Mill Spring, N.C.—Oct. 17
That was the time to beat when Karl Cook headed into the Tryon Stadium for the $137,000 CSI3* Grand Prix held during Tryon Fall 5. That time was set by Kent Farrington and Kaprice—a pair that’s known for their footspeed and impossibly tight turns.
Cook’s horse Caillou 24 was not an obvious winner in that match race. But Cook isn’t one to go down without a fight, so as he set out to tackle Guilherme Jorge’s short course it was clear he was hunting for the win.
After a couple galloping fences, Cook hit the hand brake to jump a delicate vertical, and Caillou sat back and launched beautifully over it. Those gathered ringside had a heart-stopping moment as he caught an angle to the in of the double—an imposing oxer—somehow finding a way out with all rails still in their cups. A couple tight turns later saw the pair kick it into high gear as they galloped towards the final oxer. Cook saw the spot—a long one—kicked, and hoped, not knowing whether it’d end in disaster.
But Caillou’s feet found the backside of the fence without disturbing the rail, and they crossed through the finish line at 36.75. Two more contenders took their turn around the jump-off course, but neither was fast enough to steal the top prize from Cook’s hands.
“If I pull, I lose,” Cook said. “And you just kind of have to hope and believe. I didn’t think we were going to take off to the double, and I didn’t think we were going to take off to the last fence, but if I don’t try then there’s no chance.”
Cook didn’t count strides as he made his final gallop, but he knew he just had to keep kicking.
“It was land and go, and I saw it, and I was like if I want to win I have to try it,” he said. “But until he took off I didn’t think we were going to make it. I thought he was going to put the landing gear down.”
Watch their winning jump-off round:
Cook got the 13-year-old Holsteiner (Casall—Carefree, San Patrignano Corrado) as a 7-year-old, and the pair have seen everything from World Cup qualifier victories to disappointments and retirements on course.
“One of the best things about him is that he’s very strong,” said Cook. “He’s very sound, so you can keep showing. He’s very consistent so that helps me and him be able to work together because we don’t have peaks or valleys. And we trust each other so much—we needed trust in that jump-off. He’s been such a good guy for such a long time.”
Want to get to know Caillou 24 better? Go behind the stall door with him.
Meet the woman behind Caillou’s success, his groom Jenni Giannini.