The conclusion to the three-week Traverse City Spring Horse Show series, presented by Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel, spotlighted the $137,000 Staller Grand Prix CSI3* Sunday afternoon. Each of the 28 international horse-and-athlete pairs were eager to close out Week III at the forefront of the victory gallop. In the end, it was the United States’ Karl Cook who bested an eight-horse jump-off to claim the top honors aboard Signe Ostby’s Caillou 24 (Casall x San Patrignano Corrado).
Portugal’s Bernardo Costa Cabral designed a tactful 13-effort first-round track to test athletes and their horses’ agility and control throughout the course. The tight time allowed of 85 seconds proved to be a challenge, as three athletes were left out of contention for the jump-off on just one time fault. By the conclusion of the first round, only eight combinations found their way to a clear round, including Ben Asselin (CAN), Camilo Rueda (COL), Luis Sabino Goncalves (POR), Cook (USA), Tanimara Maria Macari Carrillo (MEX), Lisa Carlsen (CAN), John Perez Bohm (COL) and Victoria Colvin (USA).
Returning to the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring for the jump-off round, Asselin and Attache Stables LTD’s Luikan Q (Luidam x Kannan) made their way as the pathfinders for the first double-clear effort, stopping the clock in 36.13 seconds. His lead was short lived, as Rueda slipped into the leading position aboard Indus Van Het Keysereyck (Carabas van de Wateringhoeve x Nabab de Reve) after putting forth a quick and tidy double-clear ride in 34.16 seconds. Sabino Goncalves attempted to unseat Rueda, but had an unfortunate rail on course to finish in 35.87 seconds.
Entering the arena with confidence after a double-clear fourth place finish in the $36,600 Welcome Stake CSI3* Friday afternoon, Cook and Caillou 24 were determined to ride their way to a win. Taking advantage of the 14-year-old Holsteiner gelding’s massive stride, Cook was able to leave strides out throughout the shortened 8-fence jump-off, leaving all of the rails intact and notching 33.93 seconds on the clock to take over the first place position. Though those to follow Cook would try, they could not match their efficient ride, ultimately lending him the first place honors. After a strong start to the jump-off, Rueda and his own Indus Van Het Keyseryck ended the class in second place, with Perez Bohm rounding out the top three aboard his own Voodoo 10 (Valentino x unknown).
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE: Karl Cook – $137,000 Staller Grand Prix CSI3* winner
On his win:
“Caillou  didn’t show last week, so we could just kind of chill and take it easy, but also prepare. Each previous day was trying to set up for today. We jumped double-clear two days ago [in the $36,600 Welcome Stake CSI3*], but the goal two days ago was just to have a good round or rounds for today. It worked, he felt great today and I’m just super happy.”
On the first round:
“It started to rain immediately when I went in the ring, which I was kind of okay with because the mist really sucks because it gets into your eyes, but the rain is falling so it doesn’t really get in your eyes. [Caillou 24] was quite sticky to fence one but after that he started to settle in a little bit and just rumbled along and after fence one he felt super. The course was good. There were a few clear in the first half and then there were none for a little bit. I thought the course was the right amount harder than two days ago [in the $36,600 Welcome Stake CSI3*]. Two days ago there were a lot clear, and I think it was right to make the course harder and I think the course was right for the people that were in it and the numbers that were in it.”
On Caillou 24:
“He was good, he felt really good other than fence one where he was a little bit spooky, the rest of it he felt eyes-forward and we were able to ride the plan that we walked and we were hoping for. A lot of it is getting to a particular canter and just staying there. He’s got a big stride so I can’t just come flying in willy nilly, everything has to be more prepared because you can get yourself into a bad way pretty easily because of his stride. He went really calmly, and at each fence where I needed to hit it a certain way, he did. He just felt right there with me, which as a rider feels really good.”
On the jump-off:
“I did one fewer stride from fence one to two, but then I paid for it a little bit to fence three. I couldn’t come out of the turn as I wanted so I had to do six strides from fence three to four, where Camilo [Rueda] did five strides. I landed after fence four and just went, and I hit that red vertical across the middle just going. I think I made up a stride there as well. After that red vertical it was a little bit steady to the combination and then to the last fence I saw one less than we walked but the angle would have not been great. I pulled to do eight strides to the last fence and I thought, ‘If I’m slower, it’s because of that.’ But at the same time, it was the right decision. Even if I was slower it was the right decision.”
On Traverse City Horse Shows:
“I’ve never been here before, it’s my first time here. Obviously the weather this week isn’t great, but the way the showgrounds is laid out is really nice, the footing holds rain really well, we’ve seen that this week. I think it got better as it rained, which is not normally the case. It feels great and it rode great.”