The trip from his home base in California to Kentucky paid off for Karl Cook and Caillou 24, winners of the $72,000 Amalaya Investments 1.45 Meter FEI Grand Prix, the featured event of the Lexington International CSI 2* held May 23-26, part of the Split Rock Jumping Tour.
Karl Cook and Caillou 24. Josh Winslow Photography.
The course, designed by Oscar Soberon from Dallas, TX, featured 13 numbered obstacles and a time allowed of 77 seconds, which was extended to 79 seconds. Only seven horse and rider combinations managed to clear the first-round course without penalty.
The first to come back for the jump-off was Performance EP and Sarah Segal (USA) riding for Robert Segal. They were out of contention when they had a stop at the third fence. They finished with a score of 23 faults in a time of 66.08 seconds.
Pablo Barrios, riding for Venezuela, brought forth Le Vio, owned by Gut Einhaus, to contest over the second round course. They ran into trouble at the first element of the double combination and finished on a score of four faults in a time of 37.90 seconds.
Falcon De Hus Z and Scott Keach (AUS) were the first to navigate the jump-off without penalty. The 9-year-old chestnut, owned by Five Henry Stables, had the crowd cheering as the crossed through the timers in 41.98 seconds. They would finish in third place.
The game had changed for Abigail McArdle (USA) and Victorio 5, owned by Victorio Equine Group. They could not just go clear, they had to go faster than Keach in order to win. Never one to shrink from a challenge, McArdle and the 13-year-old Hanoverian cleared the course fault free in a time of 39.43 seconds. They would eventually be beaten by Cook and finish second.
Cook and Caillou 24 take a victory pass in front of the crowd. Josh Winslow Photograph.
Andrew Ramsay (USA) and Stranger 30, owned by The Stranger Group, were next in the ring. They lowered one fence on course for a score of four faults and a time of 37.97 seconds. The pair finished the class in fifth place.
Cook (USA) and Caillou 24, a 12-year-old Holsteiner owned by Signe Ostby, now had their opportunity to shine, and shine they did. Cook legged the big grey into a gallop and with his seemingly effortless style, crossed through the finish timers clear in 37.67 seconds to take the lead.
The last entry on course, Andrew Kocher (USA) and Fashion V, owned by Eye Candy Jumpers, tried their best to defeat Cook, but lowered the height of two fences for a score of eight faults in 38.31 seconds. The final placing for the pair was sixth.
“It was an interesting course,” said Cook after the class. “With the ring being narrow you have to go up and back longways which is a challenge for the course designer, but it was nice because you had multiple challenges. You had to collect, you could leave out one or add one, so you could pick your track for the horse you were on.”
“Caillou takes so much time to add because he has such a big stride that the goal with him is to just get a stride and not pull on the reins. If you pull you add seconds just like that,” continued Cook. “I tried with the tracks I chose today to bend instead of adding a stride and it worked for us.”