Mark Kinsella Scores a One-Two Finish in $10,000 1.35m Welcome Speed
Mark Kinsella is back at Desert International Horse Park (DIHP), and he made his presence known as he finished in both first and second place in Wednesday’s $10,000 Run A Mok 1.35m Welcome Speed to kick off week two of the National Sunshine Series.
Aboard Ben Asselin’s Quality H, he set the bar high over Manuel Esparza’s single-round speed course, jumping clear in 59.994 seconds. Returning near the end of the order on Katherine Huffstutler’s Coupenote Belmaniere, he shaved nearly three seconds off his own leading time, coming home in 57.026 seconds, and made the time to beat just that much more out of reach for the other riders.
Esparza built a tough track for the afternoon, but with 55 entries, the class stayed competitive the whole way through. Lauren Whitlock also scored a spot on the podium, taking third with Lente, owned by Whitlock Equestrian, LLC.
“He’s a really good horse,” Kinsella, who bases out of DIHP, said of Coupenote Belmaniere, a 10-year-old Selle Francais stallion (Qlassic Bois Margot x Mylord Carthago). “We got him in August of this year. An owner of mine bought him for his daughter to ride and normally I ride the horse early in the week and she takes him in the amateur classes later in the week. He’s a pleasure to have. He’s so easy to ride and he’s fast and competitive and wants to win, so that makes my job a lot easier.”
The Irish rider adapted his plan slightly for each of his top two horses, knowing each one’s strengths and the specific track that would suit each horse better. “I know he’s very fast,” Kinsella continued regarding his winning mount. “He’s naturally quick. So I tried to follow my track tighter than my previous horses and luckily it all worked out for me.
“My first horse who finished second – Quality H – I’m still getting to know against the clock so I tried to tighten the turns and tighten the lines but not go too erratic. I could tighten everything up a bit more with Coupenote and it was very fast,” he shared.
Though Quality H finished second, Kinsella has had the ride longer and has progressed the horse up to the CSI5* grand prix level. “My partnership with Quality H has just gotten stronger and stronger,” he reflected. “I’m super happy with that horse. We’re training against the clock on a lower level and we’ll jump the [$100,000 FarmVet] Grand Prix this weekend.”
Kinsella shares the feeling with many that returning to DIHP is like coming home. “[This is where we started our business a little under two years ago, so it’s home,” he said. “I was in Mexico last week so I wasn’t able to make the first week of Sunshine, but I’m really happy to get here for one week and starting off with a win is even better. The place as a whole is so rewarding for riders and trainers. Seeing the effort the team puts into the place, constantly building and improving, is so important. I can’t stress enough how much I thank these guys for being here. They make our job a lot easier than it could be.”