By Catie Staszak for Thunderbird Show Park
Langley, BC — August 29, 2021
It came down to a two-horse race in the $15,000 MarBill Hill U25 Grand Prix, and that left Hannah Rajotte (CAN) with the strategic play.
Returning second of just two riders to advance to the jump-off of Peter Holmes’ (CAN) 1.40m course, 18-year-old Rajotte watched Ashley Arnoldt (CAN) to see what she would need to do to finish her two weeks at Thunderbird Show Park with a victory.
Arnoldt showed that the shortened track was no easier than the first round, bringing down two rails, so Rajotte put her focus on simply keeping the jumps up with her longtime partner, Patronus. They’d finish with a rail in hand, topping the class with a score of four faults and a final time of 47.62 seconds. Arnoldt and Lestat OLD finished second (8/48.98), with Hayley Mercer (CAN) and Crown Royal third as the fastest four-faulters from the first round (82.9 seconds).
“After Ashley went in and unfortunately had two down, my goal changed. I just wanted a clean round and didn’t focus on being super quick, since it was just the two of us,” Rajotte said. “I started with a good canter, but not anything too crazy. After our first rail down, [Patronus] spooked a little bit, and I just tried really hard to focus on keeping everything else up.”
That rail would prove to be the only mark against them on a day where clear rounds were hard to come by. In the first round, a careful plank set late in the course fell repeatedly, and Arnoldt did not produce the first clear until more than halfway through the class. Rajotte replicated the feat just two rounds later, but no one else would join them for the shortened track.
“My horse is a bit funny in the mouth, and he’s really good when going forward,” Rajotte explained. “My goal in the first round, with so few clear, was to just be efficient and not do anything too crazy to the jumps. I was efficient on the track and supported [Patronus] in jumping clean, which he can do easily. It’s just about setting him up.”
Rajotte and Patronus have been paired for the last three years. The Irish Sport Horse gelding was formerly an event horse, but the grey has thrived in his partnership with Rajotte, bringing her up the junior jumper ranks to the U25 division.
“When I bought him, he had only competed up to about 1.20m at the show jumping level, and I had only competed up to 1.30m,” Rajotte said. “We have been learning together up the levels. He’s a funny ride, but he’s a pretty special guy.”
$15,000 MarBill Hill U25 Grand Prix
Place / Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time
1. Patronus / Hannah Rajotte / CAN / Daryl Krause / 0/4 47.62
2. Lestat OLD / Ashley Arnoldt / CAN / Jennifer Arnoldt / 0/8 48.98
3. Crown Royal / Hayley Mercer / CAN / Hayley Mercer / 4 82.9
4. Chinell / Stella Chernoff / CAN / Stump Lake Ranch & Cattle Co. / 4 83.32
5. Pasquinelle / Emily Fitzgerald / CAN / Emily Fitzgerald / 4 84.91
6. Fiventum Kieni / Nyah Chernoff / USA / Stump Lake Ranch & Cattle Co. / 4 86.08
7. Fay / Stella Chernoff / CAN / Stump Lake Ranch & Cattle Co. / 8 78.92
8. Casuality Z / Nyah Chernoff / USA / Stump Lake Ranch & Cattle Co. / 8 84.92
9. Princessa / Shaelynn Enders / CAN / Joyce Enders / 8 85.52
10. Diamir 4 / Anneke Powers / USA / Karianne Boyce-Lockhart / 8 86.14