By Catie Staszak for Thunderbird Show Park
Vanessa Mannix (CAN) set off for the first fence of the CSI3* $100,000 ATCO Cup with purpose. That tone would carry her throughout the entire course.
And after making the podium on three other occasions at the Summer Fort Classic, Mannix broke through with an impressive win. She and veteran mount Catinka 25 rode to victory in the event’s feature class. Samantha Buirs-Darvill and Baton Rouge finished second, just ahead of Robert Blanchette (IRL) and Chardonnay.
“I have to say, I came into the ring really committed to riding forward,” Mannix said. “I made a great plan with my trainers, James Chawke and Conor Swail. I watched the first two go [in the jump-off], but not too closely. I was committed to my plan.”
Seven combinations advanced to the shortened course of Peter Holmes’ (CAN) track, which offered a certificate of competency for riders to earn eligibility for future championships. That designation came with requirements, including two 1.60m verticals. The course had technical elements but played fairly, giving tremendous experience to many combinations stepping up to the level. The veteran combinations, meanwhile, showed their class.
First to jump-off, Brian Morton (CAN) and Cadillac put the pressure on with a strong clear performance, but the pair left the door open. Mannix capitalized. Brimming with confidence, she and Catinka 25 shaved strides off Morton’s ride and navigated a most efficient track, always on a galloping pace. While Buirs-Darvill and Blanchette would come close, neither could match Mannix, with Tiffany Foster (CAN) and Ben Asselin (CAN) bringing down rails on course.
“I wanted to get eight strides up the first line, which I think established a great rhythm, and then I just kept it smooth,” Mannix said.
“Catinka felt so confident all week, and today, I knew if I galloped up to each jump, she’d be with me every step of the way.”
Mannix has been partnered with her 12-year-old Oldenburg mare for more than four years; the duo jumped their first three-star competition at tbird in 2017.
“Catinka is such a special horse,” Mannix said. “She’s so incredibly smart. I’ve had her since she was seven, and she’s 12 now. I feel like we have such a depth to our relationship and understanding with each other. We started out in the Low and Medium Amateur [divisions], all the way up to her first 1.45m, her first ranking classes, her first [FEI] Grand Prix, and I rode her in my first Nations Cup last year.”
Mannix will jump her string again at Thunderbird Show Park next week in the CSI3* Summer Fort Festival.
“It’s too good of an opportunity to pass up,” Mannix said. “It’s an incredible show. I’m so happy to be here.”
$100,000 CSI3* ATCO Cup 1.50m
Place / Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time
1. Catinka 25 / Vanessa Mannix / CAN / Vanessa Mannix / 0/0 39.03
2. Baton Rouge / Samantha Buirs-Darvill / CAN / Samantha Buirs-Darvill / 0/0 39.98
3. Chardonnay / Robert Blanchette / IRL / RTS LLC / 0/0 40.93
4. Cadillac / Brian Morton / CAN / Spruce Meadows Ltd / 0/0 39.98
5. Vienna / Tiffany Foster / CAN / Artisan Farms, LLC / 0/4 39.73
6. Hamilton / Tiffany Foster / CAN / The Hamilton Group / 0/4 42.1
7. Veyron / Ben Asselin / CAN / Attache Stables / 0/8 41.06
8. Chicago / Tracey Epp / CAN / Tracey Epp / 1 81.05
9. Gamble / Conor Swail / IRL / Asta Torokvei / 4 72.10
10. Theo 160 / Conor Swail / IRL / Conor Swail 4 75.71