Eduardo Menezes (BRA) wasn’t going to let his student, Carlos Hank Guerreiro (MEX), win so easily a second week in a row. While Menezes didn’t have the last word, he did put in just quick enough of a jump-off round to secure the win and put Hank Guerreiro into second as the $38,500CAD Morning Star Sporthorses CSI5* Winning Round came to a close on Thursday of Desert Holiday 2, presented by Visit Greater Palm Springs.

Aboard Calypso des Matis, owned by E2 Stables LLC, Menezes was one of 14 clears over Peter Grant’s (CAN) first-round track. Though two opted to not return for the jump-off, he still had to go up against 12 five-star athletes.

Through footspeed and an extremely tight turn back to the second to last fence, Menezes set a new time to beat, with just Hank Guerreiro to come. The final time put in by Hank Guerreiro was .08 seconds off the time, so he claimed second and let his coach have the spotlight. Mimi Gochman (USA) and Inclen BH, owned by DG Sport Horse LLC, took third.

Eduardo Menezes (BRA) and Calypso Des Matis. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“This is a horse I got when he was 8 years old,” Menezes said of Calypso des Matis, an 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Paddock du Plessis x Tresor de Cheux). “He’s really fun. He’s super, ultra careful and fast. In general it’s [rare] he goes through the show and doesn’t do something good for me. So it’s really fun to have him. It’s been three years, almost four, of our partnership. He’s one horse that every rider would like to have in the stable.”

While Menezes has a powerful string, this horse can be called on for a variety of classes at any show. “He’s my speed horse, and he’s a horse that can jump up to 1.55m. He’s the horse I can use in almost every single class, other than the five-star grand prix.”

The motivation to win actually came primarily from having his own student behind him in the jump-off order, and the fact that Hank Guerreiro won the week prior. Menezes wanted to remind everyone he still could produce a win.

Eduardo Menezes (BRA) and Calypso Des Matis in their winning presentation, pictured with Karrie Rufer of Morning Star Sporthorses. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“I knew that Carlos, my student, was coming behind me and I know him and the horse well; the horse is a speed machine,” he shared of his strategy behind the fast jump-off. “I knew I needed to give everything I had and try to be clear, otherwise he would beat me again.”

Menezes is no stranger to Southern California, but the park has transformed in the eight years he’s been away.

“I used to live nearby in San Diego. Last time I was here was eight years ago and I must say I’m impressed with the changes,” he reflected. “Everybody told me that it was nice; I didn’t expect it would be this nice. The people around are really nice – the people in the office, the organizers. We are really happy to be here and we are already planning to come back next year.”

Elisa Broz Scores Second FEI Win in a Row in $39,000CAD CSI2* Speed

Last time Eliza Broz (USA) and Tinkerbell came out for FEI action, it was a win. And it was only a few days ago. But they continued their stellar performance into week two of Desert Holiday, presented by Visit Greater Palm Springs, and took home victory once again in the $39,000CAD Highland Farms Ltd. CSI2* 1.45m Speed Thursday morning.

“I’m thankful for Tink,” were Broz’s first words to reflect how she was feeling following another victory. “She’s so incredible and she does a really good job of doing her job. She just has so much heart and you can see that in the ring. I’m very grateful for her.”

Tinkerbell is certainly a speed demon, so she thrives in classes like Thursday’s, but she’s not speed-focused all the time, though Broz has dedicated plenty of time to learning how to best ride and exercise her.

Elisa Broz (USA) and Tinkerbell. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“She definitely turns on in the show ring,” Broz said of the 13-year-old Mecklenburger mare, who has carried her to many speed wins. “At home our flatwork is about keeping her together and staying in her box. The moment I’m off of her she is the sweetest, most chill creature. She definitely has that ‘on’ switch.”

Training under Cassio Rivetti (BRA), Broz has learned how to cater her flatwork sessions to each particular horse she’s riding, knowing how each ride will fully benefit the horse she sits on.

