Calgary, Alb. – July 6, 2019 – International competition at the Spruce Meadows ‘North American’ Tournament CSI5* came to a high on Saturday afternoon as the widely anticipated $500,000 ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup took place in the International Ring. Rainy days gave way to sunny skies for the afternoon, as forty horse-and-rider combinations rode through the clock tower to try their hand at the first round 1.60m track. After three rounds of competition, it was Andrew Kocher (USA) and his own Carollo who jumped to a thrilling win.
Set by Santiago Varela (ESP), the 13-obstacle course tasked riders to guide their horses around the grass field on a forward pace to make the time allowed and leave the fences up. In the end, only four combinations managed to navigate the track on a zero score. Run as a two round grand prix, the top twelve combinations returned for a second round, with a jump-off to follow if needed.
Setting the pace early in round one was Hardin Towell (USA), who as the third to go posted the first clear round of the day with his Oakmont Stables LLC’s Joli Jumper. Eleven rounds later, Kocher went clear with Carollo, putting his name second in the list of those coming back for round two. Spectators anxiously waited as 25 combinations followed to challenge the difficult track, but did not see another clear round until the final two riders in the order of go, McLain Ward (USA) riding HH Azur and Beezie Madden (USA) on her mount Darry Lou, each posted a clear round to put themselves in contention for the win.
Round two invited back the top twelve riders, carrying forward their faults from round one. The first to go of the clear efforts, Towell picked up one time fault, and Kocher followed suit. As the final combination to go, Ward and HH Azur pulled a rail at fence four, forcing a jump-off between Towell and Kocher to break their tie on the one time fault.
First to enter the ring for the jump-off, Towell laid it all on the line as he piloted his new mount, Joli Jumper, around the shortened track. A rail in the combination meant Kocher just had to pull off a clear round, with no need for any major risks. Doing just that, Kocher and Carollo navigated the course with no faults, leaving all of the fences up across three difficult rounds to secure his first CSI5* grand prix win. Madden also fell victim to a rail in round two for a four-fault total, which meant that John Perez Bohm would earn the third place award with Desperado DN on his total score of two faults.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Andrew Kocher – $500,000 ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup CSI5* winner
On his win:
“This is my biggest win by a mile. I have never won a 4* or 5* grand prix. I actually think the first ranking class that I won at a 5* [horse show] was this week. It feels awesome. I can’t really describe it – I used to watch [show jumping] on TV and it’d be on around 3:00 in the morning where I lived so I would stay up all night.”
“I remember being at a horse show in France and I was riding some new horses…and I kept getting a call to try a few horses in Europe and I was there, but I was busy so I wasn’t sure. We tried this one in Holland…so we shipped the horse [to the States] and I started showing him but I struggled with him. He was very strong. I was jumping 1.30m [classes] with three or four [rails] down at little shows. One day I decided to jump him in the puissance and he jumped 7’2” easy with no leg on so we jumped him in another puissance – so we knew he could jump really big I just needed to figure out how to ride him. I took him to Florida and I knocked plenty of poles down but I was not stopping now. I jumped one clear round there so that got me going and then he jumped clear at the [Longines Masters of New York]. My dad is his biggest fan and he said, ‘You’re going to win a big class at Spruce Meadows.’ I thought, ‘I can’t even win a 1.30m on him,’ but my dad was right.”
On the second round:
“I thought I rode a really nice round in the first round. I was right on my plan and everything came up and I thought that never happens for me – usually I go off the plan – but my second round was not that way. I was thinking five or six strides to the red double combination and I did seven which was totally not what I wanted to do, but somehow [Carollo] got around those poles so I thought I will just have a time fault now and I was lucky to just have one and tie with Hardin.”
On the jump-off:
“I told Aymen, who has been working for us at Eye Candy Jumpers, that he needed to watch Hardin go because I was going to be warming up and jumping my fences and honestly I did not want to watch him go – it would make me think too much. He told me that Hardin had a pole and I just needed to go clear and I thought, ‘Yeah, it’s the third round. I’m probably going to knock two or three [rails] down.’ My best friend, Jordan Coyle, schooled my horse for me this week and he said that he was ready to go. He noticed that he was getting tired and that I should plan to have a pole down, but I just needed to go faster than Hardin and hope I don’t have two. I got a good run at the first fence and then rubbed the second and thought it was [a pole] was coming.”
