Thermal, CA. – March 2, 2023 – Anyone watching Wednesday’s $10,000 Voltaire Design 1.35m Welcome Speed to open Desert Circuit VII felt a bit of déjà vu as James Chawke and Gamble took their second consecutive victory in the weekly class at Desert International Horse Park (DIHP).

James Chawke and Gamble. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Over Joey Rycroft’s single-round track, Chawke and his 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Campbell VDL x Quick Star) sped to an unbeatable time of 59.018 seconds, claiming the ultimate win by over two seconds.

Chawke and Gamble have placed some winning bets recently, taking victory in the same class during Desert Circuit VI and in the $30,000 1.40m Open Classic the same week. His strategy for progressing the horse is working perfectly to plan.

James Chawke and Gamble in their winning presentation, pictured with Nora Meppi of Voltaire Design. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

“I got here week two with him and did him in the Welcome Speed,” Chawke, Irish-born but resident of Calgary, AB, said. “I’ve done it every week since. My plan was to do it this way. He knows the ring quite well and he’s done a good few rounds. He’s pretty relaxed here. I’ll do [this class] next week. I probably will do a couple of classes the last week. He gets a big break after [Desert Circuit], so if he’s happy and going like this we’ll do it.”

Coming in second and third places was Erin Davis-Heineking with the October Hill Farm Inc.-owned Contan and October Hill Sales Ltd’s NKH Cento Blue, respectively, as the second and third fastest times of the 12 clear rounds.

Erin Davis-Heineking and Contan. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Chawke has spent all of Desert Circuit working alongside Conor Swail, and the improvement in Gamble is apparent, moving from a few second and third placings into the top spot recently. The week off served Gamble well, continuing his winning streak from the most recent week of competition at DIHP.

“When he knows somewhere, he’s happy,” Chawke said of Gamble’s performance in the desert. “I’ve been here so much now. It’s great here; you can come on a Tuesday and do a clear round to get in the ring. I think he knows the ring so well, so he’s happy with it.”

Erin Davis-Heineking and NKH Cento Blue. Photo by High Desert Sport Photo

Spending the majority of the winter in Thermal, Chawke and his team are enjoying the break from the cold winter up north.

“It’s good money,” he said of why he enjoys DIHP for the winter. “Vanessa [Mannix] likes being here and my family spends a lot of time down here. My wife’s from Calgary, so her family can come down because it’s close. It’s nice to get out of the cold. Honestly, the place is great; it’s efficient. There are good money classes, whether you’re doing FEI or National. It’s great to bring up the younger ones. It’s a bit of everything.”

Show jumping continues Thursday with the Bridgeport Farms CSI3* 1.40m Two Phase, followed by the $30,000 FarmVet 1.45m Open Classic.


$10,000 Voltaire Design 1.35m Welcome Speed

  1. Gamble / James Chawke / James Chawke / 59.018
  2. Contan / Erin Davis-Heineking / October Hill Farm Inc / 0/61.148
  3. NKH Cento Blue / Erin Davis-Heineking / October Hill Sales Limited / 0/62.070
  4. Granito Noordenhoek / Michael Williamson / Michael Williamson / 0/63.237
  5. Diarados Girl TW / Kaitlin Campbell / Lily Elliot / 64.194
  6. Good Craic / Braden James / Stump Lake Ranch & Cattle Limited / 0/64.237
  7. Sherlina Ale / Jeffrey Fields / Sahana Ganesan / 0/64.897
  8. Latifa Von Lancer III / Shawn Casady / Tiffany Sullivan / 0/65.552
  9. Comme Tu Veux Z / Ashley Papalia / Ashley Papalia / 0/67.415
  10. Jezebelle / Dakoda Mower / Kay Boissicat / 0/69.009
  11. Fair Katie VDH / Maddy Riddle / Brian Vander Helm / 0/70.237
  12. Veuve Clicquot / Emilie Bell / Cloche Farms, LLC / 0/73.593

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