Samuel Parot Unveils a Star in $38,700 CSI2* Speed

Samuel Parot (CHI) knew he had a star on his hands, but it took until Thursday of the first week of the Tournament of Champions to prove David Guetta is the real deal.

The pair sped to a win in the $38,700 CSI2* Speed by nearly two seconds, taking a bold inside turn to seal the deal. Just third to go in the order over Canadian Peter Grant’s track. Parot had seen the very first round, jumped by Spain’s Francisco Goyoaga Mollet and Icarus, which still held the lead.

“I saw [Francisco], and he went very very fast,” Parot explained. “In the turn after the combination, he went outside to the vertical to four strides. I thought the only possibility I had to win was to go inside after the combination. I did this and I pushed him to second place.”

The speed and precision of the round made viewers think the pair was seasoned together, but they’re still navigating the early stages of their partnership. The horse sat out due to injury in the spring, and now that he’s back, Parot knows the sky is the limit.

Samuel Parot (CHI) in his winning presentation, pictured with Ivan Rakowsky. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

“This is our third show together,” Parot continued. “He had an injury and was on stall rest for three or four months. He has experience jumping five-stars in Europe, and he’s World Cups and everything.”

Parot has jumped championships before, including the Olympic Games in 2012, and is now at the Pan American Games at the end of October. Though David Guetta likely won’t be the pick for that event, he knows he can count on the horse for future championships, with even bigger things lying ahead for him.

“He’s everything: he’s very careful, he’s fast, he’s scopey,” he said of the 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Zento x Vigaro). “I think he’s a really good horse. Before I rode him, Victoria Gulliksen (NOR) rode him, and she’s a very good rider. He’s a five-star horse, a really good horse.”

The plan moving forward with David Guetta is to jump the $77,300 Southern Arches Grand Prix, plus a few more CSI3* weeks, before preparing for CSI5* competition in Wellington, where Parot hopes to be a top contender.

“It’s fantastic,” Parot said of Traverse City Horse Shows, where he has stood in the winner’s circle before. “It’s the best. Traverse City does the best job and has the best people. For me, it’s the best show..”

Show jumping continues Friday with the $38,700 Molon Excavating CSI2* Welcome Stake.

Kelsey Epperson Rides to Harmonious Start at Tournament of Champions

Kelsey Epperson and Harmony. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

Kelsey Epperson produced one of the first championship efforts of the Tournament of Champions aboard Harmony, owned by Rachael Herkowitz. The duo hasn’t had much time together as a partnership, but there are big goals ahead for the horse. It started with a championship in the Performance Hunters on Thursday.

“Heather [Irvine] found her from Martien Van Der Hoeven last fall, so we started showing her last winter,” Epperson said of the 8-year-old Holsteiner mare. “[The goal was] for Rachael to do her in the amateur divisions and go to indoors. I get to start doing her in the green [hunters] and hopefully qualify her for indoors in that division as well. She’s newer to us but she’s been super fun.”

As a former jumper, Harmony made the switch to hunters when she joined the Hillside Farm team.. “She’s really liking the hunters,” Epperson, of Holly, MI, continued. “She is so good at it and she’s naturally really respectful of the jumps. She’s been a dream to ride and to watch her move right into the hunters. She’s been amazing.”

Herkowitz has already taken quite a few championship honors with Harmony, proving they are a pair to contend with as the fall indoor season, featuring very prestigious shows for the hunters, draws closer.

“I love the fall weather up here,” Epperson said of Traverse City. “I’m excited to do the [$100,000 3’ Pro Traverse City] Derby during the last week; the prize money is really good. Since we’re pretty close, [clients] can come here on the weekends and show even though the kids are back in school. It’s nice that even though the summer is over we get to stay up here and keep enjoying it.

“The season has been great,” concluded Epperson. “I can’t believe it’s gone by this fast but we were lucky to have a lot of horses here and they have all been really good. It’s been successful so far so hopefully it can remain like this for the next three weeks.”