Del Mar, CA – November 23, 2020 – Karl Cook emerged victorious aboard Signe Ostby’s Caillou 24 in the $100,000 Riders Cup Grand Prix to wrap up the inaugural Riders Cup at the Del Mar Horse Park. Taking home the blue ribbon and the Hap Hansen Perpetual Trophy, Cook bested a field of 34 entries, eight of which advanced to the jump off and three of which jumped double clear.
“I wanted to go as fast as I could without taking too much risk,” Cook said. “I was super happy with the way that it went and the way that Caillou felt.”
Ashlee Bond rode Little Valley Farms’ Donatello 141 to a second place finish in the $100,000 class.
“Today was top competition,” Bond reflected. “Karl is a great competitor, and it’s always fun to have to run like that in a jump off.”
Bond took home both the Riders Cup Leading Rider and Leading Lady Rider awards after accumulating a total of six wins and two seconds throughout the four-day show.
Jointly designed and executed by West Palms Events and Neil Jones Equestrian, the Riders Cup saw a successful first year of competition.
The boutique showjumping event attracted top competitors, including Olympians like Cassio Rivetti (BRA), Eric Navet (FRA), and Will Simpson (USA), as well as riders like Rowan Willis (AUS) and Nicky Galligan (IRL) who traveled from the East Coast to participate in the three-part $500,000 West Coast Jumper Series presented by West Palms and Desert International Horse Park. The $100,000 Riders Cup Grand Prix marked the second of three legs in the series, which will culminate in a $50,000 Rider Bonus for the three leading riders after the third leg at the second week of the Desert Holiday series (Dec. 9-13).
The Riders Cup featured a number of sponsored and well-monied classes in addition to the $100,000 Grand Prix, and prize money earned was immediately applied to exhibitors’ show expenses. Neil Jones noted that having Brazilian course designer Guilherme Jorge build the Riders Cup tracks contributed to the show’s appeal. “The riders really want to ride his courses,” Jones said of Jorge, who has built Olympics and World Cup Finals courses in his career.
Partnerships with outstanding sponsors equally contributed to the inaugural Riders Cup’s success. Sponsorship support enabled riders to jump for substantial prize money. “Even in the 1.20m we got to jump for $5,000 and $3,000,” Bond noted. Jones added that the new sponsor jumps created specifically for the show by Dalman Jump Co. elevated the exhibitor experience as well. “It’s really great for the riders to get new fences in the ring,” he said. “And the sponsors we had this year are really happy with the exposure and interaction that they got, and they look forward to coming back.”
To ensure a safe event atmosphere, show management adhered to strict COVID guidelines, including temperature checks upon entry, a waiver-and-wristband system, and a no-spectator policy. ClipMyHorse.TV provided live coverage for spectators to enjoy the event remotely.
Onsite, EQ International Real Estate created a COVID-friendly Riders’ Lounge where riders could relax and refuel between rounds. The space featured an array of food options including custom Riders Cup baked goods and catered lunches, as well as lounge furniture from Arhaus. EQ International’s Roblee Valentine noted that holding the Riders Cup in the COVID era placed emphasis on the showjumping sport itself. “My hope is that we’ll have more things like the Riders Cup that are smaller and more cohesive,” she said.
The inaugural Riders Cup has generated considerable excitement and suggested promising prospects for future years of Riders Cup competition. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback,” Jones said. “We’re working closely with the Desert Horse Park and West Palms Events to make the sport better in California. Our goal is to have more of these showjumping-type competitions where we’re specifically doing showjumping classes with a decent grand prix and decent prize money. We want the focus to be on the riders and the high level of competition.”
Full Riders Cup dates for the 2021 show season will be announced in the coming weeks. “We will be making a few changes to the model based on the feedback we received from the riders,” West Palms’ Dale Harvey said. “Working with Neil Jones to create this new event was really exciting, and we are so grateful for the immense support we received from the riders, sponsors, and community. 2020 was a tough year, and we are so thankful to end our season with this great event and a spectacular win by Karl Cook.”
In addition to the $100,000 Riders Cup Grand Prix, the Riders Cup featured a $25,000 1.40-1.45m Jumper Classic presented by Robin Parsky and a $15,000 Friends of Shady Lane Farm 1.45m, both of which included $1,000 U25 components presented by Neil Jones Equestrian.
“The fact that there were two U25 classes was the highlight for me,” said Chandler Meadows, who won the second of the two U25s aboard Zamia 3 to round out her time as a U25 rider on a high note. “It’s nice for us young riders to be able to still compete against top riders, even though the U25 is pinned separately.”
Eighteen-year-old Delaney Batter, who earned the win in the first U25 class of the week, agreed: “I’m really happy that people like me are having opportunities to jump U25s because these classes are so competitive that it’s nice to keep encouraging younger riders to go for it and have their own sub-league.”
The Riders Cup also featured a $10,000 AniCell Biotech 1.25-1.40m Speed Challenge, a $5,000 EQ International Real Estate 1.30m Speed Derby, and a $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby presented by Lavender Creek Ranch. Division classes and classics were presented by Tres Palomas, Premier Air Charter, Premier Equine, Ruggable, Equestrian Connect, CWD, GGT Footing, Rusty Brown Jewelry, EQ Consults, iJump Sports, the Pasquel Family, Hit The Hay RV, Lugano Holdings, Double Down Farm, Shady Lady, and David & Carol Pinkus.
More results can be found on westpalmsevents.com
We look forward to returning to the Desert Horse Park for the final leg of the $500,000 West Coast Jumper Series with DIHP’s $100,000 Grand Prix on Dec. 13, after which the three leading riders will earn their shares of the $50,000 bonus.
West Palms Events and Neil Jones Equestrian extend their thanks to the Riders Cup sponsors who made the inaugural event possible.