Thursday evening at the CP National Horse Show featured the $130,000 CP Grand Prix International Open Jumpers CSI4*-W. Competing for the first time at the historic event, Great Britain’s Emily Moffitt claimed one of the biggest wins of her career to date, along with the Walter B. Devereux Memorial Challenge Trophy, aboard Hilfiger Van De Olmenhoeve.
Course designer Michel Vaillancourt tested 43 international horses and athletes over a 13-fence track in the first round. Out of the 18 combinations who jumped clear, only 14 returned to battle it out in the jump-off, while others elected to save their mounts for Saturday’s highly anticipated $250,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Lexington CSI4*-W.
Beezie Madden (USA) was the first to navigate the short course with no faults, piloting Darry Lou, owned by Abigail Wexner, to a time of 37.260 seconds.
Laura Kraut (USA), winner of Wednesday’s $35,000 International Open Jumpers Welcome Speed CSI4* with Whitney, followed Madden and produced another double-clear performance with Confu in 36.990 seconds to move into the first place position.
Moffitt was the fourth out of five combinations to complete the jump-off fault-free, riding the 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood owned by Poden Farms. It was Kraut and partner Nick Skelton who originally found Hilfiger Van De Olmenhoeve for Moffitt and the pair have since established a strong, winning partnership, even contributing to Great Britain’s gold medal in the young rider team competition at the FEI European Jumping Championship in August.
The 19-year-old, who trains with British Olympic gold medalist Ben Maher, crossed the finish line one second ahead of Kraut, her former trainer, in 35.700 seconds for the win, while Kraut claimed second place and Madden rounded out the top three.
Prior to Thursday’s highlight event, the Alltech Arena welcomed 25 international horses and athletes to vie for top honors in the $35,000 Palm Beach Masters Series International Open Jumpers Speed CSI4*.
The faults converted speed class saw Devin Ryan of the United States and his own Cooper post one of the fastest times early on in the class as 10th in the order-of-go, despite incurring faults, in 66.310 seconds. However, Jessica Springsteen (USA) and new mount Volage Du Val Henry, a Selle Français mare owned by SCEA Elevage De Voise, blazed around the course, designed by Vaillancourt, fault-free in 65 seconds, which would prove to be unbeatable throughout the remainder of the competition.
In the end, Ryan settled for third place honors, while Andrew Ramsay (USA) and The Doodle Group’s Cocq A Doodle finished in second place in a time of 65.530 seconds after faults.
The USEF Under 25 National Championship began Thursday afternoon with the $15,000 faults converted speed competition, where high school senior Madison Goetzmann rode her own Prestigious to the win with a speedy, fault-free round in a time of 61.968 seconds.
Goetzmann and the 10-year-old Westphalian gelding partnered less than a year ago, but have found great success in the jumpers throughout the year. The 17-year-old junior rider from Syracuse, New York, has proved her versatility, winning the Region 2 ASPCA/NHSAA Maclay Championship with hopes of also capturing the ASPCA Maclay National Championship on Sunday.
Abigail Mcardle and Plain Bay Sale’s Chuck Berry 8 were close behind with a time of 62.784 seconds, while Jennifer Gates followed in third aboard Evergate Stables LLC’s Alex in 64.473 seconds. Round two of the USEF Under 25 National Championship will be held on Friday with a $20,000 jump-off competition, while the third and final round will be held on Sunday. The competitor with the lowest number of penalties after all three phases will be crowned the overall champion.
Jumper competition kicked off on Thursday at the National Horse Show with the Equithrive Amateur-Owner/Junior Jumper Welcome Stake, presented by Horse Network. Sixteen-year-old Samantha Cohen and her own Carmen bested a field of 29 horse-and-rider combinations to take home the win.
Nine jumped clear over Vaillancourt’s first round course to advance to the jump-off, where David Oberkircher and Tyson De Verteveuille, owned by Southfields Farm LLC, were the early clear pathfinders in 39.424 seconds. Cohen and the 10-year-old KWPN mare took over the top spot two rounds later in 38.837 seconds. Their lead held throughout the remaining six rounds to garner them the first place prize and the “Skymaster” Memorial Trophy. Daisy Farish and Stone Ridge Farms, LLC’s Alberto II finished in second place in 38.894 seconds, while Oberkircher finished in third place.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Emily Moffitt – $130,000 CP Grand Prix International Open Jumpers CSI4*-W winner
On her win on Thursday:
“I was a little skeptical about Ben [Maher’s] decision to go for it because there were so many riders in the jump-off. I was thinking maybe we should save him for the big grand prix on Saturday, but Ben said to go for it, don’t pull and hope for the best. I did and ‘Tommy’ was with me the whole way. It just went our way. It’s pretty awesome, and it’s even better that we’re all girls! This is my first big win. I have been competing on the [Longines Global Champions Tour] for quite some time. I’ve been having to produce clear rounds rather than focus on winning so it’s great to come here and worry about winning the class for myself. It’s very exciting.”
