Saturday, May. 25, 2024

Authentic Returns “Home” For New Albany Victory

Just three months after Abigail Wexner purchased Authentic so Olympic team gold medalist Beezie Madden could keep riding her 2004 Athens partner, they all gathered at Wexner's home for the $75,000 New Albany Classic Grand Prix Invitational.

And Authentic gave his new hometown crowd in New Albany, Ohio, a lot to cheer about on Sept. 25 as he carried Madden to the best performance in the three-horse jump-off to take the blue ribbon.

"I've had this horse for three months," said Wexner grinning ear to ear. "It's awesome that he won!"
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Just three months after Abigail Wexner purchased Authentic so Olympic team gold medalist Beezie Madden could keep riding her 2004 Athens partner, they all gathered at Wexner’s home for the $75,000 New Albany Classic Grand Prix Invitational.

And Authentic gave his new hometown crowd in New Albany, Ohio, a lot to cheer about on Sept. 25 as he carried Madden to the best performance in the three-horse jump-off to take the blue ribbon.

“I’ve had this horse for three months,” said Wexner grinning ear to ear. “It’s awesome that he won!”

Madden and Authentic claimed the victory by a mere fraction of a second with a clean jump-off in 35.76 seconds.

“This [first-round] course was tougher than past years,” said Madden, who is the highest-ranking U.S. rider. “The triple bar [fence 7] was difficult, the skinny [an oxer at fence 12] was tight, and the combination [fence 13] at the water was a problem–Authentic wanted to look at the water,” she said.

Course designer Richard Jeffery noted that many of the riders had a rail down at fence 12 because they didn’t give it enough respect. “There was a tight distance, and I knew this was going to cause a lot of rails,” he noted.

It was fence 12 that kept five of the original 23 starters from qualifying for the jump-off, several attempts resulted in rails, while one horse refused the obstacle altogether.

New at the Classic this year was the additional sanctioning by the Federation Equestre Internationale. Now a CSI, the sanctioning increased the pool of competitors invited to attend and included many of the best international riders as well. Competitors were invited based on their ranking on the FEI/Gandini World Jumping Rankings List.

“The best horses we’ve ever had are at today’s event,” Jeffery said. “Considering all of the rain we’ve had, I think the competition went well. The best horse won.”

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Standing at 16.2 hands, Authentic, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood, was the final horse to qualify for the three-horse jump-off after Laura Kraut’s Joyous and Alison Firestone’s Casanova jumped Jeffery’s first-round course perfectly.

Kraut, of Oconomowoc, Wis., led the way into the jump-off, but after a knockdown at the combination, Joyous stumbled, fell and lost her bridle. Kraut was sent head over heels to the ground but was uninjured.

After Joyous’ bridle was refitted, Kraut remounted. She praised the mare as they walked out of the ring. “She tried so hard,” she said.

Firestone, of Upperville, Va., entered the ring knowing she needed a clear round to put the pressure on Madden. The trick was, however, that she needed to be fast too because Authentic is a quick horse.

The duo made excellent turns and sped around in a time of 35.89 seconds, but the 15-year-old Swedish Warmblood wasn’t quite fast enough and fell .13 seconds short of the victory.

Prior to his win in New Albany, Authentic topped the Budweiser American Invitational (Fla.) in April and jumped clean at the Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Spruce Meadows (Alta). He was also named best horse at the CSIO Hickstead (England) in July.

As a result of Authentic’s successful record, he became a horse people looked into purchasing. “Beezie and her husband, John Madden, had an offer to sell him in England for a big price,” explained Wexner. “I had a big interest in not seeing him leave the United States team. George Morris called me to ask if I’d consider buying him, and everyone worked together to get him to stay with the U.S. team.”

The Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence, for which the event is held each year, wasn’t the only cause to benefit from this eighth annual New Albany Classic. “The proceeds from today’s grand prix win will be donated to Hurricane Katrina victims,” said Wexner.

Following Madden’s victory ride around the ring aboard Authentic, she circled the ring for a second time with Wexner seated beside her in a 2006 Mercedes-Benz ML350, for which she also won a two-year lease.

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Madden and Wexner met after Wexner initially started the Classic. “My barn manager had known Beezie, and we ended up meeting some time ago,” said
Wexner. Ultimately, the pair formed a partnership and now five of Wexner’s six show horses are currently with Madden.

In Fashion

From the world of fashion to the world of show jumping, the New Albany Classic is hosted on the grounds of Abigail and Les Wexner’s farm in New Albany, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus.

Les is founder of Limited Brands, which includes Bath & Body Works, The Limited, Express, Victoria’s Secret, White Barn Candle Company and Henri Bendel.

In its eighth year, the Classic has grown in scope and size and has raised more than $10 million for the Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence, an organization committed to breaking the cycle of violence in the community. With virtually any fundraising option at their disposal, it’s their love of the horses and the sport that prompted Abigail to develop the Classic as a means to raise money.

“I’m trying to marry my love of the sport and the equestrian event to benefit the Coalition,” she said. “I’ve been very fortunate and blessed with this beautiful place, and I feel it can’t only be used for selfish purposes. This event has allowed me to use and share it for the good.

“My husband and I underwrite the entire event, which allows all proceeds to directly fund the Coalition,” said Wexner. This invitation-only grand prix raised approximately $1 million, growing from its inaugural year when it raised $800,000.

The highlight of the New Albany Classic Invitational Grand Prix & Family Day is the grand prix, but this one-day spectacular offers children’s amusement rides, entertainment, appearances by Olympic gymnasts, Ohio State University football greats, OSU cheerleaders and members of the marching band, interactive activities and more for families.

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