James Chawke and Gamble. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Three in a row sounds pretty nice to James Chawke. The Irishman has pulled off a hat trick, having topped the three most recent Welcome Speed classes at Desert Circuit, taking his third victory Wednesday in the $10,000 Adequan® 1.35m Welcome Speed with his trusty partner Gamble.

Wednesday morning’s class was a big one, as it served as the final qualifier for the $15,000 Speed League Final taking place Saturday night in the Grand Prix Arena at 6:00 p.m.

Being the final qualifying class, the field of entries was bigger Wednesday of Desert Circuit VIII. The physical arena was bigger, too. Competition moved out to the grass field for 42 athletes to take a shot over Marina Azevedo’s (BRA) speed track. Chawke and Gamble were smack in the middle of that starting order, took over the lead, and never looked back.

James Chawke and Gamble in their winning presentation. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

The duo has not only won three consecutive Welcome Speed classes now, they have also claimed two consecutive $30,000 Sunday 1.40m Open Classics. They’re on a roll, and he doesn’t see things slowing down now.

“I try to not change anything,” Chawke said of how he continues to perform at the moment with the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Campbell VDL x Quick Star). “He’s been jumping great, so I try to keep doing the same thing and not add any more pressure. I know he’s fast enough. If I do my job properly and he’s on form he’s not going to be far away.”

Nicky Galligan and Hermione De L’Hodez. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

The grass provided an element of uncertainty since Gamble’s wins have all taken place in the Grand Prix Arena the past month. “I wasn’t sure how he would feel,” Chawke remarked. “He’s jumped on grass enough but I wasn’t sure what he’d be like on it. He seemed to like it. I’ve never ridden on this field either. It’s a lovely field and he seemed comfortable out there.”

It was apparent from fence one that the horse felt good and that Chawke was going to give it his all to chase another win. “The minute he jumped the first I thought he seemed pretty comfortable. I thought he was super throughout the course,” he shared.

Leading at the time and ultimately taking second place by just about one second was fellow Irishman Nicky Galligan and Hermione De L’Hodez, owned by GYL Farm LLC. Jamie Sailor and David Bustillos’ Caron Jmen claimed third.

“He feels super,” Chawke continued about Gamble’s current win streak and how he’s performing as a result. “He’s a lot more relaxed. Sometimes he can be spooky at different jumps and in different rings. He seems to be chill about everything he’s been asked to do. He’s very confident and I thought he jumped great. I thought maybe I added too many [strides] to the last jump and somebody might catch me but it was enough today.”

Jamie Sailor and Caron Jmen. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Gamble earned himself some quality paddock time after his win today, and they’ll start their winning formula back up on Saturday as the horse’s schedule gets back underway. They aim to take a third win in the $30,000 1.40m Open Classic Sunday and repeat the success all over again for Desert Circuit IX.

Show jumping resumes Thursday in the Grand Prix Arena with the $5,000 NAJC 1.35m Trial and a 1.0m Clear Round under the lights. The grass field welcomes the start of FEI action with the $5,000 CWD 1.40m Two Phase and the $30,000 FarmVet 1.45m Open Classic. Thursday evening a USEF Town Hall will be hosted in VIP for all to attend with special guests Tom O’Mara, Bill Moroney, and Sonja Keating from US Equestrian.


Final Results: $10,000 Adequan® 1.35m Welcome Speed

1. Gamble / James Chawke / James Chawke / 0/61.429
2. Hermione De L’Hodez / Nicky Galligan / GYL Farm LLC / 0/62.403
3. Caron Jmen / Jamie Sailor / David Bustillos / 0/63.864
4. Inferno BF / Kyle King / Richard Kirby / 0/63.954
5. Designed By Picobello Z / Camilo Rueda / Camilo Rueda / 0/66.974
6. Ellie De Chasnay / Sophie Simpson-Leckie / Chloe Kuang / 0/70.170
7. Peninsula Swanky / Samara Heinrichs Prak / Samara Heinrichs Prak / 0/71.396
8. Dali De La Lande / Bruno Diniz Das Neves / Mirasol Equestrian, LLC / 0/73.733
9. Gucci Musterd / Bruno Diniz Das Neves / Laura Khorshid / 0/73.826
10. Macho-Blue PS / Katie Harris / Katie Harris / 0/78.088
11. Jezebelle / Dakoda Mower / Kay Boissicat / 0/78.601
12. Valentino D’Elte / Vanessa Mannix / Vanessa Mannix / 1/79.775