Jim Ifko of Calgary, AB, guided Peninsula Croisette to victory in the $25,000 Western Division Jump Canada Talent Squad Final, Presented by Stone Ridge, on August 25 during the CSI2* Rocky Mountain Classic II held at Anderson Ranch in Calgary, AB. Photo by Cansport
Original Article by Horse Sport | September 1, 2011
Records were set when Rocky Mountain Show Jumping played host to the Western Division Jump Canada Talent Squad Final, Presented by Stone Ridge, on August 25 in Calgary, AB.
A record number of entries, 31, competed for a record amount of prize money, $25,000, in the competition designed to identify horses and riders with the potential to become future members of the Canadian Show Jumping Team. Fittingly, chef d’equipe Terrance ‘Torchy’ Millar and Karen Hendry-Ouellette, Manager of Jumping for Equine Canada, were in attendance on the historic occasion.
From a strong starting field filled with impressive horses and riders, 12 produced clear rounds over the inviting track set by renowned course designer Werner Deeg of Germany. 22-year-old Femke van den Bosch of Red Deer, AB, opened the jump-off by posting a slow and steady clear in a time of 49.48 seconds riding Tom Tom, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding owned by John van den Bosch.
The next clear round was posted by another 22-year-old, Marshall Whyte of Cochrane, AB, riding Quinlan, his 11-year-old Hannoverian gelding. Whyte’s time of 44.86 seconds moved him into the lead.
Saving the best for last, Calgary’s Jim Ifko entered the ring with Peninsula Croisette. The impressive pair made easy work of the jump-off course, with Ifko guiding the eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare home in a time of 42.45 seconds to take the win.
“Coming into the jump-off, I knew that Marshall was very fast; I heard that he was more than four seconds faster than Femke, who was clear,” said Ifko. “I was a little conservative over the first three fences, but she was feeling spectacular and I knew I could open up and do a fast, efficient plan for the rest of the course, and it ended up paying off.”
Ifko’s horse, Peninsula Croisette, is owned by Cheryl Whyte of Bryte Enterprises Ltd., the mother of runner-up Marshall Whyte and Jennifer Whyte, who posted the fastest four-fault effort in the jump-off to place fourth with Peninsula Apollo. Ifko had originally ridden Peninsula Croisette during her five-year-old year, and took up the reins again this past May.
“Even in her five-year-old year, you knew right away that she had the ability to become a higher level show jumper, it was just a matter of putting in the time and developing her properly,” said Ifko of the mare that was originally imported to Canada by Marilyn Dawson Dixon of Cochrane, AB, who had spotted her competing with Ireland’s Connor Swail.
Ifko and Peninsula Croisette spent this summer competing in the 1.30m divisions at Spruce Meadows and Thunderbird, where they consistently finished in the top five. Returning to Calgary for the Rocky Mountain Classic II tournament, Ifko felt it was time to step the mare up to the next level and was pleasantly surprised by the results.
“On Wednesday, we did the 1.30m.and had a four fault round, but mostly because she was feeling very fresh and almost overly confident. At that time, I decided I should give the Talent Squad class a try,” explained Ifko of Peninsula Croisette’s 1.40m debut. “After walking the course, I did have concerns as to whether we were ready for this type of competition, but after about fence four, I knew that she was handling it with no problem, and had no concerns for the rest of the course. Ever since that five-year-old year, I have always believed that she had the potential to be at the team level.”
Of the competition itself, Ifko noted, “I was surprised by the number of entries; I was expecting somewhere in the 20 range. To see 31 was great. I thought that the course was a fair test for the field, and was actually surprised at the number we got in the jump-off. With the course being as challenging as it was, I thought it would be about a six-horse jump-off.”
In addition to competing in the Western Division Talent Squad Final with Peninsula Croisette as well as the nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion Peninsula Vertigo, Ifko coached Nicole Gergely who place seventh riding Vianda and Carly Kist riding Veterano.
