Caen, France—Sept. 6
If you’re looking at the scores from today’s jumping at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, you’ll see Beezie Madden finished second.
But starting tomorrow, it’s a whole new game. The top four come back, the scores are wiped, and they all trade horses to fight for individual show jumping medals. How do you prepare for something like that?
“I’ll probably try to get some information from some people about the different horses and watch a few videos,” said Madden. “But I’m never one to overanalyze, so I’ll just get on and feel what I need to do.”
The horses Madden will ride tomorrow include her own Cortes ‘C’, Jeroen Dubbledam’s Zenith SFN, Patrice Delaveau’s Orient Express HDC and Rolf-Göran Bengtsson’s Casall Ask. Madden’s been in this position before—she earned silver at the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games (Germany) with Authentic.
“They’ve all obviously had a good week here or they wouldn’t be in the top four,” said Madden. “I’ve seen Casall and Patrice’s horse probably the most. Jeroen’s has the least experience, so I don’t know that one as well. He might be the most delicate since he has the least experience. We’ll see when we get out there.”
What Madden definitely isn’t worried about is how her own mount will handle his new riders. For better or worse, she thinks he’ll be an easy catch-ride.
“He kind of just canters along and jumps,” she said.
Madden had one rail down in today’s first round, and she knew she couldn’t afford another in the second round to maintain a top four standing.
“My horse warmed up great for the second round, and it was just a matter of me bringing it home,” said Madden.
France’s Delaveau had a perfect day by jumping two clears.
“At the last fence, what a relief for me,” said Delaveau, who was cheered heartily by his French countrymen. “It was especially important today; I had this pressure for the country, the region and federation.”
“I didn’t feel any pressure today,” deadpanned the Dutch Dubbledam, who was in 12th heading into today and put in two faultless rounds to slip into the fourth slot. “Just kidding. The pressure was very high. Tomorrow is a big challenge, and I’m really looking forward to riding all of these superstar horses.”
Bengtsson’s Casall Ask had his first rail all week in the second round today, and the crowd anxiously waited to see if he’d pull another to drop out of the final four. But the rub seemed to be just what the stallion needed, and he finished his trip with no further issues.
“I knew there was space for a fault, but no time faults, no nothing, so it was an exciting round for me to see the finish line,” said the Swedish rider. “Of course, when you get a fault—and not just a little touch, but it was a proper fault—you’re thinking a lot of things. What’s going to happen at the next oxer? Is he going to put a foot through it or jump it right?”
As excited as Madden was to face the final four tomorrow, there was a darker spot on her afternoon. Fellow U.S. rider McLain Ward had a perfect day on Rothchild with two hard-won clears, and it wasn’t quite good enough to move him up from 13th to the money spots. Instead he finished a heartbreaking fifth.
“It would have been fabulous to have us both in there,” said Madden. “I think he deserved it after his performance today. That’s the only thing that’s a little deflating.
“I wouldn’t have been looking forward to riding Rothchild,” Madden added of the notoriously quirky gelding, “but I was rooting for McLain anyway.”
Ward survived a dicey moment in his second round when Rothchild left a bit long for an oxer and then briefly put a leg down in the middle of it before yanking his legs back up and not even touching the rail.
“I knew he needed a clear, and he had the front rail of that oxer earlier in the week, so I stood him off it a little bit,” said Ward. “He’s a little horse, and the back rail got far away. He really tried for me though.
“I wouldn’t rather be further back [in the placings],” he added with a wry smile, “but this is difficult. I’m thrilled with the horse. To get here, it wasn’t just one week. It’s been years with this horse. I think what we did here was pretty remarkable. I think my horse would have thrown a little loop in the [final four], but it wasn’t meant to be.”
Follow along with the live results on the World Games website.
Check out all the Chronicle’s show jumping coverage here, and follow along with all the news from all the sports at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.