Vanessa Mannix’s (CAN) New Year’s resolution was to go faster. Her speed gears have kicked up a notch every week through the season at Desert International Horse Park (DIHP), and during Desert Circuit VII, she got the win she’d been vying for all season.
Aboard Carmela Z, Mannix topped the $5,000 Bridgeport Farms CSI3* Two Phase to open FEI action for the week. Joey Rycroft (CAN) set the track for the occasion, and Mannix stole the lead late in the starting order to ultimately claim top honors.
“We’ve been knocking on the door with Carmela; she’s been great in this class every week,” Mannix said of the 12-year-old Zangersheide mare (Candillo 3 x Nissan Caretano Z), who has placed second and third in this very class. “It feels like we’ve been so close to the win so it was nice to get it today. It’s such a wonderful place to win, too. They look after you with all the swag and it’s always great to hear the Canadian anthem play out there.”
Her own coach, Conor Swail (IRL), took second aboard Casturano in the pair’s FEI debut together, while fellow Canadian Shauna Cook and Gallup, owned by Gallup Syndicate, claimed third.
“I’ve owned her for quite a while,” Mannix said of Carmela Z, who arrived at her farm in 2020. “She’s a really sensitive mare, and I was not clicking with her. I sent her over to Barry O’Conor and Jenny Rankin in Dublin. Jenny got her jumping three-star nations cups and three-star grand prixs.
“When she rejoined my string in August last year she really hit the ground running and it’s been great since,” Mannix continued. “Sometimes you need a little time and help, and luckily we have a great network. The Irish are great riders and great horse people, and they were able to move her forward so now she’s one of my closest matches.”
Now completely on the same page in the ring, Mannix has been racking up top finishes with Carmela Z. “She’s so reliable,” she continued. “Every time I go in the ring she’s one of the most straightforward horses. She’s unbelievably brave, and she’s really level-headed now that we have the same energy and have a good relationship. There isn’t anything she wouldn’t be up for. She’s always been such an exceptional jumper so I knew it was in her.”
The track presented an interesting opportunity for Mannix to relive a moment she didn’t quite nail the first time around. This time, learning from her past experience, she got it right.
“I think I’m the only one who did seven to the double [in the speed phase], and it was actually the same double I had the back rail down in the ranking class jump-off a few weeks ago,” she remarked. “It was perfect because it was the exact same situation – seven or eight – so I was strict with myself; I wanted to do seven and she did it perfectly. It was a chance to go back and fix the same mistake, and you don’t get that often in that sport. I was pleased I was able to do it better.”
There is a reason 2023 has been a strong showing for Mannix, and it all comes down to the pressure she’s put on herself to perform. “I’ve been harder on myself to take more risks,” she explained. “It was a New Year’s resolution for me to go faster. In the jump-offs I would normally jump a clear round but not be as fast as I’d want to be, and that is something I’m prioritizing. I want to be top three so I go through the risks I need to take to do that.”
Kyle King Claims One-Two Finish in $30,000 FarmVet 1.45m Open Classic
Kyle King added another big win to his name Thursday, adding additional prize money towards his already promising position on the open jumper rider leaderboard for Desert Circuit. King took top honors in the $30,000 FarmVet 1.45m Open Classic aboard Patricia Vasey’s Odysseus, speeding to the win in the single-round speed class and further solidifying his partnership with the 12-year-old American-bred Holsteiner gelding (Osilvis x Riverman).
“I’ve been riding him since the end of the season at Thunderbird,” King said of Odysseus. “He’s a cool horse. He’s just a trier. He’s really coming into his own now. I did him under the lights last Saturday night and he was the best of my three. He’s getting more and more consistent and he’s so fast across the ground.”
Over Joey Rycroft’s speed track, King went first in the order with his other mount, SIG Chiari, owned by SIG International Inc. The pair held the quickest time until King overtook his own lead with Odysseus, about halfway through the starting order of 33 entries. SIG Chiari claimed second place, while Karrie Rufer took third with the Morning Star Sporthorses LLC-owned Stern Dei Folletti.
“I thought I rode [SIG Chiari] better,” King remarked. “I was smoother and did fewer strides. But [Odysseus] is like a little sports car; you can zoom around the corners and make up half a second here and there. He’s just a fast horse. I’m really happy with him and we’re excited to see what level he gets to because he’s handled everything I’ve asked of him.”
King may have an up-and-coming string of talented but less experienced horses, but the footspeed and determination he sees in each of his rides shows a great deal of promise for the present and future.
“The last couple years I’ve had slower-type horses, just the way they’re made,” he remarked. “This new group is nice to have some speed. I don’t feel like I’m having to rush everywhere; you can smooth it out a bit. All three horses I rode today are more modern types. You set your speed and they take you, then you just follow around. It’s not what I typically get, but I’m really excited about this group.”
As for what comes next with “Odie,” that’s up to him. “He’s dictating where we go from here,” King said. “[Patricia] is really happy being an owner at the moment; she bred the horse and brought him all the way to this level. She’s always believed he could do this and I believe now, too.”
Show jumping resumes Friday in the Grand Prix Arena with the $7,500 Interactive Mortgage 10 & Under Futurity Series and the $38,700 Ramard CSI3* 1.50m Speed.
