“When he was a five year old, he bucked me off!”
Said Canadian Olympian Hugh Graham of his homebred gelding and current Grand Prix mount, Knock Out 3E:
“I was in the warm up ring and he landed and he rubbed a jump. The next time he came back and jumped two feet over it and he popped me loose. I caught him with my spur when I landed, the stride after he bucked and just fired me into the sand. So I knew we had to be careful with him.”
For the past decade Graham has been slowly developing the bay gelding.
“We’ve taken a long time with him. He’s 11 and we just went slow with him. I stayed [in divisions] where I thought he was really comfortable and really competitive and I inched him up. Last fall, I inched him up into the FEI and he won. And then I inched him up here [at Wesley Clover Parks] again.”
His patient approach is paying dividends.
Last week, Graham and Knock Out 3E won $50,000 Brookstreet Grand Prix, during the Ottawa National Horse Show. On Saturday, they captured the feature class of the Ottawa International CSI3*, as well—the $132,000 CSI3* Grand Prix.
Eight of the 29 starters managed to produce clear rounds over the track set by 2018 World Equestrian Games course designer, Alan Wade. Fifth to contest the jump off track, Graham and the 2006 Canadian Sport Horse gelding stopped the clock at 38.06 seconds to take over the lead from Vanessa Mannix (CAN).
“I watched a couple go, and I saw what everybody was doing,” said Graham of his jump-off strategy. “I know my horse’s strengths, and I capitalized on them. He’s got a big stride, and he can motor. I’ve had lots of jumpers in my career, and all of them have had different strengths. I try to win with their strengths.”
With back-to-back wins at Wesley Clover Parks under their belt, Graham plans to keep moving Knock Out 3E up the international ranks.
“He’s a winner,” continued the Olympic, World Championship, and Pan American Games veteran. “He’s been a winner his whole life. He won when he was a six-year-old; he won when he was a seven-year-old; he’s won about 10 grand prix so far, and now he’s won two here. This horse has got it all!”
Mannix, 29, took second with her new mount, Hey Jude, in a time of 39.29 seconds. Canadian Olympian Beth Underhill and Count Me In took third in 41.22 seconds