The early success in the class’s order, with time seeming to be of no issue, may have lulled the following riders into feeling a false sense of security in the ease of the course as the rails began to drop, most notably at the triple and double combinations. There was no shortage of 4-fault rounds with 11 horse-and-rider pairs crossing the timers with a single rail down. Only three other riders joined Maron Kahwagi for the jump off: Francisco Pasquel (MEX), Patricio Pasquel (MEX), and Antonio Chedraui Eguia (MEX).
“When I first walked the course, it walked normal,” said Francisco. “It was technical enough but it wasn’t too big. It was a nice course, and I thought there would be between eight and ten clears, but unlucky rails fell all over. I think Olaf did an amazing job. Time and rails all over are signs of a super course because it shows riders aren’t crashing in just one place.”
The shortened track utilised eight obstacles with nine jumping attempts with space for long gallops and large, looping turns. The first rider in the ring, Maron Kahwagi, piloted the 12-year-old gelding Brave Liberty San Gabriel to a conservative, 8-fault performance, leaving the door wide open for the three other riders.
Next in the ring was Francisco Pasquel, who guided 10-year-old gelding Naranjo over the first few fences at efficient angles to shave time off the clock. But when he noticed that his horse was shifting right, a habit that suddenly developed when competing at the Spruce Meadows Masters in 2016, he eased up on the speed to make sure they crossed the timers clear and in good form.
“Going clear as fast as I could was my strategy,” Francisco said. “My horse was a little nervous and shifted a little to the right so I didn’t push him. I knew my brother was going to catch me on the time but lucky for me, he had a rail. I had a nice time and a little bit of luck.”
In an effort to best his younger brother, Patricio Pasquel, riding his homebred, 10-year-old gelding Babel, attempted to take a stride out of a bending line from the double to a careful vertical, which resulted in riding through the fence rather than over it. Regardless of the misjudged jump, Patricio managed to shave over six-tenths of a second off of his brother’s time.
“In the first round, from the double to the vertical, I did the eight so my coach said now we can try the seven,” said Patricio. “I landed a little left and went for the seven but I was half a meter off. Still, I’m so happy. My horse jumped so well and he was the fastest. I could have gone a little easier and still had the time, but we were excited.”
The final rider in the order, Chedraui Eguia rode 11-year-old gelding Ninloubet at a more conservative pace, which, combined with a rail, landed them in the third-place position.
“My brothers and I talk a lot about strategy and the sport,” said Francisco. “We share but not a lot of time do we agree. Gerardo’s and my horse are a little smaller and Patricio’s has a bigger stride so I try not to know what Patricio is going to do.”
“We always help each other, walk courses together, but each has his own opinions,” added Patricio. “For example, Francisco did eight strides to the triple today, and I did seven. We all know our horses and our horses are different. But this is a dream come true for the whole family—just to be here with my brothers and to spend so much time with them enjoying this sport.”
Following today’s event, Enrique Gonzalez (MEX) continues to hold the top position in the Western Sub-League standings. The final Western Sub-League event will be on Saturday, 11 February 2017.
Result: 1, Naranjo (Francisco Pasquel) MEX 0/0 44.24; 2, Babel (Patricio Pasquel) MEX 0/4 43.57; 3, Ninloubet (Antonio Chedraui Eguia) MEX 0/4 47.22; 4, Brave Liberty San Gabriel (Miguel Maron Kahwagi) MEX 0/8 46.32; 5, Bartender (Alejandro Mills) MEX 1/83.61; 6, Coleman (Mario Onate) MEX 2/87.41; 7, Stan (Juan Manuel Luzardo) URU 4/75.07; 8, Anton (Jaime Azcarraga) MEX 4/75.72.
Full results here