It was a back-to-back triumph for America’s Beezie Madden in the King George V Gold Cup riding her 2014 victor Cortes C during the final day of Hickstead’s Royal International Horse Show – a feat not replicated since the early 1960s.
The top lady rider was back at the West Sussex venue where she took the victory 12 months ago and where she made history by becoming the first lady to win the prestigious class. The American looked to mean business again from the offset, producing a speedy 43.06secs jump-off with the talented 13-year-old gelding and scooping the £46,500 prize fund.
“For a big horse he is very fast so I know I can leave him to take strides out and I was able to coast him home,” said Beezie. “I didn’t want to run his wheels off but I knew I had some fast ones behind me. I think he prefers grass arenas like here at Hickstead, even though he has form on surfaces too. He just gallops and jumps – I rarely need to set him up.”
Runner-up spot went the way of France’s Penelope Leprevost, while Dutch rider Jur Vrieling – who produced the first clear round of the day – settled for third.
After the first round, British hopes were pinned on Jessica Mendoza and William Whitaker following a pair of impressive clear rounds. They were two of six combinations to go into the jump-off.
Nineteen-year-old Jessica – the youngest in the field – frustratingly rode the fastest round of the day in 42.76secs but a brave decision to take a couple of strides at the huge final oxer didn’t pay off and her 14-year-old mare Spirit T took the poles with her. The pair were relegated to fourth but it was an impressive display by the young rider, who is based in Holland, and it will no doubt boost her chances for European Championship selection.
“My dad was probably more nervous than me,” quipped Jessica. “My horse however has no fear, she is naturally quick so I use that to my advantage. I wish I could have another one like her.”
After Jessica’s unfortunate final fence down, the crowd turned their attention to William and his 12-year-old ride Fandango, who was last to go in the jump-off. But he experienced the same fate, knocking the last oxer as well. A slower time of 44.18secs left them behind Jessica in fifth.
Kelvin Bywater’s up-to-height 1.60m track certainly sorted the field out. A majority of riders were caught out by the double of upright white gates at fence six, that sat on a related distance from the water jump. Victims here included Brits John Whitaker (Castlefield Cristobal 21) who were forced to call it a day after two refusals, as well as Ben Maher (Diva II) and Robert Bevis (Courtney Z) whose mounts both knocked the first element.