Following the awards presentation for the CSI3* ATCO Cup Grand Prix 1.50m Sunday at Thunderbird Show Park, you might not have recognized the class winner.

Equine America Ivanhoe GPH could be found standing still as a statue as a young child reached up tentatively to stroke his muzzle.

“He’s very sweet. He won’t bite you,” his rider, Matthew Sampson (GBR) told the child.

Just a few minutes prior, Sampson and the “gentle giant” were tearing around Peter Holmes’ (CAN) 1.50m jump-off track. Utilizing an enormous stride, the pair bested a 10-horse jump-off and recorded the first international win of their short partnership, having just teamed up in June.

The winning time was 36.24 seconds. In the closest of finishes, John Perez (COL) finished second with Gigi Carmen (36.25s), followed Tiffany Foster (CAN) and Battlecry (36.59s).

“Parts of the jump-off suited me and parts of it didn’t. One to two for me was a really short five, and it wasn’t a four, especially at the start. Then it looked like I could get nine to the double and then I could get eight across the middle. That suited him really well,” Sampson detailed. “I gave him a little bit of extra time to the last fence and, and luckily that paid off. John was very fast. I think that’s where he caught up to me. Luckily it was my day.”

It was by chance that Sampson got the ride on “Ivan” this summer from the horse’s owner, Ellen Whitaker, who is Sampson’s neighbor in England. Sampson and Ivan are now jumping clear at a 56 percent clip across all heights, according to Jumpr App.

“He’s owned by a friend, Ellen Whitaker, whom I live very close to at home. I got him in Spruce,” Sampson said. “Originally I had him just to look after him for a week, and then he was meant to travel back to Europe, but he couldn’t go. So I started riding him. It worked out amazing.”

Sampson will now return to Spruce with the grey gelding for the CSI5* Masters Tournament—but Ivan is also for sale.

“We’re really just developing him,” he said. “He’ll make anybody a lovely horse. He’s the type of horse that he’s got no bad [bone] in his body.”

CSI3* ATCO Cup 1.50m
Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time

1. Equine America Ivanhoe / Matthew Sampson / GBR / Ellen Whitaker / 0/0 36.24
2. Gigi Carmen / John Perez / COL / John Perez / 0/0 36.25
3. Battlecry / Tiffany Foster / CAN / Artisan Farms LLC / 0/0 36.59
4. Odysseus / Kyle King / USA / Patricia Vasey / 37.53
5. Cunningham 4 / Christopher Lowe / CAN / Christopher Lowe / 0/0 41.5


Duff Delivers in CSI3* Paladin Cup

Jaclyn Duff (CAN) always knew she had a special horse in Eblesse, but she’s had to be patient with the now 14-year-old KWPN gelding.

Jaclyn Duff and Eblesse jumping a fence.

Jaclyn Duff (CAN) and Eblesse. (tbird/Kim Gaudry photo)

Friday evening at Thunderbird Show Park, her fortitude was rewarded, as the pair came together to win the CSI3* Paladin Cup 1.50m.

Besting a nine-horse jump-off, the duo crossed the timers of Peter Holmes’ (CAN) short track in 42.46 seconds. Charlie Jones (GBR) and Capitale 6 finished second (43s), while Christopher Lowe (CAN) was third with Cunningham 4 (43.55s).

“I didn’t think I was very fast,” Duff said. “I actually lost one of my reins on the way [to the last jump] and [Eblesse] pulled a shoe, but he was amazing and turned himself inside out to jump it clear.”

Jones was the first to take on the jump-off, and for a while, it appeared as if he might hold all the way through with his slick track. And while Duff was slightly behind her opponent in the middle of the course—adding a stride to the liverpool oxer and fanning slightly wider to the combination—she was flying early and late.

“I landed after the double, and I was like, ‘Here we go.’ And he was great. He just was phenomenal,” Duff said.