Final Results: $5,000 Bridgeport Farms CSI3* Two Phase
1. CARMELA Z: 2011 ZANG mare by Candillo 3 x Nissan Caretano Z
VANESSA MANNIX (CAN), Vanessa Mannix: 0/0/34.72
2. CASTURANO: 2013 HOLST gelding by Castelan x Canturo
CONOR SWAIL (IRL), Mannon Farm: 0/0/36.38
3. GALLUP: 2011 KWPN stallion by Hickstead x Rush-Hour
SHAUNA COOK (CAN), Gallup Syndicate: 0/0/37.59
4. CONRADO 12: 2013 ZANG gelding by Cardento x Diarado
ALI RAMSAY (CAN), Ramsay Equestrian LLC: 0/0/38.04
5. MCCAW MVNZ: 2011 NZWB gelding by Corofino II x Cassini II
KATIE LAURIE (AUS), Carissa McCall: 0/4/38.87
6. JEFFREY JARDEN: 2014 KWPN gelding by Bustique x Warrant
TALI DEJONG (USA), Tali DeJong: 1/48.19
7. ACE OF HEARTS: 2010 ESH gelding by Aliandro B x Ra Ex Romanov ESH
GREGORY WATHELET (BEL), Gregory Wathelet: 1/48.81
8. DEEJAY: 2008 KWPN stallion by Contendro x Clinton
BRADEN JAMES (CAN), Stump Lake Ranch & Cattle Co.: 1/48.95
9. CASIANO: 2014 Anglo European gelding by Casino Berlin x Iroko
CHANDLER MEADOWS (USA), Chandler Meadows: 2/49.34
10. MANTUA LS LA SILLA: 2012 SLS mare by Manzanillo LS x Risueno
KAITLIN CAMPBELL (USA), SWS Training & Sales: 2/49.51
11. UN DIAMANT DES FORETS: 2008 SF stallion by Diamant de Semilly x Papillon Rouge
JIM IFKO (CAN), Eventyre Farms Ltd.: 2/49.55
12. MR. EUROPE: 2009 KWPN gelding by Mr. Blue x Cassini
KARRIE RUFER (USA), Morning Star Sporthorses, LLC: 3/50.73
Final Results: $30,000 FarmVet 1.45m Open Classic
1. Odysseus / Kyle King / Patricia Vasey / 64.811
2. SIG Chiari / Kyle King / SIG International Inc / 65.376
3. Stern Dei Folletti / Karrie Rufer / Morning Star Sporthorses, LLC / 66.064
4. Cera Caruso / Katie Laurie / Carissa McCall / 66.129
5. Caya / Shauna Cook / Sheilagh Kelly / 67.584
6. Escapado S / Ian McFarlane / Mountain View West Farm LLC / 68.589
7. Charlie Red Wine CS / Simon Schroeder / Morris Simchowitz / 69.730
8. Sherlina Ale / Jeffrey Fields / Sahana Ganesan / 71.714
9. Peninsula Swanky / Samara Heinrichs Prak / Samara Heinrichs Prak / 71.991
10. Hanakine / Katherine Huffstutler / Katherine Huffstutler / 71.254
11. Fender P.S. / Michael Williamson / Michael Williamson / 73.111
12. Fardence / Braden James / Braden James / 4/64.467
Chaplin and Sara Petersen Take Top Honors in 3’6” Performance Hunters
Sara Petersen and Chaplin, owned by Jan O’Brien, have found their sweet spot and are thriving in the 3’6” Performance Hunters at Desert International Horse Park (DIHP), taking championship honors during Desert Circuit VII. The 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding by Casall came into Petersen’s barn five years ago and isn’t going anywhere.
“We’ve had “Charlie” for five years,” Petersen, of Kingston, WA, said of Chaplin. “He’s the best ‘steady-eddy’ guy. We found him down here. He was showing in the insane wind, with jumps falling down, and we saw him going around. [Jan] hopped on and rode him around a little and we knew he was the one. He’s been that steady the whole time we’ve had him. He’s a wonderful horse.”
It wasn’t all the show ring flair that made Petersen and O’Brien fall in love with Chaplin. “He just has a really sweet face,” Petersen said of what drew them to the horse. “He’ll walk up to any stranger and nuzzle you all over your body. He’s really gentle. [Jan] rides him all around the horse show and jumps him a little here and there. He’s her dream horse. It’s really cool. He always knickers when he sees her.”
Petersen and her team make the trek down to the desert a few times a year to escape the rainy weather back home, near Seattle. “We come down for a few weeks of Desert Circuit and National Sunshine Series. We love the weather. It’s the main thing. There’s something for everyone down here which makes it really nice,” she remarked.
As for Chaplin, his plan will stay the same until O’Brien decides it’s time for something new. “He’s really happy with what he’s doing,” Petersen continued. “Maybe someday he’ll become one of Jan’s grandkids’ horses. He doesn’t have to show a lot, so we’ll do the 3’6” Performance and the derbies when they’re available. Other than that he hacks around. He has it really easy.”
Hunter action resumes Friday with the $10,000 Antares USHJA National Hunter Derby – Open and the $10,000 Premier Equine Rehab USHJA National Hunter Derby – Junior/Amateur in the Main Hunter ring, as well as the $5,000 G2 Insurance USHJA Pony Hunter Derby in Hunter 7.