Mark Kinsella was a force to be reckoned with in Saturday afternoon’s $75,000 Adequan® Grand Prix at Desert Holiday III. Back on the grass field, the Irishman topped a competitive field of horse-and-rider combinations aboard Ben Asselin’s Quality H, taking top honors and leading the victory lap.

Mark Kinsella and Quality H. Photo by Tori Bilas

Only three pairs navigated Joey Rycroft’s first-round track fault free, with Nicky Galligan being the first to do so with Javas Miss Jordan. Joining him right after and guaranteeing a jump-off was Kinsella’s student Kyara Semrau with Carola Z. Kinsella had the final spot in the jump-off, with the advantage of knowing just what needed to be done.

“I know Nicky Galligan, with his mare, is always wicked fast, so I knew I had to be quick everywhere,” Kinsella remarked on his strategy in the short course. “My horse has a very big stride, so I knew my numbers. I left out one to the combination and I left out one to the last. I thought if I did all that and I stuck to my plan I’d be there, and it paid off.”

Mark Kinsella and Quality H in their winning presentation. Photo by Tori Bilas

Galligan took second, going clear in the jump-off with Javas Miss Jordan, while Kyara Semrau took third place aboard Carola Z on another double-clear effort.

Quality H earned Kinsella a big win during National Sunshine Series, and since then the horse has been competing at the CSI5* level with Kinsella in the irons.

Nicky Galligan and Javas Miss Jordan. Photo by Tori Bilas

“Quality’s been excellent,” he continued about the 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding (FRH Quaid x Stakkato). “He’s had a couple heavy weeks. Last Saturday he was third in the CSI5* 1.50m class, which was excellent. I just wanted to give him one more outing here on the grass. As luck played out, they had an extra show here with this nice Grand Prix, and it was a really nice way to finish the year.”

As for the start of the new year and Desert Circuit, Kinsella will continue to build Quality H and carefully select classes for him. “The FEI schedule here is excellent so I’ll pick and choose a couple weeks as targets for him,” he noted. “He’s gotten lots of valuable experience the past few months so now we can ease off and have him do his job whenever he’s asked.”

Kyara Semrau and Carola Z. Photo by Tori Bilas

Kinsella is grateful for the addition of the third week of Desert Holiday, as are many of his students, a few of which jumped Saturday’s Grand Prix. “It’s so nice for our clients to be here,” he said. “Kate [Huffstutler] jumped her first grand prix with her horse, Kyara was third with her horse, and Michael [Williamson] rode his horse. It’s a really good opportunity to get out on the field again in a less pressurized situation. Some people excel more under these conditions so it’s a good learning curve for everyone.”

Nineteen-year-old Semrau had an emotional day in the $75,000 Adequan® Grand Prix, taking third place overall and winning the Equifit U25 Classic.

“I’ve had her for four and a half years now,” Semrau said of Carola Z. “She was off for a year and I think time off did her well because she’s jumping amazing now. Our partnership has grown, and my riding has gotten better too with the help of Mark and the team. I love her so much. She’s my heart horse. It means the world to me [to have her back]. When I ride her I feel like we have such a partnership and I’m so excited that she’s back.”

Mark Kinsella and Quality H. Photo by Tori Bilas

Desert Holiday III continues Sunday with the $10,000 Antares 1.40m Open Classic and the $5,000 FarmVet 1.35m Open Classic on the grass field.

Final Results: $75,000 Adequan® Grand Prix

1. Quality H / Mark Kinsella / Ben Asselin / 0/0/35.654
2. Javas Miss Jordan / Nicky Galligan / Nicky Galligan / 0/0/36.243
3. Carola Z / Kyara Semrau / Kyara Semrau / 0/0/37.808
4. Odysseus / Kyle King / Patricia Vasey / 4/77.859
5. La Capitol / Mark Kinsella / Aleron LLC / 4/79.529
6. Gucci Musterd / Bruno Diniz Das Neves / Laura Khorshid / 4/80.953
7. Conrado 12 / Ali Ramsay / Ramsay Equestrian Inc / 4/81.231
8. Madame Unplugged / Hannah McLaughlin / Hannah McLaughlin / 5/88.424
9. Halifax VDM / Nicki Wilcox / Marjorie Martin / 6/85.602
10. Chacco Latte’ / Alexis Taylor / Aleron LLC / 8.80.856
11. Macho-Blue PS / Katie Harris / Katie Harris / 8/82.584
12. Gillion ES / Michael Williamson / Michael Williamson / 10/85.758

Violet Tatum Takes Charge in Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal

Violet Tatum is no stranger to the equitation rings in the desert. The Pacific Palisades native found herself in the top spot of the Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal this morning aboard Cambalache, owned by O’Neill Show Jumping LLC.

The young riders put their best efforts forward in the first round of the medal, which presented challenges, including a fence on the bank of the Grand Eq Ring. The top four were then invited back to test, introducing new challenges for the riders to demonstrate their mastery of equitation.

Violet Tatum and Cambalache. Photo by Megan Giese

Tatum was in the top spot as the first round drew to a close, meaning she returned for the test last, able to see the other competitors go before her. She and “Tango” put in a stellar round and took home the blue ribbon.

“Six months ago he was a jumper, and I started riding him because he was a sale horse,” Tatum explained. “I ended up liking him a lot, so we ended up leasing him and now he’s my equitation horse.”

The Oldenburg gelding doubled this week for Tatum in the equitation and the Junior Hunters, proving his versatility. He seems to have found his calling outside the jumper ring, especially with Tatum in the irons. The 14-year-old has big goals in the equitation going into 2023. “For this season at Desert Horse Park, I want to stay consistent in the 3’6” equitation and hopefully qualify for national finals like the Dover [Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Finals] and Maclay [Finals].”

“It was a nice win,” remarked Tatum’s trainer, Archie Cox of Brookway Stables. “The work-off consisted of different tests: a halt, a counter canter, and it had some new bending lines. Violet and Cambalache did it beautifully. They were called back first and remained first.”

Cox is one of several trainers that remained in Thermal for Desert Holiday III and loves the opportunity the week provides for all clients and horses. “We have had a great week. It’s been a lot of fun. A lot of personal attention. It’s been very nice changing rings. The hunters are now going in the jumper rings and the horse show feels a little more homey. It’s more inclusive, you can get places quickly, and it’s been a super week,” Cox concluded.