North Salem, NY-September 14, 2012-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.”
She said the improvements made to the property make it a first-class horse show facility. “This place is gorgeous,” she exclaimed. “ They’ve done a fabulous job. The footing’s great. I think this show is going to bring a lot of people back in the springtime. I am planning now to come back here in May. Normally I would go to Kentucky and I really want to support my local shows. So, I’m really impressed with this facility.”
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.
In other show jumping action at Old Salem Farm, Michael Morrissey won the Adequan 5-Year-Old Jumper Qualifier aboard Jazzy Belle owned by Imperial Show Stables. Mattias Tromp came in with the second time riding Condor owned by Bayaert Farm and Marshall Field VI rode to third place on Twist de Quidam owned by Mary Chapot.
In the 6-Year-Old Jumper Qualifier class, also sponsored by Adequan, Candice King and Prestige owned by Welwyn Farm brought home the blue. “I just tried to go in first and lead the way and put some pressure on,” King said. “The mare felt great out on the footing so I just really tried to ride the mare and the track and I got lucky and it came all together for me. I’m thrilled.”
Georgina Bloomberg and South Street owned by Gotham Enterprizes rode away with the red in the 6-Year-Old Jumper Qualifier class and King was once again in the ribbons with a yellow aboard Nina VDL owned by Esperanza Inc.
Margie Engle and Handyman owned by Betsy Green & Gladewinds Farm, and Peter Lutz and Kenyon owned by Orchard Farm came out on top in the Adequan 7-and 8-Year-old Jumper Qualifier respectively.
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.
Show manager Michael Morrissey couldn’t be happier with the event. “It’s been going great,” he said. “The turnout: it’s an all-star cast. We wanted everybody to come here and have a good experience and go away thinking this was the climax of the season for them.”