Katie Laurie (AUS) had the odds in her favour in the $37,000 Artisan Farms Welcome CSI2* at Thunderbird Show Park—but she created her own luck. Advancing to Peter Holmes' (CAN) jump-off aboard each of her three mounts, she saved her best for last, topping the first FEI class of 2020 at Thunderbird Show Park aboard her own Casebrooke Lomond (Lansing x Calido I), her final mount of the day at the 2020 Harvest Welcome.
The Harvest Welcome is the first FEI competition in Canada since the COVID-19 pandemic brought global competition to a temporary halt this spring. The event features more than $180,000 in prize money, including a $20,000 U25 division, and is highlighted by Saturday night's $37,000 Volvo Canada CSI2* and the $73,000 ATCO Cup CSI2* Sunday afternoon.
With 15 of the 32 combinations qualifying to return for the shortened track, an exceptionally fast jump-off was all but guaranteed. The lead changed hands almost by the round, until Laurie set a standard that couldn't be beat; her winning time was 42.71 seconds. Shauna Cook (CAN) rode to runner-up honors aboard Gallup (unknown) in 42.97 seconds, while Brian Morton (CAN) was third with Cadillac in 42.99s.
"It was a very, very fast [jump-off]," Laurie said. "My fastest horse was the first horse I rode [Cera Caruso]. He’s really speedy. I knew Casebrooke Lomond could go fast enough. It was just a matter of making the right decisions and seeing!"
Holmes' jump-off track was characterized by twists and turns, with stride playing a key factor. Cook dared the field to catch her when she opened the class up by galloping to the final fence in seven strides. Morton nearly caught her until his mount fit in an additional stride at the last moment. Laurie then answered the call with aplomb, impressing aboard her 12-year-old grey stallion, who met every fence skillfully and boldly out of stride, and improving upon the rides on her previous two mounts.
'[Casebrooke Lomond] is pretty fast, but he does waste a little bit of time in the air," she explained. "I really wanted to take the stride out from the third vertical to the fourth, because that’s where I thought I was a little bit slower on my horse before [McCaw MVNZ], and he was just awesome."
Laurie and Casebrooke Lomond are a well traveled pair. Laurie has ridden the 12-year-old stallion for the entirety of his life; the two began their partnership in New Zealand, where Casebrooke Lomond was purchased as a 3-year-old by Sheena Ross, who still owns part of the horse with Laurie. The stallion did a bit of breeding in Australia, and his first foals have just hit the ground in the southern hemisphere.
"He’s an awesome horse," Laurie said. "He feels like he’s got all the scope. He’s jumped big classes in Australia. This is his first bigger outing here since he’s come over from Australia. He just 100 percent knows his job and wants to do it. You just have to get him looking at the fence, and he goes."
Laurie spent four years in Australia before settling in Alberta, Calgary in January with her husband Jackson. The Harvest Welcome marks her debut at the international level in her new resident country.
"My husband and I always traveled here a little bit. We love Alberta and Calgary, and we have been here on-and-off over the years," she explained. "For the show jumping part, and he’s into the rodeo side, it just works out perfect for us to be here."