The phrase “We have a jump off!” is commonly heard around the horse show ring, but it’s rarely, if ever, heard following a speed class at a four-star international event.

Tonight the ‘one-in-a-million’ happened.

Veteran American rider Laura Kraut (Middleburg, VA) put in an incredible round in what, under normal circumstances would have been the first and only round of the $50,000 Weston Canadian Open, at Toronto’s Royal Horse Show. Woodstock O galloped, turned, lengthened and shortened his stride and put in some incredible jumping efforts, stopping the clock in an astonishingly quick 60.83 seconds.

Then a few horses later, Katie Dinan (Wellington, FL) and Glory Days did EXACTLY the same thing. And so – we had a jump off.

Dinan, 20, is a student of Biology at Harvard University. She has had an exceptionally busy Royal as she had to commute back to Boston yesterday to write an exam this morning and fly back into Toronto before tonight’s class.

“Sometimes I think it all happens so fast that I don’t have enough time to stress myself out.” said Dinan. “I’m very lucky that I’m in a position where I can miss a day here and the people taking care of Glory are so on top of him; everything is under control and I can just show up for the class and that’s a really lucky position to be in. I am very thankful for the team we have.”

“I had looked at the jump off when we walked the course, only because I had done a little bit of a double-take – you don’t usually see a jump-off course on a speed diagram. But I never actually thought I’d be jumping it!” laughed Dinan after the class.

Kraut went first in the jump off and knew she had to take extraordinary measures if she were to try and beat the pair coming behind her. Unfortunately, they just could not get across the very last oxer, leaving the door wide open for Dinan and her powerful grey gelding.

“The jump off was just a bummer,” lamented Kraut. “I knew I had to go super fast and hope to go clear – because Katie is super fast – and he just turned so unbelievably well from the second-to-last to the last, that by the time he looked up and I looked up there was just nothing there. If I had given him a kick I’d have crashed through it, so I had to take a pull. I’m disappointed in myself but I think he was great. When you’ve got Katie behind you on that really nice horse, you’ve got to pull out all the stops. She went in and rode a nice conservative clear and it worked.”

Glory Days gave the crowd a scare between the timers and the first fence of the second round, however, hopping and bucking, costing them some very valuable seconds.

“I had a bit of a slow start to fence one in the jump-off,” said Dinan. “I think he read “speed class” and was confused why we were going into the ring again. But luckily he’s very game. As soon as he saw the first jump he knew what he was doing. But at that point I knew I wasn’t going to be faster than Laura so I tried to stay very calm and just jump clear. Fortunately it all worked out.”

The course designer for international week is Michel Vaillancourt, who made history in 1976, becoming the youngest show jumper to ever win an individual Olympic medal (Silver, Montreal). When asked how frequently he has seen a jump-off in a major speed class such as this one he replied with an emphatic “NEVER!”

“You never think so – but you always prepare for it,” he continued. “I always put a jump off on the course plan for the riders to know what the jump off is, and I always put “If Necessary” in brackets and you never have to use it. I’ve seen it maybe twice or three times in my career as a course designer. It was very, very rare. But it’s amazing to think that two horses would jump fifteen efforts and end up exactly at the same time. It’s quite unbelievable. It made for a hell of a show!”

Tomorrow afternoon’s horse show matinee performance includes the family-friendly Canine-Equine Relay and the evening horse show caps off the international division with the $75,000 Ricoh Big Ben Challenge. The remainder of the horse show continues through the end of Sunday, and is FREE with general admission to the Royal.

$50,000 Weston Canadian Open

Rider / Hometown / Horse / Faults : Time
1. Katherine Dinan / Wellington, FL / Glory Days / 0 : 40.13 (jump-off)
2. Laura Kraut / Middleburg, VA / Woodstock O / 4 : 34.69 (jump-off)
3. Harrie Smolders / NED / Regina Z / 0 : 61.22
4. Oliver Philippaerts / BEL / Dever Van T Goemanshof / 0 : 62.34
5. McLain Ward / Brewster, NY / Czardas 30 / 0 : 62.44