King and Khosla Conquer Desert Circuit VIII

by | Mar 21, 2021 | Jumpers, Press Release | 0 comments

Kyle King and Magic Mike claim the win in the $36,600 FEI 1.45m, sponsored by Sun Air Jets. Photo ESI Photography

For Immediate Release:

THERMAL, Calif. – March 20, 2021 – Top show jumping action continued at the Desert International Horse Park (DIHP) as FEI riders are preparing for the grand finale, the $250,000 FEI 1.55m CSI4*, on Sunday afternoon. In Saturday’s competition, riders navigated the $36,600 FEI 1.45m, sponsored by Sun Air Jets. Twenty horse and rider duos tackled the track and it was Kyle King (USA) and Magic Mike (Zapatero x Zivola) who captured the win and the greater part of the prize pool.

Course designer Marina Azevedo (BRA) built a straightforward course for riders to maneuver featuring a big triple combination and many open, airy fences spread throughout. Third in the order of go, Mavis Spencer (USA) aboard Belladonna 42, were the first to go clear with a time of 76.66 seconds. Only four additional riders would add their names to the jump-off roaster: King, Mariano Maggi (SWE), Katie Laurie (AUS) and Matt Archer (USA).

Kyle King aboard Magic Mike. Photo ESI Photography

Setting the pace was Spencer and the twelve-year-old Holsteiner mare owned by Georgy Maskrey-Segesman, Belladonna 42 (Clearway x Vita 24) with a jump-off time of 37.50 seconds. Unfortunately, the duo fell victim to four faults at the final fence and ended the class in third. Finishing second was Laurie and her own ten-year-old gelding Django II (Loradno x Flower Power), with a clear ride and jump-off time of 40.16 seconds. 

Magic Mike is a fairly new mount for King. He got the ride from Elizabeth Kilham in early 2020. Kilhman has owned the twelve-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding since he was five years old. After having most of the season off, King has been working at getting Magic Mike back in top jumping form. He brought him to DIHP in November for the National Sunshine Series and have had top ribbon results the entire time.  

“He is very hot for a big horse. He does not take much energy to ride. He isn’t a push ride which is nice for a big horse. He has a ton of blood, he is always taking you which is great. I hardly crack a sweat when I’m riding him,” explained King. “I was very happy today getting into the jump off. I took a deep breath, I know he is fast so I didn’t try to get myself in any trouble. It just worked out.”

Kyle King leading the victory gallop aboard Magic Mike. Photo ESI Photography

King has based his business at DIHP all winter long and has thoroughly enjoyed his time here. 

“Steve gave me a really nice barn over in the permanent section. I have been here since October, this has been my home. It has been really nice for me because I have quite a few horses. Now they have added the extra rings and good trails. It’s nice because my horses can do all their work down there and only come up to this end of the property when it is time to compete,” continued King. “The facility has been really nice. I think the management is doing a great job. The course designers are first rate, all of that is just so nice.”

$25,000 1.40m Open Classic

Vani Khosla and Billy Mexico won the $25,000 1.40m Open Classic sponsored by Great American Insurance. Photo ESI Photography

Forty-four horse and rider combinations battled it out in the grand prix arena for the $25,000 1.40m Open Classic sponsored by Great American Insurance at the Desert International Horse Park (DIHP). Jumper riders at the DIHP have a wide choice of classes to compete in this week from FEI to national rated with generous prize money including the $250,000 FEI Grand Prix CSI4* 1.55m, which will be held on Sunday.

The 1.40m Open course was designed by Marina Azevedo (BRA) and included three oxers off a short turn and a triple combination where the A portion vertical caught many of the 4 faulters. Halfway through the class only two riders were clean, Molly Tala and Hirado Blue and Uma O’Niel with Edelweiss. After the drag, eight more riders added their name to the jump off list.

Faster and faster they went with a long run gallop to the last jump making for an exciting jump off to the very end when last to go, Billy Mexico, with Vani Khosla, 29, (Portola Valley, CA) in the irons, sliced one more second off the leading time for the win, stopping the clock at 43.321.

Vani Kholsa and Billy Mexico. Photo ESI Photography

“Billy Mexico is 16, I’ve had him since he was a nine-year-old and I’ve had a long and amazing career with him and we’re just out there having fun these days,” explained Khosla. “He is so competitive and he has so much joy just being out there doing it. It’s really just a special feeling. We’ve had such an amazing career I’m at the point where he tells me what he wants to do and we’re going to do that together and just make sure we’re having fun.”

Khosla has two of his sons, one is a nine-year-old that just moved up into the grand prixs and the other one is a seven-year-old who did really well in the seven-year-old classes. Khosla also just got a new mount, Incitatus, that she will be showing in the $250,000 FEI CSI4* class on Sunday.

Billy Mexico had a big breeding season last year due to Covid and not showing. He did a 1.35m class earlier in the circuit that he won and he’s just working his way back into the swing of things.

“I think it’s really great,” said Khosla regarding the $250,000 class. “I really think they’ve tried to create that caliber giving us classes like that week after week and to give us a great final to work up to and end the circuit on.”

Billy Mexico and Vani Khosla leading the victory gallop. Photo ESI Photography

Finishing just behind Billy Mexico was Hirado Blue and Molly Talla (San Juan Capistrano, CA) with a time of 44.165 while Uma O’Neill (Santa Cruz, CA) and Edelweiss fell into third with 45.59. Talla and O’Neill were the only two to clean in the first half of the class. Catching the fourth place spot was Zamia 3 and Chandler Meadows (Newport Beach, CA)

The Desert International Horse Park offered a large selection of jumper classes all circuit from Young Jumpers to the FEI CSI4*. Riders who frequent the circuit agree it is a great place to develop young jumpers because of the range of options offered for jumpers. The generous prize money also makes it affordable to stay and play.

Jumper competition continues on Sunday with the $15,000 Junior/Amateur/Amateur Owner Zone 10 North American Youth Championship Trial 1.45m Classic sponsored by AIG, the $10,000 U25 Classic sponsored by AIG and presented by Equifit, and the $250,000 FEI Grand Prix CSI4* 1.55m.

Catch the action live at



About the Desert International Horse Park

With nearly 1.3 million square feet of competition and riding space, the Desert International Horse Park is one of the largest equestrian facilities in North America. Offering multiple weeks of world-class equestrian competition from October through March, the facility is a destination location for thousands of equestrians, their horses, family and friends for several months annually. Competitors from all over t