Saugerties, N.Y.—Sept. 6
It doesn’t matter where you are.
You could be in Las Vegas for the World Cup Finals, in Wellington, Fla., for the Nations Cup, or in Saugerties, N.Y., at the CP $1 Million Grand Prix.
Whenever Beezie Madden’s name is announced the crowd goes wild.
Even if you don’t follow horse sports religiously you’ve heard of Beezie. Young girls grow up hoping to someday be just like her—ride in the Olympics and win gold medals. And now those girls have something else to aspire to: winning a $1 million grand prix.
“She can’t squeeze through this; she’s got too much money in her pocket,” course designer Steve Stephens joked as Madden slipped between the table and the backdrop for the press conference. “She won’t fit!”
The course proved to be a difficult one. Madden was the 33rd in a field of 41. Only Nikolaj Hein Ruus and Big Red had escaped without incurring any jump penalties, but the clock caught up to them, leaving them with 2 time penalties.
They had been the sixth in the order.
The crowd groaned with the riders who got close but fell short. Emanuel Andrade looked like he was going to pull off a clear with Hardrock Z, but the final oxer, the CP fence, fell, and they ultimately picked up a time fault.
So when Madden crossed the timers aboard Simon with all rails still resting firmly in their cups, the crowd lost it. Madden glanced over her shoulder at the scoreboard, and once she confirmed what the crowd had told her, the smile emerged. She looked up the hill at the VIP tent and grinned harder.
“I thought my horse had one of his best days,” Madden said. “We had together one of our best days. I thought he went beautifully. The round went pretty much exactly how I wanted it to, and he tried his heart out.
“I couldn’t be happier with him,” she continued. “I’ve had him for three years now, and that was one of our best rounds ever.”
In the remaining eight trips, the crowed waited, wondering if we’d be having a jump-off. In the end, nobody else managed to go clear. In fact only Madden and Ruus escaped without any tipped rails.
“It was a difficult course,” Madden said. “Even when we walked it I said, ‘Ooh, this is about as hard as it gets other than maybe Olympics or world championships at the end of those.”
“I think there were several parts that were very hard about it, which it should be,” said McLain Ward, who finished third on his Pan American Games gold medal mount Rothchild. “It’s one of the biggest grand prixes in the world. I think the standard of horse and riders was much better this year with it being a five-star event. I think it really brings strong sport to the United States.
“It really takes a world class horse,” he continued. “It was a good test today, and I thought in a good place. He allowed you to get to it, which I don’t think any of us mind a difficult test like that if we can have a good approach, and I thought it was a good approach.
“You had many places to make a fault, and I think you saw that, and it was a great result. For me the best horse in the class won. I would have liked to have given her a run for our money, but it wasn’t our day. I’ll get her next week,” he finished.
This year show organizer Tom Struzzieri upgraded the Million to a CSI*****, and the rating attracted a star-studded field. As a result, the payout to the top riders was different, something Ward was quick to joke with Madden about.
“That was a good day to be third,” he said. “It’s the FEI pay out. The USEF one is better for the winner and worse for third huh? FEI payout is better for when you don’t win.”
“I’ll take it!” Madden replied.
“It wasn’t a bad day’s work anyway,” Ward said.
(Last year, Todd Minikus and Quality Girl took home a check for $350,000, while Madden walked away with $330,000. Second place took home $200,000 both years, but third place won $150,000 this year compared to the previous year’s $120,000.)
While the big payout was nice, Ruus had plenty of things to be excited about. The Danish rider had never contested a five-star before, and he couldn’t have been happier with the way it ended.
“I was very, very happy about it, because he’s very inexperienced, and for me it’s my first really big show,” he said. “I’ve only had him over the summer. I work him every day. My boss [Gerardo Pasquel] normally does amateur classes with the horse, but he gave me the horse for the summer and to ride this class, so I’m very pleased about it.”
So what’s next for Big Red?
“My plan is that it goes clear at 1.40 meters with my boss next week [at Old Salem (N.Y.)]. Let’s see how that works out, but that’s the plan,” he quipped.
Want more action from HITS Saugerties? There were a number of big money hunter classes throughout the week. Check out the gallery from Friday and read about the winner of the Platinum Performance $250,000 Hunter Prix and the Diamond Mills $500,000 Hunter Prix.
For in-depth coverage and details on the Stal Hendrix Pre-Green Futurity, don’t miss the September 21 issue of the Chronicle.