The signature event of the Del Mar International World Cup™ Week did not disappoint as 29 of the best horses and riders in North America took a shot at $100,000 in prize money and the chance to earn valuable points in the Longines FEI World Cup™ standings. This event was the third of seven events in the North American Western Sub-League leading up to the FEI World Cup Finals in Paris in 2018. The 1.60m class was held Saturday afternoon at the Grand Prix field of Del Mar Horsepark in front of a packed and enthusiastic crowd.
Alan Wade of Ireland designed the first round course with 16 jumping efforts including one triple combination and one double combination. The course rode smoothly for most, with jumping faults spread around the field. Eight horse and rider combinations rode clear and within the time allowed to return for the jump-off round.
The short course consisted of eight efforts including a double combination, and Sarah Jeanne Scheiring was the first to tackle it aboard Cheval Equestrian LLC's Dontez. The pair finished well within the time allowed but with a few unfortunate rails.
Next to ride was Chris Pratt of Canada, in the irons on The Epic Group LLC's Concorde. Pratt and the 10 year-old chestnut KWPN gelding put in a fast and clear round and crossed the timers at 37.75 seconds.
Following Pratt was Alison Robitaille and Serise Du Bidou owned by Bertram Firestone of Upperville, Virginia. Robitaille took a more conservative track on the 11 year-old chestnut Selle Francais mare but had a beautiful clear round.
Next on course was Jenni McAllister and LEGIS Touch The Sun, followed by Jamie Barge and Luebbo, then Richard Spooner and Chatinus, who each pulled unlucky rails.
Eric Navet took to the field on Catypso and piloted him around a direct, tidy course including an extra tight rollback to the double combination. He and the 10 year-old bay Hanoverian gelding were rewarded by beating leader Chris Pratt's time by two-tenths of a second.
Last on course was Andrew Kocher and his mount Navalo De Poheton, a 16 year-old grey Selle Francais gelding. The pair was lightning fast in a thrilling round that put them across the timers one-tenth of a second faster than Navet, to take the lead and the blue ribbon.
No one was more delighted than Kocher. "My horse just jumped amazing," he said, "and it came up the way I was thinking it was going to, which it never does. Coming to the last combination I saw it long, then short, and figured I'd just sit still and hope he makes it. And he did!"
Before this class, Kocher was 15 in the North American Eastern Sub-League standings, and he moved up the rankings after Saturday's big win to first place. He and Navalo De Poheton will continue their quest to qualify for the Paris World Cup™ finals by competing at the Longines FEI World Cup™ class in Calgary, Canada next weekend.