Robert Blanchette, Jason McArdle & Karl Cook Come Out on Top in FEI CSI3* Tours at Blenheim

With two power and speed classes, and one classic, the international competition continued during the FEI CSI3* at the Blenheim Spring Classic II. With over 65 horses representing 13 countries galloping onto The Oaks International Grand Prix field, the Bronze, Silver and Gold Tour wins went to Ireland’s Robert Blanchette, American Jason McArdle, and American Karl Cook, respectively. Olaf Petersen, Jr. set the tracks for a competitive afternoon.

The second rider to go in the Bronze Tour 1.35m Power & Speed was Ireland’s Robert Blanchette aboard his eleven-year-old gray gelding, Coupis. He posted a very quick time of 31.71 seconds in the speed phase that proved to be unbeatable. Keri Potter and Jiminy Cricket came very close, crossing the timers in 31.73, just two thousandths of a second too slow to catch Blanchette.

Robert Blanchette and Coupis. Photo by McCool Photography

The Irishman was pleased with every aspect. “I’m very happy that Blenheim is having more FEI shows here on the West Coast. The FEI brings the good riders here and competing against them makes all of us better,” Blanchette said after his win. “There’s great footing here and great course design. We are happy to be here, and our horses are, too.”

Watch Blanchette’s winning round here.

Two flashy chestnuts kicked off the 1.40m Silver Tour Power & Speed Classic. First to go, Jamie Sailor and Flashdance, crossed the timers with an outstanding time of 30.87 seconds, but had an unfortunate rail in the second phase.

Second to gallop in was Jason McArdle and Fairbanks Valley Farm, LLC’s nine-year-old chestnut mare, Elicole. Although the pair had a slower time than Sailor, his double clear effort took the lead. Their performance proved unbeatable and earned them a victory on this second day of FEI CSI3* competition.

Jason McArdle and Elicole. Photo by McCool Photography

“I can’t say enough good things about her. She’s been a winner from day one. She won the Five-Year-Old Young Jumper Finals, the Seven-Year-Old Young Jumper Finals, and was also my leading horse in the Markel Series last year. She tries her heart out every time,” McArdle noted of the mare he started as a four-year-old.
He continued. “I’m glad Blenheim is hosting the FEI, it’s great for the West Coast to get these classes, and it’s great for us to be here. The facility is great. I couldn’t be happier.”
Watch McArdle’s winning round here.
The Gold Tour 1.50m Classic welcomed 34 competitors, of which 11 horse and rider combinations from five nations returned for the jump-off.It was a lucky day for riders who entered the ring second in the order, as both Blanchette and McArdle were second to ride, and the second rider in the Gold Tour Classic jump-off course was Karl Cook aboard the fourteen-year-old chestnut Zangersheide mare, Tembla.
The duo put in a clear round in a time of 41.11 seconds, and although two jump-off riders, Zazou Hoffman and Eric Navet, beat Cook’s time, each had one unfortunate rail, ultimately relegating them to sixth and seventh. Although four other competitors went double clear, none could beat Cook’s efficient ride.

Karl Cook and Tembla. Photo by McCool Photography

Cook’s win was a result of tidy turns, and a good pace. “I didn’t want to do anything too crazy with the Grand Prix just two days from now. I was able to make up time by making tighter turns. Tembla follows very well and is a great listener. And I did nine in the last line instead of ten.”

He also noted, “Blenheim has worked on the footing, you can definitely feel it. And with the FEI you can feel a different energy in the competitors and the staff, and of course it’s always great to win.”

Watch Cook’s winning jump-off round here.

The action continues with Bronze Tour and Silver Tour Classics on Friday. The FEI CSI3* excitement culminates with the $80,000 Gold Tour Grand Prix on Saturday afternoon at 4:00pm.

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