International show jumpers returned to the Dixon Oval on Wednesday to compete in the $35,000 Devon International Speed Stake CSI4*, sponsored by Herr’s. Pennsylvania native Andrew Kocher (USA) outpaced 28 horses and athletes with MKO Equestrian LLC’s Zantos II to ride away with the win and the George T. Pew Jr. Memorial Perpetual Trophy in the one-round speed competition.
Growing up in Pennsylvania not far from the Devon Horse Show, Kocher used to attend the iconic event every year with his family but never competed as a young rider himself. It wasn’t until 2016 that he competed at Devon for the first time in the open jumpers, and in 2017 he earned his very first win at Devon in the $50,000 Devon Welcome Stake CSI4* with Navalo De Poheton.
“This is a really special show in America,” said Kocher. “Nothing is like Devon. Devon is extremely special. There are big crowds and it’s exciting. It’s my favorite show. I could’ve gone to Spruce Meadows — I’ve never been there and I really wanted to go — or leave the horses home and show at Devon. That’s how much I like Devon.”
Kocher came in to Wednesday’s competition on a high note after taking the win in the 7-Year-Old Young Jumper class with Erica Hatfield’s La Luciole just prior to the evening’s featured show jumping event.
As ninth in the order, Kocher and Zantos II marked the third combination to clear Brazil’s Guilherme Jorge’s 14-effort track. While a number of athletes used Wednesday’s class to school their horses in preparation for Thursday’s grand prix, Kocher, as always, came to win. He and the 14-year-old KWPN gelding flew around the course in 58.20 seconds to slide into the first place position, which held throughout the remaining 19 contenders.
“He only has one gear. If it goes well, he wins the class,” Kocher said of his impressive horse. “Every time he jumps clear, he has won a class. He can get out of hand a lot too — that’s the problem. I thought he was ready to go so I was going to use him hard tonight. I thought I might get beat by Laura [Chapot] or Devin [Ryan]. I was thinking, ‘Slow down!’ [Zantos II] is an amazing horse. If you meet all the jumps right, he’s going to win the class. He’s really careful. He knows what he’s doing. He’s done so much for me. I wouldn’t sell him, and I sell a lot of horses.”
Finishing closest to Kocher’s time was this year’s Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final runner-up, Devin Ryan (USA), with his own Cooper. They came within 8/100th’s of a second to Kocher in 58.28 seconds to claim the red ribbon.
Rounding out the top three was fellow American Georgina Bloomberg and Gotham Enterprizes, LLC’s Paola 233, who crossed the finish line in 58.88 seconds.
Previously ridden by British international show jumpers Robert and Louise Whitaker as well as their father and Olympian, John Whitaker, Kocher began competing Zantos II in summer 2016 and the pair have collected many notable wins, including CSI2* and CSI3* grand prix victories at the Tryon International Equestrian Center and the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival as well as claiming multiple speed classes, over the course of their two years together. However, after sustaining a tendon injury in Ocala in February 2017, Zantos II was forced to take a year off to recover.
Kocher slowly began bringing Zantos II back into competition at the end of the 2018 Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida, and, after Wednesday’s victory at Devon, the gelding is undoubtedly back to his winning ways in full force.
On Thursday, Kocher will ride his other mount, Kahlua, in the $250,000 Sapphire Grand Prix of Devon CSI4*, which is set to kick-off at 8:30 p.m. in the Dixon Oval.
Watch Kocher’s winning ride below:
"He's done so much for me, it wouldn't matter what he does. I wouldn't sell him and I sell a lot of horses."Andy Kocher LLC and Zantos 11 were unstoppable in the Devon International Speed Stake tonight posting a blazing fast time of 58.2 seconds!
Posted by USEF Network on Wednesday, May 30, 2018
$35,000 Devon International Speed Stake CSI4*, sponsored by Herr’s:
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / Faults / Time
1. Zantos II / Andrew Kocher / USA / MKO Equestrian LLC / 0 / 58.20
2. Cooper / Devin Ryan / USA / Devin Ryan / 0 / 58.28
3. Paola 233 / Georgina Bloomberg / USA / Gotham Enterprizes, LLC / 0 / 58.88
4. Orientales / Sima Morgello / USA / Double S Farm, LLC / 0 / 59.84
5. Dicas / Margie Engle / USA / Storm Ridge Capital Showhorses, Inc. and Garber and Gladewinds / 0 / 62.42
6. Quirie 2 / Ali Wolff / USA / John Wolff / 0 / 62.53
7. Cicero’s Electric / Peter Wylde / USA / Aram Ampagoumian LLC / 0 / 62.69
8. Chandon Blue / Laura Chapot / USA / Mary Chapot / 0 / 64.62
9. Amice Z / Charlie Jayne / USA / Charlie Jayne / 0 / 65.62
10. DHI Zulu / Nicholas Dello Joio / USA / The Ninov Group / 0 / 69.65
11. Jasmijn / Christine McCrea / USA / Candy Tribble / 0 / 70.43
12. Cessna 24 / Vasco Flores / PUR / Gotham Enterprizes, LLC / 0 / 74.53