Thermal, California, USA – December 10, 2022 – Erynn Ballard (CAN) feels like she’s had an off year, but she capped it off with a major win in the desert to feel back on top of the world.
In the $74,200 Cabana Coast Winning Round CSI 5* last Saturday, the Canadian World Championship competitor topped an extremely competitive field with Ilan Ferder’s Narcotique V/H Dingenshof (Harley VDL x Chacco-Blue).
“I’ve been inconsistent in my results this year; I’ve been the queen of 4 faults,” Ballard said. “Somebody told me recently that the difference between clear and 4 faults is millimeters. Today was really my day and everything went right. They had to chase me at the end and I finally had luck on my side.”
Ballard got the ride on Narcotique V/H Dingenshof earlier this year for owner Ilan Ferder. “She’s perfect,” she continued. “For me there’s nothing better than a bay mare, and she is really my type. She’s a bit forward, careful, sporty, so when we tried her in Europe this summer I knew I was getting a weapon in this level and the next level; she’s already proven in five-star grand prixs. She’s my heart.”
Ballard made the remaining two riders, Daniel Coyle (IRL) and Ashlee Bond (ISR), chase her, and both had the very last rail come down as a result.
“That’s the nice part about not having to ride last,” she said. “I had two very fast riders behind me and Darragh [Kenny] ahead of me and he set the bar so I of course had to try to be faster than him. Ashley and Daniel really had to run to chase me and it paid off today.”
Darragh Kenny (IRL) ended up in second place with Chic Chic (Comme Il Faut 5 x Contendro I), owned by Vlock Show Stables, completing their second fault-free effort in 40.71 seconds.
Mark Kinsella (IRL) and Ben Asselin’s Quality H (FRH Quaid x Stakkato) claimed third place by completing his winning round in flawless fashion and in 41.44 seconds.
Even the very top professionals doubt themselves and strive to improve with every ride. For Ballard, she walked away with not only a win but a lesson learned as well, even having done everything she’s done in the sport.
“Sometimes jump-offs like this are my weakest because I like to really square up my turns,” she continued. “Ilan said I had to slice the combination and I said, ‘I don’t want to.’ But sometimes following instructions pays off because it could have gone two ways: I slice it and get it right, or I slice it and get it wrong, but at least I was learning something. I proved to myself that something like that is possible and that’s a big win. It’s a big win to win the class and also to improve yourself at this level.”
Ballard is sitting on mostly up-and-coming horses, along with Gakhir, her more experienced mount with which she jumped the World Championships. She’s using the year to focus not only on bringing up her future string, but to also improve upon herself.
“Because I haven’t had my best year, I’m really focusing on better riding, consistent riding, confident riding, going in the ring feeling like I can improve on my last round. Nothing is better for confidence than a win. There’s no better way to go into 2023,” she concluded.
Final Results – $74,200 Cabana Coast Winning Round CSI 5*
1) Erynn Ballard (CAN) & Narcotique vh Dingenshof– 0 / 0 – 39.75
2) Darragh Kenny (IRL) & Chic Chic – 0 / 0 – 40.71
3) Mark Kinsella (IRL) & Quality H – 0 / 0 – 41.44
Source: Press Release by Tori Bilas for Desert International Horse Park (DIHP)
Photo: © ESI Photography