Cathleen Driscoll and Flotylla Fly to First in $38,700 1.45m Speed Classic

Cathleen Driscoll (USA) knows she can rely on her partner Flotylla to carry her to a speed win, and that’s exactly what she brought home in the $38,700 1.45m Speed Classic Thursday to open FEI competition for the 2023 Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF), presented by CaptiveOne Advisors

Coming first in the order, Driscoll and Flotylla, a 12-year-old Polish-bred mare owned by Don Stewart, proved they would be tough to catch, blazing around Catsy Cruz’s (MEX) single-round course in an impressive 56.12 seconds. 

“She’s naturally very fast so I wanted to put a little pressure on those coming later without going too crazy or too extreme,” Driscoll, of Elk Mills, MD, said of her plan for Thursday’s class. “I just kept the big stride and the turns tight. She’s naturally so quick across the ground that it just ends up working out for us in the end.”

While riders attempted to catch the leading time from the outset, only a few riders were able to come within a second, and several of them had a rail down on the way. Daisy Farish (USA), coming in closer to the end of the order, came close with Etonemoi Del Cabalero, owned by Lanes End Showjumping, clocking in at 57.57 seconds. She took second place while Samantha Schaefer (USA) took third on a clear effort of 61.45 seconds with Frasier, owned by Bonne Vie LLC.

“Flotylla has been in our barn for about two and a half years now and I know her like the back of my hand,” Driscoll said of her relationship. “She’s my go-to horse for these 1.45m speed classes. We have such a good partnership and good relationship. I know where I can call on her and count on her, and she trusts me now so it’s a fantastic feeling walking into the ring on a horse like that.”

Cathleen Driscoll (USA) and Flotylla in their winning presentation. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Driscoll is rising through the ranks of international show jumping with her elite string, with plans to compete at the CSI5* level later on this season at the Flintfields Horse Park. Until then, Flotylla will continue to pull her weight in the CSI3* speeds.

“She’s such a special mare and we really try to place her in classes where she can shine,” she continued. “I also have two grand prix horses so I use them a little more in these three-star grand prixs and the five-star Major League week coming up. I also have two younger horses that will be stepping up into the two-stars later this circuit as well. It’s nice to have those opportunities to bring young horses along here.”

The summer season in Traverse City has been a fruitful one for Driscoll in the past, so she looks forward to competing the rest of her string as the summer goes on. 

“I can’t complain; Traverse City has always been a fantastic horse show for us,” she remarked. “We get a house on the lake and it’s really nice being up here for the summer. The horses jump fantastic, the footing is great, and I’m really happy with the improvements they’ve made this year. The FEI barns are beautiful so we’re glad to be back.”

Show jumping continues for GLEF I with Friday’s $38,700 Miner’s North Jewelers CSI3* Welcome Stake.

See full results here.

Nick Haness and Only Always Secure Their First Championship of GLEF

Nick Haness and Only Always. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Nick Haness and Only Always burst onto the East Coast scene back in 2022 when they took the grand championship at the Devon Horse Show. Since then, he’s still been able to keep the ride, even when the horse changed ownership to the Ingram family, and they rode to another championship Thursday of the first week of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF), presented by CaptiveOne Advisors.

“Only Always is a beautiful horse,” Haness, of Temecula, CA, said of the 11-year-old gelding, who won both over-fences classes in the combined 3’9” Green Hunter and Perfect Products High Performance Hunter division. “When he decides he’s going to go well, no one can beat him. He’s owned by the Ingram family and trained by Tom Wright. He came from California with Carleton Brooks originally. When we sold him I was able to keep showing him. We’re really happy for his championship this week.”

Haness spent his winter season traversing both coasts, securing championship honors and hunter derby victories every week. “This winter was a lot of fun but I was on the plane a lot flying between Wellington and Thermal,” he explained. “Only Always was competing in Florida so I was able to come probably six times to compete him and he was champion a lot. He’s just a horse that can really go in and win all the classes. When he’s ready to win he can win anything and anywhere.”

In Northern Michigan for a short stint, Haness plans to spend the first two weeks of GLEF campaigning quite a few horses for various owners. Following his two weeks at the Flintfields Horse Park, he will stay on the East Coast and visit various venues before he takes to the USHJA Green Hunter Incentive and International Hunter Derby Championships and the indoor horse shows in the fall.

“We love California but it’s so fun to come to the East Coast to a venue like Traverse City,” Haness continued. “The management is great, the show is really fun, the weather is nice, the boats are fun after the show, so we really enjoy coming here. It’s on the calendar every year now. They put a lot of effort into the hunters and the show does a really good job here.”

Only Always feels at home in Northern Michigan as well, as proven by his performance in the competitive division. “He likes the ambiance here in Traverse City,” Haness said. “The footing feels great, the jumps are beautiful, he’s jumping very well. I’m happy to be reunited with him.”

GLEF I is as busy a show week as Haness knows, but the seasoned professional is up for the task. “I’m showing a casual 25 horses each day,” he shared. “I brought 15 horses from California and I have horses here for [other owners]. It’s definitely a busy couple of days for me but I’m looking forward to the weekend where I can be the coach.”

While 25 horses competing in one week seems like a daunting task to many, it’s something Haness is used to and treats as a normal part of the job he loves so much.

“It’s a mental skill to keep focus,” he said of his strategy for riding and showing so many horses each day. “The adrenaline of showing keeps me going. Yesterday I had 40 to 50 rounds. It’s nonstop action from the start to the end of the day, but I have great teams behind me that keep the horses prepared. That helps a lot. I like to save their best jumps for the show ring anyway so it’s nice to not have to practice too much. Our practice is done at home and if we’ve done our job right the horses are ready to go in and do their thing. I’m very lucky and it’s a privilege every day to ride such nice horses.”