Thunderbird Show Park (tbird) is hosting the final events of its 2023 season this week.
Following the Harvest Celebration that ran Sept. 13 to 17, this week’s British Columbia Hunter Jumper Association (BCHJA) Fall Finale CSI3* concludes today.
Thirty-five equine athletes were brought forward Tuesday for the international horse inspection – a competitive group of horse-and-rider combinations already with winning records during tbird’s 50th anniversary season.
A powerful female lineup was on display this week, including Langley’s own Tiffany Foster (CAN), Aldergrove’s own Kassidy Keith (CAN), Bretton Chad (CAN), and Brooke Morin (USA) all return to tbird after recording memorable victories in August and September.
At last week’s Harvest Celebration, Keith topped the MarBill Hill U25 League final for the third consecutive year, doing so aboard her longtime partner, Havana.,In August, this pair also jumped double-clear for a third-place finish in the CSI3* Keg Grand Prix – the biggest finish of their respective young careers.
Another local favourite, Foster, claimed four international victories at tbird in August, including the CSI3* Kubota Canada Winning Round 1.45m with Jetoulle-S at the Summer Fort Classic. The nine-year-old mare has blossomed under Foster’s tutelage this summer and may jump her first international 1.50m class at the BCHJA Fall Finale.
Chad revealed a talented mount of her own this summer in nine-year-old CSF Princess Blue, who was best in the Maui Jim Grand Prix at August’s Summer Fort Welcome. The agile bay will contest the second three-star event of her career this week.
Meanwhile, Morin will return to the level with her veteran partner NKH Carrido, with whom she jumped her first five-star classes in Calgary this summer. In August, the duo took a U25 win at tbird, setting them up for a confident finish to their season in Langley.
Competition kicked off Wednesday with the CSI3* tbird 1.40m Speed, where it appeared as though Kyle King (USA) was in a race against himself.
He and Patricia Vasey’s Odysseus (ODe) positively blew the field away in the CSI3* tbird Speed 1.40m, crossing the track in 59.66 seconds, more than six seconds faster than runners-up Uma O’Neill (NZL).
“He’s just a fast horse,” King said. “You don’t have to push him anywhere and, you just kind of follow him, keep the balance right. He’s a gamer.”
They executing a flawless right-handed hairpin turn to the final line that set King even farther apart in a class in which he was already up on the clock.
“I feel like I know him really well,” King shared.
“Now I can turn short as I want to verticals. Oxers sometimes I need let him see the back rail a little bit. But in a lot of circumstances he’s a fast enough kind of horse that if there’s an option of an inside turn to an oxer or around, I can around and still be just as fast. He’s that type.”
During Thursday evening’s qualifer, Canada’s Jim Ifko, and his 15-year-old stallion Un Diamant des Forets, bested in the jumper arena with a winning time of 39.64 seconds.
His goal was simply to keep his horse relaxed and to not let too much out of the tank ahead of Saturday’s CSI3* Grand Prix.
“I was hoping that we’d have just a comfortable round—[but] of course, you always want to get in the jump-off,” Ifko said. “Then in the jump-off, I actually just wanted to have a nice smooth—let’s call it ‘relaxing,’ if you will—round. I know my horse is fast anyway, but if I try and go too fast then he’s gone [and] we’ve lost everything over the last class.”
Competition continued Friday, and culminates with the CSI3* $100,000 Grand Prix this afternoon (Saturday, Sept. 23), from 1 to roughly 2:30 p.m.
Tickets are $11.51 online for general admission, grandstand seating. Thunderbird Show Park, one of North America’s premier equestrian event facilities hosting 10 weeks of globally recognized hunter and jumper tournaments per year, is located at 6975 248th St.
More information at tbird.ca.