Darrin Dlin’s Buddy Bounce is no shrinking violet.

Well, he’s Irish,” deadpanned Dlin. “So he’s very casual, very arrogant. And then he walks in the ring and he puffs up and he’s a real competition horse.”

The gray gelding is collecting the receipts to back it up, too.

Dlin and 11-year-old Irish sport horse topped at 21 horse starting field to win their first Grand Prix of the winter season at Desert International Horse Park in Thermal, CA on Thursday. Eight combinations found a clear path around Ken Krome’s 15-effort speed course in the $25,000 FarmVet Grand Prix. None could catch Dlin and Buddy Bounce.  

“Starting off [in the afternoon], it was a really nice course. It was getting a little bit harder as it went with the shadows and the sun going down,” said Dlin, who went 17th in the order. “So right off the bat, I had to challenge him a little bit at the first jump and then just keep challenging him a little bit as we went because he’s a very, very careful horse and with the shadows the way they were.

“He was right on it. It’s his first time back this year and he was ready to roll. So I’m super happy with him.”

The pair stopped the clock at 63.209 seconds, taking over the lead from Cassio Rivetti (BRA) and Cristal de Menardiere (63.666). Carlsen and Livestream 2 claimed third in 66.871 and Mexico’s Everardo Hegewisch and Dauphin, fourth in 67.966.

Dlin the 11-year-old gelding have been partnered since 2019 and climbed the ranks in short order.

“He was sent to me to start up. He was seven at the time. He’d done a little bit, not much and since then I’ve just brought him up level to level the level quite quickly.”

In 2021, the pair made their FEI debut at DIHP, jumping from 1.40m to 1.60m in the space of three months. They finished the winter season with an eight place finish in the 4* 1.60m Grand Prix and went on to collect podium finishes in a 2* 1.45m Grand Prix in Parker, Colorado in July (3rd) and a 3* 1.50m ranking class at Thunderbird Show Park in August (2nd).

“He jumped some very big FEI classes last year, and I think this year is going to be a big year for him,” said the Canadian rider.

Buddy will compete in next week’s 3* FEI division and then gear up for the 4* final Week VIII of the Desert Circuit.

Catch all the action from the desert on deserthorsepark.com.