Hardin Towell – Second place
On Joli Jumper:
“He was amazing. This was my first grand prix on him. My business partner, Darragh Kenny, and I bought him in April. I’ve been building my string and started in the 1.40m the first week on him. Andrew Welles, a good friend of mine, came out and I said to him ‘this horse is going to jump the Queens Cup’ and he looked at me like I was crazy. I’ve taken my time to develop him a little bit and I honestly didn’t expect this result today. He tried so hard out there today though. He was a little tired by the jump-off. I didn’t expect to be there.”
On his placing:
“About 12 years ago Andy [Kocher] and I were jumping national grand prix classes in North Carolina and he had a horse called The Bus, that he couldn’t steer, but we’ve both worked hard over the past years. if anyone is going to beat me, I’m happy it’s him. We came from the same place, the same beginnings and his family was in the business like mine. We’ve had to work for it and I’m so proud where he’s gotten. I think I have a nice group of horses and I have a very good team behind me, I’m very happy with the way it went today.”
On the series at Spruce Meadows and what is next:
“I have another young horse that I felt like developed very well here at Spruce. I feel like horses come out of Spruce really great. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve been here, but I love it here. You can jump a lot of jumps and the horses enjoy it. The grounds are great and they really like it. Up next, I have some clients to train and I’ll go to Young Riders. I want to focus toward World Cup Qualifiers in the fall, that’s what I’m pointing towards next.”
John Perez Bohm – Third place
On Desperado DN:
“My father and I have had this horse together for a long time. He was doing great in the 1.45m and I asked him to lend me the horse for the Pan American Games. I took the horse in November. This is the biggest the horse has ever jumped so I was very happy and very surprised. He is a fantastic horse.”
On what’s next:
“I will go back to Mexico and we have a few shows there. They are all very nice shows so that’s our plan.”
Santiago Varela – course designer.
On the number of clears:
“I would like to congratulate these three riders because they did a super great job today. It was a big grand prix. The Queen Elizabeth is a big one for sure. I think that result today was great. They understood the course. The time allowed today made a difference, it was tight. This is a formula – you can be in the jump-off with one time fault or you can win with a double clear round. I’ve very happy to see all of the horses jumping very well. They can get very tired at the end because they jump so many fences and they are big fences, but they all did a super great job.
$500,000 ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup CSI5*
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / R1 Faults | Time / R2 Faults | Time / JO Faults | Time
1. Andrew Kocher / Carollo / USA / 0 | 84.27 / 1 | 77.53 / 0 | 45.11
2. Hardin Towell / Joli Jumper / USA / 0 | 85.03 / 1 | 75.89 / 4 | 47.09
3. John Perez Bohm / Desperado DN / COL / 1 | 87.77 / 1 | 77.58
4. Pieter Clemens / Cuidam / BEL / 4 | 81.41 / 0 | 73.62
5. McLain Ward / HH Azur / USA / 0 | 81.77 / 4 | 70.94
6. Beezie Madden / Darry Lou / USA / 0 | 82.47 / 4 | 73.87
7. Mario Deslauriers / Bardolina 2 / CAN / 4 | 81.75 / 1 | 74.91
8. Jennifer Gates / Capital Colnardo / USA / 4 | 83.44 / 1 | 75.30
9. Carlos Hank Guerreiro / H5 Just The Music / MEX / 4 | 83.58 / 1 | 75.34
10. Sloane Coles / Chippendale’s Boy DZ / USA / 1 / 87.05 / 9 | 77.99
11. Uma O’Neill / Clockwise Of Greenhill Z / NZL / 4 | 84.25 / 21 | 74.50
12. Scott Keach / Fedor / AUS / 4 | 83.24 / EL