Thermal, California, USA – February 03, 2023 – When Kaitlin Campbell (USA) saunters into the ring on Palina de L’Escaut, she isn’t the obvious choice for winner to the untrained eye. But once it’s game time, it’s game over for other competitors if the mare keeps the rails up.
“You have to saunter in on Palina because if you get too much energy before the first jump, then it just unravels,” Campbell explained of Palina de L’Escaut, owned by SWS Training & Sales. “I always just walk until the buzzer goes, and then she knows she can go.”
When the buzzer sounded for Campbell’s single speed round in the $30,000 FarmVet 1.45m Open Classic Thursday afternoon, the pair knew exactly what to do. Over Alan Wade’s (IRL) track, they took the top spot by using the mare’s natural foot speed and keeping their turns tidy.
“Palina is so fast,” Campbell explained. “She has her own speed and you can’t take that speed away. So, normally, if she leaves the jumps up, you’re going to be in the top three. I saw Karrie [Rufer] go, and she did seven down the last line. I was planning eight, but she did it quite nicely. So I stuck with my plan and changed and did the seven down the last line. I think that’s where the difference was.”
Karrie Rufer (USA), who went in right before Campbell, ended up second with Mr. Europe, owned by Morning Star Sporthorses, while James Chawke (IRL) claimed third with Gamble.
When Campbell sees that Wade is designing, she sets up Palina De L’Escaut to succeed that week. She won her very first grand prix in 2010 in Lexington, VA, with Wade building, and the success has continued pouring in over his tracks as she’s ridden them more and more.
“Alan Wade is building this week and he always does a really good job,” Campbell said, having won a National Grand Prix at DIHP in December over another course of Wade’s. “I know if I just go at her speed and do some tight turns, the lines always ride. Because her stride isn’t massive, I can always do the correct number while still going a bit forward, so I don’t have to lose my momentum slowing down to try to fit the strides in.”
The course Thursday fit them perfectly, guiding them to lead the victory gallop, which was another moment where the 14-year-old Hanoverian mare let her speed take over. “She’s won so many classes, and the [victory gallop] is her favorite part. She loves to know there aren’t any horses in front of her in the gallop. She is very offended when she’s looking at a horse ahead of her in the victory gallop,” Campbell joked.
Final Results – $30,000 FarmVet 1.45m Open Classic
1) Kaitlin Campbell (USA) & Palina de L’Escaut / SWS Training & Sales – 0 – 69.424
2) Karrie Rufer (USA) & Mr. Europe / Morning Star Sporthorses LLC – 0 – 71.466
3) James Chawke (IRL) & Gamble / James Chawke – 0 – 72.446
4) Leslie Thomas (USA) & Epsilon De Brenil / Andrew Lopez – 0 – 74.095
5) Kyle King (USA) & Chess / The Chess Group – 0 – 79.714
6) Olivia Brown (AUS) & Bling VD Duvelshove Z / Caroline Burke – 0 – 79.714
7) Karrie Rufer (USA) & Stern De Folletti / Morning Star Sporthorses LLC – 0 – 83.038
8) Skylar Wireman (USA) & Coolio 23 / Shayne Wireman – 4 – 69.534
9) Katie Laurie (AUS) & McCaw MVNZ / Carissa McCall – 4 – 75.089
10) Amy Juelsgaard (NED) & Capri 111 / Amy Juelsgaard – 4 – 77.420
11) Ian McFarlane (USA) & Escapado S / Mountain View West Farm LLC – 4 – 77.844
12) Ariel Marx (USA) & Zella 2 / Ariel Marx – 4 – 79.869
Source: Press Release by Tori Bilas for Desert International Horse Park (DIHP)
Photos: © DIHP / HD / High Desert Photo / TB – Tori Bilas Photography / MG