The 2018 American Gold Cup at Old Salem Farm came to an end on Sunday as some of the world’s top international show jumping athletes competed for the coveted American Gold Cup trophy in the $204,000 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ New York CSI4*-W. The United States claimed the top prize for the third year in a row as Molly Ashe Cawley of Wellington, Florida, secured the victory aboard the 10-year-old KWPN mare D’Arnita.
The top 37 athletes from Friday’s $80,000 American Gold Cup Qualifier CSI4*-W came forward to compete on the Grand Prix Field in Sunday’s grand finale over two challenging tracks designed by Irish course builder Alan Wade.
The large first round course utilized the field’s natural slopes and hills to test athletes over a series of 13 obstacles. Athletes collected rails all over the course, but seven combinations advanced to the jump-off after producing clear efforts in the first round.
Competing at her home base as the trainer of Old Salem Farm, Lucy Davis, who rode on the U.S. silver medal team at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, set the standard to beat aboard Old Oak Farm’s Caracho with the first double-clear effort in 39.30 seconds. However, her early start in the order would prove to be disadvantageous with six competitive combinations still left to come behind her. Ultimately, she would claim fourth place as the slowest double-clear finisher.
Margie Engle (USA) and her veteran partner Royce, owned by Gladewinds Partners, LLC, successfully navigated the short course next, stopping the timers in a whopping 36.85 seconds to take over the lead.
Mattias Tromp (USA) followed suit, piloting Quinta, owned by Swede Ventures LLC, to another double-clear performance in 37.95 seconds to move into second place in the standings.
It all came down to the final entry of the class: Cawley and D’Arnita. It was clear the pair came to win as they fought hard to complete the eight-fence serpentine in record time. In the end, her time of 36.76 seconds narrowly secured the victory ahead of Engle by one-tenth of a second. Sunday’s achievement at the American Gold Cup is D’Arnita’s biggest career win to date and Cawley’s first time earning the prestigious title.
“We’ve been bringing along [D’Arnita] since she was 7,” shared Cawley. “This is her biggest outing so far to date and I was thrilled with her. I thought she answered all of the questions and really rose to the occasion. I’m super excited. I think there are plenty more to come. She’s really a super horse and every time she wins, it means a lot to us because she’s been a fighter and she’s just a class act. I’m super excited to have her.”
Thus far this year, the pair have also claimed wins in the Kubota Cup during the ‘North American’ CSI5* Tournament at Spruce Meadows in July and at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival in August in the $35,000 Great Lakes Classic CSI3*.
When asked about what she liked about D’Arnita, Cawley shared this: “Just the fight in her to get over the jumps and get it done. She really likes to dig into the ground. The mare really wants it as bad as I do and that’s always a great feeling – when you have your partner wanting it every bit as much as you do.”
Once again, Engle was forced to settle for second place, after also finishing second in Saturday’s $35,000 Hermès Sellier Classic with Indigo and in Thursday’s $35,000 Trelawny Farm Welcome Stake CSI4* with Dicas, while Tromp grabbed third place honors and Davis rounded out the top four.
In the lead-up to Sunday’s main event, McLain Ward’s beloved and legendary partner, Rothchild, owned by Sagamore Farms, was retired in a special ceremony honoring his incredible career with Ward, including winning individual gold and team bronze for Team USA at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada.
For the fourth year in a row, the American Gold Cup has been selected as one of only seven events that comprise the East Coast division of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ North American League. This year’s event kicked off the eastern sub-league’s 2018/2019 season, where athletes will go on to compete at events all across North America in order to qualify for the prestigious Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final to be held in Gothenburg, Sweden, April 3-7, 2019.