• Catie Staszak

Blanchette and Carnlea Premier Balou Take the Win in Stride in CSI2* tbird Speed 1.40m


Robert Blanchette (IRL) and Carnlea Premier Balou. Photo ©tbird/Quinn Saunders


Langley, BC – Robert Blanchette (IRL) has his eyes set on the CSI2* Paladin Risk Solutions Grand Prix Sunday at the Summer Fort Festival for his up-and-coming 8-year-old, Carnlea Premier Balou.


So when he entered the ring for the CSI2* tbird Speed 1.40m, he didn’t want to let too much out of the tank. That comfortable pace was still enough to win the class—by nearly two seconds.


Blanchette and “Balou” crossed the timers of Peter Holmes’ (CAN) track in 65.82 seconds. Kyle King (USA) finished both second and third with SIG Chiari (67.19) and Ittolo (68.5), respectively.


“My plan was to just go at a comfortable pace, and we just got some smooth lines, and that was enough,” Blanchette said. “He’s a very careful, fast, brave, scopey horse. He’s got it all.”


Blanchette has not been partnered with the Irish Sport Horse gelding for long, having imported him in February. But by the time the horse was ready to try international competition for the first time, he was ready to win—the pair topped the CSI2* tbird Welcome 1.40m in May. Since then, the gelding has taken on his first ranking classes, made his first international Grand Prix start, and completed his first summer season at Spruce Meadows.


“He picks things up very quickly. In the barn, he’s perfect, and in the trailer, he’s perfect. He’s very sweet and professional,” Blanchette said. “My daughters can give him a bath, but he’s also got a tough streak inside, which I think you need to be competitive.”



Blanchette is known for his forward riding, and as he develops Balou, he’s teaching the gelding to be comfortable in a “freer” contact.


“Until he came here [to the U.S], he’d never done a jump-off. He’d only done young horse classes as a 7-year-old,” Blanchette explained. “I give him a bit more freedom than he’s used to. When horses come in from Europe, they can be very collected, so I give him a bit of freedom, and sometimes he thinks he’s completely free, but he’s not completely free! We’re still at that stage where I don’t have to control everything, but he still has to listen. It’s an in-between stage.”


But Blanchette believes that outside of experience, the nuances in ride-ability hold the final key to having a special horse on his hands.


“[The longterm plan] is world domination, I’d say!” he exclaimed. “Anything less and we’ll have to change our plans. He’s got everything: He’s very scopey, he’s very brave, [and] he’s very careful.


“There’s nothing that I can see that would hold this horse back.”


Robert Blanchette (IRL) and Carnlea Premier Balou. Photo ©tbird/Quinn Saunders


$8,800 CSI2* tbird Speed 1.40m Place / Horse / Rider / Nationality / Owner / Faults / Time

  1. Carnlea Premier Balou / Robert Blanchette / IRL / RTSC, LLC / 0 65.82

  2. SIG Chiari / Kyle King / USA / SIG International Inc / 0 67.19

  3. Ittolo / Kyle King / USA /Kerri Voleck / 0 68.5

  4. Flinton M / Kendall Bourgeois / CAN /Cameron Brown / 0 70.73

  5. EZ Ace / Justin Prather / CAN / Bradon Equestrian Ltd / 0 74.16

  6. Concolue / Nicole Haunert / USA / Cherokee Show Horses Inc / 0 76.12

  7. Sherlina Ale / Jeffrey Fields / USA / Sahana Ganesan / 0 77.14

  8. Camalita / Nicole Haunert / USA /Blue Gate Stables LLC / 0 77.23

  9. CMS Garadice Shore / Karianne Boyce-Lockhart / USA / Karianne Boyce-Lockhart / 0 77.23

  10. Larima / Rachel Fields / USA / The Kehring Family / 0 81.21