WORDS by Catie Staszak
PHOTOS by Erin Gilmore
Alison Robitaille and Lima 47 galloped through the timers of the CSI4* Upperville Jumper Classic, and the crowd erupted. I looked around and took in the sights and sounds. It had been two years since I had stood atop the grassy knoll overlooking the main arena at the Upperville Colt & Horse Show in Upperville, VA, and while I had been to quite a few other shows since the global pandemic brought the competition calendar to a temporary halt in 2020, Upperville was the first where I had the thought that the sport, in its purest form, was truly back.
Of course, safety protocols were in place in Upperville, but a real crowd was present—and they not only were excited to watch show jumping, but they also knew what they were watching and whom for which they were cheering.
While a brief deluge leading up to and during the course walk threatened to dampen the mood, beautifully sunny skies emerged for the entirety of the class. Course designer Marina Azevedo (BRA) set a big, technical track, which featured, among other tests, an an incredibly steady line toward the ingate that led from a triple bar to a most careful set of white planks; and a line consisting of an oxer to a double of verticals, followed by an abrupt left turn to a wide oxer. It all made for a thrilling class. Just three combinations advanced to the jump-off—Samuel Parot (CHI) and Dubai, Jordan Coyle (IRL) and Ariso and local favorite, Robitaille (USA) and Lima 47.
While Robitaille jumped double clear as the final rider of the day, she fell just short of Coyle, who took his second international victory of the week with Elan Farm’s exciting 9-year-old gelding. Still, the fans showed their appreciation for their hometown hero, with Robitaille blowing a kiss to her family in the crowd. Everyone just kept cheering, and I won’t take for granted that sound again.
Relive the day in photos: