With forty-six starters in the $10,000 Winning Round Welcome, presented by Bruno Delgrange, the competition in the South Point Equestrian Arena was fierce. Since the 10 riders with the least number of faults and fastest times from the first round are brought back with a clean slate for round two, going clean was key. Returning first but knowing what he had to do, Karl Cook piloted The Flying Ham to a fast finish for the win.
The Olaf Petersen, Jr. course featured 15 efforts in a time allowed of 66 seconds. Demanding a decisive track, the course had tests from beginning to end. Peterson was pleased with the result. "It was a winning round class - ten come back and we had ten who didn't have a rail. So for me it was perfect. The jumps that did fall were all over the course, so it was a good test and I am very satisfied."
The second round track offered options to leave out strides and make tight roll back turns. Returning on two horses, Cook voluntarily moved up on his first ride, The Flying Ham. Stopping the clock clean in 35.16, Cook challenged the remaining riders. Matias Fernandez, aboard the small but mighty mare Alegria (Dusty Blackwood, owner) was the one who gave Cook a run for the money. Clean and quick in 35.78, the pair was a mere half a second slower, picking up second place.
Cook commented on the course. "There were a lot of fences in very close succession, one after another, but that's the nature of jumping indoors. You just have to keep your head up and ride your track. You really have to stay focused the whole time."
With his horse in mind, he had a specific plan for the jump-off. "The goal is just to go fast, to see how fast you can go within comfort because there are still classes to jump this week. You can't go absolutely crazy."
Cook will be joined by a host of top national and international riders in classes throughout the week, including today's $35,000 FEI Speed Classic, presented by Park Place Foundation. With more than 50 horses scheduled to compete, the top 30 will qualify to return for Saturday's $100,000 FEI Longines World Cup™ Jumping Las Vegas.
Source: Press release from Blenheim EquiSports
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