It was a nice way to start a relationship.

Angel Karolyi wasn’t sure he was going to compete Indiana 127, the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding he and Hollow Creek Farm’s Andrea King purchased in October from Peter Lutz, in the $30,000 Raleigh Grand Prix. However, the opportunity to exhibit in the class earlier this month at the Rush Management Inc. Raleigh Benefit Horse Show turned out to be the right decision as Karolyi and Indiana 127 captured the blue ribbon in their very first Grand Prix.

The course featured 1.45 meter and some 1.50 meter obstacles, and was designed by internationally renowned course designer Steve Stephens. The first round track started off very simple, but would become more technical at the first combination, said Karolyi.

“In the middle of the course, you had a significant turn into 4 ab,” said Karolyi. “Out of the corner, you had to make sure you really hugged the wall. It was a bit early in the course. You had to be careful. A lot of rider/horse combinations got caught with the spread, the width of the oxer and the vertical. He caught a lot of people with the back rail.”

Stephens challenged the rider/horse combinations with the course design, said Karolyi.

“You had a sharp six stride to a Liverpool that made you think fast,” said Karolyi. “It was nice because it started off easy, then it gave you some difficulty. You had a few rollbacks to think about time, where you would fall asleep in the corners.”

The triple combination tested the rider/horse combinations carefulness, scope at the third jumping effort, and finished off with comfortable lines, surprising several riders, said Karolyi, who would go late in the order allowing him to watch a number of riders.

“It gave me a chance to make up my mind,” said Karolyi. “I had a pretty accurate plan of what I wanted to do, since I had ridden Indiana in the welcome stake. I had a good idea of how he rode. He wasn’t perfect, thinking in terms of the bigger jumps, but he’s a nice horse, very straight forward.”

There were only four horses to go fault free in the first round. One of those rider/horse combinations was Sloane Coles and her Selle Francais Chantilly, who would go clear on the short course. Coles and Chantilly had already enjoyed success winning the welcome stake earlier in the week. Karolyi and Indiana 127 would go last in the jump-off. Karolyi, who didn’t have a chance to see Coles and Chantilly in the welcome, had the opportunity to observe the combination in the warm-up, and saw they would be a formidable foe.

“I got to see how quick and sharp they were,” said Karolyi.

The short course featured tight turns, but Karolyi was vigilant, and watched Coles and Chantilly during the jump-off. However, it was through Karolyi’s careful and detailed observation that the rider was able to identify a way he could ride for time, and possibly win the class. But an obstacle late in the course almost changed the outcome.

“There were a couple of inside turns that doubled to the next jump,” said Karolyi. “We talked about the inside turn, but for whatever reason, she decided to go around. That’s where I thought I had the opportunity to beat her. I went inside and took a second off her time. It was close. I had to steady up to the last jump because it wasn’t quite there going forward. I still landed. I was a little bit worried going over the last jump, so I just sat still.”

The rider/horse combination started their relationship in grand fashion, and seem to be the perfect fit.

“I tried the horse for the first time after the Hamptons in September,” said Karolyi. “I told Peter that I absolutely loved the horse, and that I would keep in touch. I came back a month later to try him again, and I absolutely loved him. He’s well educated, straight forward, has a little scope, and is just a nice horse. We ended up bringing him home.”

Karolyi will exhibit Indiana 127 next early in 2013.

“I want to get him a little fitter, and get a top line,” said Karolyi, “I’m not going to rush him. To be honest, I didn’t think I was going to show him in the Grand Prix in Raleigh. I took him there, did a 1.15 meter, just to get to know him. I do that with all the horses I get, even if they’re Grand Prix horses because I think it’s only fair to the horse and rider, so we get to know each other.”