Cathleen Driscoll and Flotylla Fly to Third FEI Win in $38,700 CSI2* Welcome Stake

Cathleen Driscoll (USA) is a winning machine in Traverse City. During week one of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF), she took two consecutive victories with Flotylla, owned by Don Stewart, and during GLEF III, the pair scored another in Friday’s $38,700 CSI2* Welcome Stake.

Cathleen Driscoll and Flotylla. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

When asked how she feels adding another FEI win to her resume, Driscoll, 30, replied, “Fantastic. Flotylla is a fabulous mare. I can really depend on her. This is three wins in a row for her now so I’m over the moon.”

Over Bernardo Costa Cabral’s (POR) track, Driscoll was one of 19 clear efforts in the first round. While not every pair returned to jump off, she emerged as the fastest among eight double-clear duos. Joining her on the podium were Margie Engle (USA) with Jackofhearts in second, and Kent Farrington (USA) in third on Greya.

“It’s very fun for me; a lot of my idols growing up are riding in these classes,” remarked Driscoll, who recently broke into the top 100-ranked riders in the world. “Today in the prizegiving with Margie and Kent [was amazing]; I loved watching them growing up and still do. It’s a great feeling to be at their level and be a competitor with them.”

The win Friday was even more special, propelling her to the top of the Open Jumper Rider Bonus leaderboard, which she’d been climbing since she arrived week one. “It’s so nice that they give that bonus,” she said of the $30,000 to be awarded at the end of the season. “It’s a good incentive to be here for the summer. We love being here in the summer anyway, but it’s nice to be at the top of that leaderboard. We’ll see if we can keep chipping away on it and hopefully hold onto that.”

A queen of consistency, Driscoll jumped clear with both her mounts, jumping off with VDL Salty Blue, owned by the Marsel Group, first. “I had a feel for how the course would ride,” she explained. “Flotylla is such a fast and competitive horse. Seeing the tone of the class as it was going, I felt like I could go reasonably fast without going too crazy. She is so good on the turns and the gallop so I tried to let her cruise around and do her thing. It worked out for us today.”

Don Stewart has played a crucial role in Driscoll’s development in the sport, owning Flotylla and supporting them each step of the way. “Don is wonderful,” she remarked. “He’s the funniest man I know. He’s always on the sidelines, loves watching her compete and it’s been fabulous having him be a part of the journey with this horse. I’m very grateful for him giving me the opportunity. I just began competing in the FEI divisions about two years ago and Flotylla has been an amazing horse to help me learn the ropes and get competitive at this level.

“I know her like the back of my hand,” she continued. “Anytime we go into the ring I feel like we have a shot. She fights for me, and I try and do my best to give her a chance to jump clear, and I think the results are really starting to show.”

Show jumping continues Saturday with the $30,000 Traverse City National Grand Prix.

See final results from the $38,700 CSI2* Welcome Stake here

Eric Edson-Merlau Tops WIHS Pony Medal

Thirteen-year-old Eric Edson-Merlau emerged victorious Friday in the WIHS Pony Medal aboard a fairly new mount, one that the Indianapolis, IN, native plans to pilot in the Large Pony division at Pony Finals later this summer. 

Aboard Elvenstar Ping Pong, Edson-Merlau put in two stellar trips and earned back-to-back scores of 84, taking victory with a combined total of 168.

Eric Edson-Merlau and Elvenstar Ping Pong. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

“We’ve had him for one to two months now,” he said of the 12-year-old Westphalian pony, owned by Summerhouse Farm, LLC. “He’s going to be the large [pony] I ride at Pony Finals this year. He loves treats but he’s very adorable. He always wants treats no matter where he is, but he’s never mean about it. He’s so kind and is a really nice pony in the barn.”

While the day didn’t start ideally for the duo, they rallied and it was ultimately Edson-Merlau’s confident riding that pulled them back together and solidified their win. “We had a rough [time in the] schooling area,” he joked. “We had some nice bucking, but my goal was still to be calm and collected and try to ride every jump individually.”

Trained by Abby Blankenship, Edson-Merlau knew exactly what to do to keep his composure despite the pressure. “My trainer, after the jumps, had me recollecting his stride and canter. I tried to put that into use in this round and it was really helpful,” he explained.

With the added confidence from the win, Edson-Merlau plans to take that to USEF Pony Finals in Lexington, KY, as he continues to get to know Elvenstar Ping Pong. “Pony Finals is going to be our next plan and we’ll do some showing later in August until school starts up,” he said of his plans as summer draws to a close.