Edited Press Release
Olivia Brown faced an A-list of jump-off competitors in Saturday night’s $50,000 HorseFlight National Grand Prix at Desert International Horse Park (DIHP). She didn’t let the pressure get to her, despite being on a less experienced mount. With Caroline Burke’s Bling VD Duvelshoeve Z, she clinched the win in a blazing fashion.
“I went in there in the mindset that it was a 1.20m course and it would be easy, and it was,” Brown shared regarding her strategy for the jump-off. “If I told myself it’s not big and not under lights, and there would be less pressure. I wanted to win but I didn’t want to get too excited and do something crazy.”
The strategy proved effective. At the time she went in for the jump-off, up against six other pairs that jumped Alan Wade’s first-round track clear, Kyle King led with his first of two qualifying mounts, clocking in at 35.681 seconds and appearing to not leave much on the table.
Brown had something to say, however, with the 10-year-old Zangersheide mare (Bamako De Muze x Cicero Z) and whittled the time down just a hair further, setting a new target at 35.364 seconds. None of the remaining pairs could catch her time, ultimately. As the class wrapped, King took second with Kerri Volek’s Ittolo and Kaitlin Campbell ended up third with Palina De L’Escaut, owned by SWS Training & Sales. Skylar Wireman and Coolio 23, owned by Shayne Wireman, claimed the EquiFit U25 victory as the fastest jump-off time but with one rail down.
“I started riding her last September so we’ve just stepped up to this level,” Brown said of her relationship with Bling VD Duvelshoeve Z. “Tonight’s course was a nice introduction to night classes. We did one in December which was a little bigger and tougher but this kicked off the year for us.”
She knew the leading time would be tough to catch, but she wasn’t exactly sure just how tough.
“I didn’t get to watch but I listened to the first couple go and they were clear,” she remarked. “I went out into the ring and saw the tracks everybody had taken so I knew I had to be tidy and quick, so I just went for it. I’ve never gone that fast on her so it was really fun.”
Brown began riding Bling VD Duvelshoeve Z when the horse’s owner went off to college. It’s been a solid progression up to the higher fence heights, proving the mare has a bright future ahead of her. “She’s naturally really quick,” Brown continued. “She’s also careful so all I had to do was give her a decent ride and she’s going to jump clean.”
The fighting spirit was there all along, but it really kicked into gear Saturday night. “She’s definitely a mare that fights for me. She wants to jump clean; she wants to do the job. I really like mares when they want to work for you. She knows she has a job and she gets it done,” Brown shared.
Final Results: $50,000 Horseflight National Grand Prix
1. Bling VD Duvelshoeve Z / Olivia Brown / Caroline Burke / 0/0/35.364
2. Ittolo / Kyle King / Kerri Volek / 0/0/35.681
3. Palina De L’Escaut / Kaitlin Campbell / SWS Training & Sales / 0/0/35.773
4. Stern Dei Folletti / Karrie Rufer / Morning Star Sporthorses, LLC / 0/0/35.800
5. Django II / Katie Laurie / Katie Laurie / 0/0/37.889
6. Coolio 23 / Skylar Wireman / Shayne Wireman / 0/4/33.145
7. Chess / Kyle King / The Chess Group / 0/4/36.871
8. Mr. Europe / Karrie Rufer / Morning Star Sporthorses, LLC / 3/83.040
9. Quality H / Mark Kinsella / Ben Asselin / 4/76.542
10. Emir / Kaitlin Campbell / SWS Training & Sales / 4/78.419
11. Terasini / Daniel Ighani / Daniel Ighani / 4/78.979
12. McCaw MVNZ / Katie Laurie / Katie Laurie / 4/80.544