Hugh Graham of Schomberg, ON, scored a major grand prix win for the second week in a row, claiming victory in the $132,000 CSI3* Grand Prix on Saturday, July 21, at the CSI3* Ottawa International Horse Show, held at Wesley Clover Parks in Ottawa, ON. With the same mount, Knock Out 3E, Graham won the $50,000 Brookstreet Grand Prix on Saturday, July 14, during the Ottawa National Horse Show.
“When you knock ’em dead two times in a row, you’ve got to be smiling!” said Graham who, at the age of 69, has already been inducted into the Jump Canada Hall of Fame. “Obviously winning back-to-back is a big deal, because there are a lot of people in this class, a lot of good horses, and a lot of good riders.”
A veteran of Olympic, World Championship, and Pan American Games competition, Graham was one of eight riders from the original 29-horse starting field to jump clear over the first round track set by Ireland’s Alan Wade, who will also be the course designer at the upcoming FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon, NC. Graham was joined in the jump-off by seven other horse-rider combinations including 10-time Canadian Olympian Ian Millar and 2016 Olympic team silver medalist Lucy Davis of the United States.
As the fifth rider to return for the jump-off, Graham was cheered on by the crowd as he sliced and diced his way around the course. Stopping the clock in 38.06 seconds, Graham took over the lead from Ottawa International Horse Show debutant Vanessa Mannix, 29, of Calgary, AB, who had posted a time of 39.29 seconds with her new mount, Hey Jude, a nine-year-old grey Belgian Warmblood gelding (Ugano Sitte x Mr. Blue).
Three more would challenge Graham, with only Davis managing to leave all the rails in place with Caracho 14, a nine-year-old bay Holsteiner gelding (Dobel’s Cento x Acodetto) owned by Old Oak Farm. Their time, however, of 41.80 seconds would leave the pair in fourth place. Hyde Moffatt, 39, of Brantford, ON, took a gamble by leaving out a stride with his new ride, Ariel Grange’s Grafton, a 12-year-old chestnut selle francais stallion (Calvaro x Vondeen).
While it paid off on the clock with a time of 38.82 seconds, a rail down left the pair in fifth place overall. When the final jump-off challenger, Courtney Vince, 38, of Burlington, ON, dropped a rail with Valetto JX, a 16-year-old grey Scottish Sport Horse gelding owned by Ashford Farm, Graham claimed the grand prix victory for the second week in a row.
“I watched a couple go, and I saw what everybody was doing,” said Graham of his jump-off strategy. “I know my horse’s strengths, and I capitalized on them. He’s got a big stride, and he can motor. I’ve had lots of jumpers in my career, and all of them have had different strengths. I try to win with their strengths.”
As for the secret to his longevity in the sport, Graham noted, “I ride every day and have fun. If it stops being fun, I won’t do it. Of course, when you have great horses, it gets you excited, and I think this is one of my best horses ever. I get excited when I get up in the morning to go ride.”
Bred by his long-time supporter, KingRidge Stables of King City, ON, Graham has ridden Knock Out 3E for the duration of the horse’s career.
“He’s a winner,” said Graham of the 12-year-old bay Canadian Sport Horse gelding (Jamestown x Class Action). “He’s been a winner his whole life. He won when he was a six-year-old; he won when he was a seven-year-old; he’s won about 10 grand prix so far, and now he’s won two here. This horse has got it all!”
$132,000 CSI3* Ottawa International Grand Prix – Saturday, July 21
Rider Hometown Horse Faults Time
1. Hugh Graham Schomberg, ON Knock Out 3E 0:0 38.06
2. Vanessa Mannix Calgary, AB Hey Jude 0:0 39.29
3. Beth Underhill Schomberg, ON Count Me In 0:0 41.22
4. Lucy Davis United States Caracho 14 0:0 41.80
5. Hyde Moffatt Brantford, ON Grafton 0:4 38.82
6. Ian Millar Perth, ON Truman 0:4 40.33
7. Courtney Vince Burlington, ON Valetto JX 0:4 42.12
8. Jonathan McCrea United States Aristoteles V 0:8 38.62
9. Jonathon Millar Perth, ON Dublin 1
10. Keean White Rockwood, ON Leilani 4
11. Conor Swail Ireland Domino van de Valhoeve 4
12. Jonathan McCrea United States Win For Life 4