Kyle King (USA) and Cerolino have been knocking at the door of a win for the past two weeks at Thunderbird Show Park in Langley, BC.

“We’ve been a little bit unlucky. I should have won last Sunday,” said King. “I had the time but the last jump down.”

On Thursday, the pair were in striking distance of victory in the CSIO5* Nations Welcome 1.45m, just three tenths of a second off the leading time, but had a rail. On Friday, a single jump down in the CSIO5* West Coast Cup 1.45m kept them just outside the top 12.

“He’s been brilliant. He was bound to do something [this week]. He makes a check every show,” said King. “He’s really, really consistent.”

On Saturday, Lady Luck finally answered their call in the CSIO5* Paladin Cup. But it was strategy not speed that ultimately clinched the win for King.

Of the 25 starters to contest Peter Holmes’ 1.50m course, six advanced to the jump off. Santiago Lambre (BRA) was first to return and set a blistering track only to catch a rail at the penultimate fence, the newly finished canoe jump. The same fence would catch out two more combinations.

By the time King and Ilan Feder’s 10-year-old Holsteiner took to the ring, as the final combination to return, there was nary a clear on the leaderboard. A clean trip would clinch victory. King opted for a conservative route round the winding short track, but for a rider hardwired for speed, it wasn’t a decision that came naturally.

“It’s the second time [taking the slow clear] has happened to me in my life and it’s been on that horse twice,” laughed King. “I almost blew it the first time in Thermal… [so] I was like, ‘Nah, I don’t want to be in this position again.’”

This time, however, Cerolino left the poles in position, crossing the timers in a steady 48.38 seconds. Santiago Lambre (BRA) and Chattanooga took runner up position with four faults in 38.37. Erynn Ballard (CAN) and Game Over settled for third with four faults in 39.39.

While they were slow and Cerolino looks slow, King believes there’s more in the tank.

“[Cerolino] has a big stride, so I can drop strides everywhere and he’s very agile. When I first started riding him I thought he was always going to be a little bit slow. But he’s not, especially in a field like this. Today was slow, but I was just trying to go clear. I thought he really tried for me and jumped super the second round.” 

To date this year, the pair has earned five podium finishes, averaging 57% in clear rounds and top ten finishes at the 1.45m height, according to Jumpr App.

“We bought him for one of my clients, who then ended up wanting to trade him out to another horse,” continued King. “While that was happening, Cerolino didn’t really do all that much. So [owner] Ilan Feder told me that I could produce him a little bit further… And he’s just been money ever since. He makes a check every show. He’s just really, really consistent.”