Beezie Madden and Authentic Take Second Win in $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational
Tampa, FL Ė April 7, 2007 Ė The $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational, CSI-4*, presented by The Tampa Tribune and Sweetbay Supermarket, reached an exciting conclusion tonight at the Raymond James Stadium in downtown Tampa, FL. It was the grand finale of another fantastic season at the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) and wrapped up ten weeks of the best equestrian competition in the world.
Beezie Madden and Authentic raced to the finish for victory over McLain Ward on Sapphire and Canadaís Ian Millar with In Style. For her win tonight, Madden took home $60,000 and the accolade of being an American Invitational champion for the second time. She is only the seventh rider in the 35 year history to have won the Invitational more than once.
Tonightís course designer was Steve Stephens, who is the co-course designer for the 2008 Olympics. The first round featured 14 numbered obstacles and three double combinations. The fences were at maximum height of 1.60m with spreads of 1.72m. Five horses were clear in the first round to advance to the jump-off. The jump-off featured nine fences in a twisting track that finished over the tall, skinny, "column" fence at 5a.
"Steve Stephens built a very beautiful course tonight. This class is known to have an odd fence or two. In past years it was the viaduct wall and this year it was the double of walls," Ward said. "This is the first year in a while that there have been 14 jumps. There was no triple bar and no triple combination, which was a bit of a breather. I think (the walls) werenít that hard for the horses to jump. I think with the experience factor, people thought it was going to be hard and they overrode. Halfway through, they realized the horses werenít spooking and you should just ride it as a careful double of verticals, which it was. Then all of a sudden it wasnít a problem anymore. I think it really showed the experience level."
Cara Raether and Ublesco had a fantastic clear round, but accrued one time fault to finish sixth in the class. The fastest four-faulter was Mario Deslauriers (CAN) with Paradigm, and they placed seventh.
The first to return for the jump-off was the first clear round of the class, crowd favorite Margie Engle on Hidden Creekís Quervo Gold. Engle made a great slice across jump number one, but could not quite clear the first of the two stride. They made the inside turn to jump number four, but just touched the blocks on the last fence (5a Ė the skinny vertical) for another four faults. They finished with eight total faults in a time of 47.28 seconds.
Richard Spooner was next to attempt the jump-off on Cristallo, owned by Show Jumping Syndicate Inc. Spooner made an extremely tight turn back to the second fence. He galloped down to jump number two, the Budweiser jump, and then made the inside turn to jump number four. It was not quite enough, as Cristallo pulled a rail at the oxer. Spooner galloped over the last fence and tallied four faults in 46.46 seconds.
Millar and In Style, owned by Susan Grange and Lothlorien, cantered easily into the ring to challenge the course. He maintained his smooth, quick style throughout the jump-off, and despite a slight rub at the last jump, In Style galloped through the timers clear in 47.99 seconds. Millar lived up to his prize from the first round, the "Style of Riding" award.
"There were no slow riders. That was a problem," Millar joked. "You love it when there are one or two, but there were no slow riders here! When the first two faulted, at that point, I had to jump clean or Iím giving them a present. I didnít want to do that, even thought itís Easter. I put it on reasonably, and then I figured when I came out, I figured Iíd be second, maybe third, and very, very lucky to be first."
As Abigail Wexnerís Authentic loped into the ring, the crowd cheered. Madden started up for the jump-off, and Authentic picked up his trademark quick, skipping gallop to the first jump. Madden made a very tight turn back to the second jump and really galloped down the broken line between the third and fourth jumps. They made a great inside turn to jump number four and then headed for home. Authentic easily cleared the last vertical and had Millarís time beaten by more than three seconds, in 44.79 seconds.
"I was pretty much planning to do what I did, even if Ian hadnít gone clear because I had McLain behind me. I just had to really go," Madden recalled. "It was good practice for me because I havenít shown him a lot lately. It was fun to go fast and give it a go."
The only one left to challenge Madden was her 2004 Olympic and 2006 World Equestrian Games teammates, McLain Ward and Sapphire. Sapphire has been at a peak this winter, and after her decisive win in the Ä300,000 CN Worldwide Florida Open on the last Sunday of WEF in Wellington, she was one of the favorites to win.
