Saugerties, N.Y.—Sept. 9
The beginning of the $500,000 Grand Prix CSI***** at HITS Saugerties may have looked a little hairy for Jonathan McCrea—and it all started with the National Anthem. While patriotism was high, McCrea’s horse Aristoteles V perhaps took it to a different level.
“Typical stallion, he’s a little unpredictable,” said McCrea. “When I warmed up, I had to stay on the far side of the ring. They played the National Anthem at the start, and he lost it—I was right here—and he got really excited.”
But since he’s had the now 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion (Padinus—Tableau-Vivant, Lux) since a 5-year-old, McCrea has learned a thing or two about how to channel his unpredictability in a positive way. And today, that channeling came in the form of staying on one end of the ring and keeping him far away from the hustle and bustle in between rounds.
“I brought him along myself,” said McCrea. “We’ve had a lot of ups and downs. Maybe some more downs than ups. But the last couple years it started to turn around.
“He’s all the careful, all the scope, all the rideability, and it’s just keeping him focused,” McCrea continued. “If you can do that, there’s nothing you can’t jump.”
And McCrea’s horse whispering came to play as he was the first to cross the timers clear on the grand prix track of 35 riders. With four-faults or time penalties plaguing most of the class, it looked like they’d be the only contenders until Margie Engle and Royce entered. Despite a loose horse running at the bay stallion moments before starting the trip, Engle and Royce tallied the only other clear round making a two-horse jump-off.
With McCrea going first, he put in just enough of a fast clear round to put pressure on Engle.
“Honestly he likes here. He loves the footing here. The jumps are nice. I got a really good feeling when I walked the course, and with two in the jump-off, you don’t have anything to lose,” said McCrea. “Either way you were getting a good check, so I thought maybe I had the edge actually going first. I was pretty confident with a clear I put enough pressure on Margie, and hopefully she’d make a mistake.”
Although Engle turned in a fast round, she knicked one fence to give Aristoteles his best win yet. And even with his sometimes “worst of times” moments, McCrea believes weathering of the storms to be worth it.
“He does have quality that other horses don’t have. He really does,” said McCrea. “And I guess at the end of the day, his good qualities outweigh his bad qualities. So a lot of perseverance—I’m lucky to have him.”
Chestnut Mare Flare Ends Abrahamson On A Railless High Note
Kady Abrahamson felt the pressure—and that’s putting it lightly. After walking the course, she knew that the $250,000 Black Barn Junior/Amateur-Owner/Amateur Jumper Prix course was testing the limit of her mare Charline 28’s scope. And then the combination before, Bryn Sadler and Bull Run’s Living, finally put in the class’ first clear round. But to top it off, she knew it was her last show of the season, with shoulder surgery in two weeks looming over her.
But Abrahamson’s Charline 28 didn’t disappoint. Even through her chestnut mare antics, she tried her best bringing the class to a jump off.
“Sometimes can lack scope at the bigger height, she gets very careful about the front rail,” said Abrahamson. “But she’s a trier. And that definitely was the hard part for her, but she tried really hard, got a couple lucky rubs.”
When Sadler ticked two rails, Abrahamson knew she just had to keep it consistent. And it paid off in spades, as she topped the class—on a mare just two years ago she wanted to give away.
“I’ve had her for two years. I got her from Sharn Wordley,” said Abrahamson. “I actually wanted to give her back after six months because she—as you saw—is a bit crazy, very quirky and very careful, and sensitive, chestnut mare. I actually was jumping her in the 1.30-meters and was scared to jump a 1.30-meter on her. She was jumping so high. And I wanted to give her back, and he said ‘You’ve got to figure her out.’ Scott Keach, who I train with; he’s been amazing and really helping me take it slow with her. Today is a stretch for her, and now she has a break. It’s good to end on a good note.”
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