Lexington, Ky.—May 11
Veterans Beezie Madden and Margie Engle both jumped clear first rounds during the $50,000 Hagyard Lexington Classic—the first of two classes this weekend that serve as U.S. Show Jumping Team Observation Events. But rather than battling it out in a jump-off, Engle opted to forego the second course with Indigo, leaving Madden and Simon to take the top spot. They entered the ring for the short course, but Madden chose not to jump any fences.
“My horse felt great the first round, and I was really pleased with the way he went,” said Engle, Wellington, Fla. “And he did just go to the World Cup Finals and back, so he had to fly all the way to [the Netherlands] and back. He’ll have to jump again Sunday, and I’m sure there will probably be more in the jump-off. We’ve still got a lot of jumping ahead, so I wanted to try and save him for what’s coming up ahead.”
Third on course, Engle and Indigo were the first pair to clear all the fences, but the clock stopped after the initial 86 seconds of time allowed. However, after seeing the fourth duo on course—Brianne Goutal and Nice de Prissey—course designer Richard Jeffrey added 2 seconds to the time, thus removing Engle’s faults.
Even with the extended time allowed, riders were battling the clock all night. Seventeen more pairs jumped around before Madden and Simon kept all the rails up and passed through the finish flags under 88 seconds.
“I thought Simon was fantastic today,” said Madden, Cazenovia, N.Y. “It was hard to make the time allowed, but I think he’s very handy at turning at the end of the ring after the fences, and I think that’s where I was able to make up some time. I was very pleased with his performance.”
Madden also rode her World Cup mount, Cortes C. They had a rail at the second-to-last fence.
“I thought he cantered around and jumped beautifully and had a light rub and had 4 faults," said Madden of Cortes. "But I’m happy with both horses. I thought it was a great course and great competition.”
Charlie Jayne and Pony Lane Farm’s Chill R Z were one of six combinations that cleared all the fences without issue but were plagued with 1 time fault. Jayne’s time of 88.35 seconds boosted him into the third-placed position, followed closely by Laura Kraut and Cedric, who clocked in at 88.46.
Jayne, Elgin, Ill., intended on showing the 9-year-old stallion in the Olympic trials, but an accident in the barn the day before the event forced Jayne to scratch Chill R Z. The stallion received stitches and had to endure two weeks of stall rest. However, the pair is still on the long list for the Olympic team.
“This is his first show back, and [the injury] hasn’t seemed to put him out for anything,” said Jayne, who also rode Urbanus in the class but had a refusal at fence 11. “He jumped fabulous, so we’ll just see where it takes me from here. This is one of the bigger tracks that he’s done. I thought time was a huge issue. I did all the leave-outs where I could, but I think I could have been a little tidier with the time. I have to give it to the course designer—I thought that he didn’t kill any of the horses, but it was a very challenging course.”
Madden, Engle and Jayne plan to campaign their horses on May 13 in the $75,000 Commonwealth Grand Prix—the second part of the Kentucky observation event.
17-year-old phenom Reed Kessler, who won the Olympic selection trials, put in two respectable rounds, jumping clean on Mika but accruing 1 time fault and posting a 4-fault round with Cylana.