BY CATIE STASZAK FOR THUNDERBIRD SHOW PARK
Langley, British Columbia — Rodrigo Lambre (BRA) knew the expansive field at Thunderbird Show Park suited his horse impeccably, and he called on his longtime partner Chapilot’s strengths to win the $35,000 CSIO5* Artisan Farms Nations Welcome, part of the 2018 Odlum Brown BC Open, Wednesday afternoon at Thunderbird Show Park, the first five-star competition to take place at the venue in its historic 45-year history. The $400,000 Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup of Canada and the $235,000 Longines Grand Prix will highlight the week, taking place on Sunday, June 3, and Friday, June 1, respectively.
Lambre, 40, and the 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding did what was almost thought to be impossible, catching the time of early leader Ashlee Bond (ISR) and Belo Horizonte in the Table A speed class. Jumping 42nd in the order, they completed the Peter Holmes (CAN) designed track in 64.27 seconds. Bond’s time was 65.08 seconds; she jumped seventh in the field of 48. Z Diamanty and Keean White (CAN) finished third, completing their round in 67.08 seconds.
“Ashlee was really fast, but I’ve known my horse for a long time,” said Lambre, who’s been partnered with the bay since 2015. “There were some spots where I could take one or [more] strides out. He’s really fast in the long distances. I can always take a stride [out] when I can.”
There was also an added incentive for his horse after jumping in last week’s Maui Jim Grand Prix during Thunderbird’s Canadian Premier show.
“On Sunday, I had the last down in the grand prix, and I said to him, ‘If you win today, you don’t have to jump anymore this week!’” Lambre exclaimed.
The Brazilian rider considers his mount a speed specialist and has a schedule of similarly formatted classes on the agenda for Chapilot, knowing the gelding will thrive.
“He’s a winner,” Lambre said. “He’s not an easy horse. He has a strong canter, but every horse show he goes to, he wins a class. He’s been like that since he was eight. I just love him.
“Today, I thought he could win,” he added, “and that was it!”
Less Is More for Gareth Graves in CSI2* tbird Welcome
Earlier in the day, Gareth Graves (CAN) rode to top honors in the $1,000 CSI2* tbird Welcome, kicking off international competition in the Fort Grand Prix Ring in style with Jillian Halina’s Billy Pukka.
The duo prevailed over the speed track against a field of 57 combinations, stopping the timers in 64.77 seconds over the 1.40m track set by Canada’s Peter Homes. Wordsworth II finished nearly two seconds back in second with their time of 66.27 seconds, while Karianne Boyce-Lockhart (USA) rode Ferro DC to third honors. That duo jumped cleanly in 67.54 seconds.
Just as it was the first international class of the week, it was Graves’ first international class since jumping at Thunderbird last August. He and the 11-year-old Anglo European mare have been partnered for two years, and in that time, the 33-year-old has learned that the mare performs best with little interference.
“Billy’s an interesting horse,” Graves said. “She really has everything. She appeared, at first, to be a touch cold and sort of plain, but what I’m figuring out, the less pressure you put on her, the more she flies. Today, I went to less bridle, less spur, and let her find the jumps, and she just really reacted to that in such a nice way.”
Winning the class held additional meaning for Graves, as he and his team dedicated the victory to friend and colleague Jaime Guerra Piedra, who passed away unexpectedly in his sleep Tuesday evening at his home in Belgium. The Mexican show jumper was a two-time Olympic veteran.
“It was a really special class for me,” Graves explained. “Jaime Guerra is a guy that I idolized forever.”
Competition at the Odlum Brown BC Open CSIO5* continues Thursday with the $35,500 CSIO5* North West Rubber Cup, along with the $35,200 CSI2* Friends of tbird and the start of FEI Junior and Children’s competition.