“He’s not brand new to me, but I’m just starting to jump these classes on him,” said Jaclyn Duff (CAN) of her international horse Eblesse.
The KWPN gelding was developed by Canadian Olympic medalist Jill Henselwood and purchased by Duff in 2021 to get her back in the international ring “and jumping some bigger classes.”
Then her plans took a detour.
“I bought him a couple of years ago, but he got hurt right after,” explained Duff, who only jumped in three FEI classes with the gelding before he was sidelined. “It’s been a long process bringing him back. He was out for about a year and then I took it really slow, so I was quite patient.”
Duff and Eblesse returned to the international ring briefly in June at tbird, then took a step back to the national level, opting to get show ring miles in Chicago instead of the Spruce Meadows Summer Series in Calgary, where she’s based.
“He wasn’t quite ready to step up and jump some bigger jumps. He was just starting to jump 1.45m again,” she continued. “It was [a hard decision] because [Spruce Meadows] in my backyard and it’s an amazing show, much like this one.”
Her plan: work on the horse’s fitness with the hope that he would peak for tbird’s Summer Fort Series and then head to Spruce Meadows for the Masters tournament.
On Friday, Duff’s patience paid off.
Ten of 29 starters found a clear path around Peter Holmes’ 1.50m track to advance to the jump off. First to return, Charlie Jones (GBR) set the standard early on Capitale 6 with a double clear in 43 seconds flat. With each returning entry in the ring, Jones inched ever closer to the top of the leaderboard as rails fell and the clock ticked over the time.
That is, until Duff and Eblesse entered the ring.
Finding a clean shot to fence one and leaving a stride out to the final fence, Duff shaved half a second off Jones’s time to stop the clock at 42.46s and take over lead. The final two entries, Matthew Sampson (GBR) and Kara Chad (CAN) fell victim to a misheard start bell and misread turn, respectively, handing Duff the win.
“I didn’t think I was very fast,” admitted Duff.
“I got a great jump to the first jump on a little bit of an angle. And he landed a little bit quiet, which helped me turn back to the vertical so I could step up in the seven [strides] to the next jump. And then he was great to me at the liverpool. I just kind of galloped on over there and he tried his hardest and then I thought I was a little slow back to the double.
“[On the last line] my horse shifted really hard right off the floor at the vertical and I just picked up one less and I galloped up. I actually lost one of my reins on the way [to the final fence] and pulled a shoe, but he was amazing and turned himself inside out to jump it clear.”
Jones was relegated to second. Christopher Lowe (CAN) and Cunningham 4 finished third in 43.55s.
The victory is Duff’s first with the 14 year old gelding. The pair were second in the previous week’s CSI3* 1.50m class at tbird are average just two faults at the height, according to Jumpr App.
“He’s an amazing horse and I’m really excited about the future with him.”