While the Thursday qualifier for the $137,000 Wellington Regional Medical Center CSI3* Grand Prix may not have gone Beezie Madden’s way, she and Abigail Wexner’s Breitling LS rebounded to win the feature class on Saturday, Jan. 16, under the lights at Week 1 of the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, Florida.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, no spectators were permitted to watch the class, but that didn’t stop the excitement as 44 pairs jumped over Anthony D’Ambrosio and Andy Christiansen Jr.’s course. Three made it to the jump-off, with Madden and the 15-year-old stallion (Quintero–Armonia La Silla) coming in fastest.
“Adrienne [Sternlicht] is so good at working out of that big gallop and [Benny’s Legacy] is naturally quick anyway,” she said of the second-placed finishers. “I thought, ‘I’m not going to beat her on that part,’ so I tried to do it on the turns and just match her. The eight [strides] across the middle to the double looked a little risky from where I was sitting, but he did it well, and I think I beat her from fence 1 to 2, and maybe the turn after the double [combination] as well. I thought those were the only places that I could try and catch her.”
An uncharacteristic “rocky” performance in Thursday’s qualifier, where the pair finished 38th with 6 faults, led Madden to ride Breitling “a little on the strong side. I thought I’d just have to have a nice, confident round, and he really responded to it and jumped well anyway,” she said. “A lot of times it’s hard for them to concentrate when you’re riding them a little strong, but I thought he really rose to the occasion and did that well. I was really happy.”
Watch Madden and Breitling’s winning round.
Madden is known for giving her horses a lengthy winter vacation, but after so many cancellations in 2020 due to the pandemic, she was ready to bring out Breitling early.
“I’m going to pick and choose where I think he’s going to do well,” she said. “I think for his confidence right now starting out, he probably doesn’t need a five-star right away. I’m going to pick some classes where he can get confident, and when he feels really good, I’ll slot him into a five star here and there.” Click here for full results from the class.