Thermal, California – December 12, 2021 – Show jumping action came to a close on Sunday at Desert International Horse Park on the final day of Desert Holiday. FEI CSI 2* athletes vied for the top prize in the $72,900 HorseFlight Grand Prix CSI2* while national show jumpers took on the $3,000 Alu Jumps 1.35m Open Classic in the Grand Prix Arena. The course was set and decorated for a final time in 2021 and riders thoughtfully executed their plans to give their best shot at securing the final win of the calendar year at the venue. In the $3,000 Alu Jumps 1.35m Open Classic, it was Julia Nagler taking home the blue with Sanvano, while Karl Cook (USA) claimed the top spot in the FEI $72,900 HorseFlight Grand Prix CSI 2* with Kalinka Van’t Zorgvliet.
The course for the day, set by Alan Wade (IRL), had elements similar to that of the Grand Prix the night prior, including the triple combination, which had been reset to vertical-oxer-vertical with one stride in between each element, and the double combination across the diagonal, which was reversed. The CSI 2* riders were presented with a 13-obstacle course with 16 jumping efforts total spanning the entire Grand Prix Arena presented challenges at every turn. A total of 12 competitors navigated the first round clear and within the time allowed of 79 seconds to advance to the eight-obstacle jump-off.
As 43rd in the order with Kalinka Van’t Zorgvliet, owned by Signe Otsby, Cook had time to watch the course and observe where rails fell so he could secure a pole-position spot in the jump-off. Karrie Rufer (USA) was the first to take to the abbreviated track, bringing down one rail for a total of 4 faults in 44.34 seconds.
Emma Marlowe (USA) and Cherokee, a 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by Trelawny Farm, LLC, set the bar as the first double-clear effort of the afternoon, posting a time of 42.29 seconds.
The lead wasn’t held for long, however, as Alec Lawler (USA) and his own For Gold, a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding, sped through the timers in 40.84, upping the ante and putting pressure on the remaining nine competitors.
Israel’s Ashlee Bond (ISR), who took numerous CSI2* wins during Desert Holiday, piloted Lazy to the fastest time in 38.38 seconds, but with one rail down to ultimately place her fifth. The oxer portion of the triple combination, which had been shortened to just two elements, served as trouble for several of the riders, with other rails falling on course for a few.
Cook (USA) and Kalinka Van’t Zorgvliet had the advantage of returning late in the order for the jump-off, and their efficient clear round took over the top spot as they crossed the beams in 38.64 seconds, which would prove to be the best as the class came to a close.
Cook (USA) has been moving Kalinka Van’t Zorgvliet, who previously showed in Europe under Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca (ITA), into the higher level classes slowly and seeing promising results up to the four-star level. This was the 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare’s biggest win so far and it was on home soil for Southern California-based Cook.
Winner’s Circle – Karl Cook (USA) – $72,900 Horseflight Grand Prix CSI 2*
On Kalinka Van’t Zorgvliet:
“She was great. She is a small mare but she is very hot. She does have a very big stride, so a lot of my job is managing how hot she is, and I try not to let the stride get away from me. She has been jumping great this year and very consistently.”
On the course:
“The plan in the first round was pretty straight forward. The short lines were short and the jump off was the fastest that I have ever gone with her. I knew that I could go quick with her but I had not kicked it into that next gear because there were some control issues. You saw those a little bit from jump one to two, but after that she was super and kept going and I couldn’t be happier.”
On his goals for Kalinka Van’t Zorgvliet:
“I feel that she is capable of jumping bigger than this. So the plan is to move up eventually but with the small horses, if you move up too fast, it is a big mistake and you only realize after you have made the mistake. So we will probably keep her to the three-star level for another year and assuming things are still working we will see about moving her back up.”
On having a horse show out west with CSI2* / CSI5* competition:
“I have been traveling to the East Coast all year and while it is nice to go to those new shows, it is also nice to not have to fly there and be able to have a show in your backyard. It is great that they have invested the money to bring that level of sport here. They knew they needed to re-do things, and they did, and they have done a good job and the arena is very sporty. It is great to be able to run and have the horses jump well. It is all very good!”
Final Results – $72,900 HorseFlight Grand Prix CSI 2*
1) Karl Cook (USA) & Kalinka Van’t Zorgvliet – 0 / 0 – 38.64
2) Alec Lawler (USA) & For Gold – 0 / 0 – 40.84
3) Emma Marlowe (USA) & Cherokee – 0 / 0 – 42.29
Source: Press Release by Tori Bilas / Phelps Media Group for Desert International Horse Park
Photos: © Phelps Sports / Tori Bilas