Traverse City, Michigan, USA – Sept. 6, 2020 – The final day of the CSI 2* week of the 50th American Gold Cup, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors LLC, brought 66 decorated horse-and-rider pairs to centerstage Sunday to contest the $75,000 Silver Oak Jumper Tournament Grand Prix CSI 2*, presented by Agero. Normally held in Massachusetts, the class made its debut in Traverse City as the 2020 host of the Silver Oak Jumper Tournament, presented by The Davis McCullough Foundation, which was a welcome addition to the first-ever two-week American Gold Cup CSI 2* & 4*. Representing 13 nations, the diverse pack of starters put on a good show, with the elite contenders whittled down to 11 for the jump-off. Always a threat when one of the competitors, Kent Farrington (USA) sliced Haity NcNerney’s Creedance to victory as the most efficient of seven double-clear duos.
Course designer Nick Granat (USA) crafted a track fit for the occasion, which saw a top-tier number of combinations successfully finish the pattern within the time-allowed and without lowering any rails. Serving as the pathfinder and the second to go, Molly Ashe Cawley (USA) turned in the first clear effort of the class aboard Adamo, and soon thereafter switzerland joined the mix thanks to a fault-free trip that forced a jump-off from Beat Mändli on Dibatsja. Two of the most formidable American contenders added their names next in the form of Farrington with the reins on Creedance and Beezie Madden (USA) on Chic Hin D’Hyrencourt, followed by yet another home turf representative as Katherine Strauss (USA) maneuvered Coach to a qualifying ride.
Friday’s Welcome Stake Section A winner Shane Sweetnam (IRL) added an Irish name to the field on Indra Van De Oude Heihoef, and the Irish luck continued with a penalty-free trip from Capt. Brian Cournane (IRL) riding Vittorio 12 to bring the total to seven at the halfway break. The second half of the round saw only another handful of pairs navigate the course penalty-free, with clears coming from Lisa Goldman-Smolen (USA) and Nike, Luiz Francisco de Azevedo (BRA) on Comic, Welcome Stake Section B winner Natalie Dean (USA) aboard Don’s Diamant and Katie Dinan (USA) on Brego R’n B to bring the total number to 11 eligible duos.
Whittled down to the top contestants, the abridged jump-off course featured a series of rollbacks and long galloping straightaways that offered returning partnerships a chance to turn in blazing times. First to go and the first double-clear of the class, Ashe Cawley and Adamo laid down the gauntlet once more with a quick ride in 35.60 seconds, but their lead only lasted two rides as Farrington and Creedance entered the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring for their turn. Proving why they are one of the most successful partnerships in the sport, Farrington and the 13-year-old chestnut Dutch Warmblood gelding (Lord Z x Notaris) careened around the course with precision and speed, ultimately tripping the timers in 34.88 seconds to claim the lead. Try as they might, none of the subsequent challengers could best the duo’s swift time, solidifying Farrington and Creedance as the day’s big victors.
Adding another top result to his growing list, Sweetnam jumped to the reserve honors in the irons aboard Indra Van De Oude Heihoef, owned by The Blue Buckle Group, while Madden and Abigail Wexner’s Chic Hin D’Hyrencourt rounded out the podium to make for an impressive group of top-three finishers.
Headed into the conclusion of the tenth week of FEI competition in Traverse City in 2020, Sweetnam maintained the top spot in the CaptiveOne Advisors $30,000 Leading Jumper Rider Bonus rankings. With Sweetnam’s second-place finish Sunday, he pulled away even further, increasing his chances of winning the top prize in one week. The $30,000 bonus will be awarded to the rider who accumulates the most points in competitions worth $25,000 or more in prize money over the course of 11 weeks of riding in Traverse City following the final class, the $213,300 CaptiveOne American Gold Cup Grand Prix CSI 4* on September 13.
Winner’s Circle – Kent Farrington (USA)
“Creedance is an exceptional horse. He’s just a real winner. He wins year in and year out. You really saw his heart today in the jump-off. I turned very short to number two and he basically jumped it from a standstill. He is such an amazing horse, he can win anyway. I think he is an incredible athlete and I am very proud of him today.”
On his win:
“It was a great win today and I’m happy to be a part of that list. The trophy is about the same size as me so I’m using all of my strength here to hold it up! I’m glad to leave with a win today.”
On the jump-off:
“From one to two I planned to operate medium speed and to keep rolling through my turn, to never break my rhythm through the vertical so I could get the five strides in the line. [The footing slipped] at fence two so I had to jump it from a standstill. Like I said, Creedence is an incredible athlete to jump it like that at that kind of distance. I did the six strides because I thought the five strides was totally out of bounds, then after that I thought I would let him run, and that’s his natural speed. I just took all of the last fences out of stride. The last one was an option in six or seven strides, but for me it was seven. His ground speed is so fast that leaving one out is not a necessary risk, so we did seven strides there and got away with the win.”
On the class:
“In difficult times you are seeing great riders here, and I think it’s great for the area and great for the sport. I thought it was an exceptional course today because it had a real big-level feel but it wasn’t at full size, and I think that’s why there weren’t so many clear. Nick Granat did an amazing job with the courses today and it showed with the field of top riders in the results.”
$75,000 Silver Oak Jumper Tournament Grand Prix CSI2*, presented by Agero:
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / R1 Faults | R1 Time / R2 Faults | R2 Time
1. Kent Farrington (USA) & Creedance / Haity McNerney / 0 | 66.750 / 0 | 34.880
2. Shane Sweetnam (IRL) & Indra Van De Oude Heihoef / The Blue Buckle Group / 0 | 69.250 / 0 | 35.090
3. Beezie Madden (USA) & Chic Hin D Hyrencourt / Abigail Wexner / 0 | 67.090 / 0 | 35.220
4. Molly Ashe Cawley (USA) & Adamo / Louisburg Farm / 0 | 69.410 / 0 | 35.600
5. Luiz Francisco de Azevedo (BRA) & Comic / Santa Cecilia Stables LLC / 0 | 69.460 / 0 | 37.560
6. Lisa Goldman-Smolen (USA) & Nike / Lisa Goldman-Smolen / 0 | 67.470 / 0 | 38.760
7. Captain Brian Cournane (IRL) & Vittorio 12 / Glenbeigh Farm LLC / 0 | 70.800 / 0 | 39.190
8. Natalie Dean (USA) & Don’s Diamant / Marigold Sporthorses LLC / 0 | 69.110 / 4 | 36.370
9. Beat Mandli (SUI) & Dibatsja / Grant Road Partners LLC / 0 | 68.030 / 4 | 37.420
10. Katherine Dinan ( USA) & Brego R’n B / Grant Road Partners LLC / 0 | 69.880 / 4 | 38.000
11. Katherine Strauss (USA) & Coach / Katherine Strauss LLC / 0 / 70.850 / 7 | 59.380
12. Mark Bluman (COL) & El Conde / Francisco Pasquel / 4 | 66.450
Source: Press release by Elaine Wessel / Phelps Media Group for the American Gold Cup
Photos: © Phelps Sports / Allyson Lagiovane