Monday, May. 27, 2024

Beezie Is Queen For A Day

There aren't many classes Beezie Madden hasn't won, but until today, July 9, the $200,000 Queen Elizabeth II Cup had been one of them. But in a thrilling finish, Madden and Authentic sped to the top of the class during the Spruce Meadows North American Tournament.

"This is actually my first big grand prix win here. I've been second a fair bit!" Madden joked. "Authentic felt great. He tried so hard. He was a little rambunctious the first round, but by the second round and the jump-off, he'd settled and was much more rideable."

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There aren’t many classes Beezie Madden hasn’t won, but until today, July 9, the $200,000 Queen Elizabeth II Cup had been one of them. But in a thrilling finish, Madden and Authentic sped to the top of the class during the Spruce Meadows North American Tournament.

“This is actually my first big grand prix win here. I’ve been second a fair bit!” Madden joked. “Authentic felt great. He tried so hard. He was a little rambunctious the first round, but by the second round and the jump-off, he’d settled and was much more rideable.”

The crowd at Spruce Meadows’ International Ring was treated to a truly world-class four-horse jump-off. After two big rounds of jumping, Madden was joined in the double-clear club by Rodrigo Pessoa on Baloubet du Rouet, Nick Skelton on Arko, and McLain Ward on Sapphire.

Ward had the misfortune to go first in the jump-off, and he pretty much knew what he was up against. “Baloubet, Authentic and Arko—it doesn’t get any faster than those horses,” he said. “My mare isn’t the fastest; she’s slower away from the fences and she’s a big mare with a slow gallop. I just wanted to lay down an efficient round, and she jumped amazingly. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

Skelton and Arko made short work of Sapphire’s clean jump-off round in 38.99 seconds, shaving off more than a second and coming home clean in 37.87 seconds. “I couldn’t be more pleased. My horse is perhaps faster than McLain’s horse—he’s quick through the air—but perhaps not as fast as Beezie’s horse over the ground,” said Skelton.

And Madden and Authentic proved that as they streaked into the ring. Authentic bounds over the ground effortlessly, and Madden used that speed to her best advantage. After turning and twisting over the first few fences, they had to go on a long, straight gallop to a very careful one-stride double of vertical-oxer. Madden looked to be on the way to steeplechasing that combination, but took a pull about five strides out. Authentic checked himself quickly, and jumped through the combination neatly. “He slowed down so easy, I actually did one or two more strides than I wanted to the double,” Madden said. She stopped the timers in 36.15 seconds, more than a second and a half faster than Skelton.

Pessoa and the phenomenally athletic Baloubet hit the same lick as Madden on the way to that double, but Pessoa gambled and waited to put on the brakes just two strides in front of the first vertical. The gambit may have saved him some seconds, but he paid for it when the front rail of the oxer out of the combination hit the ground. He finished much the fastest—in 34.57 seconds—but in fourth with the four faults.

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Norman Dello Joio and Glasgow, who looks to be back in phenomenal form, came into the second round in 12th, with a quick four-fault first round over Guilherme Jorge’s big track. But their brilliant clean second round vaulted them up into fifth, with the fastest first-round time of the three four-faulters. Ian Millar on In Style, and Bernardo Alves on Canturo claimed sixth and seventh, both with clear first rounds and a rail in the second. Millar’s four faults came heart-breakingly at the last oxer.

Rich Fellers and McGuinness came into Round 2 with just four faults, and jumped clean in the second round, but a mere time fault put their two-round total at 5 faults, putting them eighth. Newcomer Darren Finkelman (see other story as well) had a fairy-tale day to finish ninth with one time-fault in the first round, and a rail and two time faults in the second for a total of seven. Laura Kraut and Miss Independent pulled one rail in each of the rounds to take 10th, while Guillermo Obligato ended up in 11th with 10 faults on Carlson.

Schuyler Riley, who had thrilled the crowd in the first round with the first clear, didn’t fare as well on Ilian in the second round, pulling three rails for 12 faults and 12th place.

Forty-six horses started Round 1 of the Queen Elizabth Cup, and Jorge’s tough course sorted out seven clear, two with one time fault, and three of the fastest four-faulters for the 12 who would tackle the second round. The toughest questions in the first round started with the line of 6ABC, a triple combination of a vertical, a long two strides to an oxer, and then a short one stride to another vertical. In six straight strides came the wide open water, and a bending line of either seven or eight strides led to a skinny tall vertical. The other problem spot was the last line, a massive triple bar followed in seven tight strides to a tight one-stride double of verticals over liverpools. The second round was much shorter, but featured an oxer over a wide dry ditch, and the infamous bicycle jump.

Jorge’s Queen Elizabeth Cup courses may have demanded powerful, careful jumping, but earlier in the day, speed was the name of the game. And Bruce Goodin of New Zealand was the speed demon who came out on top in the $70,000 Canada Post Cup. He and Telegraph galloped and turned to a clean round in 74.34 seconds, soundly beating Molly Ashe and King Louie. Ashe had looked to be unbeatable, even having had a rail (and so four seconds added on to her original time), but Goodin came in as 33rd out of the 19 starters and laid it down.

“My horse can really gallop, and I was pretty confident about his bravery and sure-footedness,” said Goodin. That surefootedness came in handy, since the course included a slide down a large bank, which slowed down a lot of horses, who picked their way down, and even took two of them off their feet. “He grew up on the hills in New Zealand, so he knows how to go up and down hills.”

Goodin just took over the ride on Telegraph in June, after fellow New Zealander John Cottle ended his relationship with the owners. Cottle and Telegraph had represented New Zealand at the Budweiser FEI World Cup Final (Nev.) in April, and when the ride came up for grabs, Goodin made a phone call and secured the ride. Goodin, 35, is based in Sweden, and hasn’t competed at Spruce Meadows since 1996. He grew up riding and showing in New Zealand, but then stepped his game up a notch by coming the United States at age 17 to work for and ride with Joe Fargis and Conrad Homfeld for three months.

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