“At home, it’s lots of flatwork because it keeps her strong and that helps me contain her and keep her in her box,” she said of her fitness routine with Tinkerbell. “At horse shows we always do one class before any competitive class to settle her down so I can turn her back up when I need to. Casio definitely emphasizes the flatwork portion at home.”

Of all the lessons she’s taken away from Rivetti, consistency is the one that rings the loudest.

Elisa Broz (USA) and Tinkerbell in their winning presentation. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“Consistency is a really big thing and also [he’s taught me] each horse is different,” Brox explained. “You have to work on your horse’s strengths and weaknesses. I think that’s why the flatwork is so important.”

Heading into another weekend of more big classes, Broz is cruising on confidence, also knowing there’s still hard work to be done.

“Winning a class always gives you confidence, so now it’s about knowing we’re doing something right and staying with that,” she explained. “It gives me the confidence that I know how to do my job and can let my horses do their jobs. That will hopefully carry over to the other horses as well.”

In second place in the $39,000CAD Highland Farms Ltd. CSI2* 1.45m Speed was Cornwall BH with Amanda Derbyshire (GBR), and Paul O’Shea (IRL) came third with Hellcat, owned by Eye Candy LLC.

Show jumping continues Friday with the $15,000 FarmVet 1.45m Open Classic and the $221,600CAD Visit Greater Palm Springs 1.55m Classic.

Joie Gatlin and Oslo Move Up and Conquer in 3’9” Green Hunters

During the National Sunshine Series, Joie Gatlin and Alexis Meadows’ Oslo were taking championship honors in the 3’6” Green Hunters, but with the start of the new competition year, they felt the horse was ready for a bigger challenge. Oslo agreed, and in stylish fashion, he took the championship in the 3’9” Green Hunters during his first week at the higher fence height.

“This week was his first week jumping the 3’9” Green Hunters and I was really excited because he’s such a scopey horse and does it so easily,” Gatlin said of the horse’s performance during Desert Holiday 2, presented by Visit Greater Palm Springs. “He has such a big stride and he’s so fun. He did it really well; I was so happy and excited how well the first couple days went.”

Joie Gatlin and Oslo. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

While Oslo is still new in the states, having joined Meadows’ and Gatlin’s team last year, he’s rising to the occasion and both Gatlin and Meadows have enjoyed the ride getting to know him and setting higher goals with him. 

“We’re going to really focus on getting his and Lexi’s partnership solidified, doing the 3’6” Amateur-Owner Hunters,” Gatlin said of the plan for the 2024 competition year. “I will selectively show him in the 3’9” Greens. We’ll pick and choose the WCHR shows and the Green Hunter Incentive shows.”

For Gatlin and Morley Abbey, Desert Holiday has been full of highs, for both clients and their horses.

Oslo in his winning presentation, pictured with owner Alexis Meadows. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“It’s been a lot of great mileage for some of the kids getting going on their jumpers, plus some really good hunter rounds for all the ladies doing the hunters,” Gatlin remarked of the two weeks to this point. “It’s a really fun week being the first WCHR week, and it’s a beautiful time of year out here. Everyone has enjoyed themselves and has gotten wins and great ribbons. It’s been a great experience, these two weeks.”

The two weeks are not over, and Meadows will take over the reins for the Amateur-Owners with Oslo this weekend as professional divisions come to a close.

Gatlin, as well as her entire team, is grateful to have a place like DIHP to call home for the holidays and for the winter circuit. “The Desert Horse Park has done such a fabulous job with so many nice improvements and it’s a great place to show,” she concluded.

Friday is filled with highlights in Main Hunter, from the $10,000 Voltaire Design USHJA National Hunt & Go Derby – Open, the $10,000 Valencia Saddlery USHJA National Hunt & Go Derby – Jr/Am, and ending with the fan-favorite $15,000 3’3” Seahorse Riding Club Pro Eq Challenge.