North Salem, NY - Sept. 13 - Friday the 13th proved to a lucky day for Beezie Madden, who stormed to victory on her veteran mount Coral Reef Via Volo during the $100,000 American Gold Cup Qualifier, presented by Double H Farm & Windsor Show Stables. Fifty-five entries showed on the Grand Prix Field at Old Salem Farm during the 2013 American Gold Cup CSI4*-W, but only eight finished without fault to qualify for the jump-off, where Madden and Coral Reef Via Volo sped past the other double clears, Brianne Goutal and Nice De Prissey in second, and Margie Engle and Royce in third.
Alan Wade of Ireland built a solid track for today's feature event, which tested rides with a pole over an open water fence, a skinny vertical off a sharp turn, and three double combinations, as well as multiple fences off of hills and long gallops. Mid-way through the competition, a rain shower passed through, and despite eight horse and rider combinations going clear during the first half, none were faultless during the second half of the class.
The eight athletes returning for the jump-off were all females, and for the short track they began over two new oxers to a single vertical. Then they showed over a vertical-oxer double combination to a single vertical, before rolling back over the skinny jump and galloping towards the gate for the final obstacles.
Birthday girl Brianne Goutal was the first to return for the short course riding Nice De Prissey for Remarkable Farms of Royal Palm Beach, FL. The duo was quick and precise, making easy work of the fences and galloping through the timers in 41.51 seconds to set the pace, which would hold up for second place.
Margie Engle was next riding Royce for Elm Rock Partners LLC of Bronxville, NY. Despite an ankle injury, Engle proved that she had all of the answers, leaving all the rails intact and crossing the finish line in 42.48 seconds for third place.
Katie Dinan of New York, NY, was next in the ring with her first of two qualified mounts, Nougat Du Vallet. They had a single error at the second new oxer for four faults in 40.40 seconds for fifth place, while Dinan's second mount Glory Days had a single error in faster time of 40.01 seconds for fourth place.
Tracy Fenney with MTM Timon, owned by MTM Farm of Flower Mound, TX, and Molly Ashe Cawley on Carissimo, owned by Olivia Jack of Fairfield, CT, also had a single rail each, finishing sixth and seventh respectively. Although Leslie Howard and Tic-Tac, owned by Jane F. Clark of New York, NY, were perfect in the first round, they had 12 faults in the jump-off for eighth place.
The final clear competitor in the jump-off proved to be the best, demonstrating why she is currently ranked second in the world. Beezie Madden found the perfect distance to each obstacle with her Olympic mount Coral Reef Via Volo, owned by the Coral Reef Ranch of Rancho Santa Fe, CA, opening up the mare's big stride to the first fences and easily galloping home through the last line. They blazed across the finish line in 41.09 seconds, beating Goutal by 5/10ths of a second to lead the lap of honor.
"As far as turning on the footing for the jump-off it felt quite good, so I went to try and win," noted Madden. "I thought I was pretty quick to the first two fences and the double, but we were on the same time at the skinny, so I must have been faster the last two fences. Even though she's little she has all of the scope to jump big fences. She's been good at a lot of different venues and she is pretty comfortable here."
Leading up to this event, Coral Reef Via Volo competed at Hickstead and the Hampton Classic. "We try to split up the work load," explained Madden, who won the American Gold Cup Grand Prix in 2010 with the 15-year-old mare. "She's had a lot of experience in Europe and at Spruce Meadows, so we left those for the other two horses and thought she had a good chance here."
Madden is based out of John Madden Sales in Cazenovia, NY, and she is thrilled to have the American Gold Cup in her home state. "This venue is so fantastic and the Gold Cup has a great history," she stated. "There is a lot of prize money and we love the area. It's close to home and we get to stay with my brother-in-law, Frank Madden."
Earlier today, competitors showcased their speed in the to $3,000 High Junior/Amateur-Owner Jumper class, presented by Bedford Magazine. Alan Wade utilized different natural options through the course, including cantering down the bank, jumping through the grob, and jumping on and off of the table. Riders could choose the easier options that did not include the natural obstacles, but it would cost them on the clock.
Thirty horse and rider combinations showed over the track, but only seven managed to do so without fault. The first clear effort came from Frances Land of Alpharetta, GA, and Vieanne, who wasted no time in the air as they galloped around the field in a time of 68.027 seconds.
Catherine Tyree of Chicago, IL, tried to catch Land with her first round, Udento VDL, and while they were able to leave all the rails intact, they crossed the finish line in 68.753 seconds, just 7/10ths of a second slower for an eventual fourth place finish. Tyree came even closer to Land's time wither her second mount, Don't Go, but was still just fractions away with a clear round in 68.753 seconds for the third place award.
Three riders finished over the 70-second mark, choosing a more conservative pace in an effort to leave all the fences untouched. Kira Kerkorian of Sagaponack, NY, clocked in at 72.970 seconds aboard Rashmo Z for fifth place, while Katherine Strauss and Angelstone Partners' Fidel Van De Kouldries placed sixth with a time of 73.127 seconds. Lucy Deslauriers of New York, NY, had the slowest clear round, finishing in 74.547 seconds riding Hester for the seventh place honors.
