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Team Helios heats up with second win in MLSJ team competition

Saturday, 06 August 2022
CSI5* Traverse City Horse Shows 2022

Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography Team Helios won the MLSJ team competition at Traverse City during the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography.


Press release from Traverse City Horse Shows



Team Helios made it clear they are not done winning. After securing the first Major League Show Jumping (MLSJ) team competition at Thunderbird Show Park, the team, with an entirely different roster this time, repeated their success and claimed the gold medal in Traverse City during the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors.

The three competing team members for Helios, Karl Cook (USA), Mark Bluman (COL), and Simon McCarthy (IRL) had just one rail between the three of them in round one, putting them in second place behind the Spy Coast Spies, also on four but with a quicker combined time.

“We have a strong team,” Bluman stated after the team’s win. “We have a good thing going on. We're pretty strong and we are always cheering each other on, and it just feels great. From the beginning we said that the main goal was to win the overall and we're putting a strong team in every event that we go to.”

Cook, who was on the winning team at the Desert International Horse Park for A.I.M. United in 2021, piloted Signe Otsby’s Fecybelle to a time of 36.05 seconds, which proved to help the team significantly as they advanced into the jump-off for gold. Combined with Bluman’s time with Over The Top Stables, LLC’s Noortje vd Windheuvel of 37.63 seconds, they put themselves in pole position for gold as the fastest combined pair in the initial jump-off phase.

Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography Simon McCarthy was last to jump and secured the gold medal for Team Helios. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography.

“Each one of us has a strong string of horses,” said Cook. “We’re all very capable riders. And kind of because of that, we don’t want to let anyone down because we know we’re good enough. It pushes us to be better so that we’re not the weak one.”

As the medal-deciding jump-off got underway, it was Crusaders versus ShowPlus Northern Lights, then Helios versus leading team Spy Coast Spies. Jim Ifko (CAN) edged out Callie Schott (USA) for ShowPlus Northern Lights, securing them the bronze-medal spot on the podium.

In the gold medal matchup, the competition took a turn. Jordan Coyle (IRL) faced unfortunate elimination after a double refusal with Picador at the combination, which led McCarthy to alter his plan and do whatever he could to avoid elimination. He secured a clear round and the gold medal aboard his partner Gotcha.

“We have an unbelievable team and it’s actually really fun to compete as a team with all different nationalities,” said McCarthy, the lone Irishman on the team of six. “It’s not something that we do in our sport that often. And I felt a lot of pressure, not because we don’t think we’re good enough; it’s more pressure to do right by our team.”

Photo ©Andrew Ryback Photography Karl Cook and Fecybelle. Photo ©Andrew Ryback Photography.

“When he had the first stop I thought, I have no idea what to do now,” McCarthy reflected on the moment he learned Coyle was in trouble. “And then I looked up and the two boys, [Cook and Bluman] were sprinting down to me. Thank God they were because I didn’t know what to do. Then when he stopped the second time, I really didn’t know what to do. I’ve never been so nervous about not finishing and I’ve got one of the bravest horses here. It was incredible when we crossed the line and got the win for the two boys and for our teammates as well.”

All three of the winning riders are permanent fixtures of a MLSJ team for the first time this season. Cook, having competed for A.I.M United once in 2021, credits team manager Ashlee Bond (ISR) with his decision to join a team. After taking the win on that occasion in Thermal with Fecybelle, he pointed out the mare is undefeated in MLSJ team action.

CSI5* athletes return to the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring Saturday evening for the $206,000 MLSJ CSI5* Grand Prix. MLSJ competition will make one more stop in Traverse City in 2022 during the final week of the Tournament of Champions, set for September 15-18.

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