July 8, 2013--It was an exciting day of show jumping at the Spruce Meadows 'North American' Tournament with the $200,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup. Reed Kessler (USA) bested a strong line-up and was the only one to jump clear in both rounds with Cylana for victory. Conor Swail (IRL) and Lansdowne finished second, while Beezie Madden (USA) and Simon were third. Christine McCrea (USA) was able to ride to the win in the $82,000 TD Cup 1.50m with Zerly over Beezie Madden (USA) on Coral Reef Via Volo and Conor Swail (IRL) with Game Ready. The 'North American' Tournament concludes with tomorrow's competition and the highlight event, the $140,000 Cenovus Energy Classic Derby.
The $200,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup was a test of scope and stamina as horses contested one of the biggest tracks of the summer series and had to contend with jumping two rounds of competition. There were 35 entries in the first round, and the top 12 returned for the second round. With only one horse and rider double clean, the competition was decided without a jump-off.
Course designer Anthony D'Ambrosio stated, "I thought we could have a jump-off with two or three horses. That is what I would have been expecting and it almost unfolded that way, but I am very happy with the way the class ultimately did unfold. I thought everyone did a great job and many riders had good experiences today, so I am very pleased with the way the competition went."
All three of the top riders agreed that they enjoy the two-round format for this competition. Beezie Madden said, "You can't do it every week, but for a competition like this I think it is excellent."
Coming in first was Eric Lamaze (CAN) on Powerplay on four faults, but they put in a second round clear to move up to fifth place. Francois Mathy (BEL) and Polinska des Isles had one rail to finish on eight faults and eigthth place. Leslie Howard (USA) and Tic Tac came in with four faults and added another four faults at the last fence to finish in seventh place.
The CN Precision Series will wait another year to award outstanding bonus money as Kent Farrington and Uceko, the previous winners of the two CN grand prix events this season, came in with four faults from the first round. Although they were clear in the second round, it would not be enough and they would finish in fourth place.
Beezie Madden (USA) and Abigail Wexner's Simon were also on four faults from the first round, but with a great clear ride in the second round and a fast time from round one, they would slot into third place.
Regarding her rail down in the first round, she said, "I think it was really my fault for not getting him back enough after (the triple bar). I got a little too close to the bike (fence) and he was still pulling me too much there, so it was really my fault. I had plenty of room, I just didn't get it done."
However, Madden was happy with Simon's performance overall. "He felt great," she acknowledged. "I really didn't need to jump much before the second round. I thought he jumped fantastic the first round and did the same in the second round, so I was really happy with him."
Lisa Carlsen (CAN) and La Boom had just two time faults in round one, but ran into trouble in round two. After a rail and a refusal, they retired on course and finished twelfth. Another time-faulter from round one, Kirsten Coe (USA) on Calypso, also had trouble in round two with 17 faults for a total of 18 and eleventh place.
Both Katie Dinan (USA) on Nougat du Vallet and McLain Ward (USA) with Rothchild were able to find the clear path in round one, but both faulted at two fences in round two. They finished in tenth and ninth places, respectively.
Next in was 18-year-old Reed Kessler (USA) on Cylana, her 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare by Skippy II x Darco. They put in another stellar clear round despite a hard rub at the final oxer and had to watch as the last two entries entered the ring to see where they would finish.
Kessler recalled, "Everyone gasped like it came down. I think they thought it was coming down, but it somehow stayed up. I was scared to look back. I had my eyes peeled on the scoreboard."
Conor Swail (IRL) and Lansdowne were second to last to go, and the stunning 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by Susan and Ariel Grange put in a stellar jumping effort, but when they crossed the finish line, the scoreboard showed the heartbreaking truth - their time of 68.15 seconds incurred one time fault over the 68-second time allowed. They finished in second place.
Swail explained where he thought he added that .15 of a second on course, "I think where I lost it, he jumped down the combination pretty poorly. I needed just to regroup a little bit, so I think I lost it just a little wide to the ATCO oxer there before the last line. I just needed to set him back on his hocks a little bit. It finished off beautifully again, but I am happy."
He also reflected, "My horse does not have the experience of the two on either side of me (Cylana and Simon). I am really pleased that he is in this company and he continues to be there. He has been great for the whole tournament here. It is nice that I have a good owner in Sue Grange that lets me be able to compete at this level with these horses. I am happy to be here. I think his time will come and so will mine. There's gonna be another day."
Last in was Christine McCrea and Romantovich Take One. It wouldn't be their day, however, as they faulted at two jumps for sixth place.
Kessler said that her win yesterday helped with her confidence going into today's competition, even though it was on a different horse. "It definitely put it in my mind that, ?Okay, you have a chance to win one of these,'" she remarked.
Cylana knows when she's a winner too. "She knows when she has won. Cylana is smarter than 90% of humans I have ever met," Reed laughed.
"This feels amazing," Kessler related. "This is the biggest win of my career so far, (and) it's my first five star win. We have knocked on the door a couple of times with some second places, but it feels great to nail one down."
Final Results: $200,000 ATCO POWER Queen Elizabeth II Cup
1. CYLANA: 2002 Belgian Warmblood mare by Skippy II x Darco
REED KESSLER (USA), Reed Kessler: 0/86.34 - 0/66.01
2. LANSDOWNE: 2003 KWPN stallion by Guidam x Wolfgang
CONOR SWAIL (IRL), Ariel & Susan Grange: 0/86.17 - 1/68.15
3. SIMON: 1999 KWPN gelding by Mr. Blue x Polydox
BEEZIE MADDEN (USA), Abigail Wexner: 4/83.76 - 0/65.41
4. UCEKO: 2001 KWPN gelding by Celano x Koriander
KENT FARRINGTON (USA), RCG Farm: 4/84.75 - 0/66.13
5. POWER PLAY: 2004 Holsteiner gelding by Casall x Limbus
ERIC LAMAZE (CAN), Artisan Farms LLC: 4/86.94 - 0/67.20
6. ROMANTOVICH TAKE ONE:? 2000 KWPN gelding by Numero Uno x Karandasj
CHRISTINE MCCREA (USA), Candy Tribble: 0/85.11 - 8/65.40
7. TIC TAC: 2003 Belgian Sport Horse stallion by Clinton x Darco
LESLIE HOWARD (USA), Jane Clark: 4/85.60 - 4/64.07
8. POLINSKA DES ISLES: 2003 Selle Francais mare by Diamant de Semilly x Valespoir Malabry
FRANCOIS MATHY (BEL), Team Harmony & Francois Mathy: 4/86.16 - 4/67.90
9. ROTHCHILD: 2001 Belgian Sport Horse gelding by Artos x Elegant de L'Ile
MCLAIN WARD (USA), Sagamore Farms: 0/87.00 - 8/67.27
10. NOUGAT DU VALLET: 2001 Selle Francais gelding by Scherif D'elle
KATHERINE DINAN (USA), Grant Road Partners: 0/87.07 - 8/64.97
11. CALYPSO: 2002 Belgian Warmblood gelding by Orlando x Denver
KIRSTEN COE (USA), Ilan Ferder: 1/89.16 - 17/68.18
12. LA BOOM: 1999 Oldenburg gelding by Last Liberty x Libris
LISA CARLSEN (CAN), La Boom Syndicate: 2/93.07 - RET