Calgary, Alberta – Against the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, Jim Ikfo was rock solid at Anderson Ranch for the $53,000 CSI 2* Mothers Day Grand Prix during the Bow Valley Classic I tournament hosted by Rocky Mountain Show Jumping. A challenging course set by Manuel Esparza of Mexico City, Mexico tested the field of 24 horse/rider combinations vying for top honors in the competition.
Olympian and president of Rocky Mountain Show Jumping John Anderson was delighted with the first Grand Prix of the year. “It was great to see such a strong field of horses for our first major event of the season and fitting for the winner to be Jim. Jim will be seen on the cover of our highly anticipated third annual Coffee Table Book, to be released next week.”
Partnered with a new mount Peninsula Vertigo, owned by Marilyn Dawson Dixon of Cochrane, Alberta, Jim was one of the 5 riders that were able to master the first round fault free, Jim galloped to victory with an speedy clear round with a time of 43.63 seconds, earning an impressive $13,250 for his efforts. The only other double clear round was Nicole Gergely with her mount Vianda, who crossed the finish line with a time of 46.99 seconds.
Peninsula Vertigo is a Dutch Warmblood Stallion owned by Marilyn for a couple of years, and when her son Aaron stopped riding, Jim Ifko was the obvious choice for her to bring along such a talented mount. “Unusual for a stallion, he has bonded very well with Jim. My experience has been that stallions can take or leave their riders. But he actually looks for Jim and he has great confidence in him. I have no worries in him stepping up to these bigger competitions.”
With only Nicole clear ahead of him, Jim stuck to his plan and played it somewhat cautious over the first half of the course, aiming for the double clear. “He felt even better in the jump off. On the long stretch to that skinny last fence, he felt absolutely incredible, and I decided that I would give it a shot to the skinny last fence and try to win the class at that point,” said Ifko. “My first goal was to jump clear in the jump off, but by the second last fence and the long stretch to the last jump, I thought that I could catch her and it paid off.”
Second place honors went to Nicole Gergely, of Coaldale, Alberta aboard her mount Vianda. “Vianda is a little spicy, a mare and a real princess,” laughed Nicole. “It is her way or the highway, so I have learned to work around that and keep her happy and that is our game plan but seems to work.” Reflecting on the jump off Nicole stuck to her plan of going clear, and was happy with her placing.
Rounding up the top three palings was Kyle King, who like Jim and Nicole, spent the early spring in San Juan Capistrano, California competing to hone his skills for the Rocky Mountain Show Jumping outdoor season. Kyle was three seconds faster than Jim but clipped a rail going into the final combination before making the turn for home.
People remember Terrific being piloted to numerous international victories by John Anderson, but recently those reins have been turned over to Kyle’s expert hands. John isn’t used to experiencing Grand Prix competition from the sidelines. “It was nerve wracking,” quipped John. “Kyle did such a good job riding Terrific, and has been such a great help to me. He will be riding him next week as well. I want to focus on our tournaments and make them better all the time for our exhibitors, and I guess that will mean sitting out of a few events myself..” laughed John As these tournaments continue to grow John will continue to focus on the success and enjoyment of the riders and have to shelve his competitive side. So if you see John “chomping at the bit” at the side of the Grand Prix ring watching, you will understand what this Grand Prix rider is thinking.
Competition continues next week with the Bow Valley Classic II, featuring the $32,000 CSI2* Farmvet Grand Prix.