The USA’s Abigail McArdle and Plain Bay Sales’ Chuck Berry 8 bested the field of 78 international horses and athletes to round out show jumping competition for day one, claiming the first FEI win of the week in the $8,000 Douglas Elliman 1.40m Jumper CSI4*.
Amber Harte (USA) and Take The High Road, LLC’s Austria 2 held the lead for the majority of the class, jumping clear around the one-round speed course, designed by Ireland’s Alan Wade, in 58.80 seconds.
McArdle and the 10-year-old Hannoverian gelding, who recently won the $40,000 Great Lakes Classic CSI3* at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival in August, tackled the course as 52nd in the order-of-go with their eyes on the prize, taking over the top spot on the leaderboard with a clear performance in 57.43 seconds.
Harte had one more chance to reclaim her lead with her second mount a few rounds after McArdle with Cafino, also owned by Take The High Road, LLC. The pair stopped the timers in 58.97 seconds, securing Harte second and third place honors and the win for McArdle.
Abigail McArdle – $8,000 Douglas Elliman 1.40m Jumper CSI4* winner
On Chuck Berry 8:
“We got [Chuck Berry 8] towards the end of Florida from Germany. I’ve seen a huge change in him from Florida. I think our breakthrough was at Upperville and we’ve just been going up and up since then. I planned to go out there and win it today and he really executed that perfectly for me. He’s very quirky, but we love him to death. He’s beautiful on the ground but he’s hot. He has a lot of personality so that’s been really fun to get to know. In Germany, he was so hot they said they never rode him on the flat, they just lunged him and then he would go in the ring. When we got him there was a lot to work on. He wasn’t used to having someone on his back working him every day. Now he’s really stepping up his game.”
On Wednesday’s course:
“It was great. There was actually a lot of lines so you had to really make up your speed in the turns back on both doubles, and of course in the long gallop coming home to the last line.”
On the American Gold Cup:
“I love the American Gold Cup. It’s a beautiful farm. The grass feels great — perfect footing. [Chuck Berry 8] is going to jump tomorrow in the speed and then probably Saturday’s grand prix. I have another horse that I’ll do in the qualifier and in Sunday’s grand prix.”