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Team Eye Candy tastes sweet victory in Major League Show Jumping $200,000 Team Competition CSI5*

Sunday, 25 July 2021
CSI5* Traverse City 2021

Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography.


Press release from Great Lakes Equestrian Festival



Major League Show Jumping (MLSJ) competition continued Saturday, July 24, in the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring during Week III of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival (GLEF), presented by CaptiveOne Advisors, with the MLSJ $200,000 Team Competition CSI5*. The eight teams who battled it out for top honors in last week’s team class returned to work together for the coveted team gold medal in the three-phase competition. In the end, it was Team Eye Candy, last week’s silver medalists, who stepped up to the top podium position and claimed the team gold medal.

The new team competition format for the MLSJ entailed all three riders of the eight teams battling it out over the first round course of the class to determine the top four teams who would advance to the second round, the speed phase. Once one member in each of the top four teams, determined by their teammates to be the quickest, had completed their second round course, the top two teams carrying the least amount of faults would battle it out for the gold medal. The third and fourth place ranked teams following the second round advanced to round three to determine who would claim the bronze medal and third podium position. 

Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography. Paul O’Shea and Squirt Gun of Team Eye Candy. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography.

In the first round, the individuals from all eight teams took to the track the course designer Olaf Petersen Jr. (GER) set to see which teams would get the chance to advance to the second round. The challenging course was an apt test for the teams, enabling only the most technically correct and efficient to move on. Once the three riders from all eight teams had tried their hand at the course, Eye Candy, Diamond Devils, Road Runners and Crusaders were in the top four positions. Advancing on to the second round where speed was the name of the game in a faults-converted format, the teams had to choose who would tackle the second round course, and who would be reserved for the final medal-deciding showdown.

The Diamond Devils’ two speediest riders, Sam Walker (CAN) on Hermelien VD Hooghoeve, owned by Evergate Stables LLC, and Bliss Heers (USA) on Goodbye, owned by Bridgeside Farms LLC, were the first to tackle Petersen’s speed track. The riders completed quick and careful rounds, taking an early lead with a combined time of 102 seconds. Crusaders’ riders Peter Leone (USA) on Cedric 84, owned by Maarten Huygens, and Alessandra Volspi (MEX)on her own Foster 39 were next in, but accumulated several faults around the course to give them a combined time of 110.82 seconds. 

Road Runners teammates Kyle King (USA) and Kaitlin Campbell (USA) took to the ring next, turning up the speed a notch, but also knocking unfortunate rails that were added onto their time, giving them a total of 105.09 seconds. 

Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography. Jacqueline Steffens and Freaky of Team Eye Candy. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography.

Molly Ashe-Cawley (USA)and Berdien, owned by Louisburg Farm, for the Crusaders, were first in the third round jump off to face-off against Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) aboard Lafayette Van Overis, owned by Starlight Farms 1 LLC, for the bronze team medal. Ashe-Cawley navigated the course fast and clear to cross the finish in 47.94 seconds. Sternlicht entered the ring shortly after, but had a refusal on course that cost them a chance at the third podium position. 

The final two riders battling it out for the gold team medal were Paul O’Shea (IRL) on Eye Candy Jumpers LLC’s Squirt Gun, and Kristin Vanderveen (USA)on Bill Run’s Risen, riding for Diamond Devils. With Eye Candy’s anchor rider O’Shea in the arena first, he set a new standard and completed the jump-off round in just 47.70 fault-free seconds. Vanderveen and Bill Run’s Risen tried to best O’Shea’s speedy time, but fell just short of their goal, crossing the finish in 48.20 seconds with one rail knocked down. With O’Shea claiming victory in the final gold medal phase, Eye Candy was awarded the top podium position, while Diamond Devils settled for the silver team medal. The Crusaders finished with the bronze team medal. 

Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography. Amy Millar and Christiano of Team Eye Candy. Photo © Andrew Ryback Photography.

FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE: Eye Candy Jumpers team – gold medalists

Amy Millar on the new MLSJ format:

“Just this whole format is so fun — it’s such a pleasure to ride with this team. You try your best and we are all supporting each other. Today you know if you made a little mistake, your other team riders would cover for you and you can still win. It’s just so much fun that way.”

Jacqueline Steffens on her team’s horsepower:

“I think all three horses [Squirt Gun, Freaky, and Christiano] are really strong partnerships that we’ve had a little bit of time to get to know and I think we were really pleased with them. All three jumped great clear rounds in the first and did enough in the second and third rounds to bring it home.”

Paul O’Shea on his gold-medal jump-off plan:

“The plan was fast without going too crazy. I did nine strides to the last line and I planned an eight stride line, so I was lucky there because you can get beat for that, but [Squirt Gun] jumped amazingly and it was a great atmosphere.”

Jacqueline Steffens on the experience of being on a MLSJ team:

“I think it’s an incredible experience. Both [Paul O’Shea and Amy Millar] bring so much experience.They’re both incredible riders and to be in that environment, get the team experience and be able to learn from them is really valuable.”

Amy Millar on her next competitions:

“I’m really, really excited about going back home to Canada for a CSI5*. COVID-19 has been really hard on show jumping in Canada, Ontario specifically, and it has been sad for me not to be able to compete at this level in the country that I love so much. I am so super excited for the tour at Angelstone and the one at Caledon later on. Keean White knows exactly how to get the crowds up there and get everyone pumped up. It’s an electric venue at Angelstone and I think everyone’s going to love it.” 


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