Tryon, N.C.—July 2
“If you’ve noticed, we haven’t won too many, but I just felt really strongly about taking it slowly,” Sharn Wordlery said of Casper. “He’s only 10 and he’s won three grand prix classes now, but he’s been second in many more. I opted to go slower and again, focus on the confidence.”
Wordley, of New Zealand, showed that Casper is growing in maturity as he stepped it up a notch and won at the Tryon International Equestrian Center, taking top honors in the $130,000 Adequan® Grand Prix. He and Casper dashed through the jump-off course in 41.69 seconds to secure the only double clear effort of the evening.
Casper and Sharn Wordley jumped to the top of the $130,000 Adequan Grand Prix at Tryon. Photo by Liz Crawley
Matthew Williams of Australia and Valinski S finished in second place, collecting a single time fault around the short course to earn a finishing time of 42.64 seconds. U.S. rider Peter Wylde and Aimee crossed through the timers in 41.10 seconds, adding 4 faults to their score for third place.
The difficult course set by Oscar Soberon of Mexico saw 30 entries attempt to advance to the second round, but only four would jump off. The evening also drew a massive crowd attendance of more than 12,000 spectators.
“There were four in the jump-off and I knew going in that all four could go quite quick. Casper is very careful. I’ve just been teaching him to jump the big jumps and we haven’t really gone fast at all,” noted Wordley. “Slowly, every time we’ve gone out, I’ve been asking him for just a little bit more, a second or two here and there. We’ve finished well and had some top placings.
“I think he has another 2 seconds faster in him. We’re slowly teaching him to use that speed. I want to keep the confidence,” he added.
Casper has quickly become a crowd favorite at TIEC. The duo drew second in the order-of-go and secured the first clear effort around the course, finishing just under the optimum time of 86 seconds.
“The time in the first round was really tight and because I was second to go, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. We got just inside the time,” explained Wordley. “I had a real decision to make in about 14 seconds about what my plan was going to be. I thought if we went to the outside Fences 1 and 2 and then hustled that would be better for my horse.
“It helped us start the course a little bit smoother than I think taking the inside turn would be. I had to hustle along and it just worked. I thought he jumped really well on Thursday. We had a rail down and he doesn’t like to have rails down, so he felt very sharp today,” he added.
For Casper, building and maintaining confidence has been a major key to their pair’s growing success. The 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Contender x Baloubet du Rouet) owned by Sky Group, has seen a tremendous growth in his ability to perform in pressure situations according to Wordley, and the experience gained competing in several jump-off rounds has been necessary for their long-term career goals. Wordley elaborated, “Before if you galloped full noise to a jump, he’d start backing off and you couldn’t let him reach the full length of his stride. Now he’s comfortable and taking it on. This was the best jump-off he’s ever had.
“He was ready to go tonight. It felt great and it was a technical course, which I think he enjoys. It wasn’t overly big, but it was definitely technical and careful. They had to jump well. If they didn’t jump well they weren’t going to get around,” he detailed.
The victory tonight marked the pair’s fourth top-five finish in FEI sanctioned competition in the past four months and their eighth top-10 finish in the same time frame. Wordley has carefully educated Casper and has perfected the ride needed to be successful at the highest levels of the sport.
Wylde, an Olympic and World Games medalist for the U.S. team, rounded out the top three finishers aboard Aimee, and in his first grand prix appearance at the venue, commented on the immense and positive response from the crowd.
“First of all, I have to say, it completely increases the level of any sporting event when you have a crowd like what we had tonight,” detailed Wylde. “It’s fantastic for us, as a country, to finally have another venue outside of Wellington that offers a chance to compete in front an incredible public audience that brings energy to the competition, which is something you can’t create. For us as riders, it’s just so positive for our industry.
“The facility is incredible. From the stabling to the footing and the appearance of the jumps, really the whole venue,” he continued. “The theatre that’s created by the whole venue is one-of-a-kind. I love the size of the ring because it feels like the crowd is with you the entire way around the course, which is a unique experience.”
Wylde guided two horses to strong placings in the class and was impressed with performance of Aimee, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare (Solitair x Silvio II), who contested her largest class yet and handled the large atmosphere and added pressure exceedingly well.
“Everyone says that the horses jump incredibly well in this venue and I think that’s true,” he stated. “The footing is very good and the atmosphere pushes you to really rise to the occasion. The courses all week were great and this was my first real grand prix with this horse. She’s a fighter and a trier. She handled it very well.
“I was excited that we almost won and I think this horse can do a lot. I’ve had her for a year now and we’ve been slowly building her up. She’s coming into her own and this is the biggest class she’s ever done, so I have to say, I’m really happy.”
Final Results $130,000 Adequan® Grand Prix CSI 3*
1. CASPER, 2006 Oldenburg gelding by Contender x Baloubet du Rouet, SHARN WORDLEY (NZL), Sky Group: 0/0/41.694
2. VALINSKI S, 2002 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Nijinski x Julius, MATTTHEW WILLIAMS (AUS), Matthew Williams, Michael Dorman, & Wyndmont: 0/0/42.645
3. AIMEE, 2005 Dutch Warmblood mare by Solitair x Silvio II, PETER WYLDE (USA), Aram Ampagoumian LLC: 0/0/41.103
4. ZELDA, 2004 Dutch Warmblood mare by Concorde x Olisco, SARAH SEGAL (USA), T.K. Farm: 0/0/42.068
5. QUABELLE, 2004 Selle Francais mare by Helios De La Cour II x Kannan, BLYTHE MARANO (USA), Riverview Farm LLC: 1/87.450
6. CANTARA 59, 2006 Hanoverian mare by Cristo x Cassone, SARAH SEGAL (USA), Robert Segal: 1/87.500
7. BINKIE, 2006 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Larino x Hors La Loi II, DAVID BLAKE (IRL), Pine Hollow Farm: 1/88.340
8. BON JOVI, 2006 Dutch Warmblood gelding by Verdi x Corland, EMANUEL ANDRADE (VEZ), Emanuel Andrade: 1/90.060
9. THRILLER P, 2004 Swedish Warmblood stallion by Cardento x Lucky Light, MARK BLUMAN (COL), Stransky’s Mission Farm, Inc.: 4/83.380
10. VITA 24, 2005 Holsteiner mare by Carinjo x Contender, TODD MINIKUS (USA), Two Swans Farm: 4/84.960
11. HAPPY WANDOR VAN’T ROOSAKKER, 2007 Belgian Warmblood stallion by Wandor Van De Mispelaere x V Cento, CARLOS RAMIREZ (COL), Carlos Hernando Ramirez: 4/86.340
12. BARIANO, 2001 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Jetset-D x Skippy, EUGENIO GARZA (MEX), David and Monica Garza: 4/86.540