Karl Cook (USA) has proven himself a consistent winner in grand prix action with Caracole de la Roque time and time again, despite the partnership still being new. This Sunday, they took the win in the $145,100 Agero CSI3* Grand Prix during the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament at Traverse City Horse Shows.
Cook and Signe Otsby’s 11-year-old Selle Français mare (Zandor Z x Kannan) were one of eight pairs to navigate Cedric Longis’ (FRA) first-round track penalty free. With the footspeed Cook is able to achieve on Caracole de la Roque, it didn’t matter where in the order he returned, but his later draw of sixth allowed him to gauge how the jump-off track was riding.
The pair clocked in three seconds faster than the next-closest finisher, Samantha Schaefer (USA) and James Bond HX, owned by Bonne Vie LLC, who claimed second place. Callie Schott (USA) took third with Garant, owned by Southern Arches, LLC.
“She’s just fast,” Cook said of Caracole de la Roque, a ride he acquired from Frenchman Julien Epaillard. “Normally, when you go fast with a horse there’s a level of wander and the canter gets inverted so you can’t jump well out of it. She’s so comfortable at speed that you just don’t have all the normal concerns, so you can run and turn at full speed. She’s amazing.”
Still new to one another, Cook has been very practical with placing Caracole de la Roque, knowing what the horse is capable of and not wanting to step up too high too soon.
“The long-term plan is five-stars,” he added. “We’re going to try our first [CSI5* Grand Prix] next week in the [American] Gold Cup. [The goal is] to get her to support my other mare Kalinka [Van’t Zorgvliet] and make sure both mares are primed, fit, sound and happy so we can really push next year.”
Cook is a lifelong student of the sport, analyzing each round and identifying where there is room for improvement every time he jumps, even if the result is a win.
“Each round I feel better but there’s always more [to learn],” he shared. “There were issues with my first round that were my fault and I need to work on those. Thankfully, she’s able to fill in the gaps in my riding but I know taking the next step I need to be better.”
Cook was among many riders in the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring who enjoyed Longis’ course design during the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament.
“I love the course builder; he’s amazing,” Cook said of Longis. “He was here last year and that was the first time I’d jumped his courses. He’s very elegant with how he [sets] things. It’s fun to ride because it feels modern. It feels the way the sport should be because he gets a great number clear without the time allowed being crazy tight. In the jump-off, the course design was beautiful. You could take chances, you could run, but it also challenged you with tight angles. You saw a great jump-off and a great first round.”
Sunday concludes the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament, but action at the Tournament of Champions resumes Wednesday, September 13, with the kick-off of the historic CSI5* American Gold Cup.