Thermal, California, USA – January 05, 2022 – Kyle King (USA) exploded into the world rankings over the past couple years and his 2023 season is off to an equally explosive start, as he took the win in Thursday’s $30,000 FarmVet 1.45m Open Classic at Desert International Horse Park (DIHP). Aboard Patricia Vase’s Odysseus, a newer ride for him, he sped to the fastest time in the single-round speed class, adding a victory to his name in the opening week of Desert Circuit.
New to the schedule this season, the $30,000 1.45m Open Classic allows riders with top mounts to gauge how their horses are performing coming into each week, then make appropriate decisions for how to place the horses the rest of the week. King is one of many top athletes who has taken advantage of the addition of this class, but the result Thursday over Ken Krome’s (USA) track was not precisely what he expected.
“On [Odysseus] I was going to be a little more cautious than I planned for my second horse and it turned out the opposite,” King remarked. “He’s just naturally fast so all the jumps showed up at the right place. I was going to put a little muscle into my second horse and he ended up being slower. It’s funny how it works sometimes.”
In Thursday’s class, King would have chosen Ittolo, owned by Kerri Volek, to get him to the winner’s circle, but Odysseus stepped up to the plate and secured the win by just three-tenths of a second. The pair’s time of 60.667 seconds edged them into the lead, ahead of Mark Kinsella (IRL) who took both second and third, aboard Ben Asselin’s Quality H and La Capitol, owned by Aleron LLC, respectively in 60.793 seconds and 62.084 seconds.
King acquired the ride recently aboard Odysseus, a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding, from owner Vase, and he’s been getting to know the horse throughout the season so far at DIHP.
“‘Odie’ is a very fast horse,” King continued. “I’m not sure of his stride length yet because we’re just five or six shows in. [Today] was awesome. It’s my first [big] win on him. Patty has brought him along to this level and let me take over the reins. I’m very excited to see what he can do from here because I think he can really, really jump.”
Odysseus competes in a liquid titanium mask, something becoming more prevalent in the show ring that encourages a calmer temperament. Owner Vase claims the mask worked wonders on a particularly spooky horse she had, and she won’t ever go without it now. King was not convinced at first, thinking the look wasn’t quite what he wanted in the show ring. “I tried to ride him without it once and he wasn’t great. So I put it back on and he was very consistent,” he reflected.
Win or lose, Thermal is home for King and his team. “We’re super excited,” he said of being at DIHP to kick off Desert Circuit. “This is my home base and has been for a few seasons now. I’m so excited about what they’ve done with the place; it’s unbelievable. The footing, the materials, the trails out back – it’s a great place to base for a full six months. My whole operation is here. I’m super happy with the job they’ve done; it’s amazing.”
King and other top riders focus now on Saturday’s $50,000 Valencia Saddlery Grand Prix, but Friday welcomes young jumpers into the Grand Prix Arena for a class King himself has won several times already, the $7,500 Interactive Mortgage 10 & Under Futurity.
Final Results – $30,000 FarmVet Open Classic
1) Kyle King (USA) & Odysseus / Patricia Vase – 0 – 60.667
2) Mark Kinsella (IRL) & Quality H / Mark Kinsella / Ben Asselin – 0 – 60.793
3) Mark Kinsella (IRL) & La Capitol / Aleron LLC – 0 – 62.084
Source: Press Release by Tori Bilas for Desert International Horse Park
Photos: © DIHP / High Desert Sport Photo