Karl Cook (USA) has proven himself a consistent winner in grand prix action with Caracole de la Roque time and time again, despite the partnership still being new. This Sunday, they took the win in the $145,100 Agero CSI3* Grand Prix during the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament at Traverse City Horse Shows.
Cook and Signe Otsby’s 11-year-old Selle Français mare (Zandor Z x Kannan) were one of eight pairs to navigate Cedric Longis’ (FRA) first-round track penalty free. With the footspeed Cook is able to achieve on Caracole de la Roque, it didn’t matter where in the order he returned, but his later draw of sixth allowed him to gauge how the jump-off track was riding.
The pair clocked in three seconds faster than the next-closest finisher, Samantha Schaefer (USA) and James Bond HX, owned by Bonne Vie LLC, who claimed second place. Callie Schott (USA) took third with Garant, owned by Southern Arches, LLC.
“She’s just fast,” Cook said of Caracole de la Roque, a ride he acquired from Frenchman Julien Epaillard. “Normally, when you go fast with a horse there’s a level of wander and the canter gets inverted so you can’t jump well out of it. She’s so comfortable at speed that you just don’t have all the normal concerns, so you can run and turn at full speed. She’s amazing.”
Still new to one another, Cook has been very practical with placing Caracole de la Roque, knowing what the horse is capable of and not wanting to step up too high too soon.
“The long-term plan is five-stars,” he added. “We’re going to try our first [CSI5* Grand Prix] next week in the [American] Gold Cup. [The goal is] to get her to support my other mare Kalinka [Van’t Zorgvliet] and make sure both mares are primed, fit, sound and happy so we can really push next year.”
Cook is a lifelong student of the sport, analyzing each round and identifying where there is room for improvement every time he jumps, even if the result is a win.
“Each round I feel better but there’s always more [to learn],” he shared. “There were issues with my first round that were my fault and I need to work on those. Thankfully, she’s able to fill in the gaps in my riding but I know taking the next step I need to be better.”
Cook was among many riders in the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring who enjoyed Longis’ course design during the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament.
“I love the course builder; he’s amazing,” Cook said of Longis. “He was here last year and that was the first time I’d jumped his courses. He’s very elegant with how he [sets] things. It’s fun to ride because it feels modern. It feels the way the sport should be because he gets a great number clear without the time allowed being crazy tight. In the jump-off, the course design was beautiful. You could take chances, you could run, but it also challenged you with tight angles. You saw a great jump-off and a great first round.”
Sunday concludes the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament, but action at the Tournament of Champions resumes Wednesday, September 13, with the kick-off of the historic CSI5* American Gold Cup.
Greg Crolick and Testify Capture $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, Presented by Rider’s Boutique
Greg Crolick has continued to capture wins in major hunter classes throughout the season in Traverse City with his partner Testify, owned by Jon Cotton. Sunday was no exception, as he took top call in the $10,000 USHJA National Hunter Derby, presented by Rider’s Boutique.
Crolick and Testify came in hot during round one and took the highest score of the 31 entries, recording a 93. Coming back for the handy round, Crolick knew Testify’s jumping ability could better suit the course than risky inside turns, but he was still able to take enough risk and score a 91.5, bringing home the win by a point and a half.
Jacob Pope took second and third with Story Hour, owned by Don Stewart, and Unbelievable, owned by Forget Me Not Farm, respectively.
“I had a different plan [in the handy round] for each horse going in,” Crolick remarked. He qualified three horses for the top 12. “With Testify there are a lot of inside turns that aren’t always his favorite, but he handled it beautifully today and he jumped great.”
After a win in the USHJA International Hunter Derby during the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival and a third-place finish in the WCHR West Coast Hunter Spectacular, both with Chappy, Crolick has had a stellar season in Northern Michigan. However, his summer isn’t over. He’s gearing up for the $100,000 3’ Traverse City Hunter Derby coming up during the final week of action.
“We had a great circuit up here in July and we went down to Kentucky for Derby Finals,” Crolick commented of his past season with Testify. “He was wonderful; he made it to the second round nighttime handy class. We had a little stutter step but still performed well.”
Based in Michigan, Crolick enjoys spending a portion of each season at Traverse City Horse Shows with his family and clients. “We love coming back here in the fall,” he shared. “Usually the weather is wonderful and it’s the perfect time to be up here. We’re also so close to home at this show. My clients love to come up here and the horses seem to like it a lot this time of year.”
Crolick has an innate ability to see the potential in a hunter, and that was no exception when it came to finding Testify for owner Cotton. “We were looking for a horse that could do the job for the owner’s daughter plus a horse I could keep training and bringing along. He’s become a wonderful derby horse and high performance horse and does both very well.”
Crolick will aim Testify next at the big derby on Sunday of the final week of the Tournament of Champions, going for the top prize of the lion’s share of $100,000. Hunter action resumes for the final week of competition on Wednesday, September 13.