li Ramsay on her way to winning the Desert Welcome CSI3*-W, February 9, 2017. Ph. ©ESI
Twenty-six-year-old Ali Ramsay picked up her first international victory on American soil when she won the $36,500 Desert Welcome Stake CSI3*-W on Thursday, February 9, 2017 in Thermal, California.
The young Canadian rider topped a jumpoff field of experienced veterans aboard Hermelien vd Hoogoeve, a 10-year-old BWP mare (Tangelo van de Zuethoeve x Thunder van de Zuethoeve) that she owns.
Ramsay may have seemed an unlikely contender to finish ahead of two top Australian riders Lane Clarke and Harley Brown, as well as Peter Petschenig of Austria, but she outrode them all in the four-horse jumpoff after an entry list of 33 tackled Marina Azevedo’s Round 1 course.
With perfect conditions at the HITS Coachella showgrounds and a 1.60m track set for the class, it was the final fence on course, a Longines FEI North American League oxer, that spoiled the jumpoff chances of more than a few riders who were clear up until that point.
A few riders have traveled to HITS Coachella specifically to compete this week in CSI3*-W competition, and aim for Saturday’s $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Thermal CSI3*-W; the penultimate chance in North America for riders to earn points towards qualifying for the 2017 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final — Omaha.
However, it wasn’t the day for Wellington, Florida-based Charlie Jacobs and Calanta (they racked up 19 faults), and the internationally-experienced Audrey Coulter and Alex were clear until that final NAL oxer, which they had down.
Clarke returned first for the jumpoff and set the pace with no jumping faults in 44.05 seconds aboard Balu U, a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Baloubet du Rouet x Caletto II). However, Ramsay would top that by completing the only other clear round, in 43.03 seconds.
“I was more concerned with the two coming up behind me, but I got lucky, Ramsay said. “I knew that [Lane’s] horse was huge but not on such a quick stride, and my horse has a big stride but also can be quick with it, so I thought I had a shot.”
Petschenig placed 3rd with Colour Your Life, and Brown was 4th with Apex. Just missing out on the jumpoff after a clear Round 1 with a time fault was Daniel Pedraza of Mexico aboard Arc de Triomphe.
Ramsay has been competing at Thermal for the last three years, but 2017 marks her first venture into the grand prix arena in California. She’s next aiming for Saturday’s feature class, and beyond that, hopes to step up to the 1.60m level this summer at Spruce Meadows. She last showed Hermelien vd Hoogoeve in October, and coming off that break, is focusing on getting the mare back up to top form, so Friday’s win was a big confidence boost.