Nick Dello Joio continues family excellence, wins 1.55m Jayman Built Cup

Article content

The name Dello Joio has been synonymous with show jumping excellence for years. Nick Dello Joio is simply continuing the family tradition.

On Thursday at the Spruce Meadows North American tournament, the 35-year-old captured the 1.55m Jayman Built Cup alongside Cornet’s Cambridge, most importantly qualifying for Saturday’s $1-million ATCO Queen Elizabeth II Cup grand prix.

Advertisement 2

Article content

It was a particularly celebratory Fourth of July for the Floridian.

“I think between that and the (Florida) Panthers winning the Cup, I’m pretty happy,” grinned Dello Joio. “Walked the track and felt it was plenty of track. We had a good plan, stuck to the plan and happy it paid off today. Thought the horse jumped great. This ring suits him so much; he loves galloping the big open field. You just turn him lose and at his own natural pace, he’s fast enough without pouring any gas on the fire.”

Under perfect conditions, Dello Joio and his 12-year-old Warmblood bay raced to a time of 39.86 in the jump-off, beating out his compatriot Elena Haas and Claude’s time of 40.78. Mexico’s Patricio Pasquel and Chakkalou PS were third.

“He moves like a thoroughbred,” Dello Joio said of his mount. “He’s so light on his feet which makes him cat-like in those jump-offs.

“I was a little worried I’d have to push him harder than I really wanted to. Dad was like, put him in drive and keep him in cruise control. I tried to do that as well as I could. He covers the ground so fast.”

Dad, of course, is Norman Dello Joio, a former U.S. Olympian who was a fixture at Spruce Meadows in his heyday. He is here with several horses and students.

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

“I used to come here and hang out,” Nick Dello Joio, who began competing at 14, recalled. “Spruce is like home. I basically started here, learned how to ride here.

“What I respect so much about Dad is he wakes up and does the same thing every day. He always has a plan and doesn’t really deviate from the plan. I think that’s the biggest thing for me; he’s not always chasing prize money. Sometimes we do a jump-off and do what’s best for the horse. He’s always positively pushing me and telling me to be patient and good things will come.

“He’s not a man of many words. I think he just said ‘good job’.”

Dello Joio the younger missed a lot of last year due to double hip and groin surgery, the result of a hip impingement condition.

“It was supposed to be one side but unless I wanted to be back in a year, I better do both sides,” he related. “Bit the bullet and did it. In this sport, you always think you can’t miss a show. But realistically, it doesn’t feel like we missed much. The horse came back in the same form.

“I started riding a bit end of October, November. I was bringing my horses back slowly, with the goal of having a heavier summer. I just planned my horses and myself physically the best I could. Now I feel great.”

Advertisement 4

Article content

His plan for Saturday’s feature class won’t alter much.

“I think just do what we would normally do,” he said. “We contemplated jumping off, not jumping off, how fast to let him go. We gave him last week off with the intention of jumping him successfully this week. He feels like he’s not lacking any energy. Do our same routine and give it a go. Regardless of what happens, I’m thrilled where he’s at and where we’re at as a combination coming back into it.”

Haas, originally from Oakland, Calif., kept up her excellent riding at the North American with her second-place finish. On Wednesday, the 21-year-old was victorious in the Friends of the Meadows class astride Ogue Bt Special. The only Canadian in the jump-off was Vanessa Mannix and Kingston, finishing seventh. Egypt’s Nayel Nassar, the Queen EII Cup defending champ, was fourth with Capital Night Star.

The Canadian Olympians taking part – Mario Deslauriers, Amy Millar and Tiffany Foster – all failed to advance to the jump-off. Foster, the alternate on the Paris team, and Figor had eight faults, as did Deslauriers and Emerson, his Olympic mount; he and Bardolina 2 had one rail down, as did Amy Millar and Christiano and also with Truman, her Paris partner.

The summer series concludes on Sunday afternoon with the ever popular but oh-so-difficult Sun Life Derby.

Article content