Beezie Madden has never been one to stand in the way of a horse’s forward momentum, and on Thursday Breitling LS strode into the ring looking like a steam engine. While never once did it appear that Beezie outlandishly pushed Tiny to take the top jump-off time, the massive gelding managed to earn just that, forcing plenty of others to take daring chances and bring rails down in a vain attempt to catch them.
“Even though Saturday night is my biggest goal, today was a great class, and it seems to help him to try to be competitive all week so that was the plan,” said Beezie. “When [Breitling LS] was green he wasn’t quite as quick a thinker, but now he’s gotten handy. He has a big enough stride that he can leave strides out, and at the same time he has a quick gallop too, so in these smaller venues where jumps come up fast and there’s not so many options, I think he’s faster than some.”
Twenty-six FEI horses entered the ring today to get their feet proverbially wet in the bright, fluffy footing of the Capital One Arena in downtown DC (the venue is the same as previous years, but is no longer known as the Verizon Center), and an impressive nine horses would score the double clear to come back for a shot at the big check.
Denis Lynch made a tough course look all too easy as the first horse in during round one, but they took a sliding stop to the penultimate fence that cost them five faults, slotting them eighth.
Beezie and Tiny entered the ring for the jump-off next, and a smooth but scientifically precise round wasted no time or energy to stop the clock at 30.78. Devin Ryan, Shane Sweetnam, and Aaron Vale would all take chances that would be too costly, bringing down rails along the way.
Laura Kraut and Confu were simply marvelous in both attempts, and ultimately rounded out the top three with a final time of 31.92, and looked like they were going to hold onto reserve honors right until the final jump-off rider, when Alison Robitaille and Ace stormed in, clearly eager for the win.
Alison and Ace pushed themselves to the limit and left the poles up, but could only get within 8/10s of a second of Beezie and Tiny’s winning time. What her performance (and that of Beezie and Laura) did provide was an all-American, all-female podium to start off FEI competition in Washington; will it prove to be an omen for the week? Keep it locked on JN to find out!