Caracole is a combat maneuver on horseback where riders of the same squadron simultaneously make a half turn to the right or left.
It’s also the name of the secret weapon that joined Karl Cook’s string in December.
The 11-year-old mare has a rare combination on foot speed and stride length that allows her to outmaneuver the competition in the jump off.
“She’s the fastest horse I’ve sat on, by far,” said Cook. “I’ve had a lot of fast horses throughout my career, this horse feels comfortable at speeds most horses aren’t comfortable at.”
That’s no small statement coming from Cook, whose top horse is known speed threat Kalinka Van’t Zorgvliet.
“Nancy,” as Caracole is known in the stable, was only 10 when Cook took over the reins from France’s Julien Epaillard, but had already jumped to 21 podium finishes, highlighted by 16 wins, two championships, and €515,973 in career earnings in 2022 alone (Jumpr App).
In just four months of international competition with Cook, she’s already won nearly €400,000 and logged eight podium finishes, five of them wins.
Cook will tell you it’s been a learning curve with the bay mare and has been documenting their progress in his Walking & Talking series on Instagram. But their record suggests that the partnership is coming together quickly.
Cook and Caracole de la Roque made their international debut in June at a CSI2* in Lexington, KY and won their first international Grand Prix, after jumping fault-free and to podium finishes in all three of their FEI appearances that week (2-1-1). They went on to win two more Grand Prix titles in a matter of months. In July, they claimed the CSI3* 1.50m Grand Prix of Traverse City and in September, the CSI3* 1.55m Agero Grand Prix, both at Traverse City Horse Shows in Michigan.
On Sunday, they captured their biggest win yet. The pair moved up to the 5* level at the American Gold Cup, also in Michigan—and won that too.
Nine pairs qualified for the short track of Alan Wade’s course—USA’s Kent Farrington (world no. 8), Ireland’s Daniel Coyle (no. 13) and Israel’s Ashlee Bond (no. 45) among them. Bond and her Olympic partner Donatello 141 laid down “their best jump off ever” by Bond’s estimation, stopping the clock in a blistering 34.35 seconds. Cook and Carcole de la Roque shaved a second and half off to cross the timers in 32.95s for the win.
“What makes Caracole so fast is that you could just run at anything and you can turn faster than you ever thought you could and that’s not normal,” said Cook. “I’d love to take credit, but that would be a lie. It’s just her. She just knows it. She’s so focused and it’s amazing to feel as a rider.”
Amazing to watch, too. The pair are trending on 79% clear round and 73% top 10 averages at 1.40–1.55m, according to Jumpr App. And they’ve only just begun.