The Dixon Oval welcomed its first international show jumping competition at the 2018 Devon Horse Show and Country Fair on Tuesday evening with the $50,000 Jet Run Devon Welcome Stake CSI4*, sponsored by 5R Farms LLC – Helen Rich. Thirty-two horses and athletes went head-to-head for the first place prize, but it was USA’s Ali Wolff who risked it all to come away with her first Devon jumper win aboard Blacklick Bend Farm’s Casall.
Eleven combinations returned to compete over Brazil’s Guilherme Jorge’s shortened track. Of the 11, nine finished double-clear.
The top spot on the leader board changed hands continuously with the first four challengers in the jump-off, but that stopped with fourth in the order Daniel Bluman, riding for Israel, and Bacara D’Archonfosse, owned by Alexa Schwitzer. They jumped clear and posted a time of 36.16 seconds to take the lead, which they held for the majority of the class.
Ireland’s Kevin Babington and his own Mark Q, who are no strangers to the winner’s circle at the Devon Horse Show having won the Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon two times already, rode to a quick time of 36.61 seconds, just missing Bluman’s time and sliding behind him in the standings.
Yet it was second to last to go, Wolff, who executed a flawless double-clear performance with the 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding to take the win in 35.73 seconds, garnering Bluman second place honors and Babington third place.
“I was going to be happy with sixth place,” Wolff shared. “I saw Kevin [Babington] go and I saw a few others go and I just decided I would be happy with my results as long as I was double-clean. I just kept seeing the nice distances — the forward ones. As the course went on, I let him go a little bit more and a little bit more. The whole way around, I actually didn’t think I was going super fast. I know that I had nice turns, but he takes a lot of time in the air. I thought at best I would look up at the clock and have a fifth place time so tonight was definitely a shocker.”
Twenty-eight-year-old Wolff originally acquired Casall with the intent of being her first sales horse in 2012 at 7 years old, however, six years later, the two are still competing together and have grown to be top competitors on the international show jumping scene, including representing the U.S. in multiple Nations Cup competitions. After finishing in second place on what feels like countless occasions, Wolff was thrilled to finally claim a victory, and the Sylvester L. Quigley Memorial Challenge Trophy, in the Dixon Oval with her longtime and beloved partner on Tuesday.
“My horse deserves this win more than anything,” reflected Wolff. “He has been second to countless people on countless occasions. So this is really his day, he really deserves this after six years of partnership.”
Even Wolff’s competition couldn’t help but admire her performance in the ring. Bluman shared his thoughts on the class and Wolff’s ride: “I think if I had gone after Ali [in the jump-off], I couldn’t have beaten her. She was really fast. Today, my strategy was to just stick to my plan. I’m jumping the mare again in the grand prix on Thursday. Ali killed it. I felt like it was 10 years ago in the Low Junior Jumpers, where she was impossible to beat. Great job to Ali. She really won the class, regardless of who came after or before her.”
FEI competition will resume on Wednesday with the $35,000 Devon International Speed Stake CSI4* at 7 p.m., while the week’s main event, the $250,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon CSI4*, will be held on Thursday at 8:30 p.m.
$50,000 Jet Run Devon Welcome Stake CSI4*, sponsored by 5R Farms LLC – Helen Rich:
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / R1 Faults / R2 Faults / Time
1. Casall / Ali Wolff / USA / Blacklick Bend Farm / 0 / 0 / 35.73
2. Bacara D’Archonfosse / Daniel Bluman / ISR / Alexa Schwitzer / 0 / 0 / 36.16
3. Mark Q / Kevin Babington / IRL / Kevin Babington / 0 / 0 / 36.61
4. Akuna Mattata / Nicole Shahinian-Simpson / USA / Silver Raven Farms / 0 / 0 / 36.89
5. Darry Lou / Beezie Madden / USA / Abigail Wexner / 0 / 0 / 37.05
6. Manodie II H / Georgina Bloomberg / USA / Gotham Enterprizes, LLC / 0 / 0 / 37.32
7. Columbcille De Reve / Nicholas Dello Joio / USA / Crooks Show Jumping, LLC / 0 / 0 / 38.36
8. Tou La Moon / Charlie Jayne / USA / Alex Jayne / 0 / 0 / 38.43
9. Aristoteles V / Jonathan McCrea / USA / Candy Tribble / 0 / 0 / 39.48
10. Eddie Blue / Devin Ryan / USA / LL Show Jumpers, LLC / 0 / 4 / 35.61
11. Fineman / Brianne Goutal-Marteau / USA / Rose Hill Farm / 0 / 4 / 36.15
12. Cristalline / Adrienne Sternlicht / USA / Starlight Farms 1 LLC / 1 / 76.08