Thermal, California, USA – January 11, 2023 – Desert International Horse Park (DIHP) kicked off its second week of Desert Circuit competition on Wednesday with the $10,000 Platinum Performance 1.35m Welcome Speed. Colm Quinn’s (USA) course presented an interesting line up of challenges, featuring multiple combinations, designed to be attacked through tight turns paired with swift pace.
Sean Leckie, aboard Sarah Freedman’s BEC Alter Ego, a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare, made his sole ride a winning one. Shaving off more than five seconds from the previous leading rider, Allison Kroff, Leckie clocked in with a wickedly fast time of 60.902 seconds. Only going eighth in the order, Leckie managed to hold on to his leading position after 29 trips had jumped.
Runner up Savannah Jenkins (USA), aboard Casallantum, opted for a tighter rollback from fences eight to nine, fitting in an even paced eight strides. Leckie managed 10 strides through a wider approach, still maintaining his quick pace and edging his way to the top position. Jenkins finished just barely behind Leckie with a time of 62.231 seconds. Youngster Lauren Kolbe (USA) followed closely behind Jenkins, crossing the timers in 62.653 seconds and clutching third aboard Full Tilt Farms’ Dots & Dashes.
BEC Alter Ego proved to be the fastest of the day, with the win going to a petite but quick ginger mare with promising potential. Even when she was first purchased by Freedman, Leckie knew she was one to watch. “Right away when [Sarah Freedman] sat on it, she knew that was the horse for her,” Leckie, of San Juan Capistrano, CA, said of BEC Alter Ego. “She’s probably one of the best horses I’ve ever ridden; she’s smooth, easy, careful, very modern, and in the barn she’s like a dog. She follows you around.”
This win was just the start for BEC Alter Ego’s career. Leckie has great plans for the mare’s future, primarily with her owner in the saddle. “I see her doing the national grand prixs with Sarah,” he continued. “That’s the goal for her. For me, I try to keep her sharp and in the ring as much as possible.” Leckie’s strong riding is a great backbone to continue developing BEC Alter Ego in hopes that the mare and her owner can piggyback off of her success in classes like today’s $10,000 Platinum Performance 1.35m Welcome Speed.
Leckie is not only a master rider, but serves as a top trainer as well. Leckie and his wife, Sophie Simpson-Leckie, manage their training business, Blue Ridge Farms LLC, together, working to further their clients’ careers in the sport. With a passion for passing his knowledge onto the next generation of top show jumpers, Leckie’s circuit goals consist of supporting his younger riders in their career aspirations, and assisting in their horses’ development is just the start.
“I train primarily junior and young riders to do grand prixs and quality for [FEI North American Youth Championships],” Leckie explained. “There’s a lot of prize money and opportunity here for these girls to get in the ring and jump big classes and difficult tracks. Between all our riders, the goal is to get in the grand prixs and money classes as much as possible.”
Getting all the experience these young riders can get will prove invaluable to their riding, and Leckie is thrilled to be along for the ride. “When I train young riders to hopefully become professionals, it’s a real journey,” he said. “We start most of our kids in the 1.0m and bring them up through the ranks. For me, that’s super exciting and I love seeing them achieve their goals. Last year we were lucky that they all got medals [at NAYC] and this year we’re hungry to do the same thing and to see them go to Europe and compete and develop.”
Fortunately, Desert International Horse Park provides those necessary classes and experiences Leckie’s riders can utilize. “There are [usually] four great money classes each week to compete in so we’re here as much as we can be,” Leckie says. “We love it here; it’s the best footing, a great venue, and they’ve done a great job with this place.”
Final Results: $10,000 Platinum Performance 1.35m Welcome Speed
1) Robert Sean Leckie (USA) & BEC Alter Ego / Sarah Freedman / 0/60.902
2) Savannah Jenkins (USA) & Casallantum / Lavender Creek / 0/62.231
3. Lauren Kolbe (USA) & Dots & Dashes / / Full Tilt Farms / 0/62.653
4. Kaitlin Campbell (USA) & Tapalpa LS // SWS Training & Sales / 0/63.995
5. Hannah Evans (USA) & Jane Avril Des Terdrix / Hannah Evans / 0/64.589
6. James Chawke (IRL) & Gamble / James Chawke / 0.64.796
7. Ava Spinale (USA) & Chesterfield / Ava Spinale / 0/65.395
8. Allison Kroff (USA) & T-Quick Hurricane Z / Allison Kroff / 0/65.527
9. Jamie Gornall (USA) & Chagolou / Jamie Gornall / 0/66.219
10. Chandler Meadows (USA) & Christy JNR / Chandler Meadows / 0/66.881
11. Bruno Diniz Das Neves (POR) & Gucci Musterd / Laura Khorshid / 0/67.038
12. Bruno Diniz Das Neves (POR) & Karius / Mirasol Equestrian, LLC / 0/68.394