Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 2, 2019 – The $209,000 Marshall & Sterling/Great American Grand Prix CSI4* saw a starting field of 45 riders return to the Stadium Derby Field on Saturday morning during the fourth week of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Ultimately, 2018 FEI Jumping World Cup™ Finals winner Beezie Madden (USA) and Abigail Wexner’s Darry Lou walked away from the winner’s circle donning the blue ribbon after besting a competitive 13-horse jump-off.
Joining Madden in the awards presentation and celebrating with the playing of the National Anthem was fellow American Olympic medalists McLain Ward, who earned second place with Kessler Show Stables Europe BV’s Tradition De La Roque, and Kent Farrington, who took third place honors aboard Gazelle, the mare he co-owns with Robin Parsky.
Following Thursday afternoon’s $72,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup IV qualifying class, won by Ireland’s Kevin Babington, Saturday’s highlight event invited back top-tier athletes and their horses hoping for another chance at victory as FEI competition continues. Built by course designers Anderson Lima (BRA) and Nick Granat (USA), the track consisted of twists and turns across 16 efforts standing at 1.60m, slightly bigger than Thursday’s 1.55m pattern.
Juan Manuel Gallego (COL) was the sixth rider to tackle the course and managed to pull off the first clear round of the day aboard his own Fee Des Sequoias Z. Amy Millar (CAN) would execute a fault-free round just two trips later with Ammo Investment’s Heros, followed by clean performances by Heather Caristo-Williams (USA), Karen Polle (JAP), Ward, Lucas Porter (USA), Lorcan Gallagher (IRL), Jennifer Gates (USA), Margie Engle (USA), Amanda Derbyshire (GBR), Santiago Lambre (MEX), Farrington and Madden. Thirteen 4-fault rides prevented athletes from returning to attempt the short course, while just one pair was penalized with a time fault.
The 8-fence jump-off capped the time-allowed at 53 seconds, and the course was altered a bit with the first round’s triple combination (oxer-vertical-vertical) condensed to a double combination. Notably where most riders tried to shave off time was from the first to second fence of the jump-off, which was an oxer rolling back to a vertical off of the right lead. While some exhibitors cautiously executed a wide rollback turn to the second obstacle, some opted to save time and went inside a hedge. The final fence was a long approach to a square oxer where riders were able to use their mounts’ footspeed to save more time.
One of the first to return, Ward took the lead in the jump-off after galloping through the timers in a blazing 37.071 seconds, but with Farrington and Madden behind him, the three-time Olympic medalist had stiff competition chasing his time. Farrington and Gazelle, a 13-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare, were a hair slower than Ward and stopped the clock in 37.151 seconds to settle for second with only one pair left to ride.
The pressure was on as Madden entered the ring with the reins on Darry Lou as the final athlete to try her hand over the short-course, which she tackled smoothly and efficiently in 36.806 seconds to take home the coveted title.
Darry Lou, a Dutchbred stallion by Tangelo van de Zuuthoeve, was previously ridden by Mexico’s Alberto Aldana until Madden got the ride on him in April 2017. Since then, the duo has had remarkable success. Looking ahead, Madden has her sights set on competing with her string of top horses for the remainder of the winter season in Florida before the spring circuit heats up.
While the $209,000 Marshall & Sterling/Great American Grand Prix CSI4* marks the end of Week 4 competition at the Stadium Derby Field, jumper action will resume Sunday morning in the International Arena with the $10,000 SJHOF High Junior Jumper Classic kicking off at 8 a.m.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Beezie Madden – $209,000 Marshall & Sterling/Great American Grand Prix CSI4* winner
On the course:
“I like to jump on the grass whenever we have the opportunity, and it was actually a nice beginning for him because I know he’s good on grass and in fields and has a lot of experience. Even though this was his first week, I thought I could aim him for the grand prix. It’s always a huge advantage to go last – well not always, but most of the time – especially when I have Kent and McLain right in front of me. It was awesome to see them go and know what I had to do to win.”
On her plan for the jump-off:
“My plan was to go fast, but I think I probably made it up [from fences] one to two. I didn’t see how many strides they did but I was quite quick there and I am not sure you could do any less there. I think I matched them everywhere else.”
On Darry Lou:
“He did get a nice break [in the fall]. I had planned on showing him a bit at indoors but I used Harrisburg as a warm-up and I felt like he didn’t have a lot of bloom to him there. I said, ‘He’s probably had enough for the year,’ so he’s had a break since the middle of October and he’s come back. We didn’t pull his shoes or anything – he’s a stallion so he can’t go out with other horses, but he had some time where he didn’t get ridden and then he had a lot of time where we could trail ride. As the weather got worse, I rode him inside but he came back with a lot more energy and enthusiasm, so I was really happy with that.”
McLain Ward – $209,000 Marshall & Sterling/Great American Grand Prix CSI4* second place
On Tradition De La Roque:
“She’s very good. The mare has been excellent through the fall, won some nice classes at indoors and started out really nice here in Florida. I was slow [from fences] one to two. She was a little surprised by the inside turn and I checked up and I knew I left some room there. As Beezie said with these two, one of them is going to get you if you leave an inch. I’m thrilled with the mare – what I like about her is she’s very solid in her brain; she’s brave, she’s easy, she’s straightforward. She is going to try and do a good job for you and she’s not going to be too impressed by this atmosphere, which is important on this field.”
Kent Farrington – $209,000 Marshall & Sterling/Great American Grand Prix CSI4* third place
“This is her first show since Geneva. I thought she went very well. I jumped her in three classes this week to gear her up for the season. Like Beezie’s horse, she’s very reliable on grass so I was confident to bring her out and I think the ground is fantastic on this field. I try to jump as much as possible whenever they’re available for us. I think with her not showing in a while, she was a bit impressed in the jump-off, so when I rolled back from fence one to two she jumped super high and again at the end when I rolled back she got super high. In a class like this with these riders, that takes time and I think that’s where I got caught today, but I’m very pleased with her performance.”
$209,000 Marshall & Sterling/Great American Grand Prix CSI4*:
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / R1 Faults / Time / R2 Faults / Time
1. Darry Lou / Beezie Madden / USA / Abigail Wexner / 0 / 82.73 / 0 / 36.806
2. Tradition De La Roque / McLain Ward / USA / Kessler Show Stables / 0 / 81.01 / 0 / 37.071
3. Gazelle / Kent Farrington / USA / Kent Farrington and Robin Parsky / 0 / 84.75 / 0 / 37.151
4. Diamonte Darco / Lucas Porter / USA / Sleepy P Ranch / 0 / 83.78 / 0 / 38.871
5. Roulette BH / Amanda Derbyshire / GBR / Gochman Sport Horses / 0 / 86.84 / 0 / 39.108
6. Royce / Margie Engle / USA / Gladewinds Partners LLC / 0 / 82.59 / 0 / 40.198
7. Heros / Amy Millar / CAN / Ammo Investments / 0 / 83.40 / 0 / 41.003
8. Fee Des Sequoias Z / Juan Manuel Gallego / COL / Juan Manuel Gallego / 0 / 84 / 0 / 41.425
9. Pumped Up Kicks / Jennifer Gates / USA / Evergate Stable / 0 / 85.18 / 0 / 42.115
10. Sari / Karen Polle / JAP / Kinoshita Group / 0 / 82.44 / 4 / 38.88
11. Cetano Van Aspergem Z / Santiago Lambre / MEX / Santiago Lambre / 0 / 83.29 / 4 / 40.767
12. Qui Vive Des Songes Z / Heather Caristo-Williams / USA / Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Caristo / 0 / 85.14 / 4 / 46.82