Vanessa Mannix set off for the first fence of the CSI3* $100,000 ATCO Cup with purpose. That tone would carry her throughout the entire course.
And after making the podium on three other occasions at the Summer Fort Classic, Mannix broke through with an impressive win. She and veteran mount Catinka 25 rode to victory in the event’s feature class. Samantha Buirs-Darvill and Baton Rouge finished second, just ahead of Robert Blanchette and Chardonnay.
“I have to say, I came into the ring really committed to riding forward,” Mannix said. “I made a great plan with my trainers, James Chawke and Conor Swail. I watched the first two go [in the jump-off], but not too closely. I was committed to my plan.”
Seven combinations advanced to the shortened course of Peter Holmes’ (CAN) track, which offered a certificate of competency for riders to earn eligibility for future championships.
“I wanted to get eight strides up the first line, which I think established a great rhythm, and then I just kept it smooth,” Mannix said.
READ ALSO: Second win for Swail at tbird
“Catinka felt so confident all week, and today, I knew if I galloped up to each jump, she’d be with me every step of the way.”
Mannix has been partnered with her 12-year-old Oldenburg mare for more than four years; the duo jumped their first three-star competition at tbird in 2017. “Catinka is such a special horse,” Mannix said. “She’s so incredibly smart. I’ve had her since she was seven, and she’s 12 now. I feel like we have such a depth to our relationship and understanding with each other. “
Ava Wong Saves Best for Last in $15,000 MarBill Hill U25 League 1.40m Grand Prix
Last to go in the jump-off for the $15,000 MarBill Hill U25 League 1.40m Grand Prix, Ava Wong knew exactly what she would need to do to take home a victory. Just one other rider had produced a clear round over Peter Holmes’ shortened track, and that rider, Kassidy Keith, was fresh off a win in the previous day’s speed event.
When Wong crossed through the finish timers and realized she had won, the pure elation that quickly spread across her face said it all.
“I was smiling for I-don’t-even-know-how-long afterward,” Wong said.
Wong has been partnered with the veteran Concelo for more than three years, and the grey gelding has been an outstanding partner, bringing his rider from the 1.20m to the 1.40m and her first grand prix events. In 2018, they represented Canada in the children’s category of the North American Youth Championships.
“He’s taken me everywhere,” Wong said. “He’s been teaching me a lot about the grand prix ring, and he’s given me lots of miles and experience. He’s a great horse.”
Competition at Thunderbird Show Park resumes Wednesday, Aug. 25 with the Summer Fort Festival, featuring the $100,000 Volvo Canada Cup 1.50m on Saturday, Aug. 28.
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