Sam Walker of Nobleton, ON, made his Under 25 Jumper division debut a memorable one, sweeping first, second, and third places in the $10,000 Under 25 Grand Prix, presented by MarBill Hill Farm, on Friday, July 20, at the CSI3* Ottawa International Horse Show held at Wesley Clover Parks in Ottawa, ON.
Twenty-two horse and rider combinations contested the first-round track set by Ireland’s Alan Wade, with eight horses advancing to the jump-off, including four ridden by Walker.
The 16-year-old returned first for the short course aboard Twan, an 18-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by North Run and Stephex Stables, and he set the time to beat at 41.97 seconds, only to topple his own leading time on his next entry, Coralissa. Walker and the eight-year-old Holsteiner mare, owned by MarBill Hill Farm, tripped the timers in 41.33 seconds to take over the top of the leaderboard.
“I went in on my first horse Twan, who is a veteran that I have ridden for a few years now, so I knew how he was going to be,” explained Walker, who was also quick to thank the day’s sponsors, MarBill Hill Farm. “I counted almost any turn, line, number – anything you can think of I counted. I went purely off of count for my next three horses after that in the jump-off.”
Walker’s jump-off approach worked. While Samantha Kasowitz and Catherine Tyree of the United States, and Lexi Ray of Campbellville, ON, all tried to catch Walker and Coralissa’s winning time, they each saw one rail hit the ground, and it was only Walker himself who bested his previous top performance. With Quivive SZ, Walker found the finish in 40.01 seconds to take the win, giving Coralissa the second place honour and Twan the third-place finish.
Barbara Ruziska of the United States was the only rider able to break into Walker’s clean sweep, finishing in fourth on a time of 42.67 seconds with her mount Dynamite. Walker also finished in fifth with one rail down in the jump-off aboard his own Acardi du Houssoit Z.
“It feels amazing to be top three, especially because this is actually my first time doing the Under 25 division,” said Walker, who was unable to compete in the division last year as he was too young. “This has opened up a whole new division of classes for me to show in, and it feels pretty amazing to have a good start to the series!”
Walker’s winning mount, Quivive SZ, a 13-year-old Zangersheide mare owned by Missy Clark, North Run, Axel Verlooy, and EuroHorse, is a new mount for the young rider, who just got the ride two weeks ago.
“I haven’t had enough time with her to know exactly how she’s going to be everywhere,” said Walker, who will head next to the Adequan®/FEI North American Youth Championships, presented by Gotham North, July 31 – August 5 in North Salem, NY, to make his Canadian team debut as part of the Canadian Junior Team. “She’s a super fast mare and I really found that one out today! This is my first big title class with her, so I’m very happy with how she performed.”
Walker, a frequent competitor at Wesley Clover Parks and the Ottawa Equestrian Tournaments, is always happy to be competing at the Ottawa, ON, venue, saying, “The people who run the horse show are amazing. They put on a very welcoming environment for the horses and really make the show fun. I enjoy coming here, and I’m looking forward to coming here for years in the future.”
Admission to the CSI3* Ottawa International Horse Show is free, with donations to Wesley Clover Parks’ retired horse program gratefully accepted. Spectators are encouraged to come out and enjoy all of the family-friendly activities that the Ottawa Equestrian Tournaments have to offer.
Visit www.OttawaEquestrianTournaments.com for more information on the CSI3* Ottawa International Horse Shows.
$10,000 Under 25 Grand Prix, presented by MarBill Hill Farm – Friday, July 20
1. Sam Walker, Quivive SZ 0:0-40.01
2. Sam Walker, Coralissa 0:0-41.33
3. Sam Walker, Twan 0:0-41.97
4. Barbara Ruziska, Dynamite 0:0-42.67
5. Sam Walker, Acardi du Houssoit Z 0:4-41.26
6. Catherine Tyree, BEC Lorenzo 0:4-41.60
7. Samantha Kasowitz, Charlie 0:4-42.35
8. Lexi Ray, Acita 4 0:4-47.77
9. Klee Hellerman, Inouk P 1
10. Ashley James, Dartagnan Z 1