January 28, 2017 -- Francisco Pasquel of Mexico rode to first place on familiar home turf during the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Guadalajara CSI4*-W on Saturday, January 28, 2017. It was a day of smiles and sportsmanship under a cloudless blue sky and warm winter temperatures in Guadalajara, Mexico, as Francisco and his brother, Patricio Pasquel, collected top honors in front of a celebratory crowd.
For Mexico, this leg of the Longines FEI North American – Western League was representative of show jumping’s growing strength in Latin America, and it served as an opportunity for Mexican riders to display the quality of the sport in their home country.
For Francisco, who also had a hand in the organization of the competition—its official name is the Triple Copa Scappino CSI4*-W—the win was satisfying on many levels. The Mexican rider spends most of his time in the role of horse show organizer, and competes for Mexico as an amateur. And while he’s no stranger to international competition, with a string of 2016 victories at the CSI level, this day was a career high point for him aboard Naranjo.
“It was a really technical course with lots of questions, and I was a little bit lucky,” Francisco said about his performance. Whether it was luck or not, his horse handled the 1.60m track with ease. They were the only double clears of the day.
Pasquel’s fiercest competitor was his brother Patricio, who nearly had him beat in the jumpoff round. While Patricio’s time was faster and would have been the winning one, he knocked a rail midway through the track, handing victory to Francisco amid smiles and handshakes.
It bears mentioning that a third Pasquel brother—Gerardo—also competed in the class and throughout the weekend. Equestrian sport truly runs deep in this family, and while Gerardo picked up eight faults in Round 1, he’s the least experienced of the Pasquel brothers, having only started riding five years ago.
Course designer Olaf Petersen built a friendly track for this class, which is the first big grand prix of Mexico’s burgeoning, 2017 competition season. Petersen made no secret of his preference towards using the ample space of open arenas, and while the track included several related distances, he made full use of the size of this large arena.
A jumpoff of four was produced from the initial starting order of 28 pairs. The B element of the Longines triple combination, an airy vertical preceded by an oxer, was the undoing of many riders in Round 1, and while time faults didn’t play as much of a part in the day’s class, they kept Alejandro Mills and Mario Onate, both of Mexico, out of the jumpoff. Third place went to Mexico’s Antonio Chedraui Eguia
In a competition that only featured riders from Central and South America—no Americans or Canadians chose to travel here to compete this year—the quality was as good as any CSI4* event in the world. That really says something about Mexican show jumping, which in the last four years has gone from hosting just two, CSI-rated shows, to this year holding over 20.
And what of the World Cup Final qualifying race? After all, this was the valuable, second-last leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ North American Western League. With only two more chances to earn World Cup points before the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final this March in Omaha, Nebraska, it’s reasonable to assume that a points race would be taking place here in Guadalajara.
But that wasn’t really the case. Of the international riders at this show, just three are ranked in contention on the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Season 2016/2017 Western Sub-League standings.
With his win, Francisco is next in line to earn an invitation to Omaha. But he shared that his horse Naranjo, a Selle Francis gelding that is only 10-years-old, would not be prepared to step up to the demands of the indoor format at the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final.
“I’ve had him for a year and a half,” Francisco explained. With today’s win, he earned 20 qualifying points, which vaulted him to 7th place overall in the Western Sub-League standings. “My plan is not to go to the World Cup Finals because he is a green horse. My goal is the
FEI World Equestrian Games™next year in Tryon."
But it’s a different story for Patricio, who earned 17 points with his 2nd place, is now in 8th place in the overall Western Sub-League standings, and because of his brother’s voluntary withdrawl, will be offered an invitation to the Final barring any major standings shake up in the next two weeks. We spoke with Patricio about the possibility that he will attend the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final Omaha this spring. Click on the right pointing arrow below to see what he had to say:
So there is a very good chance that Mexico, which already has Enrique Gonzalez leading the Western Sub-League standings (Gonzalez did not compete at Guadalajara this weekend), will fill its quota of two riders qualified for Omaha.
Perhaps if the Longines FEI North American – Western League could juggle its schedule around next year so that this leg of the series didn’t occur simultaneously with the big American winter circuits in California and Florida, it would attract the USA and Canadian riders. But then again, it was those riders’ loss to not have traveled here to compete. Mexico will not be a bridesmaid on the world’s stage for long. With talented riders, the ability to host a world-class show, and much more in the planning stages, the Guadalajara CSI4*-W was well worth the trip.