In the $380,000 Suncast Grand Prix CSI5* during Week 7 of the Winter Equestrian Festival, Cat Ballou and Molly Ashe demanded the attention of the full Saturday night crowd. Adeptly navigating Santiago Varela’s challenging course, the Louisburg Farm pair narrowly missed the final cut into the jump off by only .04 seconds, ultimately finishing in 5th.
That evening’s outstanding effort from the 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Cassini II x Lacantus) showcased the talent and potential that Louisburg Farm Manager Paul Butterworth first observed two-and-a-half years ago.
“We got him in his 6-year-old year,” Butterworth said. “We bought him from Axel Wockener in Germany.”
Although Cat Ballou is very large at 17.3h, he rides very light, according to Butterworth. Last year was a breakout season for the horse, moving up into the 1.50-meter and 1.60-meter classes with U.S. rider Molly Ashe. Together, the pair finished 8th in the $34,000 PwC Cup 1.50m at Spruce Meadows and 6th in the $212,000 Rolex U.S. Open CSI3* at the Central Park Horse Show.
“Molly jokingly calls him 'Baby' because he's my favorite,” said Butterworth. “I ride him everyday, and I usually do most of his schooling, too. Molly just gets on to show him.
“We call Cat ‘my’ horse and Pjotter van de Zonnehoeve is ‘Molly’s.’ I joke that Pjotter’s a brat and that she lets him do whatever he wants—of course, this is not entirely true, and her fantastic rounds with him this winter are evidence that she's got a pretty good system with him.”
All kidding aside, Ashe continues to play an integral role in Cat’s development. Both a genuine team player and a fierce competitor, the talented American rider has developed a solid partnership with one of Louisburg Farm’s rising stars.
“In addition to Molly's skill in the ring, one of the things that I love most about Molly is her sense of humor,” Butterworth said. “When we have a bad round, or the unexpected happens, we both default to making a joke or a sarcastic remark. It's incredibly helpful to put things in perspective.”
And to put the talent of the powerful, bay gelding into better perspective, watch his impressive round from CSI5* Week 7 below: