Cera Caruso, McCaw MVNZ, and Katie Laurie Capture One-Two Finish in $10,000 Barnwalkers Welcome Speed

Katie Laurie and Cera Caruso. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Edited Press Release

Katie Laurie has returned to the desert and she’s done it in winning style already. In the first feature event of Desert Circuit 8, presented by Kask and Vogel, Laurie rode to first and second place in the $10,000 Barnwalkers 1.35m Welcome Speed, aboard Cera Caruso and McCaw MVNZ, respectively.

Laurie, who originally hails from New Zealand but now calls Calgary, Alberta, home, went third aboard Cera Caruso, owned by Carissa McCall, and put in an untouchable time of 59.717 seconds. Riders tried to chase her time, but couldn’t come even within three seconds of it.

“He is such a cool horse,” she said of Cera Caruso, a 16-year-old Australian-bred gelding (Casall x Capone). “He actually jumped some quite big classes in the summer because my top horse, Django, got hurt. So he jumped the five-star Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows and he was so good. He tries so hard.”

Cera Caruso was fresh off a decent break, so stepping back in at the 1.35m level was an inviting opportunity for him to shine.

“He hasn’t been in the ring since the shows here in December so that was quite nice for him today to not have too much pressure. He’s getting a bit older too and he loves a speed. I feel like I hadn’t even in a speed class for a while so it knocked the rust off me as well,” Laurie reflected.

Last to go aboard another of McCall’s entries, McCaw MVNZ, a 13-year-old New Zealand Warmblood (Corofino II x Cassini II), Laurie scored the second-fastest time, but was still a few seconds off her initial pace. James Chawke and Catinka 25, owned by Vanessa Mannix were the third-place finishers.

Katie Laurie and McCaw MVNZ. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“He jumped in the summer at Spruce Meadows too,” she said of McCaw MVNZ. “He’s won quite a few really good classes. He didn’t come in December. We’ve brought him to try to sell him. We’ve got a lot of sale horses this time around.”

The goals for 2024 Desert Circuit look a little different for Laurie than they did in 2023, and it’s partly because of a special event taking place in Paris in the summer of 2024.

“I’m on the long list for Australia so that’s exciting,” she remarked about potentially making a third appearance at the Olympic Games for her nation. “Django is my best horse. He’s here and jumping quite quietly and he’ll do the three-star next week.”

Even though Laurie has made teams in both Hong Kong and Tokyo, it’s still a feat that never gets old to get to jump on the biggest stage for your nation. This time around she has the opportunity to potentially jump her homebred horse, Django.

Katie Laurie in her winning presentation, pictured with Fabian Coulon of Barnwalkers. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“It’s always a dream,” she said of the Olympic nomination. “Django has jumped the World Championships and jumped really well. He was a bit younger. He’s the kind of horse that’s a true championship horse so it would be so great if he could get into form by selection time and get to go. He loves a big track and a big ring and a big occasion.”

Laurie travels down from Alberta each winter to keep her horses in top condition. “It’s a top class facility; the sand ring here is so good,” she remarked of DIHP. “The Olympics are on sand too so that is also helpful, and it’s good to get to jump the four-star the last week. That really is our aim with him while we’re here: to build up to that one the [last] week. We love it here. It’s so good to come and bring all the horses from the young ones to the grand prix horses.”

For all the talk of big game, they’re still a modest crew. “We are just doing everything ourselves; that’s why I ride so many horses,” Laurie said of her team and her work at horse shows. “I ride a lot for other people and help produce young horses and sell them. That’s my job and I love it. I love producing horses and it’s just a bonus when you get one that ends up jumping the five-star and big international classes.”

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