Mill Spring, NC - Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA) and Chaganus stole top honors in Sunday's feature class to close out the week of Tryon Fall V competition, stopping the short course timers of the $86,000 1.50m Tryon Sunday Classic in 39.865 seconds.
Quentin Judge (USA) and Giorgio Van't Hagenhof, a 2006 Belgian Warmblood gelding (Bentley Van De Heffinck x Kannan) owned by Double H Farm, took second place after finishing their jump-off round in 40.397 seconds, while third place honors went to Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) aboard Aikido Z, a 2006 Zangersheide gelding (Accardi x Corrado I) owned by Stal Bijloos Bvba, who stopped the clock at 40.542 seconds.
Forty-one entries tested the CSI 5* track set by Olaf Petersen Jr. (GER) on the Grass Complex at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), while spectators enjoyed a catered brunch in the hospitality tent overlooking the field. Eight pairs went clear in the first round and returned to tour the short course with four finishing double clear.
Pessoa explained that Chaganus, a 2008 Oldenburg gelding (Chacco-blue x Carthago) owned by Pessoa Stables LLC, is a new ride for him and that his mount is fairly untested in this caliber of competition. "I've only had this horse for two months, and this was the first time I've been to a jump-off with him, so I didn't know how he'd react. I was planning on being safe and conservative with him, and he jumped really well. This is really good for developing him for future, bigger classes. I'm really pleased," he said.
Pessoa added, "I started riding him in July and started playing around with him. I haven't had much chance to show him that much because I've been busy with the Irish team, so I've done maybe only four or five shows with him. I thought the class yesterday would have been too severe for him, too early at this stage [in his career], so I decided to go on the grass instead. It's always nice when the plan works out."
The variety that the Grass Complex adds to the riders' experience at the venue is refreshing, said Pessoa, and the highlight class ran well on the strong TifTuf Bermuda grass footing: "I think the course was nice. It's always good to ride in a big, open, green field like this. I thought the course was tough enough, but we still had eight initial clear so the plan for the jump-off was to be clear," he commented.
Early in the jump-off order, Pessoa's goal was to put in a good round and see what Chaganus could do, he elaborated. "When you go early you never really know how it's going to play out, but I wanted to try to take some nice inside lines and have a go. I knew I could be beat, but I think he showed he's a fast horse today. We didn't do anything crazy, but he covers the ground pretty well and it's exciting. The next time we're in the jump-off I know I can let him go a little bit more and make him harder to beat."
Speaking to their week at the venue, Pessoa concluded, "This is a spectacular place. It's really built for the well-being of the horses and the riders. We've really enjoyed our two weeks here and are looking forward to coming back next September for some very serious competition. It's really great what they've done here and we're always thrilled to come to Tryon."
For more information on TIEC, please visit www.tryon.com.