Thermal, CA. – February 16, 2023 – James Chawke interrupted Gamble’s precious paddock time Wednesday morning, but it was well worth it. The pair took the win in the first class of the week in the Grand Prix Arena, the $10,000 Gillibrand Sand 1.35m Welcome Speed.

James Chawke and Gamble. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“I got all of the numbers exactly as they walked, so I actually didn’t think I’d be fast enough to win it,” Chawke remarked of his round. “I thought he would be top three or four maybe, but I didn’t actually think he would win it. He has quite a big stride, so doing the normal steps makes it a little slow. There wasn’t really anywhere that I thought I could do less. But in the end it was good enough.”

Over fellow Irishman Alan Wade’s single-round speed track, Chawke came in early – second of 38 entries – and set the bar higher than anyone could catch. “I thought he was pretty good. I’ve been a bit unlucky on him. He’s had a jump down or been beaten a couple times. It’s nice for him to get the win. A good way to start the week,” Chawke said.

Working closely with Conor Swail, Chawke has expert assistance when crafting the plan of attack for a speed round. Swail himself ended up in third place with Casturano. Between them in second was Allison La Joie with Durango Farms’ Botero. The top 12 all logged clear rounds, proving the week could be a competitive one in the National division.

Conor Swail and Casturano. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Chawke acquired the ride on the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Campbell VDL x Quick Star) late in its 7-year-old year, after he bought the horse with Swail. But due to Chawke being on the road often for horse shows and big events such as Major League Show Jumping, Gamble spends quite a bit of time at home.

“He’s always been a good jumper,” Chawke continued. “He was a little bit sharp and spooky as a young horse. He’s 12, but he hasn’t actually done that much yet. I do a good bit here, because then he doesn’t show again until Thunderbird. Coming here is great for him to be in the same ring every week. I think he’s improving an awful lot here.”

If Gamble had it his way, he’d be more of a pasture ornament, but unfortunately for him he’s too talented for that career path. He enjoys his turnout, he spends time with other horses, and he gets easily irritated by the humans caring for him.

Allison La Joie and Botero. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“He’s a bit cheeky,” Chawke said of Gamble’s character. “He likes other horses. He doesn’t actually like that many people. He’s a bit nippy and can be a bit grumpy. He likes to go in the paddock all day. Coming to the show, he ships in and then he stays here for just his classes. Other than that, he goes in the paddock all day and enjoys being a horse. He’s not a big fan of being at the horse show more than he has to be.”

Show jumping during week six of Desert Circuit features CSI4* FEI action, beginning Thursday with the $5,000 Morning Star Sporthorses 1.40m Two Phase. Thursday also features the $30,000 FarmVet 1.45m Open Classic.


$10,000 Gillibrand Sand 1.35m Welcome Speed

  1. Gamble / James Chawke / James Chawke / 0/63.452
  2. Botero / Allison La Joie / Durango Farms / 0/63.921
  3. Casturano / Conor Swail / Conor Swail / 0/64.807
  4. Kimberly HX / Rachel Fields / Sahana Ganesan / 0/65.75
  5. Dots & Dashes / Lauren Kolbe / Full Tilt Farms / 0/66.069
  6. George ZG / Guy Thomas / Andrew Lopez / 0/68.981
  7. Balboa SH / Jessica Gleason / Linda Miller / 0/69.811
  8. Cooper / Simonne Berg / Berg Equestrian Enterprises LLC / 0/74.433
  9. Hanakine / Katherine Huffstutler / Katherine Huffstutler / 0/74.680
  10. Madison / Holly Scapa / Holly Scapa / 0/75.207
  11. Carola Z / Kyara Semrau / Kyara Semrau / 0/76.892
  12. Ganz Braun VEC / Katherine Huffstutler / Katherine Huffstutler / 0/77.047

Subscribe & Join

Phelps Media Group

Founded in 2002 by Olympian Mason Phelps, Jr., PMG specializes in sports branding, public relations, event coverage, media strategy, web design and social media.

All photography may only be used in conjunction with a related press release. We do not sell our email lists or share our lists with other companies or individuals.



Subscribe & Join