand at the shortened course, Engle and Dicas produced a clear round but fell short of Ward’s leading time in 35.62 seconds. Vale would also put forth a valiant effort, but even his fault-free, swift ride aboard Elusive was not enough to edge out Ward, settling on a time of 33.27 seconds. An unfortunate 4 faults for Lambre would leave him out of contention with Easy Girl, but Farrington and Austria 2 would prove to be too tidy for Ward, tripping the timers in 31.78 seconds without acquiring any faults to take over the lead. Farrington's lead would be short-lived, however, as Cook and Caillou 24 made their way into the arena. Always a strong competitor, Cook and Caillou 24 blazed their way to a new leading time of 31.47 seconds to capture the lead. Volpi would also produce a clear effort, but would not be quick enough to catch Cook. Last to compete, Coyle and Ariso would lower the height of two fences, leaving Cook and Signe Ostby’s 14-year-old Holsteiner gelding, Caillou 24, to wear the blue ribbon for the victory gallop. Taking second place would ultimately be Farrington and Take The High Road LLC’s Austria 2, a 13-year-old Holsteiner mare, and Ward would round out the top three with Beechwood Stables LLC’s 12-year-old Deutches Sportferd gelding, Contagious.
McLain Ward with Contagious
Earlier in the afternoon, 36 horse-and-rider combinations made their Alltech Arena debut for the $36,600 International Speed CSI4*. In a dash for the cash over Cabral’s 11-fence course, Ward (USA) would turn in the quickest clear time of 48.61 seconds to take home the win aboard Catoki, a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Ward, Marilla Van Buren, and Bob Russell. Second place honors were awarded to Cook (USA) and Fecybelle, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare, for their clear round in 49.16 seconds. Catherine Tyree (USA) rounded out the top three with her own 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Bokai, who crossed the finish line in 51.31 seconds without accumulating any faults over the course.
Immediately following, junior athletes contested for the EquiJet $5,000 Junior Jumper class. Twenty-two partnerships put their names forward in hopes of picking up the win, but it was Gochman (USA) and Celina BH who turned in the winning ride in a clear 25.53 seconds over the 1.40m set course. Second place honors were awarded to Elena A. Haas (USA) and Centana for their clear round in 25.99 seconds, and Grace Debney (GBR) rounded out the top three with Boheme de La Roque for her 26.765-second race to the finish.
Karl Cook with Caillou 24
Prior to the $72,900 International Welcome Stake CSI4*, the North Star $5,000 Amateur-Owner Jumper class took center stage. A competitive field of 18 horse-and-athlete pairs presented their best, but it was Fields and Cornetta who rose above the rest to wear the blue ribbon at the conclusion of the class. Second to Field’s clear 29.776-second jump-off was Kathryn Hall and All In 9, who crossed the timers in 38.572 seconds with 2 faults to their names over the tie-breaking track. Vanessa Hood and Lou Lou VLS completed the podium on a 4-fault jump-off time of 30.395 seconds.
Show jumping competition at the 2021 National Horse Show continues Friday afternoon following the conclusion of the $50,000 National Horse Show Hunter Classic with the EquiJet $10,000 Junior Jumper and North Star $10,000 Amateur-Owner Jumper classes.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Karl Cook - Winner of the $72,900 International Welcome Stake
On having a successful year:
“My year started off really not the best. I had a little bit of a rocky start with some soundness issues that were out of the blue and we couldn’t foresee, which was kind of annoying. Once we got out of that rut, I had to make up for the lost time. the horses have been great and I am so grateful to have the horses that I have, they make it so much fun to be out there.”
On winning at the National Horse Show:
“The National Horse Show is such an iconic show, and it was something that I watched growing up. Everyone says ‘I want to be in that ring one day.’ It is cool to be in the ring at all but it is way cooler to win and to win against the people that I did. It hits differently than if I had been the only one clear. It is a humbling experience because it feels like you are on the right track of a goal that I have worked so hard for since I was a little kid.”
On the first round course, designed by Bernardo Costa Cabral (POR):
“I think he set a very fair course. It was technical and since it was an indoor course, we were bouncing off of the walls a little bit. It was also delicate and I think that he was fair. It was not crazy big and the time was not super tight. That is nice for the first day, to not go crazy on the time allowed. I do think that he set a fair course for everyone that was good for the people that made the jump-off and for the people that maybe did not have the best round. It was safe and a really good blend for all competitors.”
On adjusting to compete in an indoor venue:
“You have to make the adjustments for where you are at. The two horses that I brought here are very experienced and so that transition is not hard because I have had them for a while and I know them. They are quite mature competitors and they know the game and they know what's going on. It is a different experience when you go straight into an indoor like that, after competing outside all summer.”
Kent Farrington - Second Place in the $72,900 International Welcome Stake
On his approach to the jump-off:
“I think most of us are pretty experienced riders and we are doing the round that is best suited to our horses. As Karl said, my horse is very different from his so I had a little bit of a different strategy on the choice of striding. We had different approach turns on the oxers. He could do a short turn from one to two. I went a little bit wider to set up for the four-stride after. I thought that it was a very good class. I did not think that Karl was going to try that hard! I was sort of banking that he would save a little for the Grand Prix and that did not work in my favor today. It was a great competition and Karl had a great round tonight.”
McLain Ward- Third Place in the $72,900 International Welcome Stake
On choosing to compete in the National Horse Show:
“When we made the schedule following him getting home from Tokyo this seemed like a nice event for him to wrap up the year. It is a prestigious event and a World Cup Qualifier and he has performed well at this event before and I knew that it was going to be very good footing, which was certainly a factor. I thought that he jumped the first round super. I thought that the first round for the opening big class was challenging enough with a good result. In the jump-off, from one to two I was not as aggressive as the other two. I went earlier in the jump-off and I wanted to put a strong round in and not take too much out of my horse. These guys are good and they got me, but I am thrilled with my horse and looking forward to the rest of the week.”
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / R1 Faults | R1 Time / R2 Faults | R2 Time
$72,900 International Welcome Stake CSI4*:
1. Caillou 24 / Karl Cook / USA / Signe Ostby / 0 | 73.35 / 0 | 31.470
2. Austria 2 / Kent Farrington / USA / Take The High Road, LLC / 0 | 74.16 / 0 | 31.780
3. Contagious / McLain Ward / USA / Beechwood Stables LLC / 0 | 74.69 / 0 | 32.960
4. Elusive / Aaron Vale / Thinks Like A Horse / 0 | 75.62 / 0 | 33.270
5. Absolute Du Mio / Alessandra Volpi / USA / Alessandra Volpi / 0 | 76.05 / 0 | 34.300
6. Dicas / Margie Engle / Gladewinds Partners LLC / 0 | 75.24 / 0 | 35.620
7. Easy Girl / Santiago Lambre / BRA / Santiago Lambre / 0 | 72.50 / 4 | 33.370
8. Karlin Van’t Vennehof / Shane Sweetnam / IRL / Sweet Oak Farm/Seabrook LLC / 0 | 75.67 / 4 | 34.160
9. Jack Van’t Kattenheye / Erynn Ballard / CAN / Violet Lindemann Barnett / 0 | 73.75 / 8 | 33.850
10. Ariso / Jordan Coyle / IRL / Elan Farm / 0 | 76.05 / 12 | 34.830
11. Figor / Tiffany Foster / CAN / Artisan Farms, LLC / 1 | 77.61
12. Robin De Ponthual / Schuyler Riley / USA / Katherine Ann Gallagher / 1 | 77.67