Langley, British Columbia, Canada – September 21, 2023 – Jim Ifko (CAN) had a plan for the Tbird Qualifier CSI 3* before he even saw the class’s course map.
His goal was simply to keep his horse relaxed and to not let too much out of the tank ahead of Saturday’s Grand Prix CSI 3*.
“I was hoping that we’d have just a comfortable round—[but] of course, you always want to get in the jump-off,” Ifko said. “Then in the jump-off, I actually just wanted to have a nice smooth—let’s call it ‘relaxing,’ if you will—round. I know my horse is fast anyway, but if I try and go too fast then he’s gone [and] we’ve lost everything over the last class.”
It turns out that cruising speed for the spectacular 15-year-old stallion Un Diamant des Forets is still good enough to best a competitive eight-horse jump-off. Ifko and his mount took the victory Thursday evening in the Thunderbird Jumper Arena with a winning time of 39.64 seconds.
Kyle King (USA), fresh off a win in Wednesday’s CSI3* tbird Speed, finished second with SIG Chiari (42.01s). Charlie Jones (GBR) and Capitale 6 were third (42.7s).
Joey Rycroft‘s (CAN) jump-off asked riders to make choices, as he offered several opportunities for inside turns while also keeping in the track the combination that fell most often in the first round. Ifko and Un Diamant des Forets navigated the more difficult track flawlessly.
“I tried to just be smooth and as relaxed as possible and just keep a lid on things and he was really rideable,” Ifko said of his mount. “So, all the short turns worked out really well. And the plan actually just kind of worked out.”
Ifko has been partnered with “Monty” for more than nine years, and the duo has recorded 12 international victories together. According to Jumpr App, they finish in the top 10 at a 38% clip when jumping at the 1.45m height.
Originally, however, their partnership was unplanned. Ifko was shopping for mares in Europe when he came upon the stallion. Ultimately, Ifko returned home without having purchased a single mare, but the stallion became a permanent addition. Monty is an active breeding stallion at Eventyre Farms near Calgary, AB.
“He was literally a horse that we looked at on the way to the airport,” Ifko shared. “So, it was a last minute thing. But as soon as I rode him, I knew—I wasn’t 100% sure how far along, height-wise he would go—but I knew that he was going to be a competitive horse along the way. And as it turns out, it’s exactly the way I was thinking.”
Final Results – $38,500 Tbird Qualifier CSI 3*
1) Jim Ifko (CAN) & Un Diamant des Forets – 0 / 0 – 39.64
2) Kyle King (USA) & SIG Chiari – 0 / 0 – 42.01
3) Charlie Jones (GBR) & Capitale 6 – 0 / 0 – 42.70
Source: Press Release from Thunderbird Show Park
Photos: © Tbird / Kady Dane Photography