And then the rains came…
As predicted, the clouds closed in for a rainy afternoon Saturday of the RBC Grand Prix at the Spruce Meadows ‘National’ tournament in Calgary, AB.
Thirty-six horse and rider combinations braved the elements to contest the CSI5* Grand Prix. But only four would advance to the jump off. In the end, it was Mexico’s Patricio Pasquel atop the podium with his homebred Babel.
It’s a horse that was slow to grow on the Mexican rider.
“He’s been in the family since he was born,” explained Pasquel. “And, you know, when he was a youngster, I said, ‘No, I don’t like this horse. I’m going to sell him.’ Then he was five-year-old champion of Mexico and I said, ‘Okay, he’s not that bad.’ Then he was six-year-old champion of Mexico. I said, ‘Okay, he’s getting better.’ Then he was seven-year-old champion of Mexico and I said, “We’ve got a good one!'”
In the past two years, the globe-trotting pair has picked up victories at Spruce Meadows (CAN), Balvanera (ARG), and Coapexpan (MEX) and competed for their country in three Nations Cups, two of which Mexico won.
“He’s quite a horse,” smiled Pasquel.
Saturday’s victory marks the biggest of their career to date. Going last in the jump off against Canadians Keean White and Vanessa Mannix and Spain’s Paola Amilibia, Pasquel and the 10-year-old chestnut gelding claimed victory by a decisive three second lead.
“I didn’t see the others go in the jump off but I heard that the first few had a rail and that Keean was clear. Everyone tries to come up and tell you what to do but I said, ‘No, I’m just going to do my thing’ because I knew the horse is so fast on the ground. My plan was to ride a nice course and leave the jumps up—God will tell and he did tell today that Babel wanted to win,” exclaimed an emotional Pasquel.
Here’s the video of their ride. (Complete with a brilliant slow-motion fist pump at the 54 second mark that is guaranteed to make you smile.)
White and the 12 year-old Zangersheide gelding For Freedom Z took second, capping a stellar week for the Ontario-based rider. (He was third in the ATB Financial Cup 1.55m on Thursday with For Freedom Z and second in Friday’s RBC Capital Markets Cup 1.50m with Z Diamanty.)
“I felt very prepared for this competition and though the weather didn’t quite hold up, I felt my horse was ready for the conditions after Thursday evening—I really do feel that played a huge factor in my success today. My horse had never really jumped in the extreme conditions like that before, so I really did feel confident after my horse was so solid in the jump off on Thursday,” commented White.
Taking third was Calgary’s Vanessa Mannix and her bay stallion Grand Cru VD Vijf Eiken.