Devon, Pa.—May 29
If you’d asked Ali Wolff if she thought she was going to win the $50,000 Jet Run Devon Welcome Stake at the Devon Horse Show her reply would have been a resounding no.
The class featured a star-studded field including seven Olympians, so Wolff figured a double-clean performance would be a good one.
“I was going to be happy for sixth place maybe,” said the 28-year-old rider. “You had the fastest of the fastest go. I saw Kevin [Babington] go because he was right before me, and then I saw Akuna Mattata go and Nicki [Shahaninian-Simpson], and I just decided that I was going to be happy with my result as long as I was double clean and hoping for the top five or six.”
Watch Wolff’s jump-off round, courtesy of USEF Network:
She exceeded that goal when she and Casall smoked the competition, stopping the timers at 35.73 seconds, ahead of Israel’s Daniel Bluman on Bacara D’Archonfosse (36.16 seconds) and Ireland’s Babington on Mark Q (36.61 seconds).
“I just kept seeing a little forward one, but not the crazy forward, and I just kept going a little bit more and a little bit more,” said Wolff. “The whole way around I did not think I was going super fast. I know I had nice turns, but he takes a lot of time in the air, so I thought at best I’d look up at the clock thinking I was really fast, and I would slot into fifth place. This was a shocker.”
On the other hand, Bluman has competed against Wolff since their junior days, and he wasn’t shocked at all.
“Ali’s a great competitor, and she’s always a fast rider,” said Bluman. “Many riders over here on any night they can win, so if somebody counts her out they’re just wrong. You can’t count her out. She’s being humble, but she’s won classes before. She hasn’t beat me like this in like 10 years, but she’s won many classes.”
Wollf, of New Albany, Ohio, purchased Casall six years ago with the idea that he’d be her first sales horse. That didn’t work out quite so well, as she soon realized that she’d found a real talent.
“My horse deserves it more than anything,” she said. “He’s been second to countless people and on countless occasions, and it’s always usually the Irish, so for it to be his day, he so deserved this after six years of partnership.”
Thirty-one horses and riders contested the track designed by Guilherme Jorge, and 11 advanced to the jump-off. Three additional pairs jumped clean over fences but accrued a single time fault. The short course proved to be a race against the clock as only two pairs faulted, Devin Ryan on Eddie Blue and Brianne Goutal-Marteau on Fineman.
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