Traverse City, Mich. – July 10, 2023 – As the last few pairs returned to jump off in the $145,100 Meijer CSI3* Grand Prix, it didn’t appear that the times could get any faster. Cathleen Driscoll (USA), however, had other plans.
Last to go in an eight-horse jump-off, Driscoll came in aboard Arome, owned by Plain Bay Farm, knowing she may not have had the same natural footspeed as the pairs that jumped before her, but that didn’t stop her from trying. She had the last word, cruising to the fastest time and securing her clean sweep of FEI action during the first week of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors.
“He’s a big jumper but a bit of a slower-going type,” Driscoll said of Arome. “Having watched Ali [Wolff] and Charlotte [Jacobs] – they’re both so fast on smaller movers that could keep galloping – my plan was to try to be as efficient as I could in the turns while staying on the gallop.”
Driscoll’s leading time pushed then-leader Jacobs and Rincoola Milsean, owned by North Star, into second, while Wolff took third aboard her longtime partner Casall, owned by Blacklick Bend Farm.
“I’ve been partnered with him for about a year and a half and we’ve really been building our partnership together,” Driscoll continued about getting to know Arome, a horse that has become a highly competitive grand prix mount for her. “I jumped my first five-star on him last year. I’m just now starting to figure him out and how to help him jump clear, so it’s great to have this three-star and lay down some nice trips.”
Reflecting on this high point in her career, having just started competing in the FEI levels last year, Driscoll feels on top of the world. “This is my first clean sweep and first three-star grand prix win; it’s been a fabulous week,” she shared. “I feel like I’m going from high to higher day after day. I’m ecstatic and I can’t wait for the rest of the circuit here.”
Driscoll is the first to acknowledge it takes a team behind her to achieve the success she’s had over the past year. “I have to give a big piece of the success to my trainers, Katie and Henri Prudent; they’ve been absolutely fabulous,” she continued. “They brought me up from the 1.30m to my first five-star. They’re such amazing trainers to have in the ring and at the gate. They instill you with so much confidence and have you going in the ring believing it’s possible.”
With big wins in her pocket this week, Driscoll has put herself on the leaderboard for the $30,000 CaptiveOne Advisors Open Jumper Rider Bonus. Sticking around until the fall, she knows it’s a realistic goal if she continues the consistency.
“I jumped my first Nations Cup last year at the three-star level so we’re looking to continue building on that,” she said of her future goals in the sport. “I hope to jump some five-star Nations Cups. I’m trying to get some more consistency in these grand prixs and develop myself as a rider, but also build a string and see where we can get to.”
The Traverse City Horse Show Charity Ticket Program raised $2,880 for Project Feed The Kids, plus an additional $1,900 was raised for JustWorld International from horses jumping the JustWorld International and CaptiveOne Advisors fences clear in the same round.
Show jumping resumes Wednesday for the second week of GLEF, and features more CSI3* action.
1 Cathleen Driscoll (USA) & Arome: 2010 SF gelding (Norway de la Lande x Attila III)
Owner: Plain Bay Farm
2 Charlotte Jacobs (USA) & Rincoola Milsean: 2013 ISH gelding (Aldatus Z x Cruising)
Owner: North Star
3 Ali Wolff (USA) & Casall: 2005 HOLST gelding (Casall x Capitol I)
Owner: Blacklick Bend Farm
4 Samantha Schaefer (USA) & James Bond HX: 2014 KWPN gelding (Douglas x Cash)
Owner: Bonne Chance LLC
5 Ali Wolff (USA) & Quirie 2: 2007 DSP stallion (Quadrigus M x Quidam’s Rubin)
Owner: Ed Copeland
See full results here.
Nick Haness and Circa Celebrate First Derby Win Together
Continuing the day of firsts, Nick Haness piloted Circa to the mare’s first derby appearance and first hunter derby victory in Sunday afternoon’s $25,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby. Up against fellow top professionals, Haness was in good company, including several of his own mounts, but got the job done aboard a mare he imported himself two years ago.
“Horses like her come around once in a lifetime,” he said of the now 7-year-old Holsteiner mare (Casall x Cento). “I’m very fortunate to have been able to continue riding her. Originally I imported her as a 5-year-old and it’s fun for me to see her go on and be so successful with her new owners, Mitchell Robinson, Dave Laks, and Laura Karet for Glade Run Farms, and her trainer, Tom Wright.”
Haness came in strong in round one with a score of 96 aboard Circa, securing the highest score. Last to go in the handy round, he showed her off and took all the risks he needed to, earning a 94 for a two-round total of 190.
“The handy round had some challenges,” he said. “I was planning to take an easier route with Circa until Courtney Lenkart went in and laid down a sturdy handy round. I knew I had to chase after those points and not play it too safe. It’s Circa’s first derby, and she’s pretty inexperienced in a handy round going in on top with that much pressure, but with pretty good riders in the class I knew I had to try to win.”
Lenkart claimed second place with Mercedes Flett’s Chicoletto on a score of 187, while Kate Conover took third with Calisto, owned by Rushing Dreams Farm LLC, on a 181.25 score.
Haness knows the mare well enough to know the quality she produces every time she steps in the ring. After importing her and showing her twice, he sold the horse, then got the call this time last year to continue riding her.
“She’s still growing and developing but since day one she’s been very special,” he said of Circa. “She’s very impressive and the judges know her when she walks in the ring. She’s a beautiful mover, has a beautiful expression and she just explodes over the jumps. She gives you the most amazing feeling.”
Haness only sees the partnership continuing to flourish as the horse transforms into one of the best hunters he’s ridden.
“This mare is a trier,” he continued about what sets Circa apart. “She tries to win every class. Any time I get to ride her I leave the ring with a big smile on my face. She’s got a remarkable aura about her. I think in many ways she’s very smart. Tom told me before I went in the ring, ‘She’s smart; she knows what she’s doing.’ She’s continuing to grow into her body and understand all the elements it takes to win big classes. She’s going to be a ‘wow’ horse.”
With her win, Circa was named Platinum Performance Hunter of the Week.
See full results from the $25,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby here.
Earlier in the day, Augusta Iwasaki took top honors in the $5,000 Hillside Farm Non Pro Traverse City Hunter Derby aboard Devito, owned by Iwasaki & Reilly. The duo’s scores of 91 and 90 for a total of 181 secured them the win.
“This was my first week showing him,” Iwasaki said of her performance aboard Devito. “I did him in the 3’3” Green Hunters to get used to him and he’s been amazing. He’s a really great jumper, even at jumps that aren’t super big. That really stands out.”
RJ Maya was just behind her in second with Callahan, owned by Lily Walton. Charlotte Harris claimed third place with E.S. Diathago 2.
As Iwasaki was in the ring, unbeknownst to her, other trainers were using her ride to teach their students how best to ride the course. As a top derby competitor, Iwasaki is one that the up-and-coming hunter riders aspire to. “It’s crazy to think about,” she said. “I still feel like a kid. It makes me happy and proud of all the training I had.”
Returning to Traverse City for the summer, Iwasaki hopes for more top results and to get to know more of her mounts in the hunter and jumper divisions. “Me and all of my friends and family love showing here,” she remarked of Flintfields Horse Park. “The weather is perfect and the venue is perfect. We always have a great time here.”
See full results from the $5,000 Hillside Farm Non Pro Traverse City Hunter Derby here.