Recording the highest number of FEI horses presented at an international competition hosted at TIEC this year, Tryon Fall 5 saw 78 horses jog before the FEI ground jury. An impressive 62 entries tested the $34,000 FEI 1.50m Suncast® Welcome designed by Anthony D'Ambrosio (USA). Andres Rodriguez (VEN) piloted longtime mount Caballito (Contendro x Arabesque) owned by ARAO Enterprises LLC and stopped the jump-off timers in 37.07 seconds for the win. Andrew Kocher (USA) and Uppie De Lis (Andiamo x Lorraine) owned by BTS Entertainment & Sales followed in second with a double clear effort and a time of 37.95 seconds. Rodriguez also finished in third place aboard S.F. Ariantha (Corland x Uriantha) owned by Robert and Sofia Castro with a time of 39.63 seconds.
"Riding two horses in this class is definitely a luxury and either one of them has the chance to win any class in the world. They've both been at the CSI 5* level before and really can compete at any level. It's just a big luxury and I'm very happy to be here," said Rodriguez.
"This is my second day here in Tryon and I've heard great things. I was very impressed with the facility and this place has a great future for the sport of show jumping. Everything here, the lifestyle around the grand prix arena, people staying in cabins, five or six different options for restaurants and everything, I just think the future for Tryon is great and I'm looking forward to coming more often," he commented.
Besting a class of talented entries, Rodriguez, who has had a phenomenal 2015 season thus far, remains fully aware of the importance of winning and how it impacts an individual's confidence heading into the bigger ranking classes.
"When you win a class it's supposed to be what we do. I don't think people ride for second place and everyone wants to win, which makes for great rides. There were a lot of top riders in the class and there was a horse that I love, one of Ronan McGuigan's, and he was in the jump-off with us and that always makes it very exciting," he continued. "When you have a horse that you like so much and it's in the jump-off with you it makes it pretty fun and good competition."
Caballito is Rodriguez's longtime partner who has been a mainstay in his top string for a number of years. Detailing their partnership, Rodriguez explained the importance of Caballito in his barn, "He is my old time partner. I won my first ever FEI ranking class on him five years ago and he's been winning ever since. He won a great class this year in Barcelona and it was such a fast class. He's a really awesome horse and he's very consistent."
While continuing to amass wins throughout year, Rodriguez has earned several top place finishes at some of the biggest competitions and venues around the globe including Spruce Meadows and the Furusiyya Nations Cup™ in Barcelona, Spain, this past September.
"We've been having a great year and I've been showing almost every week. I'm looking forward to a little bit of a rest in December, but still I have this coming week here in Tryon and then I go to HITS Thermal and Vegas. After that the year is over for us," explained Rodriguez. "Next year is huge because of the Olympics and I think they're going to come up so fast after Wellington in April and we'll only have three more months until they start and the horses will need to be rested. I also need to be in a good mindset to be able to perform too."
With the 2016 Olympic Games to be hosted next July in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Rodriguez already has an idea of which lucky mount will be aimed towards the historic event next summer. S.F. Ariantha has steadily improved throughout the season and has a talent that is unmatched according to Rodriguez. The duo also placed in finished fifth in the $127,000 Suncast® Grand Prix FEI CSI 3* hosted on Saturday, October 17, during Tryon Fall 5.
"I've never had a horse with that type of quality. She's truly special. Everything she does is unique and she jumps her heart out. She was born to jump and she does it in such a way that we're definitely preparing her for the Olympics next year and she's going to try her first main CSI 5* class in a few weeks. Next year we'll do a few of the big grand prix classes in Wellington and maybe Hamburg and Aachen, some of the big shows in Europe," stated Rodriguez as he continued to praise the talented mare. "The Olympics are a dream for everyone and that's a horse to dream with. She's the first horse who has made me feel that I can actually dream like that."
With another week of international competition ahead, Rodriguez will look to continue riding with the same winning prowess and determination he possessed throughout Tryon Fall 5, while simultaneously preparing for the conclusion of the 2015 season. Commenting on the hopes of returning to TIEC in the near future, Rodriguez elaborated, "I think the more and more Tryon has good riders and good levels I only see it improving. I think a lot of riders are going to come here and like it and I think the location of this place is in the middle of where we do most of our jumping which is in Florida and New York. I'm very happy that I made the choice to come here," he noted.
Heather Caristo-Williams (USA) and Wistful, owned by Ralph Caristo, captured a major win in the first FEI class of the week during Tryon Fall 5, hosted on Wednesday, October 14, in the $34,000 Horseware Ireland FEI 1.45m Speed Stake. The duo stopped the timers in 63.86 seconds after finishing a quick and efficient round, which would be unmatched by any other combination in the class boasting 42 entries. Andres Rodriguez (VEN) and Caballito, owned by ARAO Enterprises LLC finished just behind Caristo-Williams in second place with a time of 65.15 seconds. Fellow Venezuelan rider Emanuel Andrade rounded out the top three aboard his own Bon Jovi, crossing through the finish in 65.29 seconds.