Articles: Press Release
US Show Jumpers Shine in First Individual Qualifier at 2008 Olympic
United States Equestrian Federation, Inc.
4047 Iron Works Parkway
Lexington, KY 40511-8483
Tel: (859) 258-2472
Fax (859) 231-6662
Web site: www.usef.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 15, 2008
By Joanie Morris
Hong Kong, China - The US show jumpers looked happy to stretch their
legs tonight in the First Individual Qualifier. The main arena was
turned over from a dressage ring to Grand Prix course tonight at Sha Tin
as the jumping horses finally got a chance to play. 73 horses went to
task over a beautiful course designed by Leopoldo Palacios and Steve
The US was the only nation with three double clear rounds.
McLain Ward was the first American in the ring with the classy veteran
mare (and defending Olympic Gold medalist) Sapphire. The 13-year-old
Belgian Warmblood powered around the course in her usual fashion
jumping, one of 13 double clear rounds.
"My horse made it look easy," said Ward. "She's such a pro. She has had
really bad heat rash - she has really sensitive skin so I could use no
leg on her because she wasn't 100% comfortable. I have a great team
behind me to help her out and she amazes me with what a great competitor
Sapphire (who is owned by Blue Chip Bloodstock and Tom Grossman) hadn't
jumped a fence in three weeks because Ward wanted to keep her fresh.
There was no rust on Sapphire tonight, she didn't get close to any of
the fences, easily jumping clean.
Laura Kraut (who also rode at the Sydney Olympics in 2000) and Cedric
were next in for the US and there probably aren't two who are more
different horses than Cedric and Sapphire. Cedric, a 10-year-old Dutch
gelding, is so tiny he could barely be seen behind the standards as he
cantered around the ring before the bell.
"He was super," said Kraut about Happy Hill Farm and Peter Wetherill's
horse. "I think he handled everything great. George (Morris) said go in
there and get him comfortable."
Relatively inexperienced, the Olympic Games certainly were not on
Kraut's radar screen for Cedric at the beginning of the year.
Good thing no one told him.
"I was a bit strong into the triple," said Kraut, who had the second
element down. "Apart from that I couldn't be happier. He's ready."
Will Simpson has spent the better part of 30 years chasing the Olympic
dream. Tonight he caught up with it and jumped a spectacular clear round
on El Campeon Farm's Carlsson vom Dach.
The 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding made light work of the course, even
though Simpson had thought he may need to use it as a training round if
the horse was feeling frisky.
"We walked the course and talked about some options to better prepare
him for later on in the competition because sometimes he can be a
handful," said Simpson, who lives in Thousand Oaks, CA. "But tonight he
was, as George said, 'textbook'. It was one of the thrills of my life.
To have a horse like this - that can do this - is so special. I'm so
lucky. He really wants to jump clean and everything worked out just as
we had planned in there. I have a lot of confidence in my horse."
Simpson has spent the last six months specifically aiming to these
Games, teamed up with three (four including reserve rider Anne
Kursinski) tremendously experienced riders while on tour in Europe,
Simpson learned plenty before he even landed in Hong Kong.
"I've learned more in the last six months than I have in the last 35
years of riding," said Simpson. "The team work and the dedication is an
Ward and Sapphire's gold medal winning teammates, Beezie Madden and
Authentic rounded out the US group. Tremendously consistent and
reliable, Authentic may have been the best of the night in the third to
last spot. He jumped easily around the track and looked very pleased to
be back in the ring.
"He was great tonight," said Madden. "It was a very good course for him,
the triple combination was a good gymnastic for him as he can be an
aggressive horse and the distances got shorter as you went through."
The 13-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Abigail Wexner has, like Sapphire,
been a stalwart of the US Team for the last four years.
"We have some new faces on the team, with Laura's horse and Will," said
Madden. "We really want to medal, if the horses just stay the way they
are we will be set. But sometimes that's the hard part."
The show jumpers return to the ring on Sunday evening for the first leg
of the team competition. They will jump in reverse order by team based
on the standings of the top three riders from each team in today's
Dressage returns tomorrow night as the first round of the individual
portion of the competition begins at 7.15 pm. Courtney King-Dye and
Mythilus and Steffen Peters and Ravel will represent the US. They drew
back-to-back spots in the order and will go at 10.35 pm and 10.55 pm
For more information, please contact Joanie Morris at email@example.com.
Please see www.equestrian2008.org .
The vision of the United States Equestrian Federation(r) is to provide
for equestrian sport in the United States of America by promoting the
of excellence from the grassroots to the Olympic Games, based on a
foundation of fair, safe competition and the welfare
of its human and equine athletes.