Easy as one, two, three, (four)…
Wellington-based rider Alex Granato (USA) found a winning formula in Round 8 of the WEF Challenge Cup at the Winter Equestrian Festival on Thursday, riding Carlchen W.
Step one: Pick a class suited to your mount
The speed format of the $35,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup “definitely suits this horse for this class,” said Granato of his partner of five years. “He’s very naturally fast so it’s nice to get in there and just pick up a rhythm and stick with it.”
Step two: #BeLikeBeezie
Prior to his round, Granato watched Olympic gold medalist Beezie Madden (USA) ride the jump-off track.
“She’s so deceivingly fast and amazing to watch. She’s so smooth and tight with her track,” he said. “Going late I had the benefit of watching some others.”
Step three: Learn from McLain Ward’s mistake
Granato took a few words of wisdom from another American Olympic gold medalist too before contesting Ken Krome’s short track.
“McLain came out and mentioned to me that he should have done the six (strides) down the last line,” he continued. “He was very smooth and rideable today, so jumping through the last combination I put my eye on the track for the six and got right on it and I think that’s the best place where I got the time.”
Step four: WIN!
Granato and the ten-year-old Mecklenberg gelding stopped the clock in 65.03 seconds. It was nearly eight hundredths of a second faster than runners up Madden and Con Taggio, who finished second in 65.81 seconds, and Richie Moloney (IRL) and Ypaja Yando who came third in 65.93 seconds.
“It’s probably the biggest win I’ve had with this horse,” said the American rider. “[They have] been great owners with me and really let me take my time developing him. It’s our first week doing a four-star. With it being Nations’ Cup week, it means a lot to go in and have them play the national anthem for your country on home soil because of you.”
Granato and Carlchen will next contest Sunday’s $205,000 CSIO4* Grand Prix. But not before they wind down a little.
“We have two days before we jump Sunday since he’s not in the Nations’ Cup,” he said. “I will definitely use both of those days to my full advantage on relaxing him back down and really regaining his focus, but I do think it was a nice class for him to start with.”
Which brings us to step five: rinse and repeat!