Variety is the spice Un Diamant Des Forets’ life.

At 15-years old, the Selle Francais stallion, piloted by Canada’s Jim Ifko, “isn’t a fan of homework” and gives the impression that he’s “quiet and lazy” when hacking. Fortunately, Ifko is creative.

“It’s really important that each day he can have something stimulating,” Ifko said. “If he does the same thing three days in a row, he’s done with it. We go out and do hill work and then gymnastic work. We’ll go inside and then outside. It’s more challenging at a horse show, but at [DIHP] there’s so much space and wide open areas; it’s been great for him. We go down the track and gallop around there. He thought that was fantastic.”

Ifko has had time to learn exactly what makes this horse tick. 

“We found him as a youngster in France when he was six years old,” Ifko recalled of his beginnings with Monty. “We’ve been together for nine years and we’ve had a spectacular journey. We know each other quite well. It’s nice because when we go into the ring we know what one another will do and how we will react.” 

Among their greatest achievements are grand prix wins, podium finishes on the Major League Show Jumping tour, and representing Canada in the CSIO5* Nations Cup of Mexico in 2019.

In the desert, they added another accolade to their resume, taking the win in Friday’s $38,700 Premier Equine Rehab CSI3* 1.50m Speed.

“The course that Marina [Azevedo] set was fabulous,” Iko remarked. “It was a combination of needing to go fast but it was high enough that it was challenging. You had to balance between being careful and it was quite a galloping course. Luckily that suits my horse to a tee. He loves that wide open gallop. He’s in his element.”

The expanse of the grass field at DIHP means natural footspeed is an outright advantage and one that Ifko put to use.

“Where we got ahead of the crowd was just the fact that he picked up a gallop right from fence one and we could just stay on it fence to fence,” Ifko explained of his winning ride. “We managed to meet each fence just the way we wanted. It was smooth as silk. When you can do that it’s certainly an advantage.”

Going just fifth in the starting order, Ifko’s time of 65.33 couldn’t be caught. Only Cassio Rivetti (BRA) and Nadale Van Doperheide, owned by Ilan Ferder, came close, finishing second with a time of 67.93 seconds. Nicky Galligan (IRL) and Javas Miss Jordan picked up third with their time of 68.37 seconds.