Articles: Press Release
Rich Fellers and McGuinness Gallop to Gunnar Cup Win at Spruce Meadows
North American Jean Llewellyn reports from Calgary for
Kenneth Kraus of Phelps Media Group, Inc.
at (561) 753-3389 or at email@example.com
Calgary, Canada - July 5, 2006 - Kicking off the Spruce Meadows 'North
American' tournament, the Gunnar Cup opening international class (Table
A: FEI Art. 238.2.2), saw a starting field of 42 whittled down to 10 who
contested a long and galloping jump-off course. Days of extreme heat and
thunderstorms in Calgary had given way to slightly cooler temperatures
and a leaden sky, and although the 60% chance of rain that had been
forecast fortunately held off throughout the afternoon, humidity
remained unpleasantly high, and the bugs were in a biting mood!
The first-round course, designed by Germany's Werner Deeg, seemed built
to intimidate, and the tactics worked for the early entries, several of
whom incurred time penalties until they got the measure of the pace
required to negotiate the widely spaced obstacles. First to jump clear
was Mexico's Chef d'Equipe, Enrique Gonzalez, visiting Spruce Meadows at
the conclusion of his WEG selection tour. Gonzalez was riding Leo, a
horse borrowed from local show jumper Brenda Riddell, sidelined with a
broken collarbone. Her father Clay Riddell is a well-known Calgary
businessman and one of the owners of the NHL's Calgary Flames.
The first of four U.S. riders who eventually qualified for the jump-off,
Rich Fellers steered Dutch Warmblood Gyro to a stylish clear round and
later also the Irish-bred McGuiness. He was subsequently joined by
Beezie Madden/Integrity, Norman Dello Joio/Popeye and Lisa
Silverman/Flubber Cocoy. Completing a multi-national jump-off field were
Canadian John Anderson riding Gesine 36, Britain's Mark Armstrong with
the speedy Thesaura, Federico Fernandez also representing Mexico with
Garibaldi, and Irish show jumping veteran Eddie Macken - now based in
neighboring British Columbia - with Tedechine Sept.
In the jump-off, drawn first, Gonzalez pulled out all the stops with
Westfalian-bred Leo, but a lack of style and momentary breakdown in
communication resulted in four faults in 43.26 seconds. With his first
ride on Gyro, Rich Fellers similarly burned rubber and was neck and neck
with Gonzalez's intermediate time at the mid-way point, but their race
to the last, fence one in the first round, resulted in a four-fault
Following eight faults from John Anderson that occurred when Gesine
flattened over two of the obstacles, Mark Armstrong's Thesaura
demonstrated her huge talent and pure show jumping pedigree - being a
daughter of Olympic stallion and recently deceased Darco - as well as
thoroughbred acceleration between fences. The pair flew the course and
crossed the finish line clear to take the lead with 43.00 seconds.
Although Federico Fernandez showed determination, Garibaldi is a large
warmblood who doesn't have the same cornering speed so relies on his
ground-covering stride to make up time. Clear going to the last, the
Mexican decided to opt for caution and checked the gelding's stride to
cross the line in 45.40 seconds. Another perfect show jumping pedigree,
Beezie Madden's Integrity is a Dutch Warmblood by one of the breeding
industry's legendary sires, Quidam de Revel. This Selle Francais
stallion finished fourth individually at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic
Games under the saddle of Frenchman Herve Godignon. A nine-year old
gelding, Integrity is still lacking some experience at this level and
although he gave an excellent account of himself, he rattled a couple of
rails but remained clear in 45.24 seconds for a creditable fourth place.
At the other end of the spectrum, this is Rich Fellers sixth season
riding McGuinness and his intention was clear from the outset. Although
there was space between fences for engaging the overdrive, Fellers used
the gelding's remarkable turning power, taking acute angles and cutting
corners to post an unbeatable time of 41.80 seconds.
Of the three remaining riders, Norman Dello Joio decided not to pick up
the gauntlet with Popeye and rode an extremely steady round, incurring
time penalties for exceeding the time allowed. Lisa Silverman's campaign
faltered at the third fence with Flubber Cocoy and the pair finished in
ninth place with eight faults in 45.61 seconds, while Eddie Macken found
a useful turn of speed with Tedechine Sept and remained clear in 46.79
seconds for sixth place.
Of his victory, Fellers said "McGuinness is much more experienced than
the horse I rode earlier in the class [Gyro]. He's really, really smart
and knows what's going on. So quick and clever in the turns that I don't
really have to push him."
Discussing the pace needed to contest the jump-off, Fellers continued:
"You get a feel for a horse the longer you have him, just like you do
for a car. I started McGuinness as a very young horse and this is my
sixth season so I have a real feel about how much I have to push to get
the time." Adding, "I'm just getting to know Gyro and he's gotta figure
things out so I don't have the same luxury with him."
Commenting about the fact that a number of horses slowed going to the
last, Fellers said, "Every horse, and I don't think there's an
exception, has that natural instinct to be with the herd, and we as
riders and trainers in a subtle way are always working against that. So
when you have a fence that's right by the out gate, the horse thinks
'maybe it's time for me to go out with my buddies,' so they're not easy
to run to the next fence."
Despite the long galloping jump-off course, Fellers commented regarding
his strategy for the round, saying, "With any horse if you can make
shorter, tighter turns you're going to be quicker, so that was my
strategy with him [McGuinness], because he's very good at that, as
opposed to opening him up like a racehorse and really making him run.
For that type of horse, that's a little more risky than making hairpin
turns. We have to play to each horse's strengths in jump-offs."
Prize Money Stakes
So far, two U.S. riders are leading the prize money stakes for earnings
since the Spruce Meadows summer tournament season began exactly one
month ago with the 'National'. Tipping the scales with C$148,310 is
California-based Richard Spooner, who has celebrated eight wins and
eight runners-up placings. His brilliant results during the 'National'
also pushed Spooner over the C$1 million mark in the 'All-Time Top Money
Winners at Spruce Meadows' ranking list and promoted him from #11 to #7.
Snapping at his heels, having pocketed C$145,480, is Beezie Madden, who
has similarly moved up the ranking list, overtaking Rodrigo Pessoa,
with career earnings at Spruce Meadows of C$1,576,445. Madden now lies
second only to Captain Canada, Ian Millar, with $2,272,931.
Canada's Eric Lamaze, currently lying third with C$127,475, is the only
rider who could potentially challenge either Madden or Spooner to head
the leaderboard for summer season winnings.
Full results: www.sprucemeadows.com
PhelpsSports.Com Is Coming In August!! Sign Up Now for Special