Mill Spring, NC - On a spectacular summer evening at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), Eric Navet (FRA) and Catypso earned the top honors in tonight's highly anticipated $216,000 Horseware® Ireland Grand Prix CSI 4* with a jump-off time of 41.485 seconds to take the win.
Hunter Holloway (USA) and VDL Bravo S secured the second place position with a time of 42.797 seconds and Kristen Vanderveen (USA) rounded out the top three aboard Bull Run's Testify stopping the timers in 43.875 seconds, with both U.S. riders adding four faults to their jump-off score.
Fans from the across the western region of the Carolina Foothills packed the George H. Morris Arena, creating an electric atmosphere for a class featuring Olympic veterans and many of the sport's rising stars. With only four horse and rider combinations advancing to the jump-off, Navet was the single rider to jump clear around Alan Wade's (IRL) impressive first round course and jump-off track.
"I thought it was a very good course. Alan Wade is one of the best course designers in the world in my opinion. We were very, very glad to have him tonight and throughout the week building the courses for us," said Navet. "It did not walk so difficult, but that is the particularity of Alan [Wade] because there is always less to jump-off than expected. In the jump-off I went early in the order of go, and I knew that the two girls behind me are both very, very fast riders, so I had to take maximum risks."
Navet has consistently placed well at TIEC over the past two weeks of FEI CSI 3* and 4* competition, with tonight's win being the highlight of their time here in North Carolina. Catypso, a 2007 Hanoverian gelding (Catoki x Calypso II) owned by Signe Ostby, has developed into a remarkable horse under the guidance of Navet. Navet and Catypso have had a whirlwind spring season together, earning top finishes across the country since the start of 2017. The pair accumulated a list of solid performances on the West Coast, before gaining valuable experience in the FEI World Cup™ Finals Omaha 2017 in Omaha, NE, in the spring.
Navet spoke about the development of Catypso over the years saying, "It is a funny story with this horse. He was very weird in the beginning and did not jump so well. We always knew he had a very big, easy scope, and he can jump anything. He never struggles. It has just taken time to really build and teach him. I am so proud of him."
Navet and his team at Pomponio Ranch visited TIEC last year for the first time, before returning this summer. They made a point to add two weeks of showing at TIEC onto their five-week tour of the East Coast before heading back to California. "
"We really enjoy these shows and we really enjoy the facility. It is an amazing place. It is a very good place to work with horses because we show grand prix horses as well as develop young horses. We can do everything here and that is fantastic," he explained.
With the stands packed, TIEC was brimming with excited fans who expressed enthusiasm and support throughout the night. Navet described how the buzz in the air tonight played a part in his win. "The crowd is amazing. It was the same last week as well. There are so many shows here and people still keep coming and cheering for the riders. It is a great atmosphere and for us riders it is very motivating. There is a big difference in competing with empty stands than when there is a crowd like tonight's. It is so much fun for us."
Hunter Holloway, the youngest rider in tonight's class, piloted VDL Bravo S in one of the biggest classes they have competed in together. Holloway detailed her special connection with the 2006 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Ephepe For Ever x Chellano Z) owned by Virginia Bartholomay and Hays Investment Corp., saying, "My horse is amazing. I have such a good partnership with him and I really trust him. This is one of the bigger classes I have ever jumped on him and he was amazing."
"My plan for the jump-off was to go smooth and clean. Following Eric [Navet] is always a challenge. He is truly a beautiful rider and I love watching him ride."
Kristen Vanderveen, one of TIEC's most decorated riders, and Bull Run's Testify earned the yellow rosette in tonight's night class. Vanderveen went earlier in the first round aboard Bull Run's Faustino De Tili, winner of the $130,000 Asheville/Greenville BMW Center's Grand Prix CSI 3* last week. However, Vanderveen found herself advancing to the jump-off with her trusted mount, Bull Run's Testify, a 2004 Selle Francais gelding (Dollar Du Murier x Oberon Du Moulin), owned by Bull Run Jumpers.
Having the experience of riding the course once already, Vanderveen expanded on her plan to ride the course differently with Bull Run's Testify to make it to the jump-off. "It is always nice to go in and ride the lines because it always walks a little bit different then it rides. I was able to go more forward on my second horse to give him a better chance than I did on my first ride," she detailed.
Vanderveen knows she can always count on Bull Run's Testify because of their trusted partnership. The pair have amassed numerous respectable finishes together and Vanderveen was happy with their performance.
"He is like a glove to me. I am so comfortable on him and I always put him in the biggest class when I am feeling a little insecure myself. He is like my teddy bear. He has a special place in my heart because he is a steady eddy. He always goes out there and does his job every time. He is very, very reliable," Vanderveen added.
Among several other awards, Vanderveen accepted the Leading Lady FEI Rider Award presented by Meg Atkinson of Town & Country Realtors, honoring and recognizing her success and performance in FEI classes throughout the week. Eric Navet's groom was also awarded the $500 Absorbine FEI Groom's Award for his exceptional care and management of the evening's grand prix winner, Catypso.
For more information on Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) and surrounding amenities, please visit www.tryon.com.