Reed Kessler and Cylana. Photos © Spruce Meadows Media Services.
Christine McCrea and Zerly Top the Field in $82,000 TD Cup 1.50m
Calgary, AB – July 6, 2013 – It was an exciting day of show jumping at the Spruce Meadows ‘North American’ Tournament with the $200,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup. Reed Kessler (USA) bested a strong line-up and was the only one to jump clear in both rounds with Cylana for victory. Conor Swail (IRL) and Lansdowne finished second, while Beezie Madden (USA) and Simon were third. Christine McCrea (USA) was able to ride to the win in the $82,000 TD Cup 1.50m with Zerly over Beezie Madden (USA) on Coral Reef Via Volo and Conor Swail (IRL) with Game Ready. The ‘North American’ Tournament concludes with tomorrow’s competition and the highlight event, the $140,000 Cenovus Energy Classic Derby.
The $200,000 ATCO Power Queen Elizabeth II Cup was a test of scope and stamina as horses contested one of the biggest tracks of the summer series and had to contend with jumping two rounds of competition. There were 35 entries in the first round, and the top 12 returned for the second round. With only one horse and rider double clean, the competition was decided without a jump-off.
Course designer Anthony D’Ambrosio stated, “I thought we could have a jump-off with two or three horses. That is what I would have been expecting and it almost unfolded that way, but I am very happy with the way the class ultimately did unfold. I thought everyone did a great job and many riders had good experiences today, so I am very pleased with the way the competition went.”
All three of the top riders agreed that they enjoy the two-round format for this competition. Beezie Madden said, “You can’t do it every week, but for a competition like this I think it is excellent.”
Coming in first was Eric Lamaze (CAN) on Powerplay on four faults, but they put in a second round clear to move up to fifth place. Francois Mathy (BEL) and Polinska des Isles had one rail to finish on eight faults and eighth place. Leslie Howard (USA) and Tic Tac came in with four faults and added another four faults at the last fence to finish in seventh place.
The CN Precision Series will wait another year to award outstanding bonus money as Kent Farrington and Uceko, the previous winners of the two CN grand prix events this season, came in with four faults from the first round. Although they were clear in the second round, it would not be enough and they would finish in fourth place.
Beezie Madden (USA) and Abigail Wexner’s Simon were also on four faults from the first round, but with a great clear ride in the second round and a fast time from round one, they would slot into third place.
Regarding her rail down in the first round, she said, “I think it was really my fault for not getting him back enough after (the triple bar). I got a little too close to the bike (fence) and he was still pulling me too much there, so it was really my fault. I had plenty of room; I just didn’t get it done.”
However, Madden was happy with Simon’s performance overall. “He felt great,” she acknowledged. “I really didn’t need to jump much before the second round. I thought he jumped fantastic the first round and did the same in the second round, so I was really happy with him.”
Lisa Carlsen (CAN) and La Boom had just two time faults in round one, but ran into trouble in round two. After a rail and a refusal, they retired on course and finished twelfth. Another time-faulter from round one, Kirsten Coe (USA) on Calypso, also had trouble in round two with 17 faults for a total of 18 and eleventh place.
Both Katie Dinan (USA) on Nougat du Vallet and McLain Ward (USA) with Rothchild were able to find the clear path in round one, but both faulted at two fences in round two. They finished in tenth and ninth places, respectively.
Next in was 18-year-old Reed Kessler (USA) on Cylana, her 11-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare by Skippy II x Darco. They put in another stellar clear round despite a hard rub at the final oxer and had to watch as the last two entries entered the ring to see where they would finish.
Kessler recalled, “Everyone gasped like it came down. I think they thought it was coming down, but it somehow stayed up. I was scared to look back. I had my eyes peeled on the scoreboard.”
Conor Swail (IRL) and Lansdowne were second to last to go, and the stunning 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood stallion owned by Susan and Ariel Grange put in a stellar jumping effort, but when they crossed the finish line, the scoreboard showed the heartbreaking truth – their time of 68.15 seconds incurred one time fault over the 68-second time allowed. They finished in second place.
Swail explained where he thought he added that .15 of a second on course, “I think where I lost it, he jumped down the combination pretty poorly. I needed just to regroup a little bit, so I think I lost it just a little wide to the ATCO oxer there before the last line. I just needed to set him back on his hocks a little bit. It finished off beautifully again, but I am happy.”
He also reflected, “My horse does not have the experience of the two on either side of me (Cylana and Simon). I am really pleased that he is in this company and he continues to be there. He has been great for the whole tournament here. It is nice that I have a good owner in Sue Grange that lets me be able to compete at this level with these horses. I am happy to be here. I think his time will come and so will mine. There’s gonna be another day.”
Last in was Christine McCrea and Romantovich Take One. It wouldn’t be their day, however, as they faulted at two jumps for sixth place.
Kessler said that her win yesterday helped with her confidence going into today’s competition, even though it was on a different horse. “It definitely put it in my mind that, ‘Okay, you have a chance to win one of these,’” she remarked.
Cylana knows when she’s a winner too. “She knows when she has won. Cylana is smarter than 90% of humans I have ever met,” Reed laughed.
“This feels amazing,” Kessler related. “This is the biggest win of my career so far, (and) it’s my first five star win. We have knocked on the door a couple of times with some second places, but it feels great to nail one down.”
Christine McCrea and Zerly Set Early Pace for Victory
The $82,000 TD Cup 1.50m was held in winning round format today. The top 25 qualifiers competed in the first round, and from there, the top 8 returned for a second round. The top 8 started on a clean slate and the finish was determined by the time and faults from the second round.
First in was Enrique Gonzalez (MEX) on Quilebo D Tillard, who had the last jump down for four faults in 51.97 seconds. That would slot them into eighth place at the end of the competition.
