As the sun set over Rockwood, Ontario on Saturday, August 21st, international competition got underway at CSI3* Angelstone Tournaments with the $86,000 The Champions Grand Prix. Jumping the evening’s only double-clear, American Molly Ashe and Balou’s Day Date (Balou Du Rouet x Domino) secured the win of the week’s highlight class.
The 1.60m track was set by Ramin Shafiee of Iran, and of 25 initial starters, just two riders managed to finish the first round track without fault. The final line caused the most problems on course, with countless rounds ending with sighs from the crowd as the final oxer fell to the floor.
It wasn’t until midway through the order of go that Ashe put in the first fault free ride of the evening, successfully navigating the challenging course with the 11-year-old Oldenburg mare.
“I thought Deedee was amazing in the first round,” spoke Ashe of Balous Day Date. “It was a course that suited her, it had a lot of options. The last line got a little dicey but she’s such a trier she made it happen. I owe her one for that.”
A few rounds later, fellow American rider Ali Wolff put in the night’s second clear aboard Quirie 2 (Quadrigus M x Quidam’s Rubin), confirming a jump-off.
Canadian Keean White, CEO of Angelstone Tournaments, was the only other rider to leave all the rails untouched aboard the 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding, For Freedom Z (For Pleasure x Baloubet Du Rouet). However, White’s time on course was just over the 76 second time allowed, leaving him with one time fault and the 3rd place position on the podium.
Ireland’s Conor Swail finished 4th and 5th aboard Dillinger and Grafton, respectively. He missed out on the jumpoff with a single rail down on each of his mounts, but coming away with two generous prize checks meant that his night was somewhat of a success.
The class came down to a jump off between the two American riders, with Ashe first to go posting a clear ride over the shortened track with a time of 36.02 seconds. Wolf was next to contest on her 9-year-old stallion, but with the final rail on course, and a slower time of 36.89 seconds, the young American had to settle for 2nd place.
“Ali’s a ringer, she’s this young, slick speed demon,” Ashe spoke of her competition in the jump off. “She asked me if I was going to go inside one to two in the jump-off, and to be honest, I wasn’t planning on it. But as soon as she said that I knew I had to do it, and luckily it ended up working out.”
Ashe and Balous Day Date have proven themselves a force to be reckoned with when it comes to speed. During the North American Series at Spruce Meadows this past July, they had a blisteringly fast ride in the jump off of the Sun Life Financial ‘Reach for the Sun’ 1.50m, beating the winning time by over 3 seconds. However, their daring speed cost them two rails in the final line on the shortened track on that day.
On Saturday night, Ashe was not going to let that happen again.
“That’s all I could think of, was the same last line,” she said, noticing the similarities in this jump off and the one she’d nearly won at Spruce Meadows. “I though to myself, this time, I’ll add another stride. Just the whole way it rode I felt like I was playing it safe, but today, it was enough.”
Ballous Day Date will head to South Hampton next week, but Ashe will remain in Rockwood with a different crew of horses competing in this week’s CSI3* competition during The National at Angelstone Tournaments.