Fresh off a victory in Washington (USA), defending Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Champion Beezie Madden (USA) continued her winning streak in Lexington—this time on a new horse.
Madden piloted Chic Hin D Hyrencourt (Taran de la Pomme x Elanville) to victory in the 10-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding’s World Cup qualifying debut. Using stride and scope to their advantage, the pair came home with a winning time of 36.57 seconds over Ken Krome (USA)’s shortened course. Molly Ashe Cawley (USA), herself a World Cup winner in New York (USA) this season, finished just two-tenths of a second behind the winner with Cat Ballou (Cassini II x Lacantus), crossing the timers in 36.77 seconds. Laura Kraut (USA) and Confu (Contact Me x Cambridge), the only other double-clear performers on the evening, rounded out the podium with a time of 38.10 seconds.
Six combinations qualified for the jump-off out of a field of 35, and clear rounds were again hard to come by in the second round. The first two jump-off competitors, Lucy Davis (USA) and Kent Farrington (USA), had the rail at the very first fence. Madden, who followed Kraut in the fourth slot, elected to try a different approach.
“John and I talked about it before the jump off, and we said we’d try to take a shot but also stay within ourselves,” Madden detailed. “I was lucky enough to see Laura go, and the competitive nature in me took over a little bit. I thought [the riders] were having trouble with the approach to [the first fence], so I showed [Chic] a gap when I went in [the ring]…and we got a good approach,” Madden explains.
Madden was also pleasantly surprised with her mount’s agility, considering they are relatively inexperienced as a pair in jump-off situations, having only been partnered since the summer. “After I did the five-stride line to the end jump, I asked him to turn pretty hard in the air, because I didn’t think he could turn that great, but he really turned fast,” Madden said. “I kind of said, ‘Okay, we’ll go with it!’ It came right up in the turn, which was good for me, and I just tried to bring it home. I caught a good one to the last one, too. It was right out of stride. I basically just had a little fun with it!”
As defending champion, Madden is automatically qualified for the 2019 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final in Gothenburg (SWE). Her objective has become making as many of the horses in her string eligible and selecting the horse that is best prepared come springtime.
“I have already Darry Lou, Breitling, and Chic eligible,” she said. “I plan on using Coach early in the [winter] season, because he’s had a nice break. We’ll see who’s the hot horse going into the World Cup Finals, which is kind of what my strategy was last year.”
Lexington’s top two finishers now sit atop the east coast sub league standings of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ North American League. Madden and Ash Cawley each have 46 points. Having won two qualifiers, Madden holds an outright lead. However, seeing as Madden is already pre-qualified for the Finals, Ashe Cawley would be the top qualifier in the league based purely off point standings.
“I don’t know, honestly, [which horse] I would take to World Cup Finals [at the moment],” Ashe Cawley said. “I definitely was leaning in the direction of [my winning mount in New York] D’Arnita, but I have to say, Cat Ballou really stepped up to the plate and did his job beautifully here. He’s obviously the big, big jumper. He’s super scopey, but he’s quite big, and Gothenburg is quite small! I think we just have to see how the horses keep going as the year goes on, and if I qualify, we’ll choose the one that’s at the top of their game at the time.”
The North American League continues in Toronto, Ontario (CAN), on 10 November 2018.