Carlos Hank Guerreiro (MEX) practically grew up in Southern California, so to him, Desert Holiday 1, presented by Brown Advisory, was like coming home. On Sunday, he got his first win at Desert International Horse Park (DIHP) under its new management.

“The first time I was here I was maybe 10 years old jumping the .80m, so it’s been a long time,” Hank Guerreiro reflected. “I grew up in California for around 11 years, so I would call it a second home. I hadn’t been back to this show in six years so I’m really happy to see it grow and change so much. Everything is amazing and we’ve had such a good week here. We’ve really enjoyed everything. All the facilities have improved greatly and I’m really happy to see it like that.”

Carlos Hank Guerreiro (MEX) and H5 Chacco-San. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Facilities and improvements aside, Hank Guerreiro had something else to be thrilled with, and it was his horse’s performance in the $38,500 CAD Whittier Trust CSI5* 1.50m Winning Round Sunday to close the week. With H5 Chacco-San, owned by H5 Sporthorses LLC, he bested the 10 returning horses in the jump-off and claimed the win. Kara Chad (CAN) took second with Igor GPH, owned by Fordville farm, and fellow Canadian Erynn Ballard took third with Coconet, owned by Wight Show Stables.

“I bought him as an 8-year-old in Germany,” Hank Guerreiro said of the 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Chacco-Blue x Sandro Boy). “He’s always been special but he’s really a fighter. I’ve had him for a while now. He was injured for about a year so he lost a little time, but this year he’s been so consistent; he’s had many second places so he really deserved it today. He fought for me the whole way. He’s been jumping really well the whole week. He’s a really fast, careful horse and we had been unlucky getting second place, but we pulled it off today so I’m really happy about that.”

Hank Guerreiro has spent the past six years on the East Coast and in Europe advancing his career as an international athlete.

Carlos Hank Guerreiro (MEX) and H5 Chacco-San in their winning presentation. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“Growing up, [California had] a lot of amazing shows but at the National level,” he explained of why he relocated to pursue the sport. “For me that was really good because I didn’t need to jump internationally [at the time]. The past five or six years we’ve been based in Wellington and Europe because there weren’t as many international shows here. Places like this are changing that and hopefully people realize that. For me, California is the best place in the world and if there were more international shows I would stay here the whole year and be really happy. I’m happy that places like this can make California a bigger part of show jumping in North America.”

Just recently, the Mexican squad at the Pan American Games stood on the podium and secured Olympic qualification for their nation. For Hank Guerreiro, it fueled his fire even more knowing there was something concrete to work towards.

“It always is and always has been [on my radar],” he said of Olympic goals. “It has to be the right horse. I have a really talented 9-year-old that just stepped up into the 1.60m level recently. He had really good performances in Monterrey, so I have really high hopes for him. We’ll try our best but it’s always about right time, right place. We’ll give it everything and see what happens.”

In the near future, Hank Guerreiro’s plans are to remain in the desert for Desert Holiday 2, presented by Visit Greater Palm Springs, then hopefully return for the same event next season, especially since it’s a family affair.

“We’ll probably be back next year because my parents are here with my sister also showing,” he explained. “They’ve been really happy and have really enjoyed it. My dad won the Mediums today so I think we’re coming back for sure. We still have a place in San Diego.”

International action resumes for Desert Holiday 2, presented by Visit Greater Palm Springs, on Wednesday with Two Phase action.

Emmeline Adamick and Lauren Frandson Claim Gold Medals

Emmeline Adamick and Igelo. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

The Markel/USHJA Platinum Jumper Championships concluded Sunday with two riders taking home gold medals and six riders in total on the podiums.

Just four years ago in 2019, Emmeline Adamick took the gold medal in the Zone Jumper Team Championships at the 1.10-1.15m fence height. Fast forward to Sunday of Desert Holiday 1, and she captured gold at the 1.40-1.45m fence height. The young rider, at just 17, has catapulted into a show jumping career, and she’s got the horsepower and the talent to win big.
When asked what she thinks the key to such quick success was, she replied, “I think joy and love for the sport. I’m always excited to come out and keep riding my horses. It’s something I love so much that it never feels like hard work. Winning is just a bonus. I just love riding my horses; flatting and going on the trails. The amount of joy I find in the sport has helped me get to this level so quickly because it’s my passion and it’s something I want to do for the rest of my life. I have amazing horses that have helped me through my career so far and I’m super grateful for them.”

