James Chawke Claims Back-to-Back Wins at Blenheim EquiSports Spring Classic 1

by | Apr 7, 2024 | Featured, Press Releases

James Chawke and Daido van’t Ruytershof Z. Photo by McCool Photography

April 7, 2024 – San Juan Capistrano, CA – Not even his famously fast barn mate Conor Swail could catch James Chawke on Saturday, April 6, at the Blenheim Spring Classic 1 in San Juan Capistrano, CA.

Chawke kicked off the day at the Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park with victory in the $15,000 1.40m Markel Open Jumper Classic, and in quick succession, followed up that win with the top spot in the $32,000 CSI2* 1.45m Winning Round Classic.

In the Winning Round Classic, Chawke’s victory came aboard his own 10-year-old Zangersheide mare, Daido van’t Ruytershof Z. The pair saw one rail fall in the first round, but thanks to the winning-round format, they had the opportunity to start on a clean slate over the Jaime Morillo-designed jump-off track.

Chawke was the fifth of 10 to come back for the second round, and, with the time to beat set at 43.17 seconds by Swail and Theo 160 – and with Swail still to also return on Vital Chance de la Roque – Chawke knew he needed to crank up the speed.

Shelby Drazan on her horses in 2014

James Chawke and Daido van’t Ruytershof Z. Photo by McCool Photography

“When you’ve got Conor [Swail], Cassio [Rivetti] and Kyle [King] in the class, you’ve got to go pretty quick!” said Chawke, who went quickly indeed, stopping the clock in a winning 40.85 seconds. 

Swail and Theo 160 held onto second place, and Swail also took home third with a time of 43.80 seconds aboard Vital Chance de la Roque. 

“Conor and I have been working together for over 10 years at this stage, so he’s always very supportive,” said Chawke. “I mean, he won yesterday; I won today. I was second to him yesterday; he was second to me today. To beat him is not easy. 

“[Daido van’t Ruytershof Z] is very competitive,” continued Chawke in speaking of the mare that he purchased at the end of 2023. “I just got to know her a little bit at the [Desert Horse Park]. She was really good there; she won quite a few classes.” 

Now, Chawke will set his sights on next week’s CSI3* competition at the Blenheim Spring Classic 2 with both Daido van’t Ruytershof Z and his other winning mount on Saturday, Nacara van Berkenbroeck Z.

Shelby Drazan on her horses in 2014

James Chawke and Nacara van Berkenbroeck Z. Photo by McCool Photography

With Nacara, Chawke was one of four entries to produce a clear round in the $15,000 1.40m Markel Open Jumper Classic, and their jump-off time of 33.581 seconds shot them straight to the top of the leaderboard. Finishing in second with a time of 35.523 seconds was Brazil’s Cassio Rivetti riding Gotico Di Ca’San Giorgio, and third went to Kyle King aboard Diamond. 

“I’ve had [Nacara] for I think about two years,” said Chawke of the 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding. “He hadn’t jumped so big when I got him. So, I’ve just been building him up a little bit to this. This winter is kind of the first time he started jumping 1.40m, and he’s been really competitive and won quite a few classes. I’m actually going to jog him next week and do the three-star, hopefully do a ranking class, see how he handles that. That was kind of my plan this week – get him in the ring, jump in a few classes and see how he is feeling.”

Shelby Drazan on her horses in 2014

James Chawke was joined in his winning presentation by Brandon Seger of Markel. Photo by McCool Photography

Thanks to longtime Blenheim EquiSports partner, Markel, the $180,000 Markel Jumper Series provides the perfect opportunity for riders to do just that. Throughout the show season, the series offers 11 events in various formats, and at the conclusion of the series, the Leading Lady and Leading Gentleman are presented with cash bonuses and additional prizes. 

“The way I judge sponsorships and the value of them, is in the relationships that are built,” concluded Brandon Seger of Markel. “It’s always about relationships, and the people here have really just made this feel like home for Markel. We’re very grateful to be here and looking forward to the years to come.” 

For full results of Saturday’s $15,000 1.40m Markel Open Jumper Classic click here, and to view results from the $32,000 CSI2* 1.45m Winning Round Classic, click here