Two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist Beezie Madden and Abigail Wexner's Cortes 'C' were victorious on Saturday night in the $125,000 FEI World Cup™ Qualifier Grand Prix, CSI 3*-W presented by Spy Coast Farm, during week six of the 2013 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF) in Wellington, FL. Madden beat out an impressive roster of top riders and finished in first place over Katie Dinan (USA) and Nougat du Vallet and Shane Sweetnam (IRL) aboard Amaretto d'Arco, who finished second and third respectively.
Brazil's Guilherme Jorge set the track for 46 entries in Saturday night's grand prix with nine jumping clear to advance to the jump-off. Four were able to complete the short course without fault, with the fastest time of 41.50 seconds belonging to Beezie Madden and Cortes 'C' took top prize.
Margie Engle (USA) and Elm Rock, LLC's Royce were first to clear the jump-off course in 45.69 seconds and eventually placed fourth. Shane Sweetnam and Spy Coast Farm, LLC's Amaretto d'Arco cleared the jump-off track in 42.56 seconds to place third. Up next, Katie Dinan and Grant Road Partners, LLC's Nougat du Vallet upped the ante with their time of 41.84 seconds to place second. They were immediately followed by an even faster clear round from Beezie Madden and Cortes 'C' in the winning 41.50 seconds. Week four grand prix winners Ben Maher and Jane Clark's Cella had the fastest time of the night in 40.46 seconds, but had one rail down in the short course to place fifth.
Spy Coast Farm owners Robert and Lisa Lourie were thrilled with the success of the evening and the great class along with a third place finish for their horse and rider. Lisa Lourie commented, "I think it was an extremely exciting grand prix. It was very competitive and you could not have asked for a better lineup for the jump-off. It was a world-class event and we were happy to be a part of that jump-off. As they say, anytime you lose to Beezie when she is riding at her best that is not a bad thing. We are very pleased with how it went and very happy to do it."
Madden's winning mount for the evening, Cortes 'C', is an eleven-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding by Randel Z x Darco that Madden has now had for three years. Madden describes Cortes as a horse with fantastic ability. "He can jump the moon," Madden stated. "He's a bit of an internal worrier and I think he is just starting to come into his own. If he can relax like he did tonight under the lights in a big atmosphere I think he's going to be fantastic."
This was the first big grand prix of the year for Cortes and Madden was happy with his performance. "He felt fantastic," she smiled. "Last year he was a little inexperienced under the lights and he was very tense when he came up here each time. This time he started out very relaxed and he felt terrific. He felt very relaxed in the first round; very rideable and jumping well," Madden continued. "I saw Katie go right before me. I was lucky to go right behind her so I could see how fast she went, so the strategy became try to pull out all the shots you can and it worked."
In addition to the grand prix win, Madden was named the Leading Lady Jumper Rider, an award presented by Martha Jolicoeur of Illustrated Properties in memory of Dale Lawler. "I'd just like to thank Spy Coast and the Louries," Madden said. "They are great enthusiasts of the sport and without people like them we wouldn't be here."
Second place finisher, nineteen-year-old Katie Dinan, has grown up with Beezie Madden as a riding idol and was excited to finish in the top of the class with her. Dinan's horse, Nougat du Vallet, jumped two great rounds as well. "He felt great," Dinan smiled. "He jumped so well in the first round and we had a good school before the jump-off. I knew he wasn't going to try to touch any of the jumps. It was just up to me to go fast. He can do most things for me, but I have to tell him when we need to go fast. He felt really good."
Shane Sweetnam was pleased to finish in the top three for Spy Coast Farm with their top stallion Amaretto d'Arco, and had a great night. "I was very happy with my horse tonight," Sweetnam stated. "Obviously, the Spy Coast Grand Prix, I would have liked to have won it, but I was very happy. It is his first grand prix of the year and I'm just happy to be here." "Guilherme did a good job with the course," Sweetnam said. "I think nine is a good number for clear rounds. No one got hung up anywhere, so for the young riders it was good experience for them as well as a good class for the public."
Final Results: $125,000 FEI World Cup™ Qualifier CSI 3*-W Grand Prix, presented by Spy Coast Farm
1. CORTES 'C': 2002 BWP gelding by Randel Z x Darco BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), Abigail Wexner: 0/0/41.50
2. NOUGAT DU VALLET: 2001 Selle Francais gelding by Scherif D'elle KATHERINE DINAN (USA), Grant Road Partners: 0/0/41.84
3. AMARETTO D'ARCO: 2000 BWP stallion by Darco x Tenor Manciais SHANE SWEETNAM (IRL), Spy Coast Farm LLC: 0/0/42.56
4. ROYCE: 2004 Oldenburg stallion by Café au lait x Grandilot MARGIE ENGLE (USA), Elm Rock LLC: 0/0/45.69
5. CELLA: 2002 BWP mare by Cento x Chin Chin BEN MAHER (GBR) Jane F. Clark: 0/4/40.46
6. BIG STAR: 2003 KWPN stallion by Quick Star x Nimmerdor NICK SKELTON (GBR), Beverly Widdowson: 0/4/41.53
7. UCEKO: 2001 KWPN gelding by Celano x Koriander KENT FARRINGTON (USA), RCG Farm: 0/4/42.73
8. LANSDOWNE: 2003 KWPN stallion by Guidam x Wolfgang CONOR SWAIL (IRL), Ariel & Susan Grange: 0/8/44.65
9. MACOEMBA: 2003 KWPN gelding by Zeoliet TODD MINIKUS (USA), Todd Minikus, Ltd: 0/8/52.32
10. QUICK STUDY: 1999 SFA gelding by Quick Star x What a Joy LAUREN HOUGH (USA), Laura Mateo: 1/84.25
11. AD RAHMANNSHOF'S BOGENO: 2000 Belgian Sport Horse gelding by Baloubet du Rouet x Elanville ALVARO DE MIRANDA (BRA), Alvaro De Miranda & Victory Equestrian Sport BV:4/79.16
12. CHILL R Z: 2003 Zangersheide stallion by Chellano Z x A Lucky One CHARLIE JAYNE (USA), Alex Jayne and Maura Thatcher: 4/80.08
Source: Press release from Lauren Fisher and Laura Cardon for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
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