Kyle King (USA) kicked off Thunderbird Show Park's Summer Fort Festival CSI3* with great success Wednesday afternoon, swiftly rising to the top of the leaderboard in the $37,000 CSI3* tbird Challenge 1.45m.
While many of the combinations competing at the venue returned from last week's CSI3* Summer Fort Classic, King sat the week out and has arrived in Langley with a bit of freshness on his side.
He took the win aboard his lone FEI mount of the competition, Christine Maclean's 12-year-old KWPN gelding, Etalon (Tangelo vd Zuuthoeve x Concorde); their final time was 60.44 seconds. Last week's winners of the featured $100,000 CSI3* ATCO Cup, Vanessa Mannix (CAN) and Catinka 25 (Catoki x Luxano) finished second (60.55 seconds), with Robert Blanchette (IRL) and Coupis (Coupe de Coeur x Canabis) third (60.86). The top three were separated by less than a half-second.
"I was a little conservative at the beginning, I thought," King said. "'ET' can be very fast when I can let him open up to the next gear, but there was nowhere to open up in the course.
"I was able to do one less stride to the double of verticals that I saw other people do, and I did one less [stride] to the last," he added. "That squeaked me just in front of the others. If I could do it again, I could probably knock a second or two off at the beginning of the course. I'm glad it worked out."
It was a most exciting speed contest set by Canada's Peter Holmes (CAN), characterized by a long series of related distances. The lead changed hands regularly as combinations left out strides and found tighter ways to turn to the fences. Conor Swail and Theo 160 (Christian x Calando IV), winners of both the CSI3* $37,000 George & Dianne Tidball Legacy 1.45m and the CSI3* $37,000 Steel-Craft Doors Cup 1.50m, were the first to take a strong hold of the lead, putting forth an efficient round that placed them atop the leader board for much of the first half of the class.
Swail's student Mannix, brimming with confidence following Sunday's ATCO Cup win, took over her coach's lead with Catinka 25, but it would prove short lived. Two rounds later, King entered the ring aboard Etalon. Turning back with the utmost efficiency to the third fence on course, King edged ahead and continued his forward momentum the rest of the way, leaving strides out in four places to assume the lead.
It would ultimately remain with him. Swail returned to the Fort Grand Prix Arena aboard a second mount, Asta Torokvei's Gamble (Vingino x Indoctro), and managed to surpass King's time, but a rail in the final combination would relegate the pair to eighth.
"I got a little lucky with Conor having rail at the end," King said. "I'm super happy. [Etalon] is in a good place to jump Saturday [in the CSI3* $100,000 VOLVO Canada Cup]."
It was a homecoming for King, who rides for the U.S. but is a Langley resident. He spent much of his summer season in Traverse City, MI, where he made the podium in two CSI5* grand prix events.
"During our six weeks in Traverse City, I used ET as my team horse for Major League Show Jumping," King said. "Honestly, I wasn’t going to show him [this week], but I didn’t show him the last two weeks, and after the horses got home last Monday, he started letting me know he was fresh enough to go."
King will start Etalon again in Saturday's featured CSI3* $100,000 VOLVO Canada Cup.
"He’s the sweetest horse on planet," King said. "He's a big, nice guy, but he's also very competitive. His record is very good. He's been one of my biggest winners over the last couple seasons. I feel like he’s ready to step it up and try some bigger [events] this season."
source: Press Release