The $205,000 CaptiveOne Advisors CSI4* Grand Prix, the senior jumping finale class of the season on the derby field, came right down to the wire on Saturday, March 24. Beezie Madden, the last to ride, clinched the win in the five-strong 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, held in the penultimate week of the 12-week 2018 WEF circuit, was held on the expansive grass arena of the derby field at Equestrian Village, home to the Adequan Global Dressage Festival.
Madden was riding Breitling LS, a quick and careful 12-year-old stallion owned by Abigail Wexner, who was clocking up his second Grand Prix win of the season.
“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 is no stranger to the World Cup Final, having won it in 2013 on Simon. “Breitling has 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 broke the beam in 47.19 seconds, cruising more than a second under Irishman Daniel Coyle’s time. He finished second with Cita.
“I was lucky that I was able to keep an eye on what was going on and able to see Daniel go. It was lucky he went into the lead because I could see exactly what I needed to do,” Madden said. “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.”
Madden has ridden the talented stallion for five years, buying him from the Dutch show jumping champion Jeroen Dubbeldam — who was on hand to watch the win.
“Any Grand Prix win is exciting — not only for me but for my entire team,” Madden said. “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, thanks to sponsors CaptiveOne, plus this is a beautiful venue and an international field with some very top riders competing.”
Coyle was also enthusiastic about his result. “I’ve asked her this year, she has been brilliant,” he said of Cita.
The mare has been jumping fantastically.
“Any four- or five-star result like this anywhere in the world is not easy to do,” said Coyle, who also won the $384,000 Douglas Elliman Real Estate Grand Prix CSI 5* in WEF 9 with Cita. “The course was well built today and jumped a little harder than it walked. There were only five clears, but it always makes it better when a class isn’t easy to jump.”
Fellow Irishman Richie Moloney sewed up a success-fueled week, finishing third in this class to add to his 1.45m victory the previous day. This latest result came aboard Equinimity LLC’s Freestyle De Muze, a 13-year-old gelding, who finished in 50.68 seconds.
“Week four was his last Grand Prix, and he was double clear out here as well to finish sixth, so since then, we’ve been aiming for today,” said Moloney, who has been based in Florida for seven years. “He has been great, and he loves it out on the grass.”
Emily Moffitt was named the Martha Jolicoeur Leading Lady Rider, in memory of Dale Lawler, for her top finishes in last Thursday’s $70,000 Equinimity WEF Challenge Cup Round 11 and Saturday’s Grand Prix.
The Grass Series Major Rider Bonus, sponsored by the McNerney Family, was for riders’ results in the WEF 4 and WEF 11 FEI competitions on the grass derby field at Equestrian Village. First place went to Daniel Bluman, who received $15,000; Richie Moloney received $7,500 for second place; and Emily Moffitt won $2,500 for third place.
The 12-week WEF circuit, held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, concludes this weekend. For more info., visit www.pbiec.com.