Beezie and Simon above, and the check presentation below
“We’re getting more solid as we go,” said the New Yorker of her partnership with 13-year-old Simon. “To put three rounds in here that solid was our best effort together. It’s a step forward for us.”
Since March’s selection trials, Madden said she and the talented bay gelding have been working to figure each other out. And it seems to be paying off – the pair is coming off of two second-place finishes, one in the Canada One tournament’s RBC Financial Group Cup and another in the North American’s PWC Cup.
Today marked the end of Simon’s Spruce Meadows circuit, but Madden is expected back in the International Ring with Coral Reef Via Volo for Sunday’s $50,000 Akita Drilling Cup.
Picking up the silver medal in Saturday’s competition was another American Olympic team tandem, Rich Fellers with his longtime partner Flexible. Like the winner, Fellers guided the Irish-bred stallion to three flawless rounds. But having already claimed one leg of the CN Precision Series, the pair had an extra $50,000 on the line.
Always a game player, the west coast rider opted to take a less-traditional route to try to catch Madden in the jump-off. Weaving their way through an inside turn from Fence 2 to Fence 3, the pair didn’t quite match the pace. In the end, they finished in 40.14 seconds.
“For many horses it would have been a pretty big gamble,” said Fellers of the unorthodox route. “I know it would have been for most of the horses that I’ve ridden. But for Flexible it wasn’t that bad. It just didn’t work out well for me.”
Also chasing after the $50,000 bonus was third-place finisher Kent Farrington. Aboard Uceko, the Wellington, Fla. resident had already laid claim to the first event of the CN series, the CN Reliability Grand Prix. The only duo to catch Madden’s time to beat, they finished Saturday’s event in 37.33. Unfortunately, the pair pulled a rail towards the end of the jump-off, landing them a four-fault round.
The course designer, Olympic silver medalist Michel Vaillancourt, built two big and complicated tracks for the North American tournament’s headlining event. Particularly difficult were the first round’s butterfly triple combination – a triple bar, to a big square oxer, to a vertical – and the second round’s inclusion of the Dutch bicycle jump. Of course none of these tricky obstacles fazed the five jump-off contenders.
“Course designing at most horse shows is work. But course designing here, for these guys, it’s a kick,” said the Canadian builder with a nod to the top-three finishers. “You have to challenge them every way you can.”
Lauren Tisbo ranked fourth for her four-fault jump-off round with King Kolibri, and Leslie Howard rounded out the top-five placings for her eight-fault third round aboard Utah.
It may have been one of the warmest days this far into the Calgary summer, but nothing turned up the heat more than the blazing win by Eric Lamaze and Coriana van Klapscheut in Saturday’s $80,000 TD Cup 1.50m.
The 10-year-old mare appeared to be in top form for the afternoon competition, springing over fences in her typical fiery style. The warmblood mare, co-owned by Torrey Pines Stable and Artisan Farms, even threw in a buck or two for good measure. In the end, she carried Lamaze to two clean trips around the tough course set by Vaillancourt. But it was their speedy second-round time of 40.52 seconds that secured the pair top spot on the leaderboard.
This is the third FEI win for the duo during the Summer Series, having also scored top prize in the RSA Cup and the West Canadian Cup. That being said, Lamaze said the mare is just getting back into fighting shape, having taken some down time following her performance in April’s World Cup Final.
“I wanted to take it easy and bring a fresh horse here, but it backfired,” he said. “It took me the first week to get anywhere with her and after that we went through a run where we were unlucky…. There were so many jump-offs that I was sitting outside thinking ‘God, I wish I was in this.’ Today I was lucky enough to be in it.
“In a way, to leave (a tournament) winning is what she’s used to doing.”
The winning round event saw the top-eight finishers from the first round invited back – penalty free – into the International ring to tackle the shortened second round course. But even with all eight competitors on an even playing field, no one was able to come between the reigning Olympic champion and the TD Cup trophy.
Not even second place finisher Madden, who tried her hardest to catch the winners with her fast round aboard Cortes C. Also posting clear rides across both rounds, the Olympian and Wexner’s Belgian warmblood gelding raced to the finish in 41.15 - just a fraction of a second behind Lamaze.
Ranking third was Mario Deslauriers, who landed himself a double clear ride with Jane Clark’s Belgian warmblood mare Cella. The duo racked up a second-round time of 41.53. Fourth place went to California’s Richard Spooner, who had a clean jump-off ride in 42.73 with his warmblood gelding Apache. Egyptian rider Nayel Nassar ranked fifth for his clear second round with Lordan.
It’s hard to believe the five-week long Spruce Meadows Summer Series is almost wrapping up. With only one day of competition remaining, the Sunday of the North American culminates with the $140,000 Cenovus Energy Classic. The infamous derby track, designed by Pamela Carruthers, is always a crowd favorite.
Beezie Madden and Simon
Beezie Hammers the Spike
Eric Lamaze Check presentation
Mario Deslauriers with Urico
Darragh Kerins and Lisona
Richard Spooner and Cristallo
Christine McCrea with Romantovich Take One
Lisa Carlsen and La Boom
Richard Spooner and Apache
Nayel Nassar and Lordan
Mac Cone and Capone
Kent Farrington and Voyeur
Antonio Maurer with Callao
PHOTOS BY: Holly Burns - Holly Burns Media