Feb. 20, Wellington, Fla.
Beezie Madden had made it through the first five weeks of the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival without leading a victory gallop in a major grand prix, but she corrected that error today. Madden rode Prima to the top of the $50,000 G&C Farm Palm Beach Jumping Derby.
The mare smoked through the timers 5.5 seconds faster than runner-up Ben Maher aboard Oscar. G&C Sinatra left all the rails up with Pablo Barrios up, picking up the best-conditioned award as well as the third-placed ribbon.
The win’s been a long time coming. Madden and Prima dominated speed divisions last year in Europe and picked up an open speed championship at the Dublin CSIO (Ireland). But this derby, held on the grass of the Steeplechase Field over natural obstacles, had always eluded her.
“She’s been really close to winning for a few years,” said Madden. “She’d have the fastest time and have one down—last year she was in the top five. She’s fast, she’s careful, and she does all the natural jumps. We know each other very well now. It’s a lot of fun to do these classes when you have a horse you know well, and it all goes well like this did.”
That practice clearly paid off today. Richard Jeffery’s long, trying track drove three of the 22 starters to tip their hats, and another rider, Alberto Michan, to take a tumble. Even top combinations were working hard to get around.
California contender Ashlee Bond led off the field with her longtime mount Cadett Z, who dug in his heels heading into the Devil’s Dyke on the first go around. And Rodrigo Pessoa’s capable ride Champ 136 threw a temper tantrum a few fences in for about a minute trying his best to unseat his rider and race for the in-gate. Pessoa rode him through his outburst before he settled in and honed in for the next few fences, then Pessoa retired. All in all, only five riders managed to leave all the rails up around the course.
Maher put in a foot-perfect trip three rounds in aboard what he describes as “useful horse.” That horse turned on the speed in his first ever derby, not blinking an eye at the Devil’s Dyke, table, water or maze of hedges leading to an option of verticals.
G&C Sinatra came close to the standard, with that horse slicing the turns in the rollbacks to make up for his lack of natural footspeed and stopping the clock less than .15 seconds too slowly.
Thanks to their experience in past years, Prima managed to find an even tighter path around the field—and the confidence to do it at full tilt.
“It’s a similar track that we’ve had in recent years, so some of it I know,” said Madden, Cazenovia, N.Y. “I did nine strides to the table, and I knew I could trust her to run up to the table. Other horses, if they haven’t done it, you have to slow down. But she was right there. I know I can get three strides across it, because one time I planned four, and she did three anyway."
Madden also topped the $31,000 WEF Challenge Cup Round 6 on Friday aboard Mademoiselle to boost Madden to the week’s leading lady rider title.
And according to the Maher—she deserved it.
“There was no chance to beat Beezie,” he said. “I don’t care if there was every rider from Europe, or anywhere else. I don’t think anyone was going to beat her. It’s nice going home knowing you did the best you could even if you didn’t win.”
Notes From the Rest Of WCHR Week
- Juniors earned the top four placings at the WCHR Junior/Amateur Palm Beach Hunter Classic Spectacular, led by Californian Olivia Esse on Small Affair. Victoria Colvin guided Inclusive to second, with Hayley Barnhill and Heartfelt jumping to third. Esse and the Iwasaki and Reilly entry earned the highest mark by a junior all week—a 94—on their way to blue.
- The big winner of the $5,000 WCHR 3’3” Amateur-Owner Hunter Classic made her first trip to Wellington this year. Weatherly Stroh decided to travel from Colorado to Florida to campaign Sigfried in the division. Stroh moved up from second with a strong final round to win the blue aboard the Westphalian.
- Fifty-eight adult amateur riders took a turn around the International Arena in today’s $5,000 Peggy Cone Memorial WCHR Adult Amateur Hunter Classic. Longtime bridesmaid Glen Senk finally earned the title aboard a newer partner, Another Place. Class sponsor Carol Cone joked that she must have given him an extra dash of luck, because she wished him well while thanking spectators and competitors during the intermission over the loudspeaker. Senk qualified all four of his entries for the final round, including the huge gray, whom Senk estimates to be over 18 hands high.
Catch up on what professional hunters are on fire this season with our coverage from Friday's WCHR Professional Palm Beach Hunter Classic Spectacular.
Top 10 results for the $50,000 G&C Farm Jumping Derby and the WCHR Junior/Amateur-Owner Palm Beach Hunter Classic Spectacular follow. Read more about WCHR Week and visit Showgroundslive.com for full results.
$50,000 G&C Farm Jumping Derby
2. Oscar/Ben Maher/GBR/0/128.49
3. G&C Sinatra/Pablo Barrios/0/VEN/ 129.64
4. Belle Bleu S/Shane Sweetnam/IRL/8/122.81
5. Vicomte D/Mario Deslauriers/8/USA/124.59
6. Whistler/Mario Deslauriers/4/USA/128.93
7. Unica Van de Roshoeve/Angela Covert-Law /CAN/4/133.73
8. Lennox Lewis 2/Leslie Howard/USA/12/127.62
9. Radio City/Georgina Bloomberg/USA/4/138.45
10.The Man To See/James North/USA/4/139.70
11. Cadett 7/Ashlee Bond/USA/0/151.37
12. Roger Rabbit/Michael Tokaruk/USA/0/151.97
WCHR Junior/Amateur-Owner Palm Beach Hunter Classic
Horse /Owner/Rider /Round 1 average/Round 2 Average/Total
1. Small Affair/Iwasaki & Reilly/Olivia Esse/91.5/88.5/180
2. Inclusive/Scott Stewart/Victoria Colvin/87/89/176
3. Heartfelt/Susan Gordon/87/88/175
4. C Coast Z/Chansonette Farm/Lillie Keenan/86/85/170
5. Take Away/Alise Oken/Alise Oken/84.62/84.5/169.12
6. Sanzibar/Karen Long Dwight/Victoria Colvin/86/81.5/167.5
7. Madison/Chansonette Farm/Lillie Keenan/89.25/70/169.25
8. Taken/Nancy Amling/Hannah Goodson-Cutt/85.25.71/156.25
9. Lumiere/Jane Gaston/Jane Gaston/84.5
10. Lady O/Deerridge Farm/Katie Robinson/84.25