It’s been a long road back to the international level for the pair. Shortly after Duff added the dark bay to her string in the fall of 2021, Eblesse injured himself. He’d miss a year of competition.

Duff has spent her 2023 season building back up, and she returned to FEI competition with her mount at tbird in June, jumping the CSI2* division at the Odlum Brown BC Open. Then, she rerouted herself. Instead of traveling to Spruce Meadows in July, she brought Eblesse to Chicago to jump some national classes.

“I went to Chicago to go jump some bigger Grand Prixs, to get some mileage and just get him a little fitter—with the idea of hoping that he would peak at these two shows and then the [Spruce Meadows Masters in September],” she said.

Duff’s plan came to fruition, and now she’s set her focus forward. According to Jumpr App, the pair is averaging just 2.00 faults at 1.50m.

“I bought him to get me back in this ring and jumping some bigger classes,” she said. “He’s an amazing horse, and I’m really excited about the future with him.”

CSI3* Paladin Cup 1.50m
Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time

1. Eblesse / Jaclyn Duff / CAN / Windermere Stables / 0/0 42.46
2. Capitale 6 / Charlie Jones / GBR / Morningstar Sporthorses LLC / 0/0 43
3. Cunningham 4 / Christopher Lowe / CAN / Christopher Lowe / 0/0 43.55
4. Flinton M / Kendall Bourgeois / USA / Cameron Brown / 0/0 47.33
5. Chicago CM / Eric Krawitt / CAN / Eric Krawitt / 0/4 47.4


Tiffany Foster (CAN) and Jetouelle-S jumping a fence.

Tiffany Foster (CAN) and Jetouelle-S. (tbird/Kim Gaudry photo)

Foster Makes Her Target in CSI3* Kubota Canada Winning Round 1.45m

With a large string of international mounts, Tiffany Foster (CAN) arrived at Thunderbird Show Park in August with a strategic plan to maximize results for a group of young, up-and-coming horses.

The Summer Fort Classic CSI3* was made the target for 9-year-old Jetouelle-S, as Foster stepped the elegant bay mare up to 1.45m for just the second time. She executed her plan to perfect Saturday at tbird, putting forth the only double-clear performance to take the win in the CSI3* Kubota Canada Winning Round 1.45m.

The pair would have been the fastest even if one of the seven four-faulters had matched their faultless effort, as they crossed the timers of Peter Holmes’ short track in 51.23 seconds. Kara Chad (CAN) and Easy Boy d’Aubey Z finished second (4/51.39s), with Shauna Cook (CAN) and Glacier ZF third (4/52.21s).

“She’s a super fast horse—really quick across the ground and really quick in the air. And her jumping technique in front is 10 out of 10, so that makes it a lot easier!” Foster said, praising her mount. “But she also tries really hard. I took a pretty good slice on that fourth jump in the jump-off, and for a horse to clear that, jump off of that distance, at that speed [and] on that angle, they have to want to do it.”

It was the fourth fence of the jump-off—a vertical set across the center of the arena, coming off a tight right rollback and preceding a careful oxer-vertical combination—that caught many competitors on course. Holmes’ course was characterized by jump placement and airy fences that drew horses’ eyes down, throwing off their focus. But “Jet” was determined to keep the jumps up, despite the circumstances.

“She didn’t make an overly beautiful jump, but she jumped a clear jump, and that’s what you care about, right? She does moves like that, where you just say, ‘What a great heart she’s got!’” Foster exclaimed. “She’s a real trier and she wants to do well, and her steering’s getting better. I’m really happy with this, because I actually was aiming her for this week. When they come out and do what you ask them to do, what more can you ask for?”

Jetouelle-S is the primary mount of Foster’s student, Isabel Coxe, whose family’s 5 Roosters group purchased the mare at the beginning of the year. Coxe showed the mare throughout the winter season before Foster took the reins for the summer to further the mare’s development. According to Jumpr App, the pair is jumping clear at a 62% clip across all heights.

