Karl Cook was unable to be caught as he rode Fecybelle to victory in the $36,000 CaptiveOne FEI 1.45m Welcome Class at the Split Rock Jumping Tour's (SRJT) Sonoma International CSI2* at the Sonoma Horse Park in Petaluma, CA. The event continues through Sunday when it will culminate with the $100,000 CSI2* Grand Prix presented by Horseflight.
A field of 70 horses came forward to start the class, and by the halfway point, only one, Karrie Rufer and the Belgian gelding Georgie D'Auvray EC had managed to come home fault-free over Alan Wade's 12-jump course. By the time the last horse finished, they had been joined by 12 other pairs for a 13-horse jump-off.
Rufer again set the pace by going first in the jump-off and coming home clean in a blistering time of 36.880. But Cook caught her two horses later with a flying turn to the third-to-last fence that ticked the timers in 54.400. The pair remained uncontested at the top of the order until the last three riders, when Brazil's Cassio Rivetti and Bacara D'Archonfosse slipped in between the pair with a forward round that finished in 36.520.
"I thought there was a good chance (the time would hold up) because of the distance between Karrie and me," Cook said of his winning time. "I didn't expect that level of distance, and I was like, 'I think its possible.' It's possible to go faster of course but it's definitely a time that could win, and it did."
Cook has only had the 9-year-old Dutch-bred mare since April, but feels she is coming on well. "I haven't had her very long, but she's been really great," he said. "Whenever you buy a horse there's always a little learning curve but it's been easy to pick up. We're still growing together, but she's been great."
Cook was pleased with the performance, even though he found a few things he wanted to do better. "(I was pleased with) the first round, but maybe I could have added to (fence two) and not pushed the (eight strides). But, we were all concerned about the time allowed," he said. "Then in the jump-off in we had to slip to yellow and then had to add after that."
In fact, the time allowed in the first round proved almost as influential as the rails as eight pairs came home with all the rails still in the cups, but with a time fault or two to keep them out of the jump-off.