Beat Mandli Claims Top Prize in $130,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Washington
Beat Mändli of Switzerland made his first visit to the Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) a successful one, claiming the victory in the $130,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Washington, presented by Events DC, on Saturday night. Competing for the coveted President of the United States Perpetual Cup, donated by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, as well as valuable Longines FEI World Cup™ qualifying points, the grand prix was the highlight event of the week-long show, continuing through Sunday, at the Capital One Arena in downtown Washington, D.C.
Mändli was one of 26 international jumper competitors to contest the first round track set by course designer Alan Wade, and he and his mount Dsarie, owned by Grant Road Partners GmbH, were one of 11 combinations to advance to the jump-off. As the sixth to return, Mändli and the nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare set what proved to be an untouchable time of 32.07 seconds.
U.S. Olympian and reigning Longines FEI World Cup™ champion McLain Ward came the closest to besting Mändli, finishing in second aboard HH Callas, owned by Double H Farm, with a time of 32.30 seconds. Young U.S. rider Catherine Tyree, 23, rounded out the top three in a time of 33.83 seconds aboard Enjoy Louis, owned by Mary and Joseph Tyree.
“I feel great. Everything worked out better than I was thinking at the start of the week,” said Mändli. “I’m just super happy for the horse and for the whole team. It was a great night for me.”
It was a good night for Ward as well, who only partnered with HH Callas, a ten-year-old warmblood mare, at the beginning of the 2017 show season. “I was pleased. We didn’t have a brilliant grand prix last week in Tryon. It was nice to rebound and have a good finish today,” said Ward. “Beat had a spectacular jump-off tonight. You were going to have to be pretty perfect to be able to catch him.”
With 11 horses in the jump-off, the first-round course proved slightly easier than Alan Wade anticipated, but the course designer was still happy with the outcome. “I thought they’d have had to ride harder to jump clear, but horses seemed to be jumping very well,” said Wade. “Still at the end of the jump-off, the cream rose to the top, and the best competitors are here on the podium.”
Part of the reason for the horses jumping well could be attributed to new footing installed in the Capital One Arena for the 2017 horse show, something that WIHS President Victoria Lowell spoke to following the class. “There was no question that we had to invest in the best possible footing for the horses,” Lowell said. “I was so happy to hear the positive feedback that we had this year because [the footing] was the most important thing to our board this year. The World Cup designation is very, very important to us. We need to make sure that this event continues. It’s a very historic event; it’s a very special event because it’s downtown in the city much like Madison Square Garden was. We work very, very hard to make it the best show possible.”
