Tallahassee, FL, March 14, 2022 – Canada’s Dana Cooke posted top finishes at the Red Hills International Horse Trials held from March 10 to 13, 2022, at Elinor Klapp-Phipps Park in Tallahassee, FL.

Riding FE Quattro, Cooke placed third in the CCI3*-S division and also took 12th position with Harlequinn. A total of 37 entries contested the three-star division with 24 completing the three-phase event held over three consecutive days. Meaghan Marinovich-Burdick of the United States topped the division with a score of 37.0 riding Riviera Lu while fellow American Caroline Martin placed second with 41.5 penalty points riding Galwaybay Blake. Cooke rounded out the top three with a score of 42.8 riding FE Quattro, an eight-year-old German-bred gelding (Quaterstern x Coriograf B) owned by Kingfisher Park.

Canada’s Dana Cooke Heats Up Red Hills International Horse Trials

Dana Cooke, originally from Merritt, BC, posted a top three finish in the CCI3*-S division riding Quatro at the Red Hills International Horse Trials in Tallahassee, FL.
Photo Credit: RedBayStock.com, www.RedBayStock.com

Cooke, originally from Merritt, BC, and now residing in Mooresville, NC, was leading the three-star division with a score of 24.8 penalty points following the opening phase of dressage. She and FE Quattro jumped clear over the cross-country track set by Michael Etherington-Smith, assisted by David O’Connor, but incurred 14 time penalties to drop to fifth in the provisional standings. Holding steady with only four penalties for a dropped rail going into the combination at fence 11 during Sunday’s show jumping phase moved the pair back into the top three.

“It was exciting!” said Cooke, 34, of her weekend. “I’ve had Quattro for a couple years, he’s a young horse that’s fancy on the flat. He’s just been getting stronger and stronger. He’s a big horse and is getting more confident in his movement. It all just came together in that dressage test. He was super, and I couldn’t have asked him to be any better. I was thrilled that I took over the lead from Liz Halliday-Sharp because she wins a lot.

“I was conservative out of the start box – I needed my qualification more than I needed to win – so I was a bit steady, but once I got through the first water, I could feel that he was getting more and more confidence and I let him open up,” she continued of her cross-country round. “He just ate it up. In the show jumping, I let him get a bit too big in the last line; I should have waited for the eight and instead let him get a little big in the seven. That was my mistake.”

Overall, Cooke was thrilled with Quattro’s performance in the horse’s first three-star event. Last September, Quattro completed his first Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) sanctioned event, placing seventh in the CCI2*-S division at the Stable View Horse Trials in Aiken, SC.

“My coach, Clayton Fredericks, imports a lot of horses and FE Quattro had only been here five days,” said Cooke of the horse she purchased in the fall of 2019. “He was only five and quite green, but he jumped well for a green horse and was pretty fancy. I happened to be looking for a horse at the time and I took him. He is a super cool horse.”

Cooke’s partnership with Harlequinn, her second entry in the CCI3*-S division, came about in a much different way.

“He came to me through another Canadian, an old family connection,” said Cooke of the nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood/New Forest Pony-cross gelding owned by the Harlequinn Syndicate LLC. “He’s beautiful but very quirky. I’ve put a lot of time into getting him on my side. He was a four-year-old when he first came to me, and he didn’t like the word ‘no.’ I’ve had to take a whole lot of time with him and explain how to do things step-by-step and he’s really come around.”

Cooke and Harlequinn climbed up the leaderboard after their dressage test placed them in a tie for 23rd position. The pair only incurred time penalties to move up to 15th position after cross-country before ending their weekend in 12th place following a rail down in show jumping.

“He was a little tense in dressage and a little green at times on cross-country but he did his job,” assessed Cooke of their performance. “Show jumping has been his biggest challenge; he jumps so big, he’ll jump himself into trouble in the combinations. I was so thrilled with how he jumped today. A top 12 finish for him is a big deal.”

Cooke also placed 17th in the CCI4*-S division with her long-time partner, Mississippi, owned by the FE Mississippi Syndicate LLC. It was her first time competing at the Red Hills International Horse Trials, which receives great support from the local community and was able to welcome spectators to this year’s event.

“All three horses were good this weekend and I’m happy with that,” she said. “It was the first time I’ve ever been at an event with that many spectators and a lot of spectators around the water. It felt like you had to gallop into the crowd and then turn to the jump. They put on a great event, there were a lot people working all the time and it was quite efficient because they had so much help. It was lovely.”

Canada’s Dana Cooke Heats Up Red Hills International Horse Trials

Holly Jacks-Smither of Hillsburgh, ON, rode Candy King to ninth place in the CCI4*-S division at the Red Hills International Horse Trials held from March 10-13, 2022.
Photo Credit: RedBayStock.com, www.RedBayStock.com

In the CCI4*-S division, Holly Jacks-Smither, 36, of Hillsburgh, ON, was the highest-placed Canadian competitor riding Candy King, her 12-year-old British Sport Horse sired by Eye Candy. Jacks-Smither and her partner of five years had an impressive dressage test, earning a score of 28.8 for provisional second place. A total of 20 time penalties on the cross-country test plus four penalties for a rail down in show jumping gave the pair a final score of 52.8 for ninth place. The division was won by Lauren Nicholson of the United States with a score of 42.1 riding Landmark’s Monte Carlo.

For more information on the Red Hills International Horse Trials, visit www.rhht.org.

For high resolution photographs, please e-mail communications@equestrian.ca.

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