Cathleen Driscoll & Blue Diamant Claim the Gold in $25,000 Tryon Resort Sunday Classic Grand Prix

Mill Spring, North Caroline – October 10, 2021 – The $25,000 Tryon Resort Sunday Classic at Tryon International Equestrian Center & Resort (TIEC) was topped by Cathleen Driscoll (USA) aboard Blue Diamant with a jump-off time of 36.14 seconds. Second place was awarded to Eugenio Garza (MEX) and Contago, the 2011 Oldenburg stallion (Cornet Obolensky x Cassini ll) owned by David Garza with a time of 37.672 seconds in the jump-off round of competition. Fabian Herrera (USA) and Emperor, the 2012 Warmblood gelding (Eldorado Van De Zeshoek x Imperija ESH 577) earned third place honors with a jump-off time of 39.377 seconds.

The Sunday Classic was both Blue Diamant’s Grand Prix debut as well as Driscoll’s first Grand Prix win. “I’m just so excited. We had no expectations going into today,” Driscoll reported. Driscoll recently took over the reins of the 2011 Selle Francais gelding (Diamant De Semilly x Mr. Blue) owned by Rice Show Stables after his owner Marissa Rice returned to school this fall. “I took over the reins to keep him going. We’ve just been moving back up steadily.”

The Guilherme Jorge (BRA) designed course saw 20 horse-and-rider pairs, with nine pairs qualifying for the jump-off round of competition. Driscoll’s plan was simply “to jump a good round,” which proved to be no trouble at all for the duo despite being first to test the jump-off track. “He’s such a competitor, and he’s so careful and so fast. I took a little shot in the jump-off and he rode beautifully and answered all of the questions beautifully. He was really a star today!”

Driscoll (USA) knows Blue Diamant well, despite recently regaining the ride. A homebred of Henri and Katie Prudent, with whom Driscoll has been riding and training for over two years, Blue Diamant came over to the States from France and Driscoll produced him to the 1.40m level.

“He was in the barn as a sales horse. I brought him up through the 1.40m level, and then we sold him to one of our clients, Marrissa Rice. She competes him in the Low Amateur Owners, so that’s what he’s been doing for the last year and a half. She went back to school this fall, so I took over the reins to keep him going.”

Their history and connection combined with Blue Diamant’s talent led to a win in the horse’s first national Grand Prix appearance, and allowed Driscoll to take chances on course:

Fabian Herrera (USA) & Emperor

“Going first, I knew I had to take a little shot. Blue Diamant just has a huge stride; I’ve never ridden a horse with a stride like his. My plan going in was to let him hunt around and do as few strides as possible,” she shared. “I did eight back to the double, and then hunted down [to the next] in nine. The last two fences were really off of a big gallop, and I knew that’s where I could be fast with him, so I just kept galloping and saw the big one and let him cover the ground. I felt like I had to put a little bit of pressure on with the others coming behind me!”

Driscoll will be competing another week at TIEC with a group of new horses, and she concluded that the facility has been key to giving them positive experiences:

“We’ve got a group of new horses in, they’ve all been jumping wonderfully here. The footing has been spectacular despite four days of rain. I’m just thrilled with our week so far. The facility is beautiful! Thank you to the Prudents,” Driscoll concluded. “I’ve been riding and training with them for about two and a half years now, and they have really brought my riding to another level.”

Cathleen Driscoll (USA) and Blue Diamant in their presentation ceremony.

Final Results – $25,000 Jumper Classic Grand Prix

1) Cathleen Driscoll (USA) & Blue Diamant – 0 / 0 –  36.14

2) Eugenio Garza (MEX) & Contango – 0 / 0 – 37.672

3) Fabian Herrera (USA) & Emperor – 0 / 0 –  39.377

Source: Press Release by Sarah Madden and Emily Carpenter for TIEC – Tryon International Equestrian Center

Photos: © TIEC / Natalie Suto