The Canadian flag flew once again over the grass field on Friday, this time for Jim Ifko (CAN) and long-time partner Un Diamant Des Forets, owned by Eventyre Farms Ltd. The pair galloped to the win in the $38,700 Premier Equine Rehab CSI3* Speed, edging out 30 other horse-and-rider combinations.
“We found him as a youngster in France when he was 6 years old,” Ifko recalled of the now 15-year-old Selle Francais stallion, known as “Monty” in the barn. “We’ve been together for nine years and we’ve had a spectacular journey. We know each other quite well. It’s nice because when we go into the ring we know what one another will do and how we will react.”
Marina Azevedo’s (BRA) track over the grass allowed for long gallops and sweeping turns, which suited Ifko and his mount.
“The course that Marina set was fabulous,” Iko remarked. “It was a combination of needing to go fast but it was high enough that it was challenging. You had to balance between being careful and it was quite a galloping course. Luckily that suits my horse to a tee. He loves that wide open gallop. He’s in his element.”
Ifko set the pace early, going just fifth in the starting order, but no one could catch his quick time of 65.33 seconds. Cassio Rivetti (BRA) and Nadale Van Doperheide, owned by Ilan Ferder, finished in second place with a time of 67.93 seconds and Nicky Galligan (IRL) and Javas Miss Jordan picked up third with a time of 68.37 seconds.
“Where we got ahead of the crowd was just the fact that he picked up a gallop right from fence one and we could just stay on it fence to fence,” Ifko explained. “We managed to meet each fence just the way we wanted. It was smooth as silk. When you can do that it’s certainly an advantage.”
Monty isn’t just galloping in the show ring, however. Despite getting a bit older, the stallion is still as energetic as ever and likes to shake things up in his training schedule, including gallops on the track at DIHP.
“It’s really important that each day he can have something stimulating,” Ifko explained. “If he does the same thing every day he’s done with it. We go out and do hill work and then gymnastic work. We’ll go inside and outside. It’s more challenging at a horse show, but at this venue there’s so much space and wide open areas; it’s been great for him. We go down the track and gallop around there. He thought that was fantastic.”