Del Mar, CA – This weekend in Del Mar may have seemed a bit more like the last leg of the Triple Crown, instead of the Finals of the U.S. Olympic Team Show Jumping Trials as American jumpers vied for a spot on the team headed to the 2004 Athens Olympics in August.
Beezie Madden, who some might label as the jumping world’s Smarty Jones (the lead racehorse in the running for a Triple Crown victory), is America's highest ranked jumper on the international computer list. Madden showed up on the West Coast with three proven horses. Currently, her mount DeSilvio is in the lead with only two time faults. Her horse Authentic is in a four-way tie for second with four faults.
With three positions open for the U.S. Team (Chris Kappler, USEF 2003 Equestrian of the Year, has already been selected as a discretionary team member), the competition for the remaining spots is sure to be hard fought.
Well in contention are young veterans McClain Ward on Sapphire, Peter Wylde on Fein Cera and Clare Bronfman on Irco Sun, tied for second at this point and still full of run. Another contender is Sydney Olympian Lauren Hough on Clasiko, who surprisingly knocked down the final two fences in the second of the three tests, but cruised clear in the first and third classes, for a total of eight faults.
In the meantime, don't lose sight of Molly Ashe on Lutopia, with only eight faults, or of the two West Coast leaders, Richard Spooner on Robinson, the pairing that has won more grand prix in their career than any other American horse and rider combination, along with the experienced, smooth as silk Nicki Shahinian Simpson on El Campeon’s So Long, each with two knockdowns and an annoying time fault each, for nine faults overall.
After this weekend the betting windows will close as competition moves to San Juan Capistrano, California, and the race will begin in earnest for those American horse and rider combinations who have worked so hard to earn the opportunity to represent their country at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Saturday’s trial #4 begins at 1 p.m. PDT, trial #5 at 11 a.m. on Sunday with a break prior to the final trial #6 (time TBD).