James Chawke and Katie Laurie Take Home Wins in $10,000 1.35m Welcome Speed

James Chawke and Katie Laurie Take Home Wins in $10,000 1.35m Welcome Speed

To embark on the final week of action of Desert Circuit, there were yet again two winners of the $10,000 1.35m Welcome Speed to open Desert Circuit 10, presented by La Quinta Resort & Club. In Section A, sponsored by Barnwalkers, it was none other than James Chawke taking the top position, this time aboard a horse owned by Alison Locke, Nacara Van Berkenbroeck Z. In Section B, sponsored by IDA Development, Katie Laurie took the win aboard Pretty Women, owned by Highland Farms Ltd.

Over Joey Rycroft’s track, Chawke was late to go in the first section of the class aboard Nacara Van Berkenbroeck Z, an 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding by Nonstop. With several second-place finishes on the horse’s resume so far, Chawke was determined to get the horse a win. And that he did.

“I watched Kyle [King] go first and he had a really good round,” Chawke reflected. “He was very neat and efficient. I thought if I had a similar track as him I could be a bit faster because my horse is naturally quicker. I did one less stride from [fences] three to four than him and then I went fairly fast to the liverpool. I saw a bit of a wild one there and Nacara always jumps liverpools quite careful so I figured I could get away with that.”

Chawke’s time was about four seconds faster than King’s, or anyone else’s for that matter. King ended up second aboard Diamond, owned by Strasburg Morin Inc., while Katherine Huffstutler was third with Kimmel SCF.

Chawke’s fire was fueled by a second-place finish in the final class of Desert Circuit 9, so he went in hungry for a win. “I was a bit disappointed with that but the horse was brilliant, I just could’ve been a bit better,” he said of his second place with Daido Van’t Ruytershof Z. “It’s the last week here and then a few weeks off so it would be nice to win as many classes as possible.”

Chawke is the top contender for leading open jumper rider, but he’s also a favorite for Thursday night’s $15,000 CWD Speed League Final

“I’ve had him for nearly two years now,” he said of Nacara Van Berkenbroeck Z. “He’s really fast naturally and I jumped him under the lights in December. We’ve been aiming him for the Speed League Final since he got here; I thought that would be a good class for him to win.”

As for consistency, it’s been Chawke’s best friend this season, bringing home win after win.

“I try with the horses to break them up and give them breaks and aim them at what I think they can do well in,” he shared regarding his strategy. “A lot of my horses, for as much as they’ve won, they’re not horses I’ve had not that long. For Nacara, this circuit has been about stepping him up. He’d never jumped above 1.40m until January. All of my others have stepped up a level. Daido and Isa have jumped bigger but not with me, so I’m either getting to know them or they’re stopping up a level, and it is great that they’ve done it successfully.”

Katie Laurie also had her shining moment Wednesday with Pretty Women, a horse that is fairly new to her since the owner, Sarah Lambert, is expecting a child.

“I don’t know her so well; I’ve only been riding her the last few weeks,” Laurie said of the mare. “I ride one other horse for Highland Farms and Sarah Lambert. [The mare] is so cool; she’s a really fun horse. We did Weeks 7 and 8 and she had last week off because we really wanted to jump her on the grass. She loves the job and loves to be really careful.”

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James Chawke and Katie Laurie Take Home Wins in $10,000 1.35m Welcome Speed | Desert International Horse Park (deserthorsepark.com)