Ali Wolff and Casall capture a lucrative win in the $216,000 Upperville jumper classic CSI4* class at Upperville Colt & Horse Show. You can catch up on all the action from Upperville in our highlights show on H&C on Tuesday June 19 at 7pm Eastern time.
‘He wanted it as badly as I did’
Upperville Colt & Horse Show (UCHS), America’s longest-running horse show, has helped launch the careers of many young riders. This year’s competition brought together some of the best athletes in the world for the Upperville jumper classic CSI4* class. In front of a packed crowd, home rider Ali Wolff scored the biggest win of her professional career when she topped an eight-horse jump-off with a double clear effort aboard her veteran partner Casall.
Thirty-one international riders faced Brazilian course designer Marina Azevedo’s first-round track in the main arena. Eight combinations posted clears and returned for the jump-off, and last-to-go Ali had the benefit of watching her fellow riders to see where she could make time. She trusted her long-time partner and it paid off.
They took a flyer to the first, left out strides and kept their fast pace throughout, making sharp turns and wasting no time in the air. They galloped across the finish line in 41.50 seconds, capturing the biggest win of Ali’s career and etching her name into the history books of one of America’s most prestigious horse shows.
“I was fortunate enough to go last,” said Ali, who was competing at Upperville for the second year running. “I watched a few go and McLain [Ward] had a really fast round. I can’t go anybody else’s speed but my own and sometimes that’s more nerve-wracking, but it played out in my favor this time so I’ll take it!”
Of her partner of six years, Casall she added: “He felt really responsive to me, he felt really relaxed actually, that’s really the key for us. He really wanted it as badly as I did. In our jump-off, we set off with a very long distance accidentally.
“Ever since that, it kind of did set the tone for our pace, we just kept finding things come up nice, all of our distances. I just stayed on it and so did he. He just kind of took care of me over the last fence and here we are!”
How it panned out
In the jump-off, Ireland’s Cormac Hanley was the pathfinder with Heathman Farm LLC’s VDL Cartello. The duo made the short course look easy and crossed the finish line in 43.09 seconds with all of the rails intact.
The next four pairs to tackle the course were either too slow or their quick time came at the expense of rail. It wasn’t until fellow Irishman Kevin Babington and Shorapur, owned by Shorapur LLC, entered the ring that the crowd saw the lead change hands. Upperville marked the 13-year-old mare’s first major competition back in the ring following an injury, and the careful horse never touched a rail. They slid through the timers in 43.01 seconds — just 8/100ths of a second faster than Hanley — to take over the top spot.
Kevin would not hold the lead for long though, with two riders left to compete.
Ali is no stranger to success, as the hard working athlete has won North American Young Rider gold and represented the USA during Nations Cup competitions on numerous occasions. She is consistently in the top of the grand prix rankings, however, their fast clear in the $216,000 Upperville jumper classic CSI4* marked Ali’s first international grand prix victory.
Receiving rave reviews from exhibitors and spectators, the 165th Upperville Colt & Horse Show came to a close in front of a packed audience and featured an exciting finale. The entire team will be working hard as they prepare to continue to host both international and local athletes at the prestigious and historic event in 2019.