Articles: Press Release
Good Golly - Miss Molly Does It Again.....Louise Parkes reports for
Kenneth Kraus of Phelps Media Group, Inc.
at (561) 753-3389 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hickstead, Great Britain - July 30, 2006 - Molly Ashe claimed the Queen
Elizabeth 11 Cup for the second time in her career and recorded the
third US victory since 2001 when heading the strong line-up at Hickstead
today riding the 14 year old Dutch-bred Lutopia.
In what was one of the most competitive Queen's Cup classes for some
time there were just five into the jump-off, and the 35 year old
Floridian won from her last-to-go position in convincing fashion, while
fellow-American Anne Kursinski slotted into fourth with Roxana.
Despite its long history and impressive roll of honour dating back to
1949 the ladies competition had lost some of its appeal until recent
years, but its sparkle seems to have been restored with more and more
top competitors taking part, and since Candice King headed the field
with Elu de la Hardiere in 2001 it has been a happy hunting ground for
the US contingent. Ashe and Lutopia were victorious in 2004 and Laura
Kraut was defending her 2005 title with Anthem who was looking every
inch the winner until catching the second element of the penultimate
double for four faults that kept her out of the deciding round.
Kursinski was sixth to go first time out and produced a quality clear
from Roxana but, pathfinder against the clock, left the vertical at
fence two and the first part of the combination, now reduced to two
jumping efforts, on the floor. Starting slots in the second round were
decided on time so Britain's Jane Annett was next into the ring with the
handsome Irish-bred Cullawn Diamond whose powerful build looks more
suited to the hunting field than the international show jumping arena.
Annett has been out of action for the last few weeks after dislocating
her ankle in a nasty fall from Diamond when they got it all wrong at the
Hickstead water during last month's Derby meeting. She handed her horse
over to British ace John Whitaker for the Derby competition as a result,
but Diamond turned out to be a bit of a one-woman horse when he ground
to a halt early on the track even though he was being guided by one of
the masters of the sport. With Jane back in the saddle however he is
clearly happy as a king again despite the fact that his jockey is still
not very sound and Annett, who finished second in the Queen's
competition on two previous occasions, opted for a clean and careful
tour of the seven-fence jump-off track to return with a zero score in
She was followed into the ring by fellow-Briton Jo Pay and the fiery
Randi's Gold, sired by John Whitaker's great old campaigner Randi, but a
sharp angle to the oxer at fence three and a mistake at fence eight
proved costly. Holland's Angelique Hoorn scooped the title with Hascal
in 2002 and has found herself another exciting new partner in the 10
year old stallion Blauwendraad's O'Brien who was a class act first time
out and who was clear all the way to the very last - "it was completely
my fault there" she said afterwards, "I was going too fast and I arrived
much too deep" she explained after collecting four faults. Her time of
43.71 seconds was to prove quickest of the entire competition but there
was nothing slow about the winning performance of Ashe and Lutopia who
set off with determination to seal victory when home and clear in 45.69.
Ashe described this year's Queen Elizabeth 11 Cup as "a great
competition and a lot tougher than the last time I was here" but pointed
out that she thought it would be "much fairer to pool the prize money
for the men's and women's competitions so that the girls can jump for
better money. This is the only show I have competed in that has a
separate men's and women's classes but there are no ranking points
available for the girls and not enough prize money in our class either"
she pointed out after collecting the US$5,590 first prize. "If you win
the King's Cup you get CSIO qualifying points - it doesn't seem right to
me" she pointed out adding, "but the Queen's competition still has great
prestige attached to it".
Annett had to settle for runner-up spot yet again ahead of Hoorn who
spoke a little about her stallion. "I have him only three months and he
only has a little experience at 1.40m and 1.50m level. His first
international show was at Munchen where he was ninth in the Grand Prix,
then he went to Gelderland where he was fourth and in Geesteren a few
weeks ago he was second in the Grand Prix - every time he has had four
faults in the jump-off, just like here, but this time it was my mistake,
not his and I'm very excited about him" she said.
An outbreak of Swamp Fever in Ireland has caused some concern in recent
weeks but Gerry McAuliffe, Show Director for Dublin Horse Show, said
yesterday that it is restricted to a small number of thoroughbreds and
would not affect the staging of Ireland's top equestrian fixture which
kicks off on August 9th. Ashe is looking forward to being there along
with the remainder of the US team that includes Kursinski, King and
Kraut and US Chef d'Equipe, George Morris, said today "we've had Swamp
Fever in the US for years and you can't freak out every time it appears.
When you go to shows horses are always exposed to risks and there is no
point in getting paranoid about it, I'm sure it will be fine. I'm
confident my team will do well in Dublin" he pointed out and Ashe is
optimistic that Nations Cup day at the Irish fixture could be a special
one. "It's my birthday that day" she said, "so it would be great to
celebrate it with a win!".
Meanwhile Mr. Morris would not be drawn to comment on the situation the
Irish team is facing now that their top rider, World No. 2 Jessica
Kuerten, has refused to line out for either the Super League or WEG due
to yet another disagreement with Ireland's show jumping authorities.
She is particularly pointing the finger at new team manager Robert
Splaine who left her off the team at Lucerne and who, she says, should
now resign. George Morris did say however that "what's important is
playing our sport. I love winning but there is more to it than that.
It's about the people, the camaraderie and the friendships. The blue
ribbon is what we are all looking for but it's about the whole package.
I rode for 60 years and was at top level for 50, I love the horses, the
people, the venues - the sport is about all of those things" he pointed
out. And he added "I get along great with Jessica and all the Irish
boys, they are good friends of mine. All I have to say is that I like
Robert Splaine - he's a gentleman, and a horseman".
And the final drama of the Royal International at Hickstead unfolded
itself during the King George V Gold Cup which was won by Frenchman
Roger Yves Bost riding Ideal de la Loge - but it was Britain's Nick
Skelton who was the attention-grabber. John Hales' super-stallion Arko
was top horse in the 2005 Samsung Super League series but has become
unpredictable in recent months giving the British rider some
uncomfortable moments and, meeting the double of gates on an awkward
stride after faulting at the previous water, the horse jammed on the
brakes, sending his rider into a somersault. There was a sharp intake
of breath from the sidelines because Skelton broke his neck in a fall
some years ago but the rider got to his feet while Arko galloped off
wildly and very nearly jumped back into the pocket, proving difficult to
catch because he had parted with his bridle. This looks to have put
paid to any plans to include this horse and rider combination in the
British WEG squad.