Karl Cook and Farrari Win $25,500 Smartpak Grand Prix

Karl Cook and Farrari, owned by Signe Ostby, jump in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix on Friday, March 5, 2015, at HITS Desert Circuit VII. (c) ESI Photography
Karl Cook and Farrari, owned by Signe Ostby, jump in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix on Friday, March 5, 2015, at HITS Desert Circuit VII. (c) ESI Photography

Thermal, CA: Karl Cook took home the blue ribbon in the $25,500 SmartPak Grand Prix Friday on Signe Ostby’s Farrari for his first Grand Prix victory of this year’s HITS Desert Circuit. Cook claimed the title over the rider who has prevailed most often this circuit, eight-time 2015 Grand Prix winner and U.S. Olympian Will Simpson, on Monarch International’s Katie Riddle, who placed second in a large field of 67. Rounding out the top three was Eric Navet, who trains Cook, riding Jonkheer Z, owned by Ostby, Cook’s mother.

Cook has come close to the blue a few times this circuit, including a second-place finish to Simpson in Desert Circuit III, but this was his first win on the West Coast since making a clean sweep in the feature Grand Prix at National Sunshine Series I and II last fall. Cook went eighth in the jump-off on Friday, two horses after Simpson and Katie Riddle, and clocked in at 35.150 seconds, more than a full second ahead of Simpson, who finished in 36.713. Navet finished the shortened jump-off course in 38.495 seconds.

The top eight in the fast 18-horse jump-off went double clear, and prizes went to the top 13 winners. In fourth was Tamie Phillips on her Cat Balou in 39.006 seconds, followed close behind by Patricio Pasquel on his Candela in 39.623.

Cook said after his victory that the distance between the first and second efforts was “one of those hope and pray rides.” Taking a strategic angle to the second obstacle in the jump-off “put me in a direct line with the water jump so I just hoped and prayed he [Farrari] would understand we were going left and not to the water. It worked."

Karl Cook and Farrari, owned by Signe Ostby, win the blue ribbon $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix on Friday, March 5, 2015, at HITS Desert Circuit VII. (c) ESI Photography
Karl Cook and Farrari, owned by Signe Ostby, win the blue ribbon $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix on Friday, March 5, 2015, at HITS Desert Circuit VII. (c) ESI Photography

“My strategy was simple: Go as fast as I could and take chances and hope it would be fast enough,” Cook stressed, adding, “there were a lot of good riders after me so I knew it would take a special ride. But, that said, I absolutely did not think I would catch Will — man, he was fast! This is the first Grand Prix win for Farrari. It was a great class.”

Simpson took a sportsmanlike approach to his second place finish to Cook, saying, “I thought I gave it a pretty good shot but this guy [Cook] has been on my tail for weeks now — the whole circuit. He’s a great competitor and it was a whole lot of fun being in there with him. He showed a lot of heart; he just plain, ‘went for it,’ as we say. I thought I closed the door on him since I went before he did and had a fast, clear jump-off, but he was not going to give it up. It was his class, clearly; he was not going to be denied. Being second behind that kind of ride is pretty sweet. With the young man beating me, he’d better be on his toes next week.”

Simpson was referring to next week’s AIG $1 Million Grand Prix, presented by MortgageCall, on Sunday, March 15, where all riders will face tough competition, including Cook, Rich Fellers, John Pearce and last year’s winner, Ashlee Bond. Another Grand Prix takes place Sunday as the jumpers prepare for the Million, and the field of competitors is shaping up to be one of the strongest yet.

The HITS winter circuits close out with a Grand Finale of back-to-back $1 Million classes. The Great American $1 Million Grand Prix takes place at HITS Ocala on Monday, March 23.

iJump Sports contributed to this release.

General admission tickets are on sale now for the AIG $1 Million Grand Prix, presented by MortgageCall, Sunday, March 15! General Admission tickets are $10 per person. Children under 12 are free. To get your tickets, stop by the HITS Desert Horse Park Show Office or call the office at 760.399.9200. Tickets are also available for purchase at the Main Gate on the day of the show. For more spectator informaiton, click here.
 
$25,500 SmartPak Grand Prix - HITS Thermal - Desert Circuit VII
Place    Horse    Owner    Rider    Prize    Rd. 1 Faults   JO Faults   JO Time
1  Farrari  Signe Ostby    Karl Cook  $7,500  0  0  35.150
2  Katie Riddle     Monarch International    William Simpson     $5,500     0  0  36.713
3  Jonkheer Z  Signe Ostby  Eric Navet    $3,250    0  0  38.495
4  Cat Balou  Tamie Phillips  Tamie Phillips  $2,000  0  0  39.006
5  Candela  Patricio Pasquel  Patricio Pasquel    $1,500    0  0  39.623
6  Notre Star de la Nutria  Federico Fernandez Senderos    Paola Amilibia    $1,250    0  0  40.798
7  Casseur de Prix  Granville Equine  Jenni McAllister    $1,000    0  0  44.197
8  Goodwill VB    Caledonia Stables  Greg Broderick  $750    0  0  49.997
9  Gitano  Federico Fernandez Senderos    Federico Fernandez Senderos  $750  0  4  41.443
10  Going Global  Caledonia Stables  Greg Broderick  $500  0  4  41.910
11  Caesar Z  Jaclyn Duff  Jaclyn Duff    $500   0  4  43.723
12  Alfie  Eduardo Sanchez Navarro Rivera Torres  Eduardo Sanchez Navarro Rivera Torres    $500  0  4  51.974
13  Asb Conquistador  Signe Ostby  Eric Navet  $500  0  8  37.840




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