The final jewel in the competitive indoors equestrian season, the 2018 National Horse Show traded its natural hunter obstacles for jumper fences Wednesday afternoon, with quick-footed horse-and-athlete pairs taking to the Alltech Arena to battle for the lion’s share of the prize money in the $35,000 Free x Rein International Jumper Welcome Speed CSI4*. Besting the field as the quickest fault-free combination during the one-round speed class, the USA’s Beezie Madden and Abigail Wexner’s Jiva captured the Cavcote Welcome Trophy and the first jumper win of the event ahead of the week’s full schedule of elite show jumping competitions.
Beezie Madden wins the $35k Free x Rein Open Jumper Welcome Speed. Photo by Phelps Media Group
For his first design of the week, course designer Ken Krome (USA) challenged competitors to tackle his 13-fence track quickly and carefully during their only attempt to earn a respectable position on the scoreboard, with 24 duos proving successful at leaving all of the obstacles intact out of the original field of 43.
As third in the order-of-go, Molly Ashe Cawley (USA) and Louisburg Farm’s Cat Ballou were the pathfinders as the first clean and clear trip of the evening in 66.33 seconds, but were quickly overtaken by Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) and Starlight Farms LLC’s Quidam MB in a brisk 55.68 seconds to claim the lead. Adding more girl power to the top of the leaderboard, Catherine Tyree (USA) piloted Mary Tyree’s Catungee to a 54.83-second trip to usurp the frontrunners, a lead that would hold until McLain Ward (USA) proved why he is consistently ranked among the best in the world, making a number of impressively tight turns to slice across the track aboard Beechwood Stables LLC’s Contagious in a quick 54.03 seconds.
Another top-ranked rider for the USA, Madden, pulled out all of the stops to improve upon Ward’s time, navigating Jiva at a breakneck pace and tripping the timers in 51.78 seconds to capture the lead with only a handful left to ride. Ultimately, Madden and Jiva proved unbeatable, emerging victorious by more than two seconds ahead of the next closest contenders. No stranger to the winner’s circle, Madden is currently the second highest ranked American in the Longines Rankings, sitting in the ninth position, just a few slots behind fourth-ranked Ward.
Beezie Madden on Jiva. Photo by Phelps Media Group
“It is always good to start with a win,” said Madden. “I thought the course was quite friendly tonight, which is good to get a good start. In the end it turned out there were some difficult options you could do, and so it was an advantage to go near the end because I never would have thought to do that inside turn after the oxer until a few people did it, and then you kind of had to.”
Behind counterparts Madden and Jiva, Ward and Contagious clinched the reserve championship, and Tracy and MTM Reve du Paradis, owned by MTM Farm, rounded out the top three podium finishes with their time of 54.25 seconds, just a hair off Ward’s pace.
Free x Rein $35,000 International Jumper Welcome Speed CSI4*
Place / Horse / Athlete / Country / Owner / R1 Faults | Time
1. Jiva / Beezie Madden / USA / Abigail Wexner / 0 | 51.78
2. Contagious / McLain Ward / USA / Beechwood Stables LLC / 0 | 54.03
3. MTM Reve du Paradis / Tracy Fenney / USA / MTM Farm / 0 | 54.25
4. Catungee / Catherine Tyree / USA / Mary Tyree / 0 | 54.83
5. Quidam MB / Adrienne Sternlicht / USA / Starlight Farms, LLC / 0 | 55.68
6. Carlo / Jack Hardin Towell / USA / Ann Thompson / 0 | 56.56
7. Cartouche / Daniel Bluman / ISR / Daniel Bluman and Over The Top Stables / 0 | 56.62
8. Collin / Luiz Francisco de Azevedo / BRA / Santa Cecelia Stables LLC / 0 | 56.66
9. Florida / Devin Ryan / USA / Devin Ryan / 0 | 56.76
10. Chaccolette / Lillie Keenan / USA / Chansonette Farm LLC / 0 | 56.87
11. Rubens LS La Silla / Conor Swail / IRL / Rose Hill Farm / 0 | 57.38
12. Galan S / Beat Mändli / SUI / Grant Road Partners LLC / 0 | 58.68