Madden and Authentic Capture Super Bowl of Show Jumping
Tampa, Fl April 2
Beezie Madden of Cazenovia, New York, one of Americas most successful equestrians, added the title of Budweiser American Invitational champion to her long list of riding accomplishments Saturday night in Tampa, Florida. The nations richest show jumping event, The Budweiser American Invitational, offering $200,000 in prize money, also presented one of the most challenging courses in the thirty three year history of the event.
Madden, winner of the Team Silver Medal at the 2004 Olympic Games at Athens, Greece, was aboard her Olympic partner Authentic on Saturday night at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
A second place finisher last year, Madden was one of only two competitors to survive the first round course and advance to the jump-off.
A crowd of 17,800 enthusiastic and noisy fans turned out for the grand finale to the nine week long Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) and watched thirty of the worlds best show jumping riders take on a tremendously demanding first round challenge and an exciting two horse jump-off. While the Budweiser American Invitational had been won without a jump-off twice in the past, in 1995 and in 1999, this was the first ever two horse jump-off. Previous to Saturday nights showdown, a four horse jump-off in 1986 was the smallest on record.
The thirty competitors earned their way onto the starting roster based on their prize money won over the course of the nine week long WEF tour that began in Wellington, Florida in January and wrapped up in Tampa on Saturday night. Special invitations were issued to the defending champion and four members of the United States Olympic Silver Medal Show Jumping team from Athens, Greece.
The course, designed by Steve Stephens, featured seventeen jumping efforts over fourteen numbered obstacles and proved to be one of the toughest in the history of the Invitational. While Stephens elected to go without a triple combination in this years edition, he did feature three double combinations. The three combinations offered three distinctive tests, the toughest of which came at 10a and 10b. This combination featured two huge oxers set at 5 and 51 in height and 56 wide, on a long stride. There were challenges throughout the 590m long course. In addition to a snug 93 second time allowed, those challenges included the airy Sea World Liverpool (#12), set a 54 in height and just preceding it, the 7 wide Budweiser Triple Bar (#11) that was 53 tall. There was one jump on the course, however, that created more eliminations than any other. Problems getting over the airy, single rail viaduct jump (#5) disqualified six horse and rider combinations.
The class was scored under FEI Art. 238.2.2. USEF International Level. Time First Jump-Off.
A score of 9 faults for defending champion, Norman Dello Joio and Quriel, owned by the Belknaps, was the best score among the first nine competitors to try their hand at this years Raymond James Stadium classic. Of those nine, four were eliminated at the viaduct, fence #5.
Rivers Edge Groups Carlos Boy, with Ken Berkley riding in the tenth spot in the order, took over the lead with a rail at fence #5 and two time faults, for a six fault total. That lead lasted through two horses until Ian Millar, aboard In Style owned by Sue Grange, came home with four jumping faults and one time fault. Millar got a rail coming out of the combination at 10b, a jump that would rack up a total of fourteen knockdowns on the night. An additional four riders had rail at 10a. Olympic Silver Medalist McLain Ward and his Athens Olympic counterpart Sapphire, owned by the Double H Farm, pulled the same rail as Millar and closely matched his time for one time fault and moved into a tie for first place.
The already boisterous crowd literally erupted when Jeffery Welles, in the nineteenth spot in the order, produced the first clear round with Armani, owned by Kimmel Yager Equine. Welles stabbed his fist into the air in obvious elation after clearing the final fence on the grueling course, delighting the crowd even more.
Three horses later, the crowd got a chance to voice their enthusiastic approval once again. Last years Budweiser American Invitational runner-up Beezie Madden and Authentic, owned by Team Authentic, were the second duo to master the Stephens designed course.
Following Madden, the eventual third place finisher, Ramiro Quintana and Turnabout Farms Hurricane, made it all the way to the final fence on the course. Hurricane, the winner of the $100,000 US Open Jumper Championship at Wellington in March, seemed to just brush the back rail on fence #14, a 55 high and 6 wide oxer, but it came down and Quintana finished with four faults.
Stephens jump-off course featured nine jumping efforts, including the two major problem spots from the first round course, the viaduct and the 10a b combination. The second element on the double, however, was narrowed for the tiebreaker.
In the encounter against the clock, Welles and Armani caught the rail at 10a. Welles had a great pace throughout the jump off and raced across the finish line in a speedy 43.29 seconds.
Madden then was faced with the choice to be careful and clear or try and keep up with Welles quick pace in case she pulled a rail. Madden elected for the first option. Authentic didnt let Madden down, coming home clear and just within the jump off time allowed. Madden tripped the timers in 46.35 seconds.
