Mill Spring, North Carolina, USA – July 16, 2022 – Caitlyn Connors (USA) and Falcon de Hus Z shot through the jump-off timers in 37.86 to take the win in the $75,000 St. Luke’s Hospital Grand Prix CSI 2* at Tryon International Equestrian Center & Resort (TIEC).
The Guilherme Jorge (BRA) course design tested 50 horses and their riders in the first round, with 11 pairs coming back for the jump off. Connors was able to grab her first-ever international grand prix win, aboard the 2009 Zangersheide gelding (Florian de la Vie*Bazooka x Adlantus AS) owned by Five Henry Stables.
“The horse is from Scott Keach,” Connors said. “I just got him in the middle of the WEF season, so I haven’t had him for very long. It took us a minute to click, and then we clicked and I have fallen in deep love with this horse.
“This is actually my first FEI win, so it’s very special to me!” Connors revealed. “The horse is so amazing, the most careful horse and sweetest horse I’ve ever ridden. He is so honest, I don’t have enough good words to say about him. He is so amazing and I absolutely love him.”
Roberto Teran Tafur (COL) and Dez’ Ooktoff, his own 2008 Dutch Warmblood stallion (Colandro x Lys Rouge), earned reserve honors with their 38.76 second performance in the jump-off.
Gabriela Reutter (CHI) rode Maharees Rock, the 2010 Irish Sport Horse mare (Obos Quality 004 x Ballysimon) owned by Lumiere Sport Horses Inc., to a time of 40.21 seconds and third place.
Connors was able to ride the course on another mount before attempting it with Falcon De Hus Z, and commented that his carefulness helped the duo win. “In the first round, I did have one go before him and it didn’t go as planned, so I was able to see the course a little more than some of the other riders. That horse is so beyond careful that if you set him up perfectly he’s going to clear it, so I just had to make sure that I was going to ride well, and I knew he was going to take care of the rest. He was so amazing. I think the course was honestly perfect for him; he was so so good.”
Connors bested her trained of six years, Teran Tafur, to claim the victory. “In the jump off, I watched my trainer, Roberto Teran, go, who [ended up in] second. His horse has a massive stride just like my horse, and I saw him do eight strides to the last [fence] and I was like, ‘If I want to win this, I have to do the eight!’ Honestly, everything showed up perfectly for me, and because this horse is so careful I was able to cruise around and he took care of the rest.”
“It is a fun feeling, for sure!” Connors replied when asked how it felt to beat her trainer. “It’s a great feeling to know that my work is paying off, and working with him has been nothing short of amazing. I’ve been working with him for six years, so to beat somebody who’s like my idol is a great feeling!”
Connors boasted about her love for TIEC. “We’ve been coming to Tryon for years now, and I love it! It’s one of my must-stops for the fall and for the summer; I absolutely love it. The footing is great, the jumps are fun, the courses are always really super, and the course designers that come in are awesome. Plus, the whole environment, like the crowd coming in on Saturday nights, is so fun. I love being here.”
“I would really like to thank Roberto and I would really like to thank my groom, German,” Connors added. “And also my parents, Gigi, my friends that came out to watch, and I would really like to thank Scottie for trusting me with this horse; that means the absolute world to me and I’m so grateful to be able to ride such an amazing horse like him.”
Final Results – $75,000 St. Luke’s Hospital Grand Prix CSI 2*
Place / Rider / Country / Horse Name / Year Breed gender (Sire x Dam Sire) / Owner / R1 Score Faults / Jump-off Score / Jump-off Time
1) Caitlyn Connors (USA) & Falcon de Hus Z, 2009 Zangersheide gelding (Florian de la Vie*Bazooka x Adlantus AS), Five Henry Stables – 0 / 0 – 37.86
2) Roberto Teran Tafur (COL) & Dez’ Ooktoff, 2008 Dutch Warmblood stallion (Colandro x Lys Rouge), Roberto Teran Tafur – 0 / 0 – 38.76
3) Gabriela Reutter (CHI) & Maharees Rock, 2010 Irish Sport Horse mare (Obos Quality 004 x Ballysimon), Lumiere Sport Horses Inc – 0 / 0 – 40.21
Source: Press Release by Sarah Madden and Connelly Grant for TIEC – Tryon International Equestrian Center
Photos: © TIEC / Natalie Suto