Christine McCrea (USA) and Zerly were next in and they were very quick throughout the course to be the first clear in 48.23 seconds for victory.
“I just was determined to go as fast as I could,” McCrea said with a smile. “There was nothing that I wasn’t going to try and do. That was my goal. I almost didn’t make the jump-off because I went too slow (in round one). I was revved up. She is so fast. I knew if I rode her perfectly, she would be fastest.”
Although McCrea had to add in one related distance line, she thought the competition was won by how fast she was from fences one to two. “I flew around the corner and she shot off to the right over the yellow (oxer), and I had to pull up in the eight (strides),” she recalled, “and that’s where I thought, ‘Oh no. Somebody could get me there.’ But they didn’t. I think you had to fly one to two. That was my plan.”
Meagan Nusz (USA) and Dynamo put in a four fault round in 51.79 seconds and left them in seventh place.
Quentin Judge (USA) and HH Dark de la Hart put in a great clear round in a slower time of 51.47 seconds, which would finish in fourth place. Ian Millar (CAN) and Star Power were fast near the end of the course, but it wasn’t quite enough as they were clear in 52.69 seconds for fifth place.
Conor Swail (IRL) and Game Ready made a great bid for the lead, but fell just short in 51.24 seconds for third place. Ashlee Bond (USA) and Agrostar were also quick in 50.40 seconds, but a rail at the last jump gave them four faults and sixth place.
The final pair into the ring was Beezie Madden (USA) and Coral Reef Via Volo. They were quite fast in 49.53 seconds with no faults, but it wouldn’t be enough to take victory and they had to settle for second place.
McCrea has been riding Zerly, a nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare by Querlybet Hero x Carthago, for almost a year and has been moving her from the 1.50m to the 1.60m and back again. “I think she’s super talented and I absolutely love riding her. She’s sort of learning the 1.60m height. I’m trying to give her a good education going forward,” she explained. “She is just all business and knows what her job is. She is very careful, has tons of scope, and she likes how I ride her. We have a good relationship. She’s just awesome.”
Zerly fits into the type of horse that McCrea likes to ride. She described, “I like them hot. I like horses that can bounce, that you can go forward and then pull up and bounce a stride in. I kind of like ones that go with their head up, which sounds funny, but if you look at the ones we have they all kind of go that way. The high balance is better for me; the low balance is difficult for me to ride. We buy all of our horses young, so we never really know where they’re going to end up, so we try to just horn in on that specific type. They might rise above what you think might ever have jumped before because we’re comfortable together and they like the way I ride them. That’s been our goal the last couple of years. They are so much fun! I’m having the time of my life.”
McCrea has been recording top finishes at the Spruce Meadows Summer Tournaments this year, including four wins and eight top three places. She thanked her parents, who sponsor her, her husband Jonathan, and also Alan Waldman, who finds all of her horses. “It’s been kind of crazy. I think I have a really, really top string right now,” she said. “When you feel confident on one and the next goes well, it sort of builds your confidence and everything meshes. I think that’s what’s been happening for me.”
What Can You Do at Spruce Meadows on Sunday?
Spruce Meadows includes affordable fun for the whole family. With admission starting at only $5 per person, and children (12 & under) and seniors (65 & up) free, it is the perfect venue to unwind and enjoy a day of show jumping, activities, delicious food and shopping. Limited Reserved Seating tickets are also available – for full details, please visit www.sprucemeadows.com.
On Sunday, there will be a number of activities for the whole family (all included in your admission to Spruce Meadows) such as Pony Rides, presented by Kozy Shack, the Spruce Meadows Prairie Dogs, presented by RE/MAX, Wagon Rides, Face Painting, children’s games in the Garden Court Restaurant and more! Delicious food is offered throughout the grounds, featuring a healthy menu at the Garden Court Restaurant, a wide range of options at the Time Faults Public House, and International Fare in the Plaza.
On Sunday, July 7, there will be the Royal Occasion Brunch – all are welcome to join us at the royally inspired breakfast from 10:30 am – 12:30 pm in the Meadowgreen Building, adjacent to the Meadows on the Green Ring. Fresh berries and cream, scones, pancakes, sausages and more will be complimentary to the first 3,000 guests. In light of the recent flood in Southern Alberta, Rush Seating for Saturday and Sunday will be complimentary. Reserved Seating and Club International tickets are available on our website in advance.
Looking to test your luck? Spruce Meadows has several contest options for those wanting to win excellent prizes, including the CN/Sun Media Name the Foal contest featuring a chance to name future show jumping star and a trip to the Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament, and the Win a Year contest, with a chance to win a year of access to all Spruce Meadows events. If you are looking for some retail therapy, vendors in the Gallery on the Green and Vendor Village offer an excellent variety of gifts and services, both equine and non-equine in nature.
The ‘North American’ concludes tomorrow with the $50,000 Akita Drilling Cup 1.50m and $140,000 Cenovus Energy Classic Derby. For more information and full results, please visit www.sprucemeadows.com.
Based in Calgary, Canada, Spruce Meadows is the brainchild of the Southern family who built a Show Jumping complex at the foothills of the Alberta Rocky Mountains. It was in 1976 that the first Spruce Tournaments were held, with annual spectator attendances reaching over 50,000 by the end of the decade. Today, Spruce Meadows boasts one of the greatest outdoor equestrian venues in the world and offers an incredible experience for riders and fans alike. Spruce Meadows focuses on the organization and hosting of show jumping tournaments of unmatched quality for junior, amateur and professional athletes in a manner that reflects basic family values in a clean, green and welcoming environment that celebrates the horse and encourages the breeding and training of quality sport horses and the teaching and development of athletes. For more information on Spruce Meadows, please visit www.sprucemeadows.com.
Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.
Equestrian Public Relations