Wednesday – King Commands CSI3* tbird Speed
Wednesday at Thunderbird Show Park, it appeared as though Kyle King (USA) was in a race against himself.
He and Patricia Vasey’s Odysseus positively blew the field away in the CSI3* tbird Speed 1.40m, the opening international class of the final competition of tbird’s 50th Anniversary season.
Crossing the timers of Joey Rycroft’s (CAN) track in 59.66 seconds, King and “Odie” were more than six seconds faster than runners-up Uma O’Neill (NZL) and Messi 10 (66.07s), who produced the first clear round of the class and held the lead for its majority. Tracey Epp (CAN) and new mount Klasse One finished third (67.03s).
“He’s just a fast horse,” King said. “You don’t have to push him anywhere and, you just kind of follow him, keep the balance right. He’s a gamer.”
Rycroft set a winding track, maximizing the space of the Thunderbird Jumper Arena. The long gallop lanes offered between far-away related distances were paired with sharp rollback turns, and strategically placed decorations dared riders to attempt even tighter inside turns.
King was one of the few who accepted those challenges, executing a flawless right-handed hairpin turn to the final line that set himself even farther apart in a class in which he was already up on the clock.
“I feel like I know him really well,” King shared. “Now I can turn short as I want to verticals. Oxers sometimes I need let him see the back rail a little bit. But in a lot of circumstances he’s a fast enough kind of horse that if there’s an option of an inside turn to an oxer or around, I can around and still be just as fast. He’s that type.”
King has been partnered with Odie since August 2022, when owner Patricia Vasey handed him over the reins after herself developing the horse up to 1.40m. According to Jumpr App, Odysseus finishes in the top 10 44% of the time when jumping 1.40m.
“Odie is definitely a main source of my string now and for the foreseeable future,” he said.
“He’s proven to be a horse for me in the money classes. Whether he’ll be a big Sunday 1.55m Grand Prix horse or not, I’m not sure. But he’s a very solid, good jumping weapon in my string. I’m very lucky to have him.”
CSI3* tbird Speed 1.40m
Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time
1. Odysseus / Kyle King / USA / Patricia Vasey / 0 59.66
2. Messi 10 / Uma O’Neill / NZL / O’Neill Show Jumping / 0 66.07
3. Klasse One / Tracey Epp / CAN / Tracey Epp / 0 67.03
4. CSF Princess Blue / Bretton Chad / CAN / Stone Ridge Farms LLC / 0 67.06
5. Kadans / Tiffany Foster / CAN / Artisan Farms / 0 68.26
6. Cunningham 4 / Christopher Lowe / CAN / Christopher Lowe / 0 70.54
7. Igali LN / Braden James / CAN / James Sport Horses / 0 73.04
8. Rhapsody / Sarah Lottis / CAN / Kevin Lottis / 4 59.7
9. Grandeur WP / Bretton Chad / CAN / Stone Ridge Farms LLC / 4 63.34
10. Comme tu Veux Z / Ashley Papalia / CAN / Ashley Papalia / 4 64.85
Thursday – Plans Come Together for Ifko
Jim Ifko (CAN) had a plan for the CSI3* tbird Qualifier before he even saw the class’s course map.
His goal was simply to keep his horse relaxed and to not let too much out of the tank ahead of Saturday’s CSI3* Grand Prix.
“I was hoping that we’d have just a comfortable round—[but] of course, you always want to get in the jump-off,” Ifko said. “Then in the jump-off, I actually just wanted to have a nice smooth—let’s call it ‘relaxing,’ if you will—round. I know my horse is fast anyway, but if I try and go too fast then he’s gone [and] we’ve lost everything over the last class.”
It turns out that cruising speed for the spectacular 15-year-old stallion Un Diamant des Forets is still good enough to best a competitive eight-horse jump-off. Ifko and his mount took the victory Thursday evening in the Thunderbird Jumper Arena with a winning time of 39.64 seconds.
Kyle King (USA), fresh off a win in Wednesday’s CSI3* tbird Speed, finished second with SIG Chiari (42.01s). Charlie Jones (GBR) and Capitale 6 were third (42.7s).
Joey Rycroft’s (CAN) jump-off asked riders to make choices, as he offered several opportunities for inside turns while also keeping in the track the combination that fell most often in the first round. Ifko and Un Diamant des Forets navigated the more difficult track flawlessly.
“I tried to just be smooth and as relaxed as possible and just keep a lid on things and he was really rideable,” Ifko said of his mount. “So, all the short turns worked out really well. And the plan actually just kind of worked out.”
Ifko has been partnered with “Monty” for more than nine years, and the duo has recorded 12 international victories together. According to Jumpr App, they finish in the top 10 at a 38% clip when jumping at the 1.45m height.
Originally, however, their partnership was unplanned. Ifko was shopping for mares in Europe when he came upon the stallion. Ultimately, Ifko returned home without having purchased a single mare, but the stallion became a permanent addition. Monty is an active breeding stallion at Eventyre Farms near Calgary, AB.
“He was literally a horse that we looked at on the way to the airport,” Ifko shared. “So, it was a last minute thing. But as soon as I rode him, I knew—I wasn’t 100% sure how far along, height-wise he would go—but I knew that he was going to be a competitive horse along the way. And as it turns out, it’s exactly the way I was thinking.”
CSI3* tbird Qualifier 1.45m
Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time
1. Un Diamant des Forets / Jim Ifko / CAN / Eventyre Farms Ltd / 0/0 39.64
2. SIG Chiari / Kyle King / USA / Kyle King / 0/0 42.01
3. Capitale 6 / Charlie Jones / GBR / Morning Star Sporthorses LLC / 0/0 42.7
4. Kadans / Tiffany Foster / CAN / Artisan Farms LLC / 0/0 42.94
5. Cunningham 4 / Christopher Lowe / CAN / Christopher Lowe / 0/0 43.01
6. Rhapsody / Sarah Lottis / CAN / Kevin Lottis / 0/4 41.55
7. Heartvit ZH / Tracey Epp / CAN / Tracey Epp / 0/4 45.94
8. Klasse One / Tracey Epp / CAN / Tracey Epp / 0/4 48.25
9. CSF Princess Blue / Bretton Chad / CAN / Stone Ridge Farms LLC / 4 74.74
10. Clockwise of Greenhill Z / Uma O’Neill / NZL / Uma O’Neill / 4 76.22
Competition at the CSI3* BCHJA Fall Finale continues Friday with the CSI3* Winning Round 1.45m.
All classes in the Thunderbird Jumper Arena stream live on tbird.ca.