The $40,000 Welcome Stake was held as a “winning round” format, where the top 10 riders, regardless of how many faults they had in the afternoon’s first round, were invited back for the second round which was held in the evening session. Tyree and Bokai came back seventh in the order of the top 10 and put down a fast, clear round in 34.88 seconds for the win. They followed the 2018 FEI World Cup Jumping Final winners Beezie Madden (USA) and Abigail Wexner’s Breitling LS, who would finish in second place in 35.00 seconds.
The win in the opening international jumper class, the $40,000 International Jumper Welcome Stake, went to Catherine Tyree and Bokai. Tyree, 24, will return to contest the $130,000 Longines FEI Jumping World CupTM Washington, presented by Events DC, on Saturday night. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
Tyree said it was watching Madden from the in-gate that gave her the plan to win.
“Bokai is so quick, and I had the advantage of seeing Beezie go before me. She is so tight in the turns, so I was able to count some of her strides, and I really just wanted to try and do what she did,” said Tyree. “She did six [strides] to the last [jump]; I got a good gallop, and I kept going in five. I really got lucky there; my horse gave an amazing effort, which he shouldn’t have done. He just has a huge heart and he wants to win. He just rises to the challenge when it matters.”
Third place in the class went to this summer’s FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) team gold medalists, Devin Ryan (USA) and Eddie Blue, owned by LL Show Jumpers LLC, who had a time of 35.76 seconds. Cormac Hanley (IRL) and Alma Z, owned by Heathman Farm LLC, were fourth in 37.82 seconds, while fellow WEG team gold medalist Laura Kraut (USA) and St. Bride’s Farm’s Confu were fifth in 38.25 seconds.
This was the first time the class has been held as a “winning round” format, and Tyree was happy to compete in the lesser-known type of class.
Catherine Tyree and Bokai, presented as the winners of the $40,000 International Jumper Welcome Stake. Photo by Shawn McMillen Photography
“I think it’s great for the crowd,” she acknowledged. “You can guarantee that they have an exciting second round. It’s nice that it gives somebody the chance who maybe had an unlucky four faults to come back and go again. My horse, I was clear in the first round, so it was just like a normal jump-off class.”
Tyree has been competing at WIHS since she was on ponies in 2004, and this is her fourth year competing in the international jumper division.
“I think the crowd and the atmosphere is great,” said Tyree, who was named the Leading Lady and Leading 25 & Under Rider at the 2017 WIHS. “It’s second to none in the States. I really enjoy the show. It’s been around for a really long time, so I always enjoy coming here. For me, I’ve just been very lucky to have such great horses every year.”
Tyree and Bokai were presented with the Ben O’Meara Memorial Challenge Trophy for their win.