Traverse City, Michigan, USA – Sept. 18, 2021 – The celebration of the 51st Anniversary of the American Gold Cup took place Saturday, September 18, the pinnacle event to 12 weeks of show jumping competition in Traverse City. Returning for the second year in a row, the most thrilling day of the season saw 29 of the world’s top horse-and-rider combinations enter through the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel International Ring in those hopes of etching their name in history on the coveted American Gold Cup perpetual trophy. In the end, it was the United States’ Brianne Goutal-Marteau (USA) who rose to the top in the $230,000 American Gold Cup Grand Prix CSI 5*, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors, for the second time in its history.
Though the champion distinction had alluded high-profile names so far such as Margie Engle (USA) and Shane Sweetnam (IRL), each of whom were in the field and would be fighting for the title, three previous winners of the prestigious American Gold Cup trophy were included in the starting list. That “who’s who” list featured two-time winner Peter Leone (USA), Richie Moloney (IRL) and Goutal-Marteau (USA). For Saturday’s highlight event, the 29 qualified elite horse-and-rider partnerships were up against the skillfully-crafted track set by veteran course designer Alan Wade (IRL), who set forth a lofty 13-effort pattern of fences that proved to be the perfect tool to separate the top-tier performers from the rest of the pack.
Emerging as the pathfinder for the first round track, Lauren Hough (USA) and Kathleen Kamine’s Paloma navigated an impressive round that was clear in the field and on the clock. Six others would try to replicate Hough’s clear round, but none were successful until Paul O’Shea (IRL) and Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu put forth a spectacular clear effort to force a jump-off. Two rounds later, Goutal-Marteau added her name to the jump-off list with Viva Colombia. The remaining combinations made valiant efforts over Wade’s challenging track, but none could complete the course without incurring faults, leaving just three pairs to advance to the tie-breaking jump-off.
As the anticipation and excitement grew, the crowd drew their attention to the arena, ready to watch athletes lay it all on the line in a last battle for the perpetual Americna Gold Cup trophy. First to try their hand at the shortened course was Lauren Hough (USA). Riding Paloma, Hough sliced and diced her way through the course in 43.11 seconds, but an unfortunate lowering of the fifth fence would leave the door wide open for Paul O’Shea (IRL) to step into the lead. Eager to see a double-clear effort, the crowd gave an encouraging cheer as O’Shea entered under the arch. Riding the Machu Picchu Partners LLC’s Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu, O’Shea skillfully made his way around the jump-off course. Tight turns and a swift speed made for a nail-biting 43.72 seconds, in which he galloped through the timers without knocking a single rail. Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu playfully bucked through the finish line, celebrating his clear round with the onlooking crowd which erupted after they landed from the last fence.
Last to challenge, Brianne Goutal-Marteau (USA) made her way into the arena. Riding her very own Viva Colombia, she confidently galloped to the first fence, putting full faith in her partner with the pressure at an all time high. The crowd fell silent in anticipation as she cleared the first five fences, and then gave an encouraging cheer as she doubled back to fence six with a tidy foot pattern. Goutal-Marteau and the 16-year-old Oldenburg mare would continue to clear the towering fences. A final gallop to the last oxer, set directly next to the American Gold Cup trophy, made for an impressive finish. Viva Colombia soared well above the trophy, crossing the timers in 42.37 seconds to ensure the trophy would in fact belong to Goutal-Marteau. This is the second time Brianne Goutal-Marteau has hoisted the prestigious American Gold Cup trophy, having previously stood atop the podium in 2013 for her ride aboard Nice de Prissey in Old Salem, New York.
Winner’s Circle – Brianne Goutal-Marteau (USA) $230,000 American Gold Cup Grand Prix CSI5*, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors
On showing at the American Gold Cup:
“It is a very exciting class obviously. For us, it is one of our goals of the summer. I have had the fortune to win it twice now. My older, very seasoned horse Nice de Prissey won it in 2013. Now this horse [Viva Colombia], who has been a dream horse of a lifetime for me. We have been knocking at the door for awhile now and I got here and the jump-off was suited for her and I just said, ‘You know what, I am going to be first or I am going to be third,’ and she was just incredible.”
