Karl Cook proved it’s never over until it’s over. After Kent Farrington, going early in the jump-off order, put in a blazing time aboard Greya that seemed to close the door on his fellow competitors, Cook and his new ride Caracole De La Roque found a window—winning Sunday’s $145,100 CSI3* Grand Prix of Traverse City by just 1/100th of a second.
Cook and the mare were one of 10 pairs qualified for the short course over Andy Christiansen’s track. Farrington made everyone think it was over with Greya, clocking in at 39.85 seconds. As more pairs went and couldn’t get near the time the Olympian set, it became clear just how fast he was. Second to last in the order aboard Signe Ostby’s 11-year-old Selle Francais mare (Zandor Z—Pocahontas D’Amaury, Kannan*GFE), Cook had plenty of time to watch and appreciate just how tough Farrington’s time would be to beat.
“Kent was very fast, and he didn’t add anywhere,” Cook said. “Then when I saw the people after him go that much slower, that further cemented that it was real. Sometimes things will look fast, and the next person beats it, and the next person beats it. They were 4 seconds slower and still going.”
Cook didn’t let that alter his plan. He took the pace up a notch, kept the turns tight, and stopped the clock in 38.73 seconds to take over the lead with only horse one remaining. Farrington ultimately finished second, and Callie Schott on Garant placed a more distant third with a time of 41.74.
“I didn’t change my approach to the jump-off,” he said about seeing how the class was unfolding.
“To the oxer at fence 11, it’s a forward seven [strides], and most people were landing and pulling,” he said. “Because we have a bigger stride, I could do a more bending seven and get the turn done before the fence, then shave off two strides between fence 11 and fence 9A. Everything kept going, and it was because she had a bigger stride than Kent’s horse. It favored me a little bit.”
Caracole previously was competed successfully through the five-star level by France’s Julien Epaillard, including winning the opening round of competition at the 2022 ECCO FEI World Championships (Denmark). Cook took over the ride this year, debuting with the mare in March at the Winter Equestrian Festival (Florida). The pair are in their second month of FEI competition together and working their way up the levels.
With Kalinka Van’t Zorgvliet, another five-star competitor who also is owned by Ostby, already in his barn, Cook is setting himself up to have two top mares to place in the highest divisions.
“In an ideal world, she and Kalinka would trade off,” he said of his plan with his two top mounts. “That was our hope when we got her. Then it’ll take a lot of pressure off both of them. One horse won’t have to shoulder all the load. If we can pull that off, it’d be really great.”
Watch Cook’s winning jump-off round, with his commentary, courtesy of Traverse City Horse Shows:
See complete results here.