Lane Clarke watched Mark Kinsella ride a killer round in the $30,000 FarmVet 1.45m Open Classic Thursday of National Sunshine Series 2, presented by Marshall & Sterling, and it lit a spark in him to top it. Aboard Venom, Clarke managed to put in the only round beneath the 60-second mark over Colm Quinn’s course, sealing the deal as one of the last pairs to go in the field of 78 entries.

“Mark rode like a freak,” Clarke said, having watched Kinsella’s speedy round. “I had the faster horse and maybe took the tighter track, but he was unbelievable. He took a totally different approach. He didn’t do as tight a track but he did all the leave-outs everywhere. To beat Mark when he rode that great was awesome.”

Lane Clarke and Venom. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Kinsella claimed second at the close of the class with his ride Marquis Le Beau Courally, owned by Katherine Huffstutler, while Jamie Taylor took third with Quatar, owned by JT Equine LLC.

“Mark and I get along great,” Clarke continued. “As competitors we respect each other’s abilities and also like each other as friends. Don’t get me wrong, I want to beat him every time, but when he does well I’m really happy.”

To win a class of 78 competitive entries is a feat in and of itself, which speaks to the quality of the horse Clarke sat on.

Lane Clarke and Venom in their winning presentation. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“Venom is a really special horse,” he said of the 10-year-old gelding by Chacco-Blue. “My dad, [Alan], got him a few years ago. He’s an incredible trainer of difficult horses so we got him on a trade. He started out really difficult; he was so spooky when we’d jump poles on the ground. He always had great technique and scope, but he was so sharp that he didn’t want to go anywhere. We took a long time building him and did a few shows a year.”

According to Clarke, this has been Venom’s breakout year. “This is our first year trying to do damage and he’s been incredible,” he reflected. “He’s won four grand prix this year. He’s a rocket. He’s so fast and my dad’s got him really broke so he turns really well. It’s nice being in the Ferrari.”

Clarke and his father began working side by side, and now have evolved to have a unique working relationship, as well as a family bond which will never fade. His father built the foundation for Clarke’s riding career, and the two still benefit from one another’s expertise.

Lane Clarke and Venom. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“My dad and I still have a super close relationship. We talk training every day,” Clarke shared. “He helps me a lot with groundwork. Once or twice a week he brings a horse up and I’ll ride them. Anytime he gets a special horse he brings it, we discuss what it needs training wise, and I fine tune and he fixes it. It’s amazing to work with your dad on the regular and share the same passion.”

His father enjoys seeing him win, but has a go-to line regardless of the result. “He gets pretty calm when it goes well. When my family calls, if I lose he said I’m ‘my mom’s’ kid. When I win I’m ‘his kid.’ I got to be his kid today,” Clarke laughed.

Calling California home, Clarke enjoys his time in the desert, as do his horses. “There’s a lot to like,” he said of Desert International Horse Park. “I think the best thing here is the weather and space. They’ve made a bunch of improvements. Every year you come here there’s something better. It never stays the same. They always get good course designers, they have great materials, the footing is really good, it’s getting better and better all over the show. It’s nice to go to a place and feel like they’re constantly trying to make improvements.”

For the win, Venom donned a FarmVet branded cooler and the customary ribbon sash for his victory lap. “I just want to thank FarmVet for sponsoring the class,” Clarke concluded. “Without the sponsors we don’t have all of this.”

National show jumpers continue Saturday evening for the $100,000 Marshall & Sterling National Grand Prix under the lights.

Emma Lindstrom and Coraggio Jump to High Performance Hunter Championship

Emma Lindstrom and Coraggio. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Emma Lindstrom admits it took June Salin’s 12-year-old Coraggio some time to mature, but she’ll also admit it was worth every minute. The duo took championship honors Thursday of National Sunshine Series 2, presented by Marshall & Sterling, in the High Performance Hunters.

“June Salin has owned since he was four, coming five, so he and I have a really good relationship,” Lindstrom said. “I’m lucky that I share him with June. He and I know each other really well and we’ve been partnered these last six years, working our way into the derbies and the four-foot hunters.”

The path to the highest jumps wasn’t straight, but it was successful as the horse matured at his own pace.

“He was a little difficult,” Lindstrom reflected. “He’s very confident and he thinks he knows a lot, which he does, but as a young horse that was hard to manage. He was a little full of himself. We took it slow because we knew there was a really nice horse in there, but we didn’t want to push him because he needed to do it in his own time. He has always loved jumping and has always been so good at it, but sometimes his work ethic needed a little channeling.”

Emma Lindstrom and Coraggio. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Now, Lindstrom pilots Coraggio and Salin watches from the sidelines as the pair racks up top results.

“She is a lifelong horsewoman and found him herself,” she said of how the partnership came to be. “She initially bought him for herself to do the equitation, but we realized the international derbies are where he could really shine. He’s a bold, confident, brave horse. I’m so fortunate and grateful. She’s a great owner and friend. She’s so supportive. She gave me the reins to get him going in the green hunters and work our way up. Watching and supporting him is her favorite thing.”

Back in the desert, Lindstrom is aiming Coraggio at Friday’s $65,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Regional Championship, an arena in which the horse thrives.

“I love being able to do the derbies here and he loves the Main Hunter ring and the Grand Prix arena,” she shared. “He’s always loved this facility so it’s nice to have these rings and opportunities to go in the big rings for the derbies. He’s always happy to be here.”

Friday features derby action from National to International, with the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby – Open, sponsored by Marshall & Sterling, and the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby – Jr/Am, sponsored by Valencia Saddlery, along with the $65,000 USHJA International Hunter Derby Regional Championship.