Joie Gatlin has only had Sandetto in her barn for three weeks-two of which she was away from home-but that hasn't stopped her from forming a strong partnership with him, and taking home the victory the $10,000 Rhys Farm 1.35m National Prix at Split Rock Jumping Tour's Sonoma International CSI2* at the Sonoma Horse Park in Petaluma, CA. The event concludes Sunday with the $100,000 CSI2* Grand Prix presented by Horseflight.
"You hear of things like this happening, and you think maybe it could happen to me. It's quite a fairytale ending," Gatlin said of her quick bond with Sandetto. This was her second win this week on the dark bay, as she also took the top spot in the $2,000 Alimend 1.35m class on Thursday.
Gatlin was the first person in the ring for the class, leaving all the rails up in a stylish round over Alan Wade's 12-jump first-round course. She would eventually be joined by four others for the jump-off, where she again had to go first. She galloped strongly and left all the rails up in a respectable time of 37.477.
"I knew that I left the door open from (fence) 15 to (fence) four," Gatlin said. "I went out and did a wide eight (strides) just because I don't know him that well. I probably could have done a straight seven, but I left a crack in the door. However, I was quite fast everywhere else so I was just hoping to put enough pressure on everyone that they would press the envelope and I was fortunate that that strategy worked today."
In the end, the door remained firmly closed, as no one else was able to replicate her clean round. The last two riders in the ring, third-placed Nick Dello Joio riding Catemaco LS and second-placed Kaitlin Campbell riding Ilan, were both faster, but each dropped a rail.