Thermal, Calif. – Jan. 27. 2022 – FEI competition for the 2022 Desert International Horse Park (DIHP) show season got underway during Desert Circuit II Thursday afternoon as international athletes took to the Grand Prix Arena for the $5,000 Vita Flex 1.40m Two-Phase CSI3*. A field of 34 entries, featuring top pairings representing eight different nations, contested the course set by Mexico’s Manuel Esparza. The athletes focused primarily on keeping rails intact during the first phase of competition, switching gears at the halfway mark on course to speed through phase two and try to claim top honors. Ultimately, it was Keri Potter and Quitana 11 who held their early lead to emerge at the top of the leaderboard at the conclusion of the class.
The course, divided into a power phase and a speed phase, featured 14 numbered obstacles, the first eight of which were set within a time allowed of 53 seconds. After fence eight, riders who manage to leave all of the fences intact are allowed to advance into the jump-off immediately, trying to clear the final six fences as quickly as possible. Faults and time from the second phase of the course would be the determining factor for the final placings.
Setting the pace as the first duo to tackle the course, the United States’ Mavis Spencer and Con Calle laid down a solid double-clear effort, crossing through the timers at the conclusion of the speed phase in 35.31 seconds. The lead would exchange hands 10 rounds later as Keri Potter (USA) and Hannah Loly’s Quitana 11 raced their way through the speed phase after clearing the first portion of the course. The pair shaved three seconds off of the leading time to notch a new leading time of 31.95 seconds on the clock.
Though the remaining 23 horse-and-athlete combinations would put forth a valiant effort, none were able to match Potter’s impressive speed phase time, ultimately lending her the first place honors aboard the 16-year-old Holsteiner mare Quitana 11. Shawn Casady (USA) and RMF Chacco Top, owned by Rushy Marsh Farm, finished just behind the winning pair, riding to a clear speed phase time of 32.25 seconds. Rounding out the top three just one-tenth of a second behind Casady was Misti Cassar (USA) aboard Alberto Rivera Torres’ Viking de Laume with a time of 32.39 seconds.
Earlier in the day, national show jumping athletes competed for the top prize in the $5,000 1.40m Open Classic, sponsored by Morning Star Sport Horses. Thirty-one entries came forward to attempt to jump a clear first round in order to secure a spot in the jump-off. Out of eight clear first-round efforts, Conor Swail (IRL) and the Sagamore Farms entry Errol nabbed the win with the quickest clear jump-off time of 29.389 seconds. Just off the pace and in second was Robert Blanchette (IRL) and Chardonnay, owned by RTS, LLC, and in third was Katie Harris (USA) and her own Quantanamo Z.
International competition continues on Friday with the $37,000 TALUS 1.45m Speed CSI3* and Saturday with the $37,000 Sun Air Jets 1.45m Classic CSI3* before concluding Sunday with the $138,600 Purina Grand Prix 1.55m CSI3*. National athletes will compete in the $25,000 FarmVet Grand Prix Saturday evening
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Keri Potter – $5,000 Vita Flex 1.40m Two Phase CSI3* winner
On the speed phase of the course:
“[Quitana 11] in particular is a very fast horse; you just have to just let go a little bit and she kicks it into fifth gear. My plan was to angle the vertical before the first jump of the jump-off so we could get a good line to the next line, which worked out well. The five strides rode really easy. Right after the combination I was just thinking to turn as quick as I can. I think I left a stride out there compared to Shawn [Casady] who was second place. I did seven strides through the turn and then eight strides, which was the leave-out in the line. And then just a really quick rollback to the last line which was a forward seven strides. This mare just kind of takes you and carries a great rhythm and gallop, so it’s quite easy to go fast.”
On Quitana 11 and Bisou:
“Both horses I rode today – [Bisou] was fifth place – belong to Hannah Loly, who I’ve worked for at Tres Palomas for over 10 years. These are both her horses. She’s at Tufts University now so I am just keeping them going for her while she goes to school. She will be back this summer, so I am just keeping them fit. [Quitana 11] is 16 years old now and is a seasoned horse at this level so it’s nice to get on one that knows what it’s doing and just let her take over a little bit. [Bisou] is a younger one that is moving up into this division and she was awesome also today. It was a good day!”
On the Desert Circuit:
“I am going to try to come back for most of the FEI weeks. I also have one more FEI horse to compete in the big classes on. I am super excited that we have a bunch of CSI3* and CSI4* classes here and it’s great for show jumping out in California. I am a Californian myself and believe in getting good quality horse shows out here. The Desert Circuit has definitely done its part in getting the sport to a different level and I’m super excited about where it’s going. I’ve been coming here since I was a kid. The quality that has come out of this facility in the last year is absolutely incredible. What they’ve done to this ring, the footing, the atmosphere around the ring, it’s grown so much and there is a lot of talk – East Coast and West Coast – about this facility and what it’s done and where we’re going. You just see, week after week, different improvements and the quality and level of show jumping going up, from the course design to the jumps, to the footing to all of the important stuff that we need for good quality show jumping. We are getting more riders out here to come West and I think we will see more that come in the future for sure.”
$5,000 Vita Flex 1.40m Two Phase CSI3*
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / R1 Faults | R1 Time / R2 Faults | R2 Time
1. Quitana 11 / Keri Potter / USA / Hannah Loly / 0 | 45.58 / 0 | 31.95
2. RMF Chacco Top / Shawn Casady / USA / Rush Marsh Farm LLC / 0 | 43.36 / 0 | 32.25
3. Viking de Laume / Misti Cassar / USA / Alberto Rivera Torres / 0 | 47.31 / 0 | 32.39
4. Quatar / Jamie Taylor / USA / JT Equine LLC / 0 | 48.31 / 0 | 33.34
5. Bisou / Keri Potter / USA / Tres Palomas / 0 | 49.10 / 0 | 34.46
6. The Freshman / Ben Asselin / CAN / Attache Stables / 0 | 50.39 / 0 | 34.66
7. Con Calle / Mavis Spencer / USA / Georgy Maskrey-Segesman / 0 | 50.65 / 0 | 35.31
8. Carissimo 25 / Mavis Spencer / USA / Georgy Maskrey-Segesman / 0 | 50.71 / 0 | 36.50
9. Chattanooga / Laura Hite / USA / HF Farms LLC / 0 | 49.95 / 0 | 36.57
10. Crusador Z / Brain Morton / CAN / Spruce Meadows LTD / 0 | 50.07 / 0 | 37
11. Dandy / Matt Williams / AUS / HD Horses LLC / 0 | 48.19 / 0 | 37.47
12. Edita / Zume Gallaher / USA / Blue Gate Stables, LLC / 0 | 50.95 / 0 | 39.66