Beezie Madden, the two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and reigning Longines FEI World Cup Champion, scored her second victory in as many days on Jiva, owned by Abigail Wexner, at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show winning the $35,000 Keystone Classic Speed Stake, sponsored by the World Equestrian Center on Friday evening. The pair also won the $35,000 1.45m Harrisburg Sprint, sponsored by the Tanzola Family, the day before and as a result were crowned Open Jumper Speed Champions, receiving the Showday Farm Challenge Trophy, donated by Mr. and Mrs Charles Ziff.
Madden defeated Thursday nights Pennsylvania Big Jump Champion, Kelli Cruciotti by one second, going double clear in a time of 54.29 seconds. The two have been sharing the top two spots as Cruciotti also came in second to Madden in the Harrisburg Sprint.
“My horse was fantastic tonight,” said Madden. “Kelli has been fantastic all week. We traded places. The other speed class I won and she was second. Then last night, Iwas second. If it keeps going this way that will be fine with me.”
In the one round contest against the clock, the field of 28 horse and rider combinations yielded seven clear rounds over the Michel Vaillancourt-designed course. Cruciotti, going third in the lineup, rode the first clear in a time of 55.29 seconds on Zidante, owned by Serenity Farm. Canada’s Nicole Walker scored the second clear on Excellent B in 58.99 and Ireland’s Darragh Kenny nearly took over the lead on Carlo, owned by Ann Thompson, going clear in 56.54 seconds which eventually gave them third place.
Recent World Equestrian Games U.S. Team Gold Medalist Adrienne Sternlicht left the rails up on Quidam MB in 60.89 seconds and U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Leslie Howard, who was just inducted into the PNHS Hall of Fame, went clear on Donna Speciale, owned by Laure Sudreau, in a time of 57.93 for fourth. Susan Horn (CAN), with KS Coradina, owned by Kingsfield Farm, was clear in 60.49 seconds and with only two left to jump, it looked like Crucioitti might claim a repeat victory. However, the final two were powerhouses, Madden and four-time Olympian McLain Ward on Tradition De La Rogue. Ward was no threat as he had an early rail, but Madden found the faster path on of the 9-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare.
“The course walked differently than it rode, so the ones at the beginning got a little surprised by that and so going at the end was a big advantage,” said Madden.”I think I saved time on the last line going in five strides to the last oxer and I think my horse has natural foot speed as well.”
Cruciotti agreed. She believed that going later was the key to victory.
“I went early in the order so we didn’t get to watch any. We just did the plan we thought we could execute the best,” said Cruciotti. “I’m thrilled with my horse. Any time you can be second to Beezie, it’s like winning. I can’t be disappointed at all, it’s been amazing.”