Kyle King has speed on his side in Odysseus.
“He’s very much like a Thoroughbred. There’s no Thoroughbred in there but he feels like a Thoroughbred,” said the American rider.
“He’s that modern type of horse that’s so fun. He’s just a fast horse. You don’t have to push him anywhere—you just kind of follow him, keep the balance right. He’s a gamer.”
The 12-year-old gelding bested an 18-horse field in the CSI3* tbird Speed 1.40m at Thunderbird Show Park’s BCHJA Fall Final on Wednesday. King won the same class last year on Ittolo. At that time, he pegged Chiara and Odysseus as his future top string.
“[Odysseus] is definitely a main horse in my string now and for the foreseeable future,” said King. The American Holsteiner was developed to the 1.40m level by his owner Patricia Vasey and this season has come under King’s saddle full time.
“He’s proven to be a horse for me in the money classes. Whether he’s the big Sunday 1.55m Grand Prix horse or not, I’m not sure. But he’s a very solid, good jumping weapon in my string. I’m very lucky to have him,” continued King.
Now just over a year into the partnership, the pair has gelled. King and Odysseus have a 54% top 10 finish average at 1.45m height, according to Jumpr App.
“I feel like I know him really well. Now I can turn short as I want to verticals. Oxers sometimes I need let him see the back rail a little bit. But in a lot of circumstances he’s a fast enough kind of horse that if there’s an option of an inside turn to an oxer or around, I can go around and still be just as fast. He’s that type.”
King has been a fixture on the 5* circuit this season with horses Cerolino, Chess, and Sig Chiari and says the trickledown effect of riding against the best riders in North America is paying dividends with his developing mounts, like Odysseus. Even if it’s sometimes humbling for the rider.
“[The work] shows when you drop back down to the two and three and four stars. It absolutely shows. [But] it’s a big kick to my ego doing that level,” laughed the notoriously competitive speed rider.
“This year, none of the horses had ever done a 5* that I competed all season. But they really all held their own. I got in a lot of victory gallops, top ten placings, throughout the season.
“My horses have all learned a tremendous amount this season doing that level and I learned a lot. I look forward to the next season when they won’t be so green. This string that I have now, they are also faster type horses.”
While Odysseus’s future is yet to be written, his designated “speed horse” status in King’s string bodes well for their future.
“The sport has changed so much. It’s not really about having a scopey horse. They have to be so fast if you want to have podium finishes. So I’m really excited to keep the ride on Chi and Odie and what we can do in the Thermal this winter.
“Hopefully, I carry my confidence through. I’ve got to a pretty good team of horses, so very, very excited.”
Catch all the 3* action this week at Thunderbird live on tbird TV.