Thermal, California – December 05, 2021 – Major League Show Jumping competition came to an exciting close on Sunday during Week I of Desert Holiday Series at the Desert International Horse Park. CSI5* athletes took to the grass field for the final time for the $72,900 Purina Winning Round CSI5* and the feature class of the day, the FEI $230,000 Adequan Major League Show Jumping Grand Prix CSI5*, Presented by Essence Art Gallery. Taking top honors in the feature class was Cassio Rivetti (BRA) and Alanine de Vains, besting nine jump-off contenders.
Course Designer, Michel Vaillancourt (CAN), assisted by Peter Grant (CAN), set an expansive track covering the entire grass field for the 35 competitors. His course included 14-numbered obstacles, featuring an oxer-vertical-oxer triple combination, a vertical-oxer double combination, two liverpools, and a triple bar set off a short, rollback turn, all to be completed in the time allowed of 86 seconds.
First to jump the track clear and first to take on the jump-off course was Rivetti (BRA), who rode the Lindemann Barnett Sporthorses-owned entry Alanine de Vains, an 11-year-old Selle Francais mare. Knowing the depth of the field of qualifying entries that was coming behind him in the jump-off, including Olympians McLain Ward (USA), Eugenio Garza Perez (MEX), and Katie Laurie (AUS), among others, Rivetti took the most direct routes possible and did not waste any time, setting a time to beat with a clear round in 43.87 seconds. Several athletes, including Garza, Laurie (AUS), Ward (USA), Amy Millar (CAN), Andrew Bourns (IRL) and Bliss Heers (USA), attempted to beat Rivetti’s quick time, but fell short at the expense of rails down or additional seconds on the clock.
The first rider to put the pressure on Rivetti’s (BRA) leading time was Adrienne Sternlicht (USA), who piloted Bennys Legacy, her own 13-year-old Oldenberg gelding, to a clear round in a time of 44.86, just off the leading time, slotting her into an eventual third place.
Conor Swail (IRL) stepped into the ring on a mission to take over the lead with Count Me In, a 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Sandy Lupton, but fell just short of the time to beat, clocking in at 43.92, just five thousandths of a second behind Rivetti (BRA), who led the ensuing victory gallop. The win in the $230,000 Adequan Major League Show Jumping Grand Prix CSI5*, presented by Essence Art Gallery, marks the first major CSI5* victory for Rivetti, who also calls California his home for the majority of the year.
Week II of Desert Holiday will again feature CSI5* and CSI2* competition, including the FEI $230,000 Adequan Major League Show Jumping Grand Prix CSI5*, Presented by Essence Art Gallery, and the FEI $72,900 FarmVet Grand Prix CSI2*, as well as the grand finale of the Major League Show Jumping tour, where all eight teams will vie for double points to secure the overall title for the season. Team Eye Candy sits in the lead overall with 60 points, with Team Roadrunners just being with 51 points and A.I.M. United sit in third place with 46 points.
Winner’s Circle – Cassio Rivetti (BRA) – Winner, $230,000 Adequan Major League Show Jumping Grand Prix CSI5*, Presented by Essence Art Gallery
On preparation for today’s class:
“I jumped in the 1.50m class Saturday and had two rails down. It was my fifth class with her and it was her first time on the grass. She rode very well and just made a few slight changes for today and she just jumped amazing. I had to try and give everything I had [in the jump-off]. There were a lot of fast riders after me so when we went first I was really trying everything I could to be quick. It all just kind of worked out.”
On Alanine De Vains:
“Alanine De Vains is Violet Barnett’s horse we got in the beginning of the year. We went to the Young Riders this year with Violet and she brought home a bronze in the individual competition and a gold in the team competition with her. She is an amazing mare; she is so good. Violet went to college and then Alanine De Vains had a break for about three months and then they just let me start to show her three weeks ago in the CSI3* Grand Prix here. The week after that she jumped again with only one rail down and now she won again. She is a very special mare and one of the best I have ever ridden in my life. She has everything a rider could want in a horse. She has the mindset; she is careful, brave, and fights for a win with the rider. She is the kind of horse that every rider wants to ride.”