On competing at Traverse City Horse Shows:
“For me, Traverse City is the best facility in America. I have been here two times and I don’t have enough amazing and congratulatory things to say about it. Everything from the way that the Morrisseys run it, to the infrastructure that they keep adding to and building on, the footing, the jumps, everything here is excellent. I do not have one negative comment, which for me is rare. I have been here for three weeks and the horses have jumped amazingly.”
On Alan Wade’s course:
“This was a very hard course. When we walked I was thinking that fence one to two to three wasn’t too bad, but as I kept going, I thought, ‘Oh this is getting worse!’ I thought it was very fitting. You can’t go wrong with Alan Wade’s courses. I thought that he was two-for-two now. He had a tough job at the Hampton Classic and that turned out beautifully. This is supposed to be a hard class and a big class and it delivered.”
On her partnership with Viva Colombia:
“I am not a fatalistic person, but I think that it was a twist of fate that she came to me. At the time I was a little low on horse power because I had just had a baby and at that time I was training the Hymowitz girls, and we bought her for Chloe who decided that she was going to go after a real college experience and move to California. I took over the ride on the horse. I was never intending to buy her myself or to even ride her ever, and the first class I jumped, I started having a panic attack and thought, ‘I can’t give her back!’ The connection was instant and I adore her. She has allowed me to do so much. She has kept me in the top sport and challenged me but she gives me everything when she needs to and she has been unbelievable. I run a pretty big business right now and have two kids and it is not that easy to manage, there are a lot of moving parts. She keeps me there and she does it for me every time.”
On her win today versus her win in 2013:
“It was actually pretty similar. I had come off of a very good run in Europe. I got to the point at the end of the summer where I had been second in the Hampton Classic grand prix the two weeks before. I was pretty close to a clear round in the Hampton Classic a couple of weeks ago and she loves it here and everything is going great. She jumped beautifully on the [$72,900 Premier Equestrian 1.50m CSI5*], so there was nothing to lose.”
On her plan in the jump-off:
“I was coming down the ramp and Max [Amaya] reminded me that I was either going to be first or third, so I kind of attacked fence one and the seven strides showed up nicely off of that. I took a big entrance into the double combination and she was amazing coming out. I kept pushing her down the seven strides and then I flew to the NetJets oxer, because I did not want to waste a second there. After that I kind of slowed down a little to the vertical and I pulled up a little to do 10 strides to the last and then blasted through the timers.”
Final Results – $230,000 American Gold Cup Grand Prix CSI5*, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors
Place / Rider / Country /Horse / Owner / R1 Faults | R1 Time / R2 Faults | R2 Time
1) Brianne Goutal-Marteau (USA) & Viva Colombia / Brianne Goutal LLC – 0 / 0 – 42.370
2) Paul O’Shea (IRL) & Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu / Machu Picchu Partners LLC – 0 / 0 – 43.720
3) Lauren Hough (USA) & Paloma / Kathleen Kamine – 0 / 4 – 43.110
4) Alessandra Volpi (USA) & Berlinda / Alessandra Volpi – 4 / 77.50
5) Andrew Bourns (USA) & Sea Topblue / Andrew Bourns – 4 / 80.53
6) Jacqueline Steffens (CAN) & Freaky Liefhebber / Team Eye Candy – 4 / 77.50
7) Peter Leone (USA) & Donner / Lionshare Farm – 4 / 82.68
8) Adrienne Sternlicht (USA) & Bennys Legacy / Starlight Farms 1 LLC – 4 / 82.94
9) Erin Davis-Heineking (USA) Leonie / October Hill Stables Limited – 10 / 85.560
10) Santiago Lambre (BRA) & Easy Girl / Santiago Lambre – 5 / 86.280
11) Alex Matz (USA) & Cashew CR / Dorothy Matz – 8 / 81.400
12) Beat Mändli (SUI) & Dijon Terdoorn Z / Grant Road Partners LLC – 8 / 83.460
Source: Press Release by Allyson Lagiovane / Phelps Media Group for Traverse City Horse Shows
Photos: © Andrew Ryback Photography