California’s Karl Cook kept his feet on the ground after winning the $75,000 1.50m Classic with Kalinka Van’t Zorgvliet – that rounded off week 9 at the Winter Equestrian Festival – by a mere .08 of a second. “It’s been really good highs like this and some epic failures,” said Karl, who went early in the class and was almost chased down by runner up Jos Verlooy on FTS Killossery Konfusion.
Evidently it’s a balancing act keeping Karl’s winning 12-year old bay mare in shape. “It’s just making sure she stays fit,” Karl said. “You’ve got to work her enough because if you don’t the next day she’s near dangerous how fresh she is – and you can’t lunge her because she’ll leap in the air. She has leapt without putting her feet down and she just goes ‘plunk’. So it’s a lot of riding.”
Karl was fourth in the ring in the opening round that saw 65 contenders. Going early, he said, was not a problem. “It really wasn’t that big of a deal. I don’t think we changed anything from the walk to watching a few people.”.
While Kalinka is ridden frequently – she is jumped sparingly. “She’s a hot mare so she works a lot and so it’s just a lot of flat work,” Karl said. “We don’t jump her a lot really. In fact, we didn’t jump her once between the three-star and when we came into the FEI this week.”
The mare rose to the occasion. “This is the biggest we’ve ever done with her by a good amount,” said Karl. “It didn’t feel like anything to her and she felt great.”
Looking back at WEF so far, Karl described it as something of a rollercoaster. “I stopped out of the grand prix yesterday, the horse had a little bit of an issue on the reflection on the Liverpool. We did the five-star grand prix and I tried to leave out a stride, and we fell into an oxer! Some epic fails! But then all the horses, even the one that stopped out last night, before that she was fifth and seventh in the four-star the week before, it was just that reflection on the water. Like I said, some really good highs – and also some not so highs.”
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