In 2022, Jose Alberto Martinez Vazquez (MEX) and Quinley finished second in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Puebla (MEX). Two years later, the pair moved up that final step on the podium, recording the first World Cup victory of their respective careers Saturday at the Quintas Ecuestres venue.
The duo bested a three-horse jump-off, with the historic Popocatépetl volcano in view. Simon Salame Farca (MEX) and So Nice finished second, with Misti Cassar (USA) third.
“[Quinley] means everything to me. I’ve never had a horse like him before,” said Martinez.
The only female FEI Level 4 Course Designer in the world, Marina Azevedo (BRA) set a stiff challenge for the field of 25 athletes that came forward, with three fences reaching the maximum height of 1.60m. One of those fences was a delicate plank, which fell throughout the afternoon.
Just three combinations were able to produce a clear round, which made for a thrilling jump-off, filled with surprises. Cassar was first to jump with Mylord Cornet, her partner from the 2022 World Cup Finals in Leipzig (GER).
The pair powered down the first line with confidence, but when Cassar took a risk with a tight turn back to the third fence, it caught her mount by surprise, and the two became separated, resulting in elimination. Horse and rider left the arena safely, assured a podium finish.
“Going first, you just have to take a shot and go for it, and I think it really was just pilot error,” Cassar explained. “I turned too tight.”
Salame took his turn next, with the intention of producing a more conservative clear. That plan did not come to fruition, as the pair pulled a rail in the combination, but they still took over the lead on four faults in 53.26 seconds.
That left only Martinez to jump. Without taking too much risk, he and Quinley pulled ahead at the third fence, executing a beautifully agile turn, and continued to draw off. Miscommunication resulted in the final fence falling, but the duo was still plenty quick enough to secure the victory. The winning time was 48.44 seconds.
“I thought I could go a little bit faster and still [win with] a rail,” Martinez detailed. “At the end, I was thinking about the time. Going to the last fence, you’re always thinking, ‘Is this enough?’ I had a bit of a miscommunication, but Quinley still went over [the jump]. I’m thankful.”
Martinez, who rides as an amateur, acquired Quinley when the Holsteiner gelding was just four years old. Producing him up the levels, the pair represented their country at the 2022 FEI World Jumping Championships (DEN) and now boast seven international victories on their record. “It was kind of lucky how he came into the family, and we’ve now had 11 years with him. We know each other perfectly. That’s what brings us together to get good results.”
Daniel Bluman (ISR) and Daniel Coyle (IRL) each have 43 points, but Bluman leads the NAL standings thanks to his win in Toronto (CAN). Shane Sweetnam (IRL) sits third with 41 points.
The 2023-2024 North American League season concludes in Ocala (USA) on 17 March 2024.
by Catie Staszak