On Hilfiger Van De Olmenhoeve:
“Tommy is my best horse. I got him through Nick [Skelton] and Laura [Kraut]. I don’t think I ever expected him to jump this big, be this consistent or be my best horse. He just steps up to everything you ask of him and he’s a really great partner.”
Laura Kraut – $130,000 CP Grand Prix International Open Jumpers CSI4*-W second place
On her former student’s win:
“It happens all the time. I trained Jessica Springsteen and I sit behind her quite often as well. It’s nice. It’s a good feeling to see them step up and do well. That’s the whole goal of why you are helping these young riders. It’s very nice to see. I picked [Hilfiger Van De Olmenhoeve] out for Emily and I would agree with her. We thought he was a lovely horse. You wouldn’t have known that he was going to do what he’s done for her though. He’s been absolutely brilliant.”
Beezie Madden – $130,000 CP Grand Prix International Open Jumpers CSI4*-W third place
On her performances with Darry Lou on Thursday:
“I was pretty conservative because I don’t know the horse very well. It’s his first indoor show. I wanted to go enough that I could get a top placing, but not have the wheels fall off the wagon.”
On Darry Lou:
“We got him at the end of April. He’s gone to this level a lot faster than I thought. He came from Mexico. He was doing the 1.50m. He’s just stepped right up. He started in Aachen and Europe after Spruce Meadows and did Dublin and the Spruce Meadows Masters. He’s had a pretty heavy dose. This is actually his last show of the year. He’s digested a lot in a year and I am really proud of how far he’s gotten and how well he has done.”
Jessica Springsteen – $35,000 Palm Beach Masters Series International Open Jumpers Speed CSI4* winner
On Volage Du Val Henry:
“I just recently got [Volage Du Val Henry]. I was showing her a bit over the summer [in Europe], and since bringing her back to the States she’s just been going so well. She’s only 8. This is our first indoor together so I’m really happy with her. She’s really strong minded but she’s always going to go. She loves to jump and she’s so brave. It’s fun to have a horse that really tries and she really wants to do the right thing. I’m really excited about her. I think she’s going to become a really competitive horse and I’m excited for the future.”
On her strategy for the class:
“I thought I had a good chance to get a good placing. I did not think that I would end up winning, but I just tried to be smooth and do the turns without going too, too crazy. It ended up working out so I was really happy.”
On the National Horse Show:
“I love coming here every year. It’s something I always look forward to. It’s nice because it’s indoors but there is a lot of room to ride and you can ride outside. It’s just a really special place so it’s nice to be back.”
Madison Goetzmann – $15,000 USEF Under 25 National Championship (first round) winner
On her plan for Thursday’s first round of competition:
“Being that it’s the first day of the championship, our plan was to go into the first phase and be assertive and quick enough, but still at a comfortable pace so you’re not risking too much. You want to be able to put a little bit of pressure on other riders, while still being within your comfort level and that worked out perfectly. We had a nice, efficient round. I feel pretty comfortable in [the Alltech Arena]. I’ve had some success with my High Junior Jumper, Wrigley. We’ve been champion here and have won a few classes. This is my second time competing in the U25 championship. Last year it started off strong but didn’t end as well as I wanted so I hope to do one better this year and keep it together through the championship.”
“Prestigious is a 10-year-old gelding. He was imported from Europe last year and I’ve had him for a little under a year. I first started competing with him at WEF and we have just been taking things very slow. I think our partnership has really grown a lot these past few months and I’m really excited for our future. He’s a very sweet horse. He’s like a little pony — he’s very small and his character kind of resembles one. He’s very easy going and doesn’t spook. He’s a very straightforward, loving horse. He’s kind of been my main horse throughout the spring and summer. I’ve just had the best results on him so we decided to bring him to this championship and he’s proved himself many times.”