Lexington, Ky.—Oct. 31
You’d be forgiven if you weren’t familiar with Alex Granato and Carlchen W before this year. The pair had picked up plenty of wins, but it’s been on a smaller stage. However in 2019 they stepped into the spotlight with five Fédération Equestre Internationale wins at some of the biggest U.S. shows. Now they’ve got another feather in their cap with a victory in the $135,000 International Jumper Classic at the National Horse Show.
But it was an uphill battle to victory—competitors had to outrun the 20 qualifiers for the short course. If you wanted a piece of the check, you had to have two things: a fast horse and a little bit of luck.
“I was a bit back and forth if I wanted to jump off,” Granato said. “Obviously my focus is for Saturday night, but it’s a good money class, and the horse feels great, so I thought I’d go in and take a shot. I knew there were fast riders before me and fast riders after me, so I just tried to stick to my plan, the numbers I walked. I’m lucky he’s a naturally fast horse so that always works in my favor, and everything came up really smooth and out of stride, so I was happy with it.”
Granato was fourth to jump off, so it was a bit of a guessing game as far as how much he was going to need to hold onto the lead. He didn’t believe there was any one place that made the difference; instead it’s his longtime partnership with the 11-year-old Mecklenburg (Chacco-Blue—Celline-W, Continue) that gives him an edge.
“We’ve just really gotten to develop together to this level,” said Granato. “We got him as a 5-year-old; he’s 11 this year. This is our second year competing at this level, so I just think we know each other really well, and it’s a big benefit to both of us in the ring. We go in knowing each other and knowing what to expect.”
Try as they may, no one was able to catch Granato’s time of 32.76 seconds. Adrienne Sternlicht finished second with Toulago, and Bertram Allen rounded out the top spots with Lafayette Van Overis.
After centering his spring season around representing the team at the 2019 Pan American Games (Peru), where he earned team bronze, Granato turned his fall focus towards qualifying for the Longines FEI World Cup Final in Las Vegas next year, so he’s looking for a good finish in Saturday’s Longines FEI Lexington World Cup qualifier.
“I have a definite new respect for a plan,” he said. “I went into the year with a plan for Pan Ams and got to really see how that would unfold, so now looking forward I’m definitely more focused on picking key points throughout my year with especially this specific horse right now and gearing towards that and letting the chips fall into place.”
Don’t miss all the Chronicle’s online coverage, with behind-the-scenes stories, lovely photos and more! Follow the Chronicle on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @Chronofhorse and check out the Nov. 18 issue of the magazine full analysis of the competition.