Shauna Cook (CAN) and Caya. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Shauna Cook’s (CAN) mount Caya is like a box of chocolates: you never really know what you’re going to get. But for Cook, that’s what makes it so fun.

Thursday at Desert International Horse Park (DIHP) was extra fun for Cook and her team, earning the win with Caya in the CWD CSI3* 1.40m Two Phase to open FEI competition for Desert Circuit VIII. The duo topped an impressive field of 32 international stars as the Canadian anthem played at the close.

“I like mares because they give a little something extra and they’re never the same every day,” Cook said following her win. “It’s sort of the drawback but also makes it exciting and interesting.”

Shauna Cook (CAN) and Caya in their winning presentation, pictured with Bronwen Cheney of CWD. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Cook and Caya blazed around Marina Azevedo’s (BRA) track, topping fellow Canadian Ali Ramsay and Conrado 12, who took second. Third place went to Laura Hite (USA) and Aviator Z, owned by HF Farms LLC.

“She’s kind of a speed specialist; it’s her jam,” Cook continued of the 10-year-old Hanoverian mare (Christian x Quintender 2). “It felt great to be out on the grass today. She loves it; she knows it because we show at Spruce Meadows and Thunderbird.”

Ali Ramsay (CAN) and Conrado 12. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Cook’s mother, Sheilagh Kelly, was the one who firmly believed Caya needed to join the family when they found her as a green 5-year-old in Europe. “ She hasn’t disappointed us at all,” Cook said. “She loves this level and she loves to go fast. It’s been fun. My mom owns the horse so it’s a family affair.”

Caya was quite green, even for 5, when they first tried her, but that did not dissuade them. “My mom really likes beautiful greys,” Cook continued. “She thought there was something special about her, even though she was green and it would take some time. Mother knows best!”

The day didn’t start the day off in a winning manner, but Cook prevailed and pulled out the win regardless.

Laura Hite (USA) and Aviator Z. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“It was an interesting day actually; everything was going wrong,” she shared. “We had a shoe issue and had to be moved down the order because our corks weren’t staying in. We started with adversity, but that seems to be our ‘MO’. A little adversity works for us. I was actually trying a new bit, so between the new bit, the corks, and the first day on the grass I thought we’d just go and do our thing and it goes how it goes. She’s just naturally fast and you get on a pace and keep going.”

Kyle King Secures Second Consecutive $30,000 FarmVet 1.45m Open Classic

Kyle King and SIG Chiari in their winning presentation, pictured with Sam Laurie and Kristian Rhoads from FarmVet. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Later in the day on the grass field, national show jumpers gave their best shot at the $30,000 1.45m Open Classic, adding more points to their names on the Open Jumper Rider Leaderboard.

With his sights set on multiple leaderboards, Kyle King clocked in with a very quick time aboard SIG Chiari, owned by SIG International Inc., to ultimately take the win.

“Shota Ogomori from SIG thought I’d like the horse a lot and he was right,” King said of the 11-year-old Oldenberg gelding (Cristallo II x Landadel). “It took me a minute to get him going; I didn’t know what he really had in there. He’s proven to be so consistent and a really cool horse. He’s so fast; I’ve done him in a couple three-stars now and he’s proven he can jump that level. He’s a lovely modern horse.”

The grass is a change of pace for all the jumpers for Desert Circuit VIII and IX, but it’s a welcome change for many, including King and his mounts. “He’s even better on the grass honestly,” King continued. “He’s good everywhere, but I particularly like him out here because it fits his stride. I was able to drop a stride early in the course today and just follow the rhythm around the course.”

Mark Kinsella took an early lead with Ben Asselin’s Quality H and ultimately finished third, with Robert Blanchette and the RTS Holdings LLC entry Carnlea Balou Premier jumping up the leaderboard and claiming second place.

King has big goals to finish out Desert Circuit, keeping his eye on the bigger prize, but also aware he has the horsepower to claim quite a few of the final big classes. “I’m in the lead right now for the $100,000 [National Grand Prix Rider] Bonus. Cerolino jumped really well today so I think I might do Cerolino this Saturday and save [SIG Chiari] for the final one next Saturday. That’s my goal with those two. That’s a big rider bonus; I want to stay on it,” he shared.

In the Grand Prix Arena, the day was Michelle Berry’s as she and Mecho Van’t Kiezelhof did what they do best, jumping a clear round and claiming victory in the $5,000 1.35m NAJC Trial. The duo sped to a time of 61.910 seconds over the speed track, designed by Peter Grant. Sarah Cline claimed second with Beauwaniki WH, and Madison Sanders took third with Indago as the only other clear effort.

