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The Playbook of Two Ways

One horse is a big, scopey grey. The other a small and speedy bay.

One has campaigned under several riders and to double digit podium finishes. The other has only a year of international competition under his girth.

Kyle King’s two mounts in Friday’s CSI3* tbird Winning Round at Thunderbird Show Park—Cerolino and Odysseus—couldn’t be more different. But they have one thing in common: they’re both winners.

They just go about it in polar opposite ways.

Cerolino. ©tbird/Kady Dane Photography

Ten-year-old Cerolino, owned by Ilan Ferder, is the more experienced of the two. The grey gelding has made FEI appearances with six riders since 2020, most recently USA’s Brooke Morin and Michael Murphy. He came into King’s string in 2022.

With the California-native in the irons, he’s amassed seven podium finishes and €57,358 in prize money over the past year together. According to Jumpr App, the pair jump to a 57% clear round average at 1.45m, averaging just 2.07 faults.

“Cerolino has tremendous scope. I did him in a five star about a month ago,” said King. “He’s a slower jumper and scopier type. But I really have high hopes for him this season in the three and four stars continuing on.”

©tbird/Kady Dane Photography

Odysseus, on the other hand, is the yin to Cerolino’s yang. At 12 years of age, the American Holsteiner gelding has two years on his grey stablemate but far less international experience, having jumped just 32 rounds over the course of his FEI career to Cerolino’s 96.

The petite bay (he’s under 16 hands) has only campaigned under two riders: his owner Patty Vasey and King. Over the past year, he’s earned two podium finishes and over €31,697 in prize money with the latter.

“With Odie, I can put more strides in and he’s just fast. He’s just so fast in the air and fast across the ground,” said King.

While one has scope and the other speed, when it comes to top 10 finishes both horses are on par. At 1.45m, Odysseus has a 54% top 10 finish average over 13 rounds at the height; Cerolino has a 50% average over 14 rounds (Jumpr App). The grey’s experience shows as the poles go up, however. Cerolino jumps to a 62% top 10 finish average at the higher height of 1.50m (over 13 rounds), while Odysseus drops to 20% (over five rounds).

©tbird/Kady Dane Photography

The consistency of their records is a testament to King’s adaptability, which he put to use in Friday’s CSI3* class. With both horses in the second round jump off, King used Cerolino’s stride and scope to leave out strides and take the lead on a time of 40.41 seconds.

“Cerolino has a tremendous stride. I was pretty gappy to that third jump on the angle. I thought about doing one more for a second. I just know this horse has tremendous scope and sometimes can be a little slower on the front end. So I thought it was the right choice,” he said.

“I was a little slow after that, but then he was very good down this last line and I was able to get the seven.”

Last to return on Odysseus, King had only himself to beat and shifted into high gear while adding strides in the lines.

“I was more conservative to the third jump just by a stride [on Odie], which made my other turn better. And then I even got the eight on the last line.”

Ultimately, Odysseus crossed the timers quicker in 39.4s, but pulled one rail three fences from home, handing the win to Cerolino.

King has won a CSI3* class on each horses at the BCHJA Fall Finale. Now comes the hard part: deciding which one to jump in Saturday’s $100,000 Grand Prix.

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