Ireland’s Kevin McCarthy and Catch A Star HSS raced to the win in this evening’s thrilling $5,000 Welcome Stake 1.35 m sponsored by CWD. Each horse and rider pair were on their “A game” tonight, with all of the 8 entries that made it to the jump off jumping double clear. This evening’s course, designed by Keith J. Bollotte, saw entries attempting 14 efforts in a time allowed of 78 seconds. The first round began on a single vertical on the diagonal on the lower end of the arena, then rolled around past the ingate to a second single vertical on the rail which bent to a one-stride combination on the diagonal at the top of the ring. Entries then rode around the far end of the arena to jump four, a single oxer, then bent to a line across the diagonal. From there, entries rode a tidy rollback turn to jump seven, a single vertical heading away from the ingate, then bent around the center of the ring to a one-stride combination on the opposite diagonal as the earlier combination. Entries continued around the top of the ring to jump nine, a single vertical on a diagonal in the top corner, then bent to ride down an oxer-to-vertical line, and finished by rolling back up to a single oxer on the diagonal in the center of the ring.
The Table II event asked entries to go to the jump off directly after their first clear round. The short course began on jump nine at the top of the arena, then continued down to just the oxer of the oxer-to-vertical line, then rolled around to jumps three A and B, the one-stride combination. From there, entries rode around the top of the ring to jump four, the single oxer, then bent to jump one, and finished on jump two.
The first go of the night was Lisa Goldman-Smolen of Hawthorn Woods, Illinois aboard her own Hindsight (Vision x Rhiannon). The pair jumped an easy, clear first course in a time of 74.652 seconds, then continued straight to the jump off, again riding the course with ease, jumping a clear round and crossing the timers at 32.963 seconds, setting the pace for the class. However, Goldman-Smolen and Hindsight did not hold the lead for long. Second in the order of go was Sarah R. Meier and her own Chanel (Cradilo x Red Charisma), who also jumped a clear first round, just slightly slower in a time of 75.971 seconds. The pair picked up the pace in the jump off without picking up any faults, stopping the clock at 32.878 seconds and becoming the new class leader.
Goldman-Smolen returned seventh in the order of go aboard Sovereign. The pair have a great history at World Equestrian Center, winning the $50,000 Grand Prix in late October. Goldman-Smolen and Sovereign stayed steady in the first round, jumping clear in a time of 75.455 seconds. They continued straight to the jump off, picking up pace as they rode the course. The pair jumped a second clear round in a speedy time of 31.697 seconds, beating Meier and Chanel’s jump off time by just over a second.
The pair held their lead for a few rounds, until Ireland’s Kevin J. McCarthy entered the ring aboard his own Catch A Star HSS (Tolinda x Nimmerdor). Returning from their $25,000 WEC Grand Prix victory in early December, McCarthy and Catch A Star HSS took the the course with confidence. The pair were quick and precise in the first round, jumping clear and stopping the clock at 74.213 seconds. They continued into the jump off with determination, both McCarthy and Catch A Star HSS putting every ounce of effort into their round. The pair soared through the last bending line, then turned incredibly tight to the final fence to halt the timers at an unbelievable 28.873 seconds, almost three seconds faster than Goldman-Smolen and Sovereign, sending them straight to the top of the leader board.
The final clear pair of the night was Megan Bash of Cleveland, Ohio and Cleveland Equestrian’s Dayla 6 (Ogano Sitte x Layla). The pair were clear in the first round in 75.768 seconds, then returned for the jump off. They put in a great effort, stopping the clock at 32.066 seconds, not quite enough to beat the top two entries, but in plenty of time to send them into third place behind Goldman-Smolen and Sovereign. Goldman-Smolen rode four horses to top-ten finishes tonight.
Kevin McCarthy was all smiles as we chatted with him about his and Catch A Star HSS’s victory in tonight’s $5,000 Welcome Stake 1.35 m sponsored by CWD. “It was a great course; lovely course building today. I probably could have added one to the second to last jump (in the jump off), but [Catch A Star HSS] is such a good one. She gives her all. It’s great fun,” McCarthy noted about the eight-year-old Swedish mare. He added, “You had to be very fast today because Lisa was really quick. I didn’t realize I was going to be three seconds faster, but I’ll take it!”
McCarthy also reflected on the last time he and Catch A Star HSS showed at World Equestrian Center. “The last time we were here in early December, we had a great show and won the Grand Prix. With owning a bar (McCarthy’s Pub in Casenovia, New York), it is hard to show a lot. So we do love coming here, it’s worth the drive.” He and Keely O’Hara traveled from Casenovia, New York to show at World Equestrian Center this week. “Keely has a bunch of horses here and I have another mare, Gwen MC 1 (Quidam), that was second today in the 1.25 m Jumpers. She’s a great little mare, she’ll show over the week as well.” McCarthy is looking forward to the rest of the week at World Equestrian Center, and is excited to return to the ring Saturday night with Catch A Star HSS for the $25,000 WEC Grand Prix!
$5,000 Welcome Stake 1.35 m Results
- Catch A Star HSS, Kevin J. McCarthy – 0 | 0 | 28.873
- Sovereign, Lisa Goldman-Smolen – 0 | 0 | 31.697
- Dayla 6, Megan Bash – 0 | 0 | 32.066
- Chanel, Sarah R. Meier – 0 | 0 | 32.878
- Hindsight, Lisa Goldman-Smolen – 0 | 0 | 32.963
- Hilma, Sam Pegg – 0 | 0 | 33.250
- Nike, Lisa Goldman-Smolen – 0 | 0 | 33.306
- Lazuli II SCF, Jennifer Waxman – 0 | 0 | 34.024
- Quantos, Jason Berry – 1 | 78.762
- As Di Sogrand, Lisa Goldman-Smolen – 4 | 72.155
Photos courtesy of Andrew Ryback Photography.