Show jumping continues Friday with the $10,000 1.40m NAYC Trial in the Grand Prix Arena and the $38,700 CSI3* 1.50m Speed on the grass field.

Final Results: $5,000 CWD CSI3* 1.40m Two Phase

1. CAYA: 2013 HANN mare by Christian x Quintender 2
SHAUNA COOK (CAN), Sheilagh Kelly: 0/0/37.88

2. CONRADO 12: 2013 ZANG gelding by Cardento x Diarado
ALI RAMSAY (CAN), Ramsay Equestrian Inc.: 0/0/38.23

3. AVIATOR Z: 2012 ZANG gelding by Breitling LS x Indoctro
LAURA HITE (USA), HF Farms LLC: 0/0/38.61

4. GAIA: 2011 KWPN mare by Cantos x Rhodium
KASEY AMENT (USA), Lornnah Investments, LLC: 0/0/40.89

5. TRITON HASTAK: 2012 SWB stallion by Cabachon x Winningmood
LAURA HITE (USA), HF Farms LLC: 0/0/41.36

6. NKH MR. DARCY: 2013 HOLST stallion by Darco x Chepetto

7. NADALE VAN DORPERHEIDE: 2013 BWP gelding by Zilverstar T x Winningmood
CASSIO RIVETTI (BRA), Ilan Ferder: 0/0/41.98

8. TERASINI: 2009 AES gelding by Cheers Cassini x Nijinski
DANIEL IGHANI (ARG), Daniel Ighani: 0/0/45.24

9. CALACAS D AUBIGNY: 2012 SF gelding by Jarnac x Notrestar Dela Nutria
ZUME GALLAHER (USA), Blue Gate Stables, LLC: 0/0/42.56

10. EMIR: 2009 KWPN gelding by Eurocommerce Dubai x Cardento
KAITLIN CAMPBELL (USA), SWS Training & Sales: 0/0/44.76

11. ACE OF HEARTS: 2010 ESH gelding by Aliandro B x Ra Ex Romanov ESH
GREGORY WATHELET (BEL), Gregory Wathelet: 0/0/45.72

12. CHAGOLOU: 2012 OS stallion by Chacco Blue x Conthargos
JAMIE GORNALL (GBR), Gornall Equestrian: 0/0/46.86

Final Results: $30,000 FarmVet 1.45m Open Classic

1. SIG Chiari / Kyle King / SIG International Inc / 0/61.591
2. Carnlea Premier Balou / Robert Blanchette / RTS Holdings LLC / 0/63.980
3. Quality H / Mark Kinsella / Ben Asselin / 65.186
4. Cerolino / Kyle King / Strasburg Morin Inc / 66.378
5. Peninsula Swanky / Samara Heinrichs Prak / Samara Heinrichs Prak / 0/67.866
6. BEX Pixielott / Hanna Heidegger / Ateam Sporthorses / 69.889
7. Macho-Blue PS / Katie Harris / Katie Harris / 70.099
8. Uccello De Will / Joie Gatlin / Oakland Ventures LLC / 74.482
9. Comme Tu Veux Z / Ashley Papalia / Ashley Papalia / 0/75.761
10. Chagall De Toscane / Laura Hite / HF Farms LLC / 2/78.262
11. Ittolo / Kyle King / Kerri Volek / 4/64.378
12. Eames MZ / Nicky Galligan / Santa Rosa Group / 4/66.092

True That Leaves No Doubts in 3’3” Young Hunters

Bailey Rose and True That. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

One thing is certain: True That is turning out to be a fabulous young hunter on the West Coast. With Nick Haness and Bailey Rose aboard, the horse took championship honors in the 3’3” Young Hunter division during Desert Circuit VIII, serving as an excellent precursor to the $20,000 DIHP Young Hunter Championship, set for Desert Circuit IX.

“I’m really excited that DIHP has brought back the Young Hunter Championship,” Haness, who piloted True That to the win in the same championship during Desert Holiday. “Championships like these with significant prize money are so important for the up-and-coming hunters in California. It’s exciting for owners to want to buy young hunters to enter championships like these and celebrate knowledge and experience the horses gain over a circuit.”

The first of the two championships took place in December, at the end of the show year, while the second championship will allow riders to show off the progress their young horses have made throughout Desert Circuit.

“True That has been here competing all Circuit,” Haness continued. “He feels great, and he’s been winning classes the whole time. I think he has a strong chance of a repeat performance. He’s beautiful, he jumps great, he moves beautifully as well, and if he goes well and is in a good mood that day I think he could be the champion again.”

The $20,000 DIHP Young Hunter Championship takes place Friday of week nine in Hunter 2.