Kelli Cruciotti defeated two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and reigning Longines FEI World Cup Champion Beezie Madden by one tenth of second to win Thursday’s $50,000 Pennsylvania Big Jump, sponsored by Wilmington Trust – A Division of M & T Bank. Riding Hadja Van Orshof, the 21 year old resident of Elizabeth, CO, could not believe that she won such a prestigious event at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show.
“It’s amazing to win here. It’s a feeling like no other,” said Cruciotti. “We love Harrisburg, it’s our favorite indoor show. We try to come every year. It has so much history and there are so many amazing riders who compete here, so it’s a real privilege to show here.”
Seven horse and rider combinations out of the field of 34 made it to the speed round, with only two yielding double clear rounds over the Michel Vaillancourt-designed course. Canada’s representatives had a bit of bad luck. Ali Ramsay, going first on Hermelien VD Hooghoeve and had two rails for eight faults. Susan Horn (CAN) and Lillyfee, owned by Kingsfield Farm, had a refusal as well as jumping and time faults to end on 22 faults. The USA’s Madden had set the target time with the first double clear on Chic Hin D Hyrencourt, owned by Abigail Wexner in a time of 33.09 seconds. The lead was short lived as Cruciotti followed on Hadja Van Orshof setting a new goal with a clear round time of 32.99.
“My plan was to be smooth and simple and try to do the numbers but not too fast because she’s going to be the horse I ride on Saturday as well,” said Cruciotti. “She is really great about the turns, I was actually able to do one less to the double (combination), so I was really happy about that. The jump-off flowed beautifully and it rode great. With such a great course designer, it makes our job a little easier.”
Cruciotti nervously waited to see if her time would hold, but the remaining three,
Katherine Strauss on All In, Nicole Walker (CAN) aboard Falco Van Spieveld and Abigail Mc Ardle on Victorio 5 each had a rail for four faults.
“I never know, the riders who follow you are so fast,” said Cruciotti. “You try not to get your hopes up, you obviously always keep your fingers crossed, but it’s never over ’til it’s over. Thankfully today, it worked out for us.”