The top 39 athletes from Friday’s $86,000 American Gold Cup Qualifier CSI4*-W, presented by Windsor Show Stables, came forward to compete on the Grand Prix Field in Sunday’s grand finale over two challenging tracks designed by Alan Wade and Nigel Jess.
The large first round course utilized the field’s natural slopes and hills to test athletes over a series of 14 obstacles, where a majority of faults were collected through the Longines triple combination (oxer-oxer-vertical). Five combinations advanced to the jump-off after producing clear efforts in the first round.
Brianne Goutal (USA) kicked off the tie-breaking round with Remarkable Farms LLC’s Nice De Prissey. The pair won the 2013 American Gold Cup together but concluded Sunday’s competition on 4 faults in 40.12 seconds, which would garner them fourth place in the final standings.
Canada’s Mario Deslauriers and Bardolina, owned by Wishing Well Farm, LLC, experienced an unfortunate parting of ways at the third element of the eight-fence jump-off, resulting in an elimination. Both horse and athlete received a round of applause for their efforts after immediately getting back on their feet and reuniting.
Just coming off their recent win in the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament’s $75,000 Agero Grand Prix at the end of August, Ryan and Eddie Blue, owned by LL Show Jumpers, LLC, claimed the first clear performance of the jump-off. They blazed around the short course in 37.75 seconds, knowing world number three ranked show jumping rider and New York native McLain Ward (USA) would be following him in the order-of-go.
Ward and HH Callas, owned by Double H Farm, took their turn on the Grand Prix Field next, also finishing clear but one second behind Ryan in 38.34 seconds. Jack Towell and Evergate Stables LLC’s Lucifer V were the final challengers of Sunday’s main event. They posted the fastest 4-fault effort in 39.51 seconds for third place, while Ward took home second place honors.
The American Gold Cup is one of only seven events that comprise the East Coast division of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League. Top equestrian athletes compete in the league at events all across North America in order to qualify for the prestigious Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final to be held in Paris, France, April 10–15, 2018.
Prior to Sunday’s grand prix, the M. Michael Meller Style of Riding Award was presented to the USA’s Heather Caristo-Williams, who exhibited an outstanding combination of horsemanship, skill and presentation while competing at the 2017 American Gold Cup. In addition, Sandra Ruiz received the Old Salem Farm Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award, which was created by Old Salem Farm head trainer Frank Madden as a way to recognize members of the U.S. hunter/jumper community for their selfless contributions to the sport they love.