Mark Kinsella Brings Nothing but Quality to National Sunshine Series
One victory at the Desert Internatonal Horse Park (DIHP) National Sunshine Series was not enough for Mark Kinsella. Aboard his second-place mount in Wednesday’s $10,000 Welcome Speed, Quality H, Kinsella took the win Thursday in the $30,000 Ritz Carlton 1.45m Open Classic, besting 61 entries.
Set in a speed format, the class saw the lead change hands several times, but around the halfway point, Kinsella came in aboard Ben Asselin’s Quality H and shaved nearly five seconds off the leading time. His time of 61.757 seconds was untouchable, and only Jake Endicott and the Ashland Farms entry RMF Chacco Top came close, clocking in at 63.820 seconds for second place. Eric Navet found himself back on the podium aboard Signe Otsby’s Cadillac Jack in third.
Kinsella has seen the quality improve in the 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding over the last year. “I’ve always liked the horse,” he said of Quality H. “Ben and I spoke last year and he thought it was a good option to give it to me. I needed to increase my strength of horses, and he’s really adapted well. He never feels like he’s struggling; he can jump as big as he wants. I did some five-star grand prixs with him and he feels like he’s ready. I’ll do mostly FEI weeks during [Desert] Circuit and until then I’ll keep knocking on the door and jumping the grand prixs they have here.”
As for Thursday’s class, Kinsella knew he could rely on Quality H’s big stride to get the job done. “I went earlier with one of my other horses called Doraindo and I did all the inside turns with him. I ended up having two rails down, but I tried to ride the same course with Quality H, and I know his stride is so big that the leave-out is very easy. I left out a stride from one to two and that set me in my rhythm and I tried to stay on it,” he explained.
Kinsella aims Quality H at the $100,000 FarmVet Grand Prix Saturday night of National Sunshine Series week two, and he likes his chances considering the week has gone so well for him and the horse. “He’s a big ride and a very big mover,” he continued. “I can go on leave-out numbers without going super fast. I don’t have to put him under too much pressure. I like that ride but it’s something I’m not super used to so I’m trying to get used to it more. So far so good.”
Returning from a week in Mexico, Kinsella is making his presence known, taking two big wins in just two days, something he attributes to DIHP’s added classes. “The schedule at Desert Horse Park has changed a lot. This is my third circuit here and it’s really strong. It allows riders to come with all sorts of different horses and clients as well. We have access to good money classes and we’re also producing horses at the same time. It’s definitely beneficial for riders to have more money classes here,” he concluded.
National Sunshine Series week two continues Friday with the $65,000 Butet USHJA International Hunter Derby Regional Championship at 8:00 a.m. in the Grand Prix Arena and the CPHA Style of Riding Championships as the evening session.