“I worked with her a lot at Spruce [Meadows] and actually realized she was a little greener than I thought. I was kind of sending Izzy in the ring, and then I was like, Oh, [Jetouelle-S] actually doesn’t know a few kind of important things,’” Foster shared. “So [this summer has] been awesome. I’ve had a lot of time to ride her myself over these last couple of months, and she’s just growing and growing and she’s a wonderful horse.”

As Foster continues working with the mare, Thunderbird will continue to play a developmental role.

“I’m going to try to jump her first 1.50m [at tbird in September]. I feel like if I keep going in the way I’m going, she’ll be ready,” she said. “It’s easy for her. She’s very scopey, and she has a really good read where the back pole is, and she’s clever in the combinations. She’s a cool horse, so I’m looking forward to that.“

CSI3* Kubota Canada Winning Round 1.45m
Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time

1. Jetouelle-S / Tiffany Foster / CAN / 5 Roosters / 0/0 51.23
2. Easy Boy d’Aubey Z / Kara Chad / CAN / Alexandre Zambaux / 0/4 51.39
3. Glacier ZF / Shauna Cook / CAN / Zeidler Farm Canada 2017 Ltd / 4/4 52.21
4. Jericho / Laura Jane Tidball / CAN / Thunderbird Show Park / 8/4 55.03
5. Fair Play d’Esquelmes / Nyah Chernoff / CAN / Stump Lake Ranch and Cattle Co Ltd / 0/4 55.2


Stephenson Gets Confident Win in MarBill Hill U25 1.40m

Olivia Stephenson had two mounts in Saturday’s MarBill Hill U25 1.40m. She felt all the confidence aboard Chaccalanda, an experienced mare with results up to the five-star level with her former rider. With Deister Z, she was experiencing more of a “learning curve.”

Olivia Stephenson and Deister Z jumping a fence.

Olivia Stephenson (CAN) and Deister Z. (tbird/Kim Gaudry photo)

But things came together for Stephenson and Deister Z, a 10-year-old Zangersheide gelding, in the speed competition. They took the win in the class, crossing the timers of Peter Holmes’ course in 70.87 seconds.

Danielle Vahdat (USA) and Gernice van de Postbaan finished second (72.82s), with Oliva Combs (USA) and Oriana third (74.12s).

“I was pretty nervous going into the day, I wasn’t as confident on [Deister Z], and I haven’t been as confident with [him] recently,” Stephenson confessed. “But he was just amazing. He was really on it today. And I don’t know, I think he went with me and my competitiveness today, and I think he fed off of it.”

Stephenson had an earlier draw aboard Deister Z than she did aboard Chaccalanda, but a good warm-up put her in the right mindset. A tack change also left her with more ride-ability. .

“We just recently changed our bit [to an eggbutt snaffle], and I think it helps me. It helped me a lot today, just with the turning. He really backed off the jumps,” Stephenson said.

It was a year ago that Stephenson first spotted Deister Z at tbird, and after a short lease, the gelding officially joined her string. A week later, they were winners in the U25 division. But after a break from winter competition while Stephenson focused on school, the pair needed to rebuild their partnership. On course Saturday, they reconnected, with their round growing increasingly confident.

“Definitely the last two weeks have been a learning curve,” Stephenson said. “I think we really have figured him out since we bought him. So I’m really happy with that.”


MarBill Hill U25 1.40m
Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time

1. Deister Z / Olivia Stephenson / CAN / Olivia Stephenson / 0 70.87
2. Gernice van de Postbaan / Danielle Vahdat / USA / Danielle Vahdat / 0 72.82
3. Oriana / Olivia Combs / USA / Olivia Combs / 0 74.12
4. First Focus Z / Clara McDanniel / USA / Clara McDanniel / 0 76.22
5. Cool Quarz / Charlie Jones / GBR / Morning Star Sporthorses LLC / 0 80.46


Competition at Thunderbird Show Park resumes at the Harvest Celebration, Sept. 12-17, 2023. More info HERE.