WELLINGTON, Fla.--Beezie Madden of Cazenovia, N.Y., had the advantage of going last in the $205,000 CSI4* Grand Prix at the Winter Equestrian Festival on March 24, and she used it to win the class over a five horse jump-off.
Clears in the first round were few and far between over Olaf Petersen Jr.’s big and challenging track, with many careful combinations being caught out by the yawning water jump.
The first 39 starters produced only two clears, but the jump-off numbers were bolstered by three late clears from the final six riders.
The class, in the second to last week of the 12-week 2018 WEF circuit, was held on the expansive grass arena of the derby field at Equestrian Village.
Madden was riding Breitling LS, a quick and careful 12-year-old stallion son of Quintero owned by Abigail Wexner, who scored his second grand prix win of the season, the first having been in the $205,000 CSIO4*.
"THIS IS Breitling’s final prep before he goes to Paris for the World Cup Finals ,and I know it sounds funny to do a big field class, but I think that the grass and a different venue helps keep him feeling fresh and feeling good,” said Madden, who won the World Cup Final in 2013 on Simon. “Breitling’s always been a horse that goes well when he’s in a good mood, so we’re just trying to keep him happy, and he seems to like the grass. That’s why we chose this class.”
The 54-year-old Olympic gold medalist had the advantage of crafting her jump-off tactics after watching her fellow competitors tackle the course.
She finished in 47.19 seconds, more than a second faster than second placed Irishman Daniel Coyle’ on Cita.
“I was lucky that I was able to keep an eye on what was going on and able to see Daniel go, so it was lucky he went into the lead because I could see exactly what I needed to do,” said Madden. “I think when I did five strides from fence two to three, it took maybe almost a little too much time at the double which worried me and made me hustle the rest of the way around. I’m not sure where I caught up exactly; maybe I just had a little more speed in general, but it was close!”
Madden has ridden the stallion for five years, buying him from the Dutch show jumping champion Jeroen Dubbeldam, who was in Wellington to watch the win, in the spring of his 7-year-old year.
“Any grand prix win is exciting, not only for me but for my entire team," said Madden. "I have a fabulous owner in Abigail Wexner and a great support team behind me, so it’s nice for all of them when we have success like this. It’s also great prize money, plus this is a beautiful venue and an international field with some very top riders competing.”
“I’ve tried to save Cita for certain grands prix, and every time I’ve asked her this year, she’s been brilliant," said Coyle. "The mare is jumping fantastically and she’s never been in better form.
Fellow Irishman Richie Moloney finished third on Freestyle De Muze to add to his 1.45m victory on Friday.