Calgary, Alberta – Alejandro Karolyi of Venezuela claimed the first major victory of his young career by winning the $31,000 Parcours de Chasse on Saturday, June 18, at the Spruce Meadows “Continental” Tournament in Calgary, AB.
Karolyi was the first rider to tackle the demanding track set by course designer Bob Ellis of Great Britain, who is the appointed course designer for the 2012 London Olympic Games. The Venezuelan sailed over the gruelling course, which included natural obstacles such as a ditch and a bank, to cross the timers in 87.01 seconds.
Numerous Olympic medalists followed, including show jumping legends McLain Ward, Leslie Howard, Michael Whitaker, and Beezie Madden, but none could touch the time set by pathfinder Karolyi. California’s Karl Cook came closest, but his time of 88.50 did not endanger Karolyi’s lead.
Karolyi’s victory in the $31,000 Parcours de Chasse, which was sanctioned by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI), marked the 26-year-old’s first FEI win.
“My plan was to go as fast as I could, be clear and hope for the best,” said Karolyi of his strategy when competing as the first rider on course. “I was nervous to see the list with the riders in it; it was extremely fast riders and extremely fast horses. I think they misjudged my speed. They saw me go first, and they didn’t expect my time to be that fast, and to hold up for the whole class. I had to hope for luck today, and I got lucky today!”
Karolyi was riding Vichy, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare that he has been partnered with since February.
“The course for her was good, it was spooky and she is really brave, and she can roll back extremely fast,” explained Karolyi. “I had never done the bank with her, so I did not know how she would react to that, but she saw it and cantered down, and that helped to shave a couple of seconds off my time. She’s always been really good going fast; the faster you go the more careful she gets.
“I knew she had a lot of talent,” continued Karolyi. “She is a very sensitive mare.It has to be her way, and we have made a great match since the beginning. Every time she goes in the ring, she gets better and better. She gets more and more comfortable with my ride every time.
Karolyi, who has been training with Olympic Champion Eric Lamaze since 2008, rides for his native Venezuela in international competition.
“It’s exciting, I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” said Karolyi. “I am happy to keep the Venezuelan flag waving high.Hopefully more will come!”
Karolyi will continue to compete at Spruce Meadows for the duration of its summer tournaments, which conclude July 10.