Emmeline Adamick topped the podium in the 1.40-1.45m section. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Her winning mount was Igelo, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. “I’ve had him for almost a year and I’ve been climbing the ranks with him,” she said of Igelo. “He’s super careful and really wants to try his best. He’s always fighting for me and helping me out when I need it. I just keep the rhythm and he’ll just soar over the moon. He’s amazing.”

Adamick took her riding to the next level when she began training with Kyle King, and she’s learned to absorb not only his lessons, but lessons she gets from watching other top riders as well.

“He’s a really awesome rider so when he rides my horses they always feel amazing,” she remarked of training under King. “I’ve started watching the five-star riders more because he is one of them, and realizing what they do when they ride. Like last night I watched the class and realized all the really good riders move forward through the turns, which Kyle also does. It’s something I tried to take into today.”

She’s not slowing down anytime soon, with grand prix, young rider, and FEI goals on the horizon.

Lauren Frandson and Golda. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“Next week I’m going to try to do the National Grand Prix,” she said of her most immediate goal. “Then I’ll start getting more points for Young Riders, either in the Junior or Young Rider category. I also want to try to move into more two-stars, then three-star and four-star, and go from there.”

Frandson knows what it’s like to win a gold medal as well, having taken gold at the FEI North American Youth Championships this past summer in the Pre-Junior category with her mare Golda. She scored another gold medal in the 1.30-1.35m category Sunday.

Lauren Frandson topped the podium in the 1.30-1.35m section. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“It feels amazing,” she said about winning an individual gold medal again. “I’m really grateful for the team I have behind me. My horse is amazing and I’m so lucky to have her. She’s such a forward, fast horse, which benefits me on a day like today when time is tighter. She gives it her all every time we enter the ring.”

Golda has helped Frandson achieve quite a few goals already, and there’s much more ahead for the pair if things keep going at this rate. “When I first got her our goal was to go to Young Riders in the pre-Junior division; I was so happy with our experience there,” she remarked. “Then I wanted to come here and do the Platinum Championships and we got another great result for Golda. To move up to the 1.40m and be consistent in that division and hopefully be here in the 1.40m next year.”

National show jumping resumes December 6 for Desert Holiday 2.

Alice Marks and Chicago Capture 3’3’ Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic

Alice Marks and Chicago. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Alice Marks and Chicago have really hit their stride in the 3’3” Amateur-Owner Hunters. Desert Holiday 1, presented by Brown Advisory, was a particular high note for them, taking the win in the R.J. Classics 3’3” Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic to conclude the week.

“I’ve had him since he was 7 and he’s 13 this year,” she said of her Holsteiner gelding. “He’s quite the character. We have had a fantastic partnership and when he’s on he’s on. That’s most of the time thankfully.”

They put in two stellar rounds in the classic, pulling out a score of 87 in the second round, which secured the win for them.

“Yesterday was hot, so today he was more energetic and everything was just on,” she elaborated on how the horse felt, despite being a few days into competing. “He jumped great and he was such a good boy.”

Alice Marks and Chicago in their winning presentation. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

The six-year relationship has been quite steady for Marks and Chicago, and that’s just the way Marks likes it. “We started in the 3’ and did that for a year or two, and we’ve been doing the 3’3” for five years now,” she shared. “Our goal is just to do well at every show. I don’t have anything extravagant in mind. We just like to keep it going.”

Marks is one that has rediscovered her love for the sport later in life. “I rode as a kid a little bit and then took it up again about eight years ago,” she said. “I pretty much exceeded all my expectations so it’s all gravy at this point!”

Hailing from Northern California, Marks enjoys coming down to the desert to ride several horses in the various amateur hunter divisions. “The horse park is great. The weather is always good, the rings are beautiful, everybody is super helpful. The amenities are great. It’s a first class facility,” she concluded.

Hunter action resumes December 6 for Desert Holiday 2.