Friday the 13th proved to a lucky day for Beezie Madden, who stormed to victory on her veteran mount Coral Reef Via Volo during the $100,000 American Gold Cup Qualifier, presented by Double H Farm & Windsor Show Stables. Fifty-five entries showed on the Grand Prix Field at Old Salem Farm during the 2013 American Gold Cup CSI4*-W, but only eight finished without fault to qualify for the jump-off, where Madden and Coral Reef Via Volo sped past the other double clears, Brianne Goutal and Nice De Prissey in second, and Margie Engle and Royce in third.
Alan Wade of Ireland built a solid track for today's feature event, which tested rides with a pole over an open water fence, a skinny vertical off a sharp turn, and three double combinations, as well as multiple fences off of hills and long gallops. Mid-way through the competition, a rain shower passed through, and despite eight horse and rider combinations going clear during the first half, none were faultless during the second half of the class.
The eight athletes returning for the jump-off were all females, and for the short track they began over two new oxers to a single vertical. Then they showed over a vertical-oxer double combination to a single vertical, before rolling back over the skinny jump and galloping towards the gate for the final obstacles.
Birthday girl Brianne Goutal was the first to return for the short course riding Nice De Prissey for Remarkable Farms of Royal Palm Beach, FL. The duo was quick and precise, making easy work of the fences and galloping through the timers in 41.51 seconds to set the pace, which would hold up for second place.
Margie Engle was next riding Royce for Elm Rock Partners LLC of Bronxville, NY. Despite an ankle injury, Engle proved that she had all of the answers, leaving all the rails intact and crossing the finish line in 42.48 seconds for third place.
Katie Dinan of New York, NY, was next in the ring with her first of two qualified mounts, Nougat Du Vallet. They had a single error at the second new oxer for four faults in 40.40 seconds for fifth place, while Dinan's second mount Glory Days had a single error in faster time of 40.01 seconds for fourth place.
Tracy Fenney with MTM Timon, owned by MTM Farm of Flower Mound, TX, and Molly Ashe Cawley on Carissimo, owned by Olivia Jack of Fairfield, CT, also had a single rail each, finishing sixth and seventh respectively. Although Leslie Howard and Tic-Tac, owned by Jane F. Clark of New York, NY, were perfect in the first round, they had 12 faults in the jump-off for eighth place.
The final clear competitor in the jump-off proved to be the best, demonstrating why she is currently ranked second in the world. Beezie Madden found the perfect distance to each obstacle with her Olympic mount Coral Reef Via Volo, owned by the Coral Reef Ranch of Rancho Santa Fe, CA, opening up the mare's big stride to the first fences and easily galloping home through the last line. They blazed across the finish line in 41.09 seconds, beating Goutal by 5/10ths of a second to lead the lap of honor.
"As far as turning on the footing for the jump-off it felt quite good, so I went to try and win," noted Madden. "I thought I was pretty quick to the first two fences and the double, but we were on the same time at the skinny, so I must have been faster the last two fences. Even though she's little she has all of the scope to jump big fences. She's been good at a lot of different venues and she is pretty comfortable here."
Leading up to this event, Coral Reef Via Volo competed at Hickstead and the Hampton Classic. "We try to split up the work load," explained Madden, who won the American Gold Cup Grand Prix in 2010 with the 15-year-old mare. "She's had a lot of experience in Europe and at Spruce Meadows, so we left those for the other two horses and thought she had a good chance here."
Madden is based out of John Madden Sales in Cazenovia, NY, and she is thrilled to have the American Gold Cup in her home state. "This venue is so fantastic and the Gold Cup has a great history," she stated. "There is a lot of prize money and we love the area. It's close to home and we get to stay with my brother-in-law, Frank Madden."
Source: Press release from Phelps Media Group.
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