Karl Cook and Caracole de la Roque Showcase Exceptional Talent in Europe


Karl Cook and Caracole de la Roque (Zandor Z x Kannan GFE x Quick Star) were the top US rider/horse pairs in CSIO 5* in Rome and La Baule in France. In a true test of stamina, Karl and Caracole jumped eight 1.6M rounds over 19 days in 2 Nations Cups and 2 Grand Prix’s each week at the maximum height of 1.6M for 8 rounds, 122 individual jumps, and only two rails fell.

This level of consistency, stamina and soundness hasn’t been recorded since the 1996 Olympic Year of CSIO 5* events, and maybe even further back! The most recent USEF Rider and Horse Ranking Poll confirms these amazing results!

Karl Cook’s recent successes have seen him move to the #2 ranked rider in the US, and Caracole de la Roque is the #1 horse in the US, according to the Rolex/USEF Show Jumping Ranking List published June 14, 2024.

The pair won the Rolex Rome Grand Prix by 1.31 seconds, showcasing a blistering speed, and just missed winning the Grand Prix of La Baule by .13 seconds, a near photo finish, to beat Europe’s and US’s top Olympic-level riders.

Karl gave much of the credit to his amazing French-bred mare, Caracole de la Roque (age 12), who competed in a hackamore. He said riding her is “a bit like lighting a rocket, and you can’t turn it off, so you just have to point her in the right direction.”

Karl and Caracole showjumping with a crowd behind them
Karl Cook and Caracole de la Roque (Zandor Z x Kannan GFE x Quick Star). ©Alden Corrigan

A former ride of Julian Epaillard (France), Caracole loves to compete and seems to rise to the occasion as the classes and the crowds get bigger. She has really quick footspeed and spends the minimum amount of time in the air over the fences, which makes her very competitive when speed is needed, despite being barefoot. Evidence for this includes her Nations Cup performances, where she was the fastest of the US team in each of the four rounds.

Both the Rome and the La Baule shows attracted the very top International Riders as all were competing to make their own countries’ Olympic Teams. But La Baule was so special because Caracole has her own fan club of enthusiastic French fans who follow all of her top performances. Many came out for the La Baule show to welcome her back to top competition on French soil.

Showing in Rome and then one and a half weeks later at such prestigious 5* CSIO shows can be hard on a horse, but Caracole has been really sound and is cared for by Philippe Benoit, the French Team vet.

This mare has been one of the soundest horses I have been lucky to take care of in my 30 years of practising. This mare is a warrior, and adjusts incredibly well to different environments compared to others. She is also kind, and amazingly responsive to the physiotherapy.”

Philippe Benoi

These recent unprecedented results build on Karl’s strong 2023 year, during which he and his horse Kalinka van t’ Zorglievet were the USEF Grand Prix horse of the year, and Karl was the top Major League Showjumping rider of the year.

Karl and Caracole’s outstanding performance in Europe is a journey worth reflecting on when discussing the incredible athleticism and precision needed by horse and rider.

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