Major League Show Jumping (MLSJ) competition came to a pinnacle in Traverse City Friday, September 17, as the fifth leg of the exciting tour saw its eight teams fight it out for a portion of the $6+ million dollars in prize money on offer throughout its 10 2021 events. In an intense race to the finish line through three nail-biting rounds of sport, it was Team Crusaders, consisting of Molly Ashe Cawley, Shawn Casady and Peter Leone, who stood atop the podium at the conclusion of the class.
The team competition format entails all three riders of the eight teams competing over the first round course to determine the top four teams who advance to the second round. The second round speed phase showcases two of the three team members to jump their mounts once again. At the conclusion of the second round, teams sitting in the fourth and third position will then offer up their remaining team member for a jump-off to determine who will wear the bronze medal. The teams seated in the second and first position then send in their third rider to jump-off for the silver and gold medal honors.
Ireland’s Alan Wade fashioned the 12-effort first round course for each member of all eight teams to take on. Coming in with confidence after taking home the win during the last competition of the Toronto leg of the tour, Team AIM United were the first to try their hand at the first round course. However, teammates Andrew Welles (USA), Sydney Shulman (ISR) and Catherine Tyree (USA) would post an unfortunate 16 faults to the scoreboard with a combined time of 216.42 seconds. Road Runners were next on course, finishing their three rides in 218.98 seconds with only 8 faults to their names. Team Eye Candy followed soon after, posting 12 faults to the scoreboard in 222.79 seconds. Also on 12 faults were the Otomi Warriors, who completed the course in a combined 223.34 seconds. The Blazing 7s proved to be a force, only posting 4 faults in 224.65 seconds before the Diamond Devils made a spectacular effort with no faults across their team in 223.24 seconds. Rounding out the first round competition, the Lucky Charms was forced to retire when one of their riders failed to complete the course, and the Crusaders narrowly nudged their way into the top four teams with a 12-fault finish in 221.13 seconds, making them the quickest of the 12-falters. At the conclusion of round one, Diamond Devils, Blazing 7s, Road Runners and Crusaders were determined to move on to round two.
As each team made their way through the second round, the faults-converted speed phase made for a shakeup in the top teams. The Crusaders, represented by Leone and Casady, were first on course, posting a combined team time of 124.17 seconds with Casady’s four faults considered. The Road Runner’s Christian Heineking and Erin Davis-Heineking completed the course in a team time of 127.26 seconds with their 12 faults considered. Lauren Hough and Chandler Meadows were next to vie for a gold or bronze podium jump-off for the Blazing 7s. Hough and Meadows rolled two rails to the ground, putting them on a team total of 129.69 seconds. An unfortunate separation of horse and rider for the Diamond Devils left the team out of contention for the gold medal jump-off.
At the conclusion of round two, it was determined that the Diamond Devils and Blazing 7s would jump-off for bronze, while the Road Runners and Crusaders would jump-off for gold and silver. First in for the Diamond Devils, Kristen Vanderveen put the pedal to the metal, completing the course in 62.35 seconds with three seconds added for having the last rail down on course. Cara Raether Carey made her way into the arena, hoping to beat Vanderveen’s time to secure the bronze medal for her Blazing 7s. Two rails down on course, however, would result in a time of 65.89 seconds, lending the Diamond Devils the bronze medal position on the podium.In the grand finale event, Team Road Runners and Crusaders laid it all on the line with one last effort separating who would wear gold and who would wear silver. Adrienne Sternlicht was first to show in representation of the Road Runners. Sternlicht turned and burned her way through the track, but rolled one rail to the ground to finish in a time of 58.99 seconds, leaving the door wide open for the Crusaders to take the lead. The final athlete to try their hand at the course was Cawley for the Crusaders. In one last valiant effort, Cawley galloped her way through the course, knocking one rail to even the playing field, but narrowly beating Sternlicht’s time to finish in 58.76 seconds with her faults considered, ultimately claiming the victory for the Crusaders and leaving the Road Runners in the silver medal position.Major League Show Jumping competition will conclude Saturday, September 18, with the $36,600 Cabana Coast Large Tour Grand Prix 1.45m CSI2* taking to the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Arena. The MLSJ league will continue its tour with its sixth stop taking place in Caledon, Canada from September 23 to 26, 2021.
Source: Press Release