“She always plays between the jumps in the lines so it makes it a little difficult and she has a huge stride. The first seven [strides] down the line were great and then we were a little tight to the second jump but she cleared it for me and I would have liked to have gotten to the red vertical in one fewer stride but she was strong. The last line was just going and going. She was fighting for me to win and I almost fell off at the last fence.”
On winning on home turf:
“It is truly amazing. I love California and the Desert International Horse Park (DIHP). I was living in New York for 18 years before coming here, and I moved here with my family. DIHP is like my second home. It is a really big win for me and I would like to thank Violet and Sloan Barnett for allowing me to ride this special mare. This is very special for me and all of my family watching. My family always supports me. My wife, I have to thank her for everything she has done for me. She traveled around Europe with me and the kids. We have been together for sixteen years and they deserve a nice life.”
“This is my first Major League competition and I think it is an incredible series. I jumped the team competition yesterday and I really liked it. For us being able to show at this level in California is amazing. This is the change we needed and the format of it is really good. It is helping to make shows in America so much nicer. I am planning to do more with Major League Show Jumping next year.”
Conor Swail – Second place, $230,000 Adequan Major League Show Jumping Grand Prix CSI5*, Presented by Essence Art Gallery
On his jump-off:
“Cassio was first in and had a blazing round. His horse is very fast and I nearly didn’t watch anything else after that if I am being honest. I knew it was going to be hard to beat him. My horse was fantastic and we are in a newer relationship. We haven’t done a ton of classes yet together and this is only our fourth 5*. He has been clear in three out of the four classes we have done. He is a fantastic horse and I am really looking forward to what is coming next with him. I had a great round and he really jumped amazingly. I had a little stumble landing off of the last jump in the jump off which I think took away a little time. I am very happy with second and the horse was just fantastic. Cassio was a great winner today.”
Adrienne Sternlicht – Third place, $230,000 Adequan Major League Show Jumping Grand Prix CSI5*, Presented by Essence Art Gallery
On her relationship with Bennys Legacy:
“I have had my horse for two years now. He is incredibly special to me. I have had a difficult year riding-wise and have had a lot of ups and downs. He has stepped up and has become my number one horse. He is such a tryer and he is really my cup of tea to ride. I am really just so grateful every time I am able to go in the ring with him. He always tries his heart out for me.”
Steve Hankin – President and CEO, Desert International Horse Park
On the first week of Desert Holiday:
“It has truly exceeded our expectations by a mile. It has been two and a half years in the making. To imagine we would be sitting here with this group of riders and with this facility two years after starting is kind of a dream come true. The goal was to change the sport out here on the west coast and I think with the last two days we have done that. I don’t think it could have gone any better and the grass performed great. It was just amazing to be a part of and to see everyone here. The response we have gotten has been great.”
Keean White – MLSJ Co-founder
On hopes for the final week of MLSJ:
“It has been incredible to put on 10 CSI5* competitions in North America. The support from the Major League and individual teams has been amazing. It was great to see the riders believing in it and I was fortunate to have had amazing friendships with the majority of these riders over the past 10 years and it took them to believe in this project as well. We are the most grateful to be here today. The riders stood behind it and supported it even if they had questions. They wanted to support the sport and have given us a great opportunity. The partners in this league are incredible and I think we have amazing opportunities in the next five to 10 years to make this the number one circuit in the world.”
Final Results – $230,000 Adequan Major League Show Jumping Adequan Grand Prix CSI 5*
1) Cassio Rivetti (BRA) & Alanine De Vains – 0 / 0 -43.87
2) Conor Swail (IRL) & Count Me In – 0 / 0 – 43.92
3) Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) & Bennys Legacy – 0 / 0 – 44.86
Source: Press Release by Tori Bilas / Phelps Media Group for Desert International Horse Park
Photo: © Phelps Sports / Tori Bilas