There’s a new name in the desert, and it’s Jose Maria Quintana.

The 20-year-old has taken California by storm recently, and it was no different at Desert International Horse Park (DIHP) as he bested 51 entries aboard Catoki Boy to win the $100,000 FarmVet Grand Prix Saturday evening of National Sunshine Series II.

Jose Maria Quintana and Catoki Boy. Photo by ESI Photography

“He’s my horse of a lifetime,” Quintana said of the 12-year-old Holsteiner stallion (Catoki x Cassini) he has owned since the horse was just 7. “I jumped my first 1.40m with him, I jumped my first grand prix with him, and I won my first ranking class with him. We have come a long way. He’s been out the past couple years so it’s been tough for me, but this year he’s come along very well. I’m super thankful to have him.”

Over Manuel Esparza’s first-round track, Quintana was one of nine riders to navigate the jumps clear and advance to the jump-off. He came back in the middle of the jump-off order, when Karrie Rufer held the lead with the Morning Star Sporthorses LLC entry Mr. Europe in a clear effort of 43.962 seconds. Quintana did just enough by steering his quick horse around the short track, clocking in at 43.820 seconds, claiming the lead by a small margin. Rufer ended up in second place, while Sophia Siegel and Barracuda took third and also claimed the Equifit U25 Classic.

Jose Maria Quintana and Catoki Boy. Photo by ESI Photography

“I knew there were a lot of pretty good and fast riders [behind me],” Quintana said of his strategy. “I knew to get the win I needed to stick to my plan and that’s what I did. He helped me a lot. He left his heart out in the ring and it worked out pretty well. I won by one-tenth of a second so I’m very happy.”

Karrie Rufer and Mr. Europe. Photo by ESI Photography

Quintana is a newcomer to DIHP, but he likes what he’s seen so far at the facility and plans to return for the shows in December.

“It’s my first time here, but I definitely am coming back,” he continued. “Everything is incredible. I’ve heard great stories about the improvements and I’ve seen a lot of great organization and administration. The footing is amazing, [and so are] the jumps, the atmosphere, the lights and the night energy for the grand prix. The stabling is five-star. I’m coming back for sure. My plan is to keep pushing the grand prixs here in California.”

Sophia Siegel and Barracuda. Photo by ESI Photography

Earlier Saturday, Australia rose to the top of the $10,000 Interactive Mortgage 10 & Under Futurity Series as Lane Clarke and Venom took top call. The pair beat out last week’s winners, Mariano Maggi and Right On Time Margarita, who claimed second, and Jennifer Waxman and Thundergirl Ultra Z, owned by Lost Lake Farm LLC, took third.

Final Results: $100,000 FarmVet Grand Prix

1. Catoki Boy / Jose Maria Quintana / Jose Maria Quintana / 0/0/43.820
2. Mr. Europe / Karrie Rufer / Morning Star Sporthorses, LLC / 0/0/43.962
3. Barracuda / Sophia Siegel / Sophia Siegel / 0/0/43.990
4. Calacas D Aubigny / Zume Gallaher / Blue Gate Stables, LLC / 0/0/46.539
5. Hunters Conlypso / Lorcan Gallagher / Lorcan Gallagher / 0/4/42.615
6. Cadeau Z / Mandy Porter / Risen EQ Holdings LLC / 0/4/45.389
7. Luigi VD Bisschop / Matt Archer / Rhys Farms LLC / 0/4/46.777
8. Aviator Z / Laura Hite / HF Farms LLC / 0/
9. Gillion ES / Michael Williamson / Michael Williamson / 0/8/51.951
10. Chicago / Tracey Epp / Tracey Epp / 2/81.009
11. Daytona Du Sud / Sophie Simpson-Leckie / The CL Group / 4/74.861
12. Boucherom / Trent McGee / Trent McGee / 4/75.801


Dyson Dominates USEF/NCEA Junior Medal Finals

As the week of equitation finals carried on at National Sunshine Series II, it was Ella Dyson’s turn in the spotlight. The 17-year-old took the win Saturday afternoon of National Sunshine Series II in the USEF/NCEA Junior Medal Final after earning sky-high scores and putting in impressive rides on multiple horses.

Initially riding her own Cetello, the young rider from San Luis Obispo, CA, took an early lead with a score of 90 in the first round. She then maintained her lead after a difficult flat phase, in which riders had to demonstrate challenging tasks including haunches in and sitting trot.

Ella Dyson and Cetello in their awards presentation. Photo by ESI Photography

As the bracket-style round three got underway, Dyson went head to head against Greenley Achuck on the same horse. Dyson emerged victorious, and Emme Tangen outperformed Madison Nadolenco only barely in their head-to-head competition aboard another horse. Dyson secured a 95 in the final round to edge out Tangen for the win.

“It’s really fun,” Dyson said of competing in the bracket-style format the championships provide. “I’ve never done this format before but it was fun to get to ride different horses and know exactly what you needed to beat. It was very exciting.”

With quite a bit of pressure having held the lead since the beginning, Dyson did not let the stress get to her and continued to perform strongly through all three rounds of action. “I’m feeling pretty confident after talent search finals and I’m used to riding a lot of different types of horses. I just stayed calm and focused on what I had to do,” she explained of her strategy.

Ella Dyson and Cetello. Photo by ESI Photography

She’s been paired with the 15-year-old Holsteiner gelding for a little over a year and together they’ve accrued big accolades in both the jumper and equitation rings. Just recently, they topped the 2022 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – West. “I was doing the big jumpers on him,” Dyson commented about her partnership with Cetello. “A few months ago we decided to do the equitation. I won Talent Search Finals and then came here and he’s been super. He’s the best horse.”

As for the remaining months of her junior career, Dyson has her sights set on WCE Junior/Amateur Finals at the Las Vegas National Horse Show and then plans to switch her focus to the jumpers full time. But she is fully aware of the effect the equitation has had on her overall riding.

“[Equitation] plays such a big role [in my riding],” she said. “It’s taught me how to ride technical tracks and pay attention to how my position affects the horses and ensure that I’m effective in the saddle.”

Ella Dyson and Cetello. Photo by ESI Photography

The first time Dyson came to DIHP, she was competing in the .65m Jumpers. Now, she’s got her sights set on grand prix show jumping. “It’s really fun to get to be in the bigger classes now and get to be in the Grand Prix Arena and be successful. They’ve done such an amazing job,” she concluded.

The Onondarka Medal Final got underway Saturday morning as well, with Ashley Emery taking top call in the first round with a 94 score aboard Vuitton. Sunday morning in Hunter 2, all 28 Onondarka Medal Final contenders are invited to the second over-fences round, after which the top 12 pairs will advance to a third round of jumping. The top eight after round three will take on a work-off in order to name the ultimate champion, who will receive a CWD saddle. This is the Onondarka Medal Final’s 60th year and first year at DIHP.

Final Results: USEF/NCEA Junior Medal Finals

1. Ella Dyson
2. Emme Tangen
3. Madison Nadolenco
4. Greenley Achuck
5. Marina Boudreau
6. Naomi Wegner
7. Mialuna Hutcheson
8. Kylie Eynon
9. Mackenzie Greer
10. Violet Tatum