With the class serving as a prerequisite to qualify for Saturday’s $225,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Lexington CSI4*-W, exhibitors in the $135,000 International Jumper Classic CSI4* were challenged to finish within the top 40 in order to earn a coveted slot in the show jumping grand finale of the week. Up against a sizable field of talented contenders and a technical 15-effort track constructed by Ken Krome (USA), a whopping 20 pairs mastered the first course to gain eligibility into the large jump-off following a streak of clear rides. The returning field included Devin Ryan (USA), Harrie Smolders (NED), Quentin Judge (USA), Granato, Schuyler Riley (USA), Beezie Madden (USA), Jos Verlooy (BEL), Sloane Coles (USA), Bertram Allen (IRL), Jennifer Gates (USA), Catherine Tyree (USA), Nicole Shahinian-Simpson (USA), Ben Maher (GBR), Amanda Derbyshire (GBR), Shane Sweetnam (IRL), Georgina Bloomberg (USA), Adrienne Sternlicht (USA), Lillie Keenan (USA), reigning champion Kent Farrington (USA) and Beät Mandli (SUI).
Back for the abridged tie-breaker course featuring eight fences, Ryan and Eddie Blue served as the trailblazers with the first double-clean effort of the evening, crossing the finish line in 34.60 seconds. Three trips later, Granato and the ever-speedy Carlchen W, owned by Page Tredennick, demonstrated their incredible footspeed, turning on a dime after each fence to race to a final time of 32.76 seconds, almost two full seconds faster with the majority of the pack left to ride. Sixteen pairs attempted to surpass the early leaders, but ultimately the class winners came early in the order and only two partnerships even came within one second of Granato and Carlchen W’s brisk time. One of the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games™ team gold medalists, Sternlicht jockeyed Starlight Farms 1 LLC’s Toulago to the runner-up position with a clear jump-off time of 33.510 seconds and Allen’s short course time of 33.620 seconds earned third place overall with Ballywalter Stables’ Lafayette Van Overis.
With his win Thursday, Granato secured a spot in Saturday’s show jumping pinnacle, during which he will try to add a third Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ victory to his growing resume for the year. In February of 2019, the combination topped the $208,200 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Wellington CSI4*-W and later added to their success with the tricolor honors in the $135,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Columbus CSI3*-W in October.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Alex Granato – $135,000 International Jumper Classic CSI4* winner
On his plan for the class and reaction to winning:
“This is my first class here for the week. I didn’t do a warm-up class, so I just wanted to do a smooth first round. I didn’t get to watch anybody go so I just tried to stick to my plan and the numbers that I walked. It was a nice course that flowed well for my horse. Coming off of Washington [International Horse Show] last week, [Carlchen W] felt great in this ring with a bit more room and I couldn’t have been more happy with him.”
On his partnership with Carlchen W:
“We have really gotten to develop to this level together. We got him as a 5-year-old and he is 11 years old this year. This is our second year competing at this level so I think that we know each other really well and it is a big benefit to each other when we go into the ring. I think it helps that we go in knowing what to expect.”
On his plan for the jump-off:
“I was a bit back and forth if I even wanted to jump off because my focus is for Saturday night, but it was a good money class and the horse felt great so I figured I would take a shot. There were fast riders before me and fast riders after me, so I just tried to stick to my plan and the numbers I walked. I am lucky that he is a naturally fast horse and that works in my favor. Everything came up smooth and in stride so I was happy with it.”
On his fall schedule:
“It was all based on wanting World Cup points. My whole beginning of the year was geared towards getting to the Pan American Games, and after that was done I wanted to focus towards World Cup and being as prepared as I could by doing a few indoor shows before heading south to Florida. [Carlchen W] is feeling great! He jumped Washington [International Horse Show] really well and I didn’t expect him to feel as good as he did there. He feels even better here so I am happy with how it is going so far.”
On showing at the National Horse Show:
“Any big win certainly has it meaning and is special, but I really love this horse show. Of all of the indoor horse shows, this is my favorite. We do live here now and our farm is just right up the road so it is nice to be at home and get to come into a show with this much history and come in and do well.”