“John did a fantastic job of creating such a special event by having Torchy come out for the competition, and it was great to see the Chad family supporting the up-and-coming riders,” noted Ifko, 42, who operates Jim Ifko Show Jumping out of Bar None Ranches in Calgary. “It made for a very special event. Having it as a stand-alone competition was a great concept that was well-received by everyone. Showcasing the Talent Squad really meant a lot to everyone who competed.”
Following the competition, riders and their trainers and families were invited to a dinner, sponsored by Jennifer Ward and Starting Gate Communications, at the newest addition to Anderson Ranch, Goby’s Grill. Tournament organizer John Anderson passed the microphone to both Terrance Millar and presenting sponsor Laurel Chad of Stone Ridge before calling each Talent Squad competitor forward to receive a special jacket commemorating their participation.
Millar was impressed by the level of competition he witnessed in the $25,000 Western Canadian Talent Squad Final.
“It was a great class in a great venue, with a record number of entries and the most prize money offered in any Talent Squad competition to date,” said Millar, who traveled from his home in Hockley Valley, ON, to Calgary specifically for the Talent Squad competition. “It was a good competition that put the spotlight on the up and coming riders. It was really easy to see how quickly the quality and the standard of the up and coming riders has improved. All of the exhibitors should be congratulated, and we owe a big thank you to John for hosting and organizing the event, as well as the great dinner afterwards at Goby’s Grill.”
While Ifko took the win in the $25,000 Western Division Jump Canada Talent Squad Final, Presented by Stone Ridge, Tamie Phillips of Strathmore, AB, was crowned the Western Division Talent Squad Champion with Lerche 37 based on their consistent results throughout the 2011 Series.
“I was quite surprised that it worked out, and it was a pretty awesome surprise!” said Phillips, who will be nominated for Sport Canada funding. “Obviously, anything that can help out financially is always welcome in this sport, and the recognition is really nice, too.”
Phillips, who finished fifth in the $25,000 Western Division Talent Squad Final after incurring four faults in the jump-off, continued, “Everyone was prepared and rose to the challenge. It just goes to show that there are so many talented riders in the area. The whole event is a great concept, and it was a great honour to have Torchy Millar here to watch us. It was really neat that he took the time in his busy schedule to come out and recognize what we are doing. It was great of him.”
Rocky Mountain Show Jumping is one of Canada’s premiere show jumping destinations. Its tournaments are held at Anderson Ranch in Calgary’s south end, a world-class facility featuring permanent stabling for 300 horses and a grass grand prix field complete with natural obstacles. For more information on Rocky Mountain Show Jumping, please visit http://www.rmshowjumping.com/.
$25,000 Western Division Jump Canada Talent Squad Final
Rider Hometown Horse Faults Time
1. Jim Ifko Calgary, AB Peninsula Croisette 0:0 42.45
2. Marshall Whyte Cochrane, AB Quinlan 0:0 44.86
3. Femke van den Bosch Red Deer, AB Tom Tom 0:0 49.48
4. Jennifer Whyte Cochrane, AB Peninsula Apollo 0:4 41.93
5. Tamie Phillips Strathmore, AB Lerche 37 0:4 44.95
6. Alexander Grayton Priddis, AB Wilanka 0:4 45.14
7. Nicole Gergely Coaldale, AB Vianda 0:4 45.50
8. Tracey Epp Richmond, BC Santee 0:4 47.20
9. Brenda Riddell Calgary, AB Swoop 0:4 47.46
10. Femke van den Bosch Red Deer, AB Senorita 0:4 48.42
11. Brenda Riddell Calgary, AB Swoop 0:4 52.34
12. Kristy Yopyk Calgary, AB Ravel 0:elim.Tags: Rocky Mountain Show Jumping, Western Division Jump Canada Talent Squad Final, Jim Ifko, Peninsula Croisette,