Traverse City, Michigan, USA – Sept. 12, 2020 – It was a race against the clock during the penultimate day of the 50th American Gold Cup CSI 4*, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors LLC, during which 66 talented horse-and-athlete pairs contested the $36,600 American Gold Cup Speed Classic CSI 4*. Nine nations were welcomed to the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring, which hosted a final total of 24 fault-free performances from the pack of challengers. Putting forth a stellar effort that exemplified speed and precision, Sydney Shulman (ISR) and Jill Shulman’s Villamoura galloped to the most efficient time of the day to lead the victory gallop.
Course designer Guilherme Jorge (BRA) set forth a challenging 14-fence track fit for the occasion, which offered partnerships a number of opportunities to shave time off the clock via rollbacks and long galloping stretches. The trailblazers as the first in the start order, Daniel Bluman (ISR) jockeyed Ubiluc to a successful clear round in 66.42 seconds to set the pace for the class. Their lead did not last long, though, as the top spot swapped a number of times, with frontrunners including Andrew Welles (USA) riding CW Incorporated and Jessica Mendoza (GBR) on Dublin before settling on Sydney Shulman (ISR) aboard Villamoura, who held the lead halfway through the class with a clear effort in 57.86 seconds.
More than 40 subsequent duos tackled the track Saturday afternoon, but none could topple the leaders’ time, securing the victory for Shulman and Villamoura. One second off the pace, Jessica Mendoza (GBR) and her own Dublin clinched the runner-up honors in a time of 58.88 seconds, and Andrew Bourns (IRL) grabbed the final podium spot aboard Blackwatch Farm’s A Toi de Prim in a penalty-free time of 59.64 seconds.
An added incentive for the top-tier riders, the CaptiveOne Advisors $30,000 Leading Jumper Rider Bonus will be awarded to the rider who accumulates the most points in competitions worth $25,000 or more in prize money throughout the 11-week Traverse City series following the final class, the $213,300 CaptiveOne American Gold Cup Grand Prix CSI 4*, on Sunday. Shane Sweetnam (IRL) led the way headed into the second-to-last eligible class, with Kristen Vanderveen (USA) not far behind in the rankings, and the leaderboard remained unchanged at the top following Friday’s feature class.
Winner’s Circle – Sydney Shulman (ISR)
On Villamoura and her performance:
“She is a very naturally fast horse. I almost have to tell myself not to try to go fast and just to go with her natural speed. It worked out today. She jumped beautifully. She is super fast across the ground so it really doesn’t matter the amount of strides that you end up doing. She is super quick everywhere at her natural canter. I was sweating a little bit watching the rest of the class go, but when she is on it she is pretty hard to beat. I just didn’t get in her way today and she was wonderful.”
On her plan for the course:
“I wanted nine [strides from fences] one to two, and then she likes to go a little bit left, so I know eight was her number to the liverpool. I watched that come down a lot. A lot of riders were getting quite flat in seven [strides] there, so eight made more sense for her. Everywhere else I just matched the rest of the numbers, then eight strides home for her into the double. With a smaller horse, that was maybe a little aggressive, but she was right on it and sighted right in on it and was totally game. It worked out.”
On winning at the American Gold Cup:
“I think it was three years ago today she jumped her first 1.50m class at the American Gold Cup and won the Saturday class there. That was probably the class that made it clear to us that she could really jump, so it kinda comes full circle today. She deserved the win today.”
Results – $36,600 American Gold Cup Speed Classic CSI 4*
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / Faults | Time
1. Sydney Shulman (ISR) & Villamoura / Jill Shulman / 0 | 57.860
2. Jessica Mendoza (GBR) & Dublin / Jessica Mendoza / 0 | 58.880
3. Andrew Bourns (IRL) & A Toi De Prim / Blackwatch Farm / 0 | 59.640
4. Natalie Dean (USA) & Don’s Diamant / Marigold Sporthorses LLC / 0 | 60.570
5. Erynn Ballard (CAN) & Bettina Des Celtes / Ilan Ferder / 0 | 60.950
6. Rowan Willis (AUS) & Cartouch III / Rowan Willis / 0 | 61.080
7. Ali Wolff (USA) & Quirie 2 / John Wolff / 0 | 61.100
8. Shane Sweetnam (IRL) & Indra Van De Oude Heihoef / The Blue Buckle Group / 0 | 61.140
9. Lillie Keenan (USA) & Agana Van Het Gerendal Z / Chansonette Farm LLC / 0 | 61.320
10. Schuyler Riley (USA) & Quilimbo / E2 Show Jumpers / 0 | 61.610
11. Jessica Mendoza (GBR) & Casanova 499 / Jessica Mendoza / 0 | 61.910
12. Claire McKean (USA) & Isabelle / Claire McKean / 0 | 62.050
Source: Press release by Elaine Wessel / Phelps Media Group for the American Gold Cup
Photos: © Phelps Sports / Allyson Lagiovane