If there’s a theme to Matthew Samspon’s (GBR) brief partnership with Equine America Ivanhoe GPH so far, it’s being in the right place at the right time.
In June, that place was Calgary, Alberta. Sampson was at Spruce Meadows when his friend, Ellen Whitaker, asked him to horse sit her 10-year-old gelding for a few days.
“Originally, I had him just to look after him for a week, and then he was meant to travel back to Europe, but he couldn’t go. So I started riding him. It worked out amazing,” shared Sampson.
“He jumped clear in nearly all the classes he did at Spruce.”
On Sunday at Thunderbird Show Park in Langley, BC, Sampson was again in the right place at the right time: the finish line in the CSI3* ATCO Cup 1.50m Grand Prix.
Ten combinations advanced to Peter Holmes’ short course on Sunday. In a blink and you’ll miss it moment, Sampson and “Ivan” crossed the timers one one-hundredth of a second faster than John Perez (COL) and Gigi Carmen (36.24 to 36.25). Canadian Olympian Tiffany Foster and Battlecry were just two tenths of second behind in 36.59s.
“Parts of the jump-off suited me and parts of it didn’t. One to two for me was a really short five, and it wasn’t a four, especially at the start,” elaborated Sampson.
“Then it looked like I could get nine to the double and then I could get eight across the middle. So that suited him really well. I gave him a little bit of extra time to the last fence and, and luckily that paid off. John was very fast. I think that’s where he caught up to me. Luckily it’s my day.”
The victory is the biggest of Ivan’s career yet and his first with Sampson. The pair is jumping to an overall 56% clear round average across all heights, according to Jumpr App. In two months, they’ve already earned more prize money than each of the grey gelding’s previous three riders.
According to Samspon, the horse is a quick study, with an enormous stride.
“His mind is just incredible,” he continued.
“He’s the type of horse that he’s got no bad [bone] in his body. And when you got him to ride him on the flat work, his ears are forward and he just wants to please you all the time. He’s so nice.
“He’s still pretty green building up to the [1.50m] level. He takes it all in his stride, though. He’s super consistent. He nearly always jumps clear but he’s learning every time he’s doing it. Then when you just ask him a few questions in the jump-off, he’s like, ‘I got it.’ He’s really game for it. He’s only ten. He’s got a great future ahead of him.”
The immediate future will see Ivan and Sampson return to Spruce Meadows for the Masters Tournament. There perhaps someone else will be in the right place at the right time to catch the ride.
“He’s for sale. So the plan is for him to be sold.”