Calgary, AB – Sept. 8, 2019 – The world’s best riders entered their top talent in the $3,000,000 CP International Grand Prix, Presented by Rolex on Sunday at the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ CSIO5* in hopes of being the deserving combination to walk away with the richest purse in show jumping. $1,000,000 was to be awarded to the top horse-and-rider after the two-round format grand prix in the International Ring. On Sunday, it was Beezie Madden, aboard Darry Lou, who jumped to the victory, effectively becoming the first female live contender for the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.
The first round saw 51 horse-and-rider combinations jump Leopoldo Palacios (VEN) and Peter Grant’s (CAN) 14-obstacle, 1.70m course, the biggest the sport has to offer. Riders qualified in a number of ways, either being previously qualified from a major win or throughout the week, gaining points in a number of classes. Riders and their mounts mainly fell victim to the triple combination, which was set as a triple bar-vertical-oxer, with a dry ditch under the ‘b’ element. The last fence also caused a lot of heartbreak, as the green rails and the matching brush caused a lot of horses to have the front rail of the wide, square oxer. Three riders finished on just a time fault, jumping clear over each difficult question to end round one on just 1 fault.
The top 12 combinations came back to jump round two, which was equally as big and demanding as the first round. The last line consisted of the famous Spruce Meadows double liverpools, followed by the skinny bikes, set as a combination.
Second-to-last to go, with Eric Lamaze (CAN) behind her, Madden and Darry Loud laid it all on the line to jump clear over the fences and just picked up 1time fault. After Lamaze had a rail, Madden knew she had sealed the deal, and no jump-off would be required to determine the winner. This is the second win of Madden’s career in this class, the last one coming in 2005 with her legendary partner Judgement.
Second place went to Rowan Willis (AUS) and Blue Movie, who were the first pair to jump the last line completely fault-free in round two. An unfortunate rail left them on 4 faults at the end of the course. Third place went to Spruce Meadows first-timer Max Kuhner (AUT) and Chardonnay 79, who just picked up one rail and a time fault to end their day on 5 faults.
Madden is now the live contender for the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping and has CHI Geneva in her sightline as she now chases the biggest bonus in the sport. A Grand Slam Victory is three victories in succession and awarded 1 million euros in bonus money. The CHI Geneva is set to take place from December 12-15 later this year.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Beezie Madden – CP International Grand Prix winner
On her win:
“He was amazing, I was saying that this is such an amazing place, it is just an honor to be here, any win is fantastic, but I have to say this one is pretty special.”
On the course:
“The second round was a real bear, I asked Anthony [D’Ambrosio] when I was walking the course this morning if they had bothered to make a jump-off, I hadn’t looked at the chart yet. And Anthony said, “Yes we have a jump-off, we might be jumping off for 8 faults.” You know, when you walk this course it always looks so difficult, but you have to have faith as there is always a good result and I would say Leopoldo is brave and knows what he is doing, and it made for an amazing event today. But the second round was very difficult, the last line was tricky.”
On Darry Lou:
“Today, he was just about right, I thought I might have left him a little too fresh the other day when I was warming up, but I got away with it. He was good and great anyway, and today I thought he was just about right. It’s nice when you have a plan and it actually works out that way. He is really nothing but a pleasure to ride, I always say if anything goes wrong it is my fault because he does exactly what I ask him to do. He has a beautiful gallop and a beautiful jump and his temperament is amazing.”
On the similarities between Judgement and Darry Lou:
“They are both stallions, but shockingly Darry Lou has quite a big stride when you open him up, maybe not quite as big as Judgement, but they are both brave and they both like Spruce Meadows.”
On Spruce Meadows:
“You have a huge atmosphere here all the time and difficult jumping and always very good competition, so I find it inspiring. I get much more excited about being here than somewhere there is no crowd. The sponsors and the fans and everything make it special. I have a feeling the crowd is cheering for Darry Lou as he is so cute, but the fans here are great. They are obviously very loyal to their Canadian riders, but they appreciate good sport.”
On being the first female live contender:
“Going to Geneva, we were questioning on, but now this probably will seal the fact that we do want to go there. And as far as winning this, it is amazing to have the chance to start trying to win the Grand Slam or at least a portion of it would be amazing.”
Rowan Willis – second place
On Blue Movie:
“She was fantastic today, it was my fault really that the rail came down. I was so happy with her and we managed to jump the last line [in the second round] and I couldn’t have asked for more.”
On his past:
“I have been in England for a long time, my mare was bred in England. She won a few 3* and 4* grand prix two years ago before I came here. North America has really suited her and I will stay over here and use Spruce Meadows next year to get ready for Tokyo.”
Max Kuhner – third place
“I was very happy with Chardonnay, this is our first time in Calgary and I have to say I was very impressed the first day. Over the days I have developed some taste for the course designer and when I walked the second round I said I wouldn’t have built this on my own at home, but ok. It’s a fantastic venue and we are very happy to be here.”
On using the Atco Electric 6-Bar as a warm-up:
“Yeah, it worked well. I already felt doing the 6-bar that he jumped better and better and I was happy that my theory of using that as a warm-up worked well. The verticals looked small today!”
Leopoldo Palacios – course designer
On the course:
“After so many years here, I am very happy. This year I had a very good field of riders and horses, We had 11 of the best 20 in the world, which put a lot of pressure on myself. I needed to produce a second round that was big and difficult, but not dangerous. I decided to use the double vertical of skinny, the oxers over the liverpools were big enough but I tried both to over-do it. Here in Calgary, we are very careful with the welfare of the animals. We know we are the hardest but in a good way. I am very happy that today was very hard but in a good way.”