Eugenio Garza Perez took a big win for his team in the desert to close out 2021, and he’s back to his winning ways in 2022 as he topped the first National class of Desert Holiday, the $10,000 Ritz Carlton Rancho Mirage Welcome Speed. Aboard Caracas, he secured the only time below 60 seconds in the speed class, taking the win convincingly.

“I’ve had this horse for almost six years,” Garza said of Caracas, a 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Cachas x Cosimo). “He’s a very gamey horse. He’s the speedster in our barn; he’s always keen to go fast and he’s very good at it. He’s very hot or cold, but lately he’s been very hot. This whole year he’s been brilliant. It’s nice to be finishing the year off like this with him.”

Eugenio Garza Perez in his winning presentation. Photo by ESI Photography

Garza, like many national and international competitors at Desert Holiday, is competing on the Major League Show Jumping tour for Team Helios, which currently holds the lead in the overall league standings. The Mexican rider clinched the win for Helios on his home turf in San Miguel as the jump-off rider for the gold medal, pushing their lead even further out.

Garza’s current string of horses allows him to place mounts in multiple divisions while competing in the desert, thanks to the robust schedule and availability of classes for horses jumping at the higher levels.

Eugenio Garza Perez and Caracas. Photo by ESI Photography

“I think the show does a great job with how they schedule their classes,” Garza commented. “Originally our plan was to have a five-star horse, and then [Caracas] in the two-star, and another horse in the National, but it’s been a crazy year with traveling so much that we decided to go National the first week. There’s such a variety of classes we can do which is so nice for us riders to play around with the horses and start them off small and build them up as the weeks go by. It’s really good for the horses.”

For Wednesday’s class, his strategy was nothing but speed over Alan Wade’s course in the Grand Prix Arena. “He’s just a fast horse all around. We know each other so well so I knew if I did the turns, nothing crazy, in the pace he likes, it would be a good enough time and today it was. I’m very happy today with how he jumped and it’s great to be here again in the desert,” Garza said.

Jose Maria Quintana and Lutalo. Photo by ESI Photography

With FEI competition still ahead with his top mounts, plus plenty of National classes to continue to prove his long-term partnership with Caracas, Garza is happy to return to the desert for the second year in a row. “I love this place. From the grass field to the main ring here; the facilities are great. Great footing, they horses love it, they jump well, I think they’ve done an absolutely amazing job so kudos to all of them,” he concluded.

Mexico took the top three spots in Wednesday’s Welcome Speed, with Jose Maria Quintana taking second place with Lutalo and third with Chaccala, with times of 61.155 seconds and 61.288 seconds, respectively.

Jose Maria Quintana and Chaccala. Photo by ESI Photography

Competition kicked off earlier Wednesday on the grass field for the 1.40m 2* Adequan Two Phase. Taking the first international win of the 2022/2023 season was Germany’s Rupert Winkelmann aboard Duverie, owned by Eickendorf Horses. Young riders took the second two placings, with Alexis Sokolov (USA) and Fasole Du Seigneur in second place and Elisa Broz (USA) and Tinkerbell in third. CSI2* competition resumes on the grass field Thursday morning with the $37,000 Gillibrand Sand 1.45m Speed, followed by the Amberway Equine CSI5* 1.40m Two Phase.

Rupert Winkelmann (GER) and Duverie. Photo by ESI Photography

Final Results: $10,000 Ritz Carlton Rancho Mirage Welcome Speed

1. Caracas / Eugenio Garza Perez / Eugenio Garza Perez / 0/59.529
2. Lutalo / Jose Maria Quintana / Dana B Nemeth / 0/61.155
3. Chaccala / Jose Maria Quintana / Cross Creek Farms, Inc / 0/61.288
4. BEC Alter Ego / Sarah Freedman / Sarah Freedman / 0/61.980
5. Frisbee De Vy / Emma Marlowe / Trelawny Farm, LLC / 0/62.056
6. Jubel ES / Bruno Diniz Das Neves / Mirasol Equestrian, LLC / 0/62.388
7. Livestream 2 / Lisa Carlsen / Lisa Carlsen / 0/62.576
8. T-Quick Hurricane Z / Allison Kroff / TC Sport Horses LLC / 0/63.733
9. Mecho Van’t Kiezelhof / Michelle Berry / Professional Maintenance Systems / 0/64.125
10. Dirty Girl / Paul O’Shea / Eye Candy LLC / 0/64.537
11. Guatamala / Allison La Joie / Karianne Lane / 0/64.898
12. Cristal De Menardiere / Cassio Rivetti / Mavis Spencer / 0/65.167