Sharn Wordley (NZL) continued his dominance at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) on Thursday, earning his second consecutive win during the FEI CSI5* week at the venue. Wordley piloted Casper to a commanding victory in the $130,000 1.50m Suncast® Welcome finishing the track in 46.34 seconds. Andrew Bourns (IRL) collected second place aboard Hyakari with a time of 48.65 seconds, while Richie Moloney (IRL) and Carrabis Z crossed the timers in 52.15 seconds for third.
Wordley and Casper took a bold approach to the Alan Wade (IRL) designed track, which rode appropriately for the class according to many of the participating competitors. The course was large and technical, but incredibly fair. Wordley reiterated his comments from yesterday, giving another testament as to why Wade is one of the best course builders in the world.
"I think the course rode exactly how it walked. It was a tough course and I knew that there weren't going to be too many clears. The time allowed was quite tight and I was clear on my first horse too, but finished with time faults," he said. "You had to go fast but you had to have your horse short as well into the tight lines. He did a brilliant job building a course that was big enough, technical enough, and took skill to ride, but was still very safe."
Comparing his win yesterday aboard Barnetta with his win today with Casper, Wordley explained the differences between the two rides, but also described his individual approach to each horse in order to generate the most success in the ring.
"Barnetta rides very long so I have an easy go at making up some of the time with him in open lines. With Casper, he's so careful, I have to keep him a bit closer with me. I added a stride today in one of the lines in the jump-off, but still made a go at the course. I didn't get to see Andrew [Bourns] ride. I only saw it for a bit on the monitor, but it was hard to tell how fast I needed to go," he commented. "I didn't plan on going two seconds faster, but Casper is just such a quick horse."
The course proved to be a difficult test, as only five combinations of 41 entries finished clear and inside the time. Shane Sweetnam (IRL), Carlos Ramirez (COL), and David Raposa (USA) each finished the afternoon with a single time fault, while Wordley piloted his other two mounts, Auckland De L'Enclos and Barnetta to tenth and eleventh place respectively.
Casper is an incredibly talented mount for Wordley, and at only ten years old, there is a very bright future for the 2006 Oldenburg gelding (Contender x Baloubet du Rouet) owned by Sky Group. Wordley also noted that Casper will be his potential mount poised for a run to the FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) in 2018.
"He's been a very special horse for us and I still think there is so much more that he's capable of. I'm really pleased with the way we finished today," he commented.
Andrew Bourns, who finished in second in the class, originally sourced Casper from Belgium and competed him up to the CSI 3* level before Wordley took over the ride with Sky Group as the new owners in late 2015.
"It's great to watch Sky Group and Sharn have so much success with this horse and watch him start to reach his real potential. They're so supportive of the sport and we all appreciate people like that coming in and helping it to grow," said Bourns. "It's a great feeling to see them do so well here and if there's any pair that I am fine with taking the class ahead of me today, it's Sharn and Casper."
Wordley has worked with the gelding on developing a more open stride, but his innate quickness and agility always places them close to the top of the leaderboard. Wordley commented, "He's a really smart horse. His weakness may be that it's hard to leave out down a line where someone else may be able. His stride is a little bit short, but it helps him in the first round. When people do double leave outs, I can't get to that on him, but he is so careful and is such fast horse anyway that I rarely find that to be a problem.
Aside from this week's competition, Wordley plans to contest some of North America's biggest competitions this season with Casper in hopes of continuing their success at the CSI 5* level together. Less than a year into their partnership, it is obvious that there is tremendous success on the horizon for the duo.
"He's only ten and this horse has done so much for me already. This is his second 5* show and he was second in Wellington, FL, at WEF in the 5* night class. Just this year I've started to go quicker with him and ask for a bit more. We've worked on jumping bigger so that he could learn to believe in himself at the top levels. He feels so confident now and that's why I've been able to go for it in these classes," he added.
Source: Press release from Tryon International Equestrian Center News // Picture © FlyingHorsePhotography
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