By: Violet Forbes on Oct. 19th, 2017

Katie Dinan, 24, of Wellington, Fla., and Dougie Douglas, owned by Grant Road Partners, LLC., bested an 11 horse jump-off in a field of 38 to win the $40,000 Pennsylvania National "Big Jump", sponsored by Wilmington Trust - A Division of M & T Bank. It was her first open jumper class victory at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show (PNHS), presented by The Lindsay Maxwell Charitable Fund.

"It's great to have a win here," said Dinan. "This is my 15th Harrisburg in a row and it's my first time winning an open jumper class here. I was second in the grand prix one year, but it's nice to win a class. It's nice for Dougie because I think he deserves a result like this. He's a super horse and he has such a big heart. It's a real thrill to ride him."

The jump-off yielded five clear rounds with mere fractions of a second separating the top three. Nicole Walker (CAN) had the first clear in 35.76 seconds on Falco van Spieveld. Paulo Santana (ESA) and Taloubet, took over the lead stopping the clock in a speedy 33.60, which looked unbeatable. Local rider Callan Solem of Glenmoore, Pa., went clear in 35.82 on VDL Wizard, owned by Horseshoe Trail Farm, LLC, for fifth place. Olympic team gold medalist Ben Maher (GBR), going second to last on Tic Tac, owned by Jane Forbes Clark, just missed taking over the top spot going clear in 33.84 seconds. Final rider Dinan blazed around the Bernardo Cabral-designed course in 33.28 seconds to dethrone Santana.

"I turned so fast into the last fence that I did eight strides instead of seven, which was more than my perfect plan, but his turning was so good and he was so on it that it ended up being faster than if I had stuck to the plan," said Dinan. "I was thrilled. Dougie was amazing. He gave me everything. He helped me out a little bit in the first round and in the jump-off he was really on it."

Most riders would be upset with losing, not so with Santana, if it meant losing to Dinan.

"I don't mind at all losing to Katie," said Santana. "She is such a sweetheart. I love her so much." 

The "Big Jump" is the first of three FEI events contested at PNHS. FEI Open Jumping action continues on Friday evening with the $35,000 Keystone Class and culminates with the marquee event, the $100,000 Grand Prix de Penn National, on Saturday. 

In the afternoon session on Thursday, Abigail McArdle, 23, of Wellington, Fla., and Chuck Berry 8, owned by Plain Bay Sales, won their second consecutive Under 25 Jumper class taking top honors in the $3,000 U25 Speed, sponsored by Peacock Ridge Farm. The pair also won the U25 Welcome Stake on Wednesday.

"Two wins in a row really means a lot. I always have a good feeling for Harrisburg I have a lot of luck here," said McArdle. "I've such a good relationship with this horse. I really believe in him."

Lucy Deslauriers, of New York, N.Y., set the mark early with Kaspara, owned by Luja LLC, going clear in 64.201 seconds on the first of her two mounts. Kelli Cruciotti and Quirado, owned by Serenity Farm, took over the lead with a clear round time of 58.510, which eventually placed them fourth. McArdle, who went sixth in the order, shaved nearly six seconds off Cruciotti's time going in 52.640 seconds with more than half of the field of 13 left to jump.

Deslauriers returned with Hamlet, owned by Lisa Deslauriers. The pair finished second behind McArdle in the Wednesday U25, so she posed a threat, but ended up in fifth place with a time of 60.536. Cassandra Kahle and Blue, owned by Redfield Farm, were clear for third place in 56.181 seconds with only Jordan Coyle of Ireland, to go on Tabasco del la Nutria, owned by Tori Corts. Coyle was gunning for McArdle, but could not catch her for second place in a time of 55.276.

"I was worried about Jordan and Lucy because they are both really fast, but it worked out nicely for me," said McArdle. "I went early so I had a direct plan and stuck to it. The key to riding indoors in the speed classes is going forward on the turns and I managed to do that today. I've been having a great year with this horse. We got him at the end of Florida and he's been coming along beautifully. He won the Under 25 at Split Rock and now we came here and won both classes, so we're on a roll."

Thursday was "Pony Up for Pink" day honoring breast cancer survivors. The PNHS once again teamed up with the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition to promote breast cancer awareness. Prior to the start of the "Big Jump", local celebrities took center ring for a family fun race on inflatable horses. Breast cancer survivors were also offered free admission to the show.