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Unique Double Clear Round Gives Beezie Madden an Outright Back-to-Back Victory in the Prestigious $200,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup … Jean Llewellyn reports from Calgary for PhelpsSports.com
Calgary, Canada - July 8, 2006 – In the first of two showcase classes at the Spruce Meadows ‘North American’, on the final weekend of competition in their summer tournament series, the $200,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup is one of show jumping’s coveted trophies. In the history of this event, only two past winners have successfully defended their titles for back-to-back wins: Canada’s Hugh Graham in 1994 and 1995, on both occasions with Money Talks, and the USA’s Leslie Howard (1999/S’Blieft and 2000/Priobert) – a remarkable duo to which Beezie Madden now adds her name and that of the 11-year-old Authentic.
The first round saw 29 riders line up to try and conquer Werner Deeg’s intimidating course and, ironically, drawn first, Mexico’s 27-year-old Alberto Michan riding the 10-year old Lavita went clear. Nine riders later, his fellow countrywoman, Marcela Lobo emulated his round, free of jumping faults, but incurring one penalty for exceeding the time allowed. Although the course was large – appropriately so for this level of competition – it was relatively uncomplicated in terms of related distances, apart from he final line, which included the last of three double combinations. Time was not a serious factor, although one time fault in a two-round, one jump-off class can prove critical in the final reckoning.
Uncharacteristically, Richard Spooner and Hilton Flight failed to stop the clock within the time allowed, one of only four combinations throughout the whole first round. Alongside Spooner, Rich Fellers/McGuinness, Norman Dello Joio/Quriel and Will Simpson/El Campeon’s Tosca scored four faults apiece, but all three qualified for the second round which saw the top 12 return in reverse order based on faults and time.
Kyle King, the winner of the earlier $75,000 Canada Post Cup, chose to ride the 10-year-old stallion, Capone I in the Queen’s Cup, but the Holsteiner clocked a rather lack-luster 12-fault round, and only two further riders maintained clean slates: Mexico’s Jaime Guerra riding RMW Power Point, and the USA’s Beezie Madden and Authentic.
The bogey fence in the first round, something of a traditional ‘tiger trap’ in the Spruce Meadows international ring, at which 50% of riders incurred faults this afternoon, was the wavy red and white planks sporting the Canadian Maple Leaf four from home. Although it didn’t cause any difficulty for Authentic, Beezie Madden later characterized the problems; “It’s narrow, like the bicycle fence, and the wavy planks upset the horses’ perspective. Also, jumping towards the crowd is distracting
In second-round order, the first three riders, Mexico’s Federico Fernandez/Bohemio, Norman Dello Joio and Canada’s Jill Henselwood/Special Ed, all lost their scalps at the massive, ex-Athens Olympic fence, parallel bar, the penultimate obstacle on the 10-fence course. Britain’s Mark Armstrong was the first to jump clear with Thesaura, for a final four-fault tally, resulting when the very gifted mare lowered … the planks, in the first round. The following three Americans, Joie Gatlin with Suncal’s King, Will Simpson riding El Campeon’s Tosca, and Rich Fellers with McGuinness executed similarly impeccable rounds maintaining their first round four-fault scores which was good enough to elevate the latter two into well-deserved third and second places respectively.
Already selected for Mexico’s team that will travel to Aachen for the World Equestrian Games, Marcela Lobo, carrying forward one time fault from the first round with Joskin, left the ring with a total five faults which dropped her to seventh place overall. Likewise, Richard Spooner, when the Irish-bred Hilton Flight dropped his back feet on the rear rail of the fence two oxer. The pair were fortunate not to incur a further four faults when a rail at fence seven defied gravity and bounced in the cups but, based on their first round time, they were still relegated to eighth place in the final reckoning.
Alberto Michan, who has grown in competition stature during the past five weeks and will now join the Mexican quartet traveling to Aachen next month, was sensibly taking a very cautious approach and appeared to lack a little assurance in his approach to the penultimate parallel bar just when Lavita needed some additional impulsion. Although the ensuing four faults relegated the pair to sixth place, it was nonetheless an extremely creditable performance.
With two riders to go, it was left to Mexico’s Jaime Guerra to give Beezie Madden a run for her money and potentially force a jump-off. But a breakdown in communication ahead of the treble combination, triggered a glitch in the horse’s rhythm and, ultimately, a refusal at the second element from which they never recovered momentum, and their eventual 15-fault round relegated them to 12th place.
Beezie Madden only needed to produce a clear round with Authentic for an outright win, and the dark bay Dutch Warmblood gelding, owned by Abigail Wexner, showed no signs of vulnerability throughout the course. Added to her running total, the $66,000 check pushes Madden’s winnings during this five-week tournament series to over $200,000 and consolidates her #2 position in the prize money rankings at Spruce Meadows.
Naturally delighted with the result, Beezie Madden admitted that, “Authentic has already been selected for WEG, so this was a bit of a preparation for him for the World Championships.” And asked about the back-to-back wins in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, Beezie revealed, “Winning this is something we’ve aimed at for the past two years.”
As it happens, the 42-year-old has been struggling with a tendonitis condition inside her left thigh “which has flared up over the past couple of days, so I didn’t ride this morning and didn’t jump in some of the smaller classes.”
Talking about Authentic, runner-up Rich Fellers said, “He’s a bit of a freak of nature, I think, because he’s so careful, obviously has his own style of jumping, a unique style, everyone can see that. But he’s so quick across the ground and over the jumps, it’s the handiest thing. Beezie’s a top class rider, of course, but he’s a bit special.”
About his own McGuinness, Feller said “He’s my hero. He tries his heart out.” Commenting about the rail at fence three in the first round, he said “I’ve always been pretty close on time allowed in classes, this year and because I was competing in the other ring this morning …” [and had an early draw in the Queen’s Cup] “… so I didn’t have a great feel for the time, and just felt with the history of McGuinness being a little slow that I would take the inside turn risk.” Fellers candidly admitted that, “When I left the ground at the wall [fence one] my instinct said ‘go around’ and my discipline said ‘no, stick to the plan.’ So I looked around and said, ‘nope I’ve gotta go inside’ It was a short turn and a wide jump, and he’s a small horse, and he made a good effort but just touched the back rail. It was why most of the riders didn’t take the inside turn!”
Fellers did reveal a secret weapon in terms of McGuinness’s improved speed. “I’ve tried a new bit [a loose ring snaffle] and taken the time over the winter to get him comfortable with it, and it’s given me more control. He’s much quicker now because I have more control and can gather him up and start into my turns a little quicker.”
Will Simpson’s third-place performance with El Campeon’s Tosca was especially noteworthy given that he’s only been riding the mare for the past five weeks. Despite the problems experienced by a great many rider on course, Simpson said, “When I walked the course I thought it was quite easy, but I don’t yet know the mare well enough to call on her too much.”
Reflecting on the extremely creditable results from Mexican riders over the past weeks at Spruce Meadows, and the fact that one of their veteran show jumpers and former Olympian (Barcelona 1992), Jaime Guerra, is likely to go to WEG as the reserve … it will be extremely interesting to watch how this more youthful team progresses in Aachen next month.
Full results: www.sprucemeadows.com
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