Christine McCrea jumped ahead of the competition Friday to place first in the $50,000 American Gold Cup Qualifier at the picturesque Old Salem Farm in North Salem, NY. The day was clear and warm to welcome the 50 entrants to the final class of the day on the spectacular grass Grand Prix field.
Six entries went clear and headed to the jump-off. McCrea had the winning time with 40.830 seconds aboard Romantovich Take One owned by Candy Tribble. "He's really fast," McCrea said. "He's always been really fast."
She added that the course was challenging for the qualifier to Sunday's $200,000 American Gold Cup. She found the naturally hilly landscape added an extra level of difficulty to the course designed by Steve Stephens. "The course was tricky because I think the terrain here adds a lot of spice," she said. "You know, if you don't ride on a terrain like this very often, you can really struggle with the hill, either working for you or against you."
"And I think it was abnormal for a regular Grand Prix horse to canter up the hill, and then around the back and then down the hill and then you come to the skinny and they were just flying down the hill out of balance," McCrea added. "So, the course designer did a very good job and it was up to us to try to keep the jumps up.
McCrea, who won The American Gold Cup in 2006, said she is happy to be back on the grounds of the Old Salem Farm. "I am thrilled to be back here," she said. "I grew up riding here. This place is gorgeous," she exclaimed.
Another rider with history showing at Old Salem was the second-place finisher in the Gold Cup Qualifying class, 2012 U.S. Olympian Reed Kessler. Kessler rode her own Mika to a time that was just .28 seconds behind McCrea and believed the extra stride she took between jumps one and two put her behind. "And then, you know, Chris is so fast and Romantovich is so fast and I don't know, maybe she beat me into the double," Kessler said. "But I'd say definitely one to two I was one stride behind her."
"It's been all about clean rounds," she said of the qualifier. She added that her horse is learning to stay calm and careful while turning on the speed. She also expressed her delight to be back in North Salem. She grew up just a few minutes from the show grounds and said she showed ponies from one ring while her mother showed Pavarotti in another.
"I'm thrilled to be home," she said. "It's been the biggest year of my life. I've never had a year like this. Everything's happened so fast, week to week, the biggest shows, everything's difficult. It's just amazing to be back somewhere I've been before and really comfortable and back in America."
The third-place in the American Gold Cup Qualifier was Peter Leone riding Lincourt Gino owned by Monica Carrera. Leone and Gino were a mere 1.040 seconds behind McCrea.
The other three riders with clear rounds to earn places in the jump-off included Beezie Madden riding Cortes C, Charlie Jayne riding Chill RZ, and Candice King riding Combina.
American Gold Cup action continues Saturday with the $35,000 Double H Farm Jumper Classic and the famed $200,000 American Gold Cup CSI4* on Sunday afternoon.
Class 101, $50,000 AMERICAN GOLD CUP QUALIFIER - 50 STARTERS
1 ROMANNTOVICH TAKE ONE - CHRISTINE MCCREA - 0 0/40.830
2 MIKA - REED KESSLER - 0 0/41.110
3 LINCOURT GINO - PETER LEONE - 0 0/41.870
4 CORTES C - BEEZIE MADDEN - 0 - 0/44.010
5 CHILL RZ - CHARLIE JAYNE - 0 - 4/45.020
6 COMBINA - CANDICE KING - 0 - 8/49.700
7 VANILLA - BEEZIE MADDEN - 1 - 88.960
8 TALOUBET - PAULO SANTANA, FILHO - 4 - 83.190
9 BARONEZ - KIRSTEN COE - 4 - 83.660
10 MTM TIMON - TRACY FENNEY - 4 - 85.400
11 NOPUS DU GUE JOUBERT - HILLARY SIMPSON - 4 - 85.580
12 VOYEUR - KENT FARRINGTON - 4 - 85.680
13 WRIGLEY - CALLIE SCHOTT - 4 - 86.290
14 OREADE DES DAMES - LINDA LANGMEIER - 4 - 86.340
15 UNEX OMELLI - TIMOTHY GREDLEY - 4 - 86.400
16 MERLIN - JEFFERY WELLES - 4 - 86.981
17 HH CAROTINO - QUENTIN JUDGE - 4 - 87.200
18 VALDIATTO - CARA RAETHER - 4 - 87.640
19 LEAP OF JOY - CHARLES JACOBS - 4 - 87.710
20 SIRI - SHANE SWEETNAM - 4 - 87.830
Source: Pressrelease from Sue Weakley for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International
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