BY BROOKE GODDARD
PARKER, Colo.— LEG Shows & Events wrapped up its fourth week of summer shows with Summer in the Rockies Continued II (July 29 – Aug. 2). In Saturday’s $25,000 LEG Grand Prix, amateur rider Katharin Gualtieri and her Castalano trained by John McConnell, had two double clear rounds with a blazing fast jump-off time of 36.351 seconds, sealing the win and earning a $750 LEGIS Rider Bonus. In second place was Bjorn Ikast aboard Castino and in third place was Armando Hassey with Lomax.
After the Welcome Classic on Thursday, Katharin noted that Saturday was her birthday and doing well in the grand prix would be a great way to celebrate.
On Saturday, Katharin’s birthday wish came true.
“It was super awesome to win. You can’t go out any better than this,” she expressed. “I will remember this day forever and I know I will smile when it pops up in my Facebook memories on my birthday.”
Twenty-two horse and rider pairs took to a challenging track designed by Catsy Cruz of Mexico, with seven returning for the jump off. Armando Hassey was the first to jump off, leaving all the poles up with a time of 38.528 seconds. “Armando was very good in the jump-off and had a good first round also,” commented Catsy. “He was the first one to jump off which is always a disadvantage. Unfortunately, Katharin had a faster ride, but I was impressed with the performance of all the riders in the jump off. There was only a very short time difference between the top few riders.”
Katharin went second in the jump off with her 18-year-old homebred gelding, knowing that she had to beat Armando’s time. “I watched Armando’s round carefully and noted a few places where I could shave off time,” Katharin recounted. “His track was very tidy and I thought it would be extremely difficult to beat him. I was a little bit faster and tried to turn a little bit sooner than him. I also knew that Bjorn was right after me, so I had to make him chase me.”
Bjorn and Katharin have been in hot pursuit of one another in the jumper ring throughout the series. “It’s always an honor to compete with Bjorn,” Katharin noted. “Years ago, he inquired about purchasing my horse and now it’s become a joke between the two of us. Whenever we see each other in the warm-up ring, he always asks me: ‘How’s my horse?’ and we laugh about it.”
“Katharin rode great and she deserved to win,” said Bjorn. “If I had to do it over, I wouldn’t do anything different. Sometimes just you come a little short – and today was one of those days. My horse jumped fantastic and that’s all you can ask for. The first round was very challenging with some big combinations and big oxers, which seemed to be a challenge for a few riders. Catsy designed a tough course and I thought it was a good class.”
“I liked that they moved the grand prix to the morning when it was cooler,” Bjorn added. “The show management really cares about what’s best for the horses. I’m really happy to be back here and I appreciate all the small details like the sanitizer spray for the jump cups, everyone wearing gloves in the warm-up area, and the friendly reminders about wearing a mask. It’s a good atmosphere, and we have felt extremely welcome and safe. Charlotte and the entire LEG team do a fantastic job running these shows.”
Like Bjorn, Katharin had a wonderful experience jumping back into the show ring at Summer in the Rockies. “I took last week off to let my horse rest since he’s a bit older,” Katharin explained. “I always try to put my horse first and I think he appreciates that. It has been an incredible three weeks of showing for me at The Colorado Horse Park. LEG has done the best they can to create great shows in these unusual times, and people are all happy to be back in the show ring.”
As this win marked Katharin’s second grand prix win during the 2020 LEG Colorado Horse Shows, she earned a LEGIS Jumper Rider Bonus. The LEGIS Rider Bonus Program, sponsored by LEGISequine.com, rewards riders who win multiple grand prix or hunter derby classes on the same horse. “I am going to use the bonus to buy new reins!” Katharin exclaimed. “Our plan is to come back in the fall, and hopefully we can win another bonus. It’s so helpful because I don’t have a lot of extra money to do this sport so that $750 will go right back into getting ready for the next show.” Click here to view the standings and learn more about the LEGIS Rider Bonus Program.
We look forward to seeing you many of you this fall. Please remember that entries for Autumn in the Rockies open on Tuesday, Aug. 4. The prize list is available on our website.