Amanda Gomez is making her name known. At just 20 years old, she sits in very good company at the top of the Open Jumper Rider Leaderboard, joined by names like James Chawke, Gregory Wathelet, and Conor Swail. On Wednesday morning, she kicked off Desert Circuit 7, presented by TALUS, with a win in the $10,000 Prestige Italia Welcome Speed aboard her beloved Charly-Ann, owned by Rising Star Equestrian LLC.

Chawke, who currently leads the standings, blazed a trail about halfway through the order with Nacara van Berkenbroeck Z, owned by Alison Locke, setting the pace at 60.255 seconds. He’s a frequent winner of this class, so Gomez knew he’d be hard to beat, but she formulated a plan and gave it a go.

“My mare has a huge stride and she typically is fast even if we don’t intend on being super fast,” she said of Charly-Ann, a 13-year-old Holsteiner mare. “I thought [between fences] one, two, and three, I could be faster than James. She jumped phenomenal, and the wall was no big deal. Typically she’s pretty careful. She had last week off so she was fresh. I had the partener I needed today and I was thankful for that. She jumped her heart out.”

Amanda Gomez and Charly-Ann in their winning presentation. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Chawke ended up second, while Cassio Rivetti jumped to a third-place finish with Gotico Di Ca’ San Giorgio, owned by Play the Game LLC. Gomez is used to jumping in the company of riders of their caliber, but it feels extra special to come out on top when they are the competition.

“When you’re out here jumping with people like Cassio and James it’s nice to have a win in a class like this,” she reflected on her achievement. “It was super competitive today and when I watched James I knew I had to be really on my A-game if I wanted to catch him. That’s something you get here that you don’t get at a lot of venues anymore. To step up and be that competitive, it makes it even sweeter when you do get to win. I’m really happy with the mare and the way I rode today.”

Gomez is a young professional working with a smaller string of horses, and despite the fact that she works tremendously hard, she knows she can’t jump each horse every single week to get good results. She’s learned to balance her time in the ring with time off so she guarantees top results for herself, and the plan is working. She has four weeks remaining before the Leading Open Jumper Rider is crowned, and she definitely has her eye on the prize.

“That’s something I’m super proud of; I’ve been here grinding it out all Circuit so far,” she said of her hard work and the results she’s seeing. “I owe it all to this mare honestly. She’s been so competitive and really has come around. Every week I show her she jumps better and better. She’s a little green at the bigger jump and every day she comes out she’s more willing to do the right thing. I think towards the end of Circuit she’s only going to get stronger so I’m excited for the weeks to come. I know I can just keep doing what I did today and stay in the rider standings. It would be really cool to have that under my belt.”

Amanda Gomez and Charly-Ann. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Each week, Gomez is up against top riders who each often have a string four or five horses deep for the particular level. Gomez can’t reach that deep, so she has to learn the keys to managing her horses that keep them going at their best.

“Horse management is number one for me,” she stated. “When I don’t have a big string of horses I can go through, I have to make sure I take very good care of them. They’re more than just athletes to me, they’re my pets at the end of the day and I love them. Especially this mare, she’s a very special and competitive horse I have on my string right now.”

It’s evident that Charly-Ann is willing to give her all for her rider, and it’s a testament to Gomez’s program and the respect she gives her horses.

“It’s a difficult balance between showing her and winning enough money to stay in the standings, then also knowing when I need to step back and give her a rest to keep her enjoying what she’s doing,” she continued. “You have to find that balance. I’d love to have a huge string but at the end of the day I have what I have and I make sure I take good care of them and keep them thriving and happy.”

Show jumping resumes Thursday with the $25,000 FarmVet 1.45m Open Classic followed by the $32,000 Brookway Stables CSI3* Speed.

Bruno Diniz Das Neves and Gucci Musterd Top Two Phase Action

Bruno Diniz Das Neves (POR) and Gucci Musterd. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Bruno Diniz Das Neves (POR) kicked off FEI action Wednesday with a win aboard Gucci Musterd in the CSI3* Two Phase. Diniz piloted the entry owned by Laura Khorshid to a time of 27.14 seconds in the speed phase, taking top honors in the first international class of the week. Kaitlin Campebll (USA) took second place with Sun Warrior, owned by SWS Training, and Cassio Rivetti (BRA) claimed his second third-place finish of the week with Billy Dorito, owned by Monarch Farms, LLC.