Ward made a great turn to the two stride (the third and fourth jumps in the jump-off) and galloped on the same pace to the Budweiser oxer. As he made the rollback to the oxer, he added one more stride and then pushed Sapphire to the last fence. It was not quite enough, as the scoreboard flashed 44.97 seconds and a clear round, which would end up in second place.
"I was doing everything I could to win it," Ward said with a shake of his head. "I didnít leave much in the bag. I lost a little time at the second to last fence in the jump-off. I had to go out a stride further. I think I did one less stride between one and two and two and three than Beezie did, but her horse has a faster canter. Heís a faster runner, basically. It was a hard challenge, and Iím very happy with my horse. I did pretty much close to my best. Beezie is such a fast rider, and that horse is such an incredibly fast horse. I hate to lose, but sheís great and the horse is great. If you have to lose to somebody, itís a great one to lose to."
Millar noted that he was pleased with his horseís performance and his top ribbon. "Itís a very prestigious competition, and any prize in this class is a good one to get. We work for ten weeks to qualify, so itís quite something," he said. "Iíve had good luck with this competition and consistently in the good prizes, for sure. This class has been good to me."
"I thought I had a good shot," Madden said afterwards. "I know he likes the stadium, which is a huge advantage coming into this class. I knew heíd be fresh. If I got through the first round, I figured I had a pretty good chance in the jump-off."
Madden related that Authenticís history in the class is pretty incredible, with two victories, a second and a sixth place. "Itís pretty unbelievable. I think he likes it; he likes the crowd," she said with a smile. "Heís a funny horse. Heís wound up when I go in there, but when Iím done he goes in on a loose rein, and he comes in on a loose rein for the ribbons. Heís so smart. He knows when heís supposed to be doing his job and when his job is done."
When asked about the win personally, she commented, "There were four Americans in the jump-off, so that was good. It was my final class before the World Cup, so it gives me confidence going into that. This was something that I aimed my horse for, and the plan worked out well."
Another Winter Equestrian Festival is over and with the top two prizes in WEFís biggest competition going to the best two riders in the United States, the future looks bright for the prospects of Americaís show jumping team.
Results of Class 100 American Invitational
April 7, 2007
T/A: 96.00 T/A: 54.00
1 26 AUTHENTIC BEEZIE MADDEN USA 0.00 90.99 0.00 44.79 $60000
ABIGAIL S. WEXNER
2 30 SAPPHIRE MCLAIN WARD USA 0.00 94.00 0.00 44.97 $44000
3 22 IN STYLE IAN MILLAR CAN 0.00 92.22 0.00 47.99 $26000
4 21 CRISTALLO RICHARD SPOONER USA 0.00 92.60 4.00 46.46 $16000
SHOW JUMPING SYN.I
5 19 H C'S QUERVO GOLD MARGIE ENGLE USA 0.00 91.53 8.00 47.28 $12000
HIDDEN CREEK FARM
6 10 UBLESCO CARA RAETHER USA 1.00 98.44 $10000
7 27 PARADIGM MARIO DESLAURIERS CAN 4.00 88.17 $8000
8 24 COEUR RODRIGO PESSOA BRA 4.00 91.13 $6000
DOUBLE H FARM
9 28 HICKSTEAD ERIC LAMAZE CAN 4.00 91.53 $6000
TORREY PINES STBLE
10 14 COCU MOLLY ASHE USA 4.00 92.41 $4000
JANE F. CLARK
11 3 LA ROCCO JUN MICHAEL WALTON USA 4.00 93.50 $4000
12 4 PROMISED LAND CHRISTINE MCCREA USA 4.00 93.78 $4000
13 1 KING CARA CHESKA USA 5.00 98.03
14 11 OLIVER III JUDY GAROFALO TORRES USA 5.00 98.28
HIGHER GROUND FARM
15 15 ORLANDO DARRAGH KERINS IRL 5.00 98.53
DOUBLE H FARM
Photo Credit: Beezie Madden and Authentic, winners of the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational. Photo © 2007 Randi Muster.
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