The fundamental way that the World Cup works, with the leagues, is very important. It isn’t the best 40 in the world—it’s the best so many from each region. That helps to spread the competition out throughout the world and give different people an opportunity to compete with the best. I think that’s a valuable thing for a lot of people, because it exposes them to the highest end of the sport.
There’s not much McLain Ward and Sapphire haven’t won. They have a myriad of grand prix titles, Olympic team silver and World Equestrian Games team bronze on their resume. But now they can add what Ward called his “biggest personal win” to date—the $399,541 CN Worldwide Florida Open Grand Prix.
“Sapphire always feels amazing—sometimes I just get in her way. She’s a great horse, and now very seasoned. As long as I don’t make a major error, she’s going to perform well. She’s a horse of a lifetime,” Ward said.
“Anything’s possible!” quipped Maria Schaub after winning her second consecutive R.W. “Ronnie” Mutch Winter Equestrian Festival Equitation Championship. The class proved the adage that it’s not over till it’s over, with Schaub and Maggie McAlary having to duel it out in a final test after two rounds of jumping.
“Oh Canada” could have been the theme song for the CN Wellington Open CSIO, as the Canadian team topped the $75,000 CN Nations Cup, and then Canadian Mario Deslauriers polished off the week, March 7-11, by winning the $150,000 CN U.S. Open Jumper Championship in Wellington, Fla.
“We’re all very well-mounted now, and sometimes you get on a streak. After winning the Nations Cup at [the Spruce Meadows Masters last year in September], everybody in Canada is really up and feeling good about our team again,” said Deslauriers.
Earning a spot on a U.S. Equestrian Federation team through the selection trials process is all about consistency. And the three riders and their horses who ended up on top of the trials for the Olympic Games put consistency together with brilliant jumping to earn their trip to Athens.
Beezie Madden on Authentic, Peter Wylde on Fein Cera, and McLain Ward on Sapphire started out the trials at the top of the pecking order, and they never lost their footing.
As soon as Margie Engle broke her leg in February, her entire focus became getting herself back into shape to qualify for the Olympic team, either through riding at the selection trials (p. 7) or by convincing the U.S. Equestrian Federation's Selection Committee that she and Hidden Creek's Perin deserved a spot on the team with their impressive international record. She made it to the trials and even recorded the fastest clear round in Round 1 on Perin, and then she withdrew, hoping the committee would use its limited subjective power to choose her.
Beezie Madden's two young horses have jumped to the top of the USEF Olympic Selection Trials. With just 1 time fault in tonight's Round 3, DeSilvio took over the top spot in the standings from his barnmate, Authentic.
Authentic had just a foot in the water to lie in a four-way tie for second with 4 faults. "He's kind of been under-rated by a lot of people," Madden said of DeSilvio, a 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood. "He's not always the fastest in the jump-off, but he's been coming along steadily and been so consistent."
Peter Wylde and Fein Cera jumped yet another brilliant clear round today in Round 4 of the USEF Olympic Selection Trials, May 22 at the Oaks in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. Their only fault so far over the four rounds of trials was at the first fence of the the first course, last weekend in Del Mar. "Cera feels as good and as fresh as she's ever felt," said Wylde. "I really felt the pressure here today. It was a very intense pressure. I hadn't felt it as much last weekend, but I did here today," he continued.
Rounds 5 and 6 finalized the standings of the USEF Olympic Selection Trials, and while tense moments abounded, the top of the list didn't change much. Beezie Madden finished in front with Authentic, jumping two clean rounds today over Leopoldo Palacios' huge courses to complete the six rounds of the trials with just 8 faults.
There are 1,060 photos of national and local champions in this Horse Show Issue, and I can guarantee that each one has a story--of a racetrack reject turned hunter, of a horse coming back from a life-threatening disease, of a rider overcoming a mental block. There's always a history behind any partnership.