Zayna Rizvi’s Kung Fu Claims First FEI Win in CSI2* Speed to Kick Off 2024 Great Lakes Equestrian Festival

Six weeks of summer FEI competition kicked off on Thursday during the tenth anniversary of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival, presented by B&D Builders, with a win for 18-year-old Zayna Rizvi in the $32,000 CSI2* Speed. She piloted Kung Fu, owned by The Kung Fu Group, to the nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding’s first-ever international victory in Flintfields Horse Park’s Turtle Creek Hotel & Casino International Ring over courses designed by Mexico’s Ana Catalina Cruz.

Rizvi (USA) and Kung Fu (Arezzo VDL x Tangelo van de Zuuthoeve) were last to cross the timers, finishing on 62.14 seconds, beating out the long standing-lead held by fellow U.S. rider Jimmy Torano and his own 10-year-old Zangersheide gelding, Kochio Z (Kannan x Diamant de Semilly). 

Zayna Rizvi & Kung Fu stand for presentation. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

“This was his first FEI win,” said Rizvi of the young gelding. “It’s really special that I get to cross these milestones with him. We purchased him as a seven-year-old. He’s growing up and I’m growing up; we’re doing it at the same time so that’s really special.” 

Rizvi, a two-time gold medalist at the FEI North American Youth Championships at Traverse City, plans to compete throughout all six weeks of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival and is hopeful to jump Kung Fu in his first three-star grand prix later in the season. “I’ve done him in some four-star and five-star ranking classes but he’s just now starting to step up to the grand prix level. He’s brave, he’s fast and he’s scopey. He has all the things that you would look for in a top horse.Of course he’s still young but I think that he’ll have a great future and he has so much potential, ” concluded Rizvi. 

Jimmy Torano & Kochio Z. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

After being bumped to second by Rizvi, Torano held on for the red ribbon, finishing on a time of 63.83 seconds. Rounding out the podium during the weeks’ opening international event, USA’s Charlotte Jacobs and the nine-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding, Instrumental (Qualdandro x Indoctro), owned by North Star, closed out the clear podium on a time of 65.48 seconds. 

As for Rizvi herself, she plans to take advantage of being stationed in Traverse City for the summer with her team at North Run under the direction of John Brennan and Missy Clark. “I hope to use these weeks to focus on the little things,” said Rizvi. “[I’m] really going back to working on my position, my timing, focusing on myself and how I can improve so that my horses have a better chance of jumping clear.” 

Charlotte Jacobs & Instrumental. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography

GLEF’s premiere week of jumper action will continue on Friday with the $32,000 CSI2* Welcome, a qualifier for Sunday’s $75,000 Meijer CSI2* Grand Prix. 

For full results, please click here.