Karl Cook (USA) quickly crossed through the timers to secure victory in the $35,000 1.45m Horseware Ireland Speed Stake CSI5* aboard Caillou 24 at the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC). Cook rose to the top of the leaderboard with an efficient time of 65.10 seconds to secure the win. Richie Moloney (IRL) trailed closely behind with a time of 65.80 seconds with his mount Slieveanorra, while Shane Sweetnam (IRL) and Cyklon 1083 rounded out the top three with a time of 67.31 seconds.
Cook and Caillou 24 tackled Alan Wade's (IRL) track with a smooth and quick effort, as the pair used the opportunity to gain valuable experience at the 1.45m height. Wade has built competitive and educational courses throughout the week and Cook noted that the design was very suitable for the strengths of his horse.
He elaborated, "The way Alan [Wade] set the course made for the riders to take exciting turns instead of having to protect the front rails. It allowed us to flow down the lines and it was very nice to ride."
Caillou 24 is a talented and young mount for Cook, as the pair has just started to regularly compete at the FEI level together. Caillou 24, a 2007 Holsteiner gelding (Casall x Corrado I), previously campaigned to the FEI CSI 3* level in Europe before Cook took over the ride early in 2014. Taking his time training the gelding at home, the pair have built confidence and a stronger relationship over the past year. After concluding a successful winter campaign, Cook felt it was time to gain more experience in a major FEI competition atmosphere.
"We have been protecting him a little bit and trying to teach him how to jump the way we want. But, at the same time, they also need to learn how to go fast and the only way to do that is by competing," he explained. "He's very good because he turns extraordinarily tight yet has a huge stride to leave out in a lot of the lines too. Normally you never get those two together in a single horse, so it's a great feeling to have in the ring."
Cook is based year-round out of Woodside, CA, and spoke about what motivated his team to travel to TIEC for the venue's first ever FEI CSI5* week. Eric Navet (FRA), who Cook trains with year-round, also made the trip east with several horses.
"I had heard rumors about the place and wanted to see it for myself. My first impression of the venue was just wow, to be honest," said Cook. "It has taken an incredible and obvious amount of foresight and investment to bring this facility to where it is. The thing is, this area is closer than people on the back home would think. You're only five hours from Kentucky and it's in a really great location for travel."
"You also have to acknowledge the huge amount of prize money available at this venue. It is modern jumping. You are jumping on consistently good footing and the jumps are great," he added. "Everything is really convenient for everyone and that's what is important. It's not just rings and barns; it's so much more. Nothing about this venue is bad for our sport, it's only going to do great things for it."
Cook and his team will head back to California once the week concludes on Sunday, but will make arrangements to return to the venue in 2017 for next season's competitive spring series. Once his string is back and settled, the team will look to finish a very strong summer and fall season, which will include several FEI World Cup Qualifiers, which will now be hosted on the West Coast.
"We are going to head home and work with the horses because you can't really train them at the show the best you would like to." Cook commented. "We might come back to do Central Park and possibly loop that in with the Million in Saugerties. I felt like we needed to come out here and feel it out. We will be back for the Spring Series here next season for sure," he added.
Source: Press release from Tryon International Equestrian Center News // Picture © FlyingHorsePhotography
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