I did take my time, admitted Madden. But with the tight time allowed I couldnt be too much slower than Jeffery. I know I had to be similar to Jeffery, but just a little more conservative to pull off the clear round. Sure, I took a chance going for the slower but clear round, but hes been jumping fantastic the whole circuit, but just missing and I knew tonight was his time, chuckled Madden. And he jumped so great the first round that I came back with a lot of confidence that hed come through for me.
Madden, gaining her 61st career victory, pocketed a first place check of $60,000, the biggest prize in show jumping in the United States. Its great. Ive never won this class before. Every year I come here saying Im gonna win it and Ive come close. Last year I was second and this year I finally did it! Its very gratifying and its $16,000 more than second place, laughed Madden.
Welles talked about his jump-off ride. I was very happy with my ride in the jump-off. I wanted to come in and go fast with Beezie behind me. He just let down a little behind and had the front rail of the oxer.
Welles picked up $44,000 for his Saturday night effort. I was thrilled. I was so excited. You never know what to expect with a horse that hasnt been in a situation like this before, so to be the first clear was really thrilling, said Welles speaking of that pumped fist. I didnt know what to expect from Armani. Hes never shown in a stadium like this. I didnt think hed be spooky because hes not a spooky horse, but he can get a little bit tense. Its a real big crowd, a loud crowd, but he really kept his cool and he jumped fantastic.
Steve Stephens talked about his course design this year. To me, this is the Super Bowl of our sport here in the United States. When you come to this event, you dont come here with a green horse, you dont come with a young horse. You come with an experienced horse. And youve got to be at the top of your game on this night, because youre going to get famous tonight, stated Stephens. If you win this class, if you take home this trophy, well, thats something thats going to be with you for the rest of your career.
I expect you to be at the top of your game when you come here, he added.
Madden assessed the Stephens challenge. I thought it was very difficult. I wasnt surprised with only two clear. I knew it was very difficult when I walked it and the class proved that, she said. The viaduct wall always causes problems. Especially for horses that havent seen it, and there were a lot in the class tonight that hadnt seen it. In fact, the only time my horse has seen a wall thats anything like that one was at the Olympic Games. Sounds kind of funny to say you got the experience at the Olympic Games to show here, but really, that was the case for Authentic.
Welles agreed with Maddens take. I thought it was going to be very difficult when I walked the course. I knew the viaduct jump was going to cause a problem, Welles said. We didnt jump it at all this year, but when we have used it in the past, there have been many, many issues with it. And that was in the daylight. So, you add in the bright lights and that just multiplies that problem. Then with all of the wide oxers, there were just a lot of questions asked tonight, he said.
The viaduct is a bit of a test of bravery. Tonight, it was the bridge over troubled waters, laughed Stephens. I didnt expect that many refusals. Weve used it in Palm Beach many times. Tonight it was a single fence. I dont know, maybe it was because it was under the lights. I really dont have the answer, but as I say, its a test of bravery. You know, we test scope, we test carefulness, Stephens said, so I find nothing wrong with testing bravery too.
Stephens also talked about the three double combinations. There was no triple combination, so something had to be scopey, he said. I elected to go with three double combinations. I had a normal two stride at 4a and 4b, and then I had a tight one stride at 7a and 7b and finally, the scope test at 10a and 10b. I offered three tests. A comfortable test early on, followed by a short distance that makes the big horse jump like the little horse and then I took the little horse and stretched him like a big horse at the final test, Stephens explained. This course wasnt as line related as our course last year leading into the Olympic Trials. Tonight it was more about single, individual, bigger jumps.
Madden, who just missed the cut for this years Budweiser World Cup Final, says that the time off will benefit Authentic. Hes just been missing and I think we did really well trying to peak him at the right time. You know, hes worked pretty hard for a nine year old with the Olympic Games under his belt, said Madden. So, I think were going to take advantage of not making the World Cup Finals by resting him a bit. Well give him a little break and take some pressure off of him before we gear up again for Spruce Meadows and the Super League tour a little later in the year.
OFFICIAL RESULTS - $200,000 BUDWEISER AMERICAN INVITATIONAL
Academies | Articles | Businesses | Classifieds | Clinics | Employment | Equestrian News | Farms | Farriers | Feed/Hay | Gifts/Jewelry | Horse Events | Horse Sales |Legal/Accounting | Other Links | Publications | RealEstate | Rates | Show Dates | Stallions | Stalls/Barns for Rent | Stolen Horses | Trainers | Transportation | Vacations | Veterinary | Contact Us |
© Copyright 1998-2005 - Florida Horse.Com - All Rights Reserved