The only rider that could top Land's early clear with Vieanne came from the smallest package. The 8-year-old mare Itty Bitty and rider Kelly Soleau of Marlborough, CT, picked up a quick gallop to the first obstacle and never held back, bravely navigating the natural obstacles and shaving off valuable seconds through each turn. They broke the beam at 66.252 seconds, jumping straight to the top of the leader board, while Land and Vieanne settled for second place.
"I was so pleased with Itty Bitty," smiled Soleau. "For some reason I stepped in the ring today and everything showed itself. I didn't touch the reins and she jumped brilliantly. I just stayed as tight as I could every where and she is a pretty fast horse naturally, so when I let her do it she is very quick."
Soleau was excited about the challenges the course presented. "We don't get to do the natural obstacles very often, and she's a brave horse, so when you have a brave horse it's really fun. This is my first time showing at the Gold Cup and they have done a fantastic job with the venue. We don't often get to ride in a field like this. It's so nice to do something different."
Soleau trains with the Millar family, who bred Itty Bitty. "I started working with her when she was only 2 years old and I've done pretty much everything with her," expressed Soleau. "I've had her since she was young, and I did her first jumps, her first walk, trot and canter, and it's been a great time. Every year we ask a little bit more and she's really come a long way; it's been a fantastic journey."
The first event on the Grand Prix Field today was the $3,000 Roberto Coin 1.35m Open Jumper Speed class. Out of 53 starters, there were 16 clear rounds, so riders had to put on the gas to score a top ribbon. The winner was Ireland's Darragh Kenny riding Top Gun IV, owned by Oakland Ventures of Ocala, FL, who used his mounts quick foot speed to finish in a handy 59.381 seconds without a single error. He was followed closely by Julie Welles riding Banana D'ive Z for North Star of East Aurora, NY, stopping the clock in a clear 61.716 seconds. Kyle Timm and Platinum, owned by the Apex Equestrian Center of Apex, NC, rounded out the top three with a faultless round in 62.760 seconds.
"I knew if I stayed on it in couple places that he's a very fast horse and very careful," said Kenny, who has only been showing Top Gun IV for a month. "The first couple of jumps I went quick, and it meant at the end I could slow down and he wouldn't get flat. He's very simple and very competitive; he likes to win."
The Irish native is excited to be making a splash at the American Gold Cup this year. "They have done an amazing job with this horse show," he commented. "It rained all last night and the footing is still fantastic. They run it like a proper horse show and the management does a fantastic job. It's a really enjoyable show to be at and I would never miss it."
"This is such a beautiful showcase for the horses and the jewelry," said Martha Webster who presented the award for her husband, Peter Webster, President of Roberto Coin Jewelry, sponsors of the class. "I think it is spectacular. It is an amazing forum for not only for the horses but also for the vendors and the sponsors.It is an international group. It is a different level of clientele here."
The 2013 American Gold Cup CSI4*-W will continue tomorrow with the $50,000 Hermès Classic and the Region 2 ASPCA/NHSAA Maclay Regional Championships. On Sunday, the qualifiers from today's feature event will compete in the $200,000 American Gold Cup CSI4*-W World Cup Qualifier, presented by Suncast, which gets underway at 2:00 p.m. on the Grand Prix Field.
About the American Gold Cup:
The American Gold Cup will feature world-class and Olympic athletes, such as Beezie Madden, reigning FEI Rolex World Cup Champion and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and Olympic Gold Medalist McLain Ward. Also confirmed to compete are show jumping mega-stars Kent Farrington, Margie Engle, Pan American Games Gold Medalist Christine McCrea and many more, all vying to secure their position at the World Cup Finals in Lyon, France
Highlights of the schedule include the $33,000 Don Little Memorial Welcome Stake on Thursday, the $100,000 American Gold Cup Qualifier presented by Double H Farm and Windsor Show Stables on Friday and the $50,000 Hermes Classic on Saturday. The featured event, the coveted $200,000 American Gold Cup, Presented by Suncast, will be held on Sunday, September 15, 2013
and broadcast on NBC Sports Network the following Sunday, September 22, 2013, at 4:30 p.m. EST.
The American Gold Cup will also feature a full array of jumper classes, including sections for Children and Adult Jumpers, Low and High Junior/Amateur Jumpers, plus Young Jumpers and Open Jumpers. New this year, the Zone 2 ASPCA Maclay Regional Championships will be held on Saturday in the Old Salem Farm indoor arena.
Old Salem Farm, located an hour north of New York City, boasts a state-of-the-art stabling facility, an historic pristine grass Grand Prix field and outstanding competition and schooling arenas, all of which are surrounded by one of the world's most quaint and picturesque competition venue settings. For the past two years, the Old Salem Farm competitions have been recognized by the North American Riders Group (NARG) on their NARG Top 25 List. For more information on Old Salem Farm, including its year-long competition schedule, prize lists, clinics, boarding, lessons and training, visit www.oldsalemfarm.net.
For further information, visit: www.stadiumjumping.com and http://www.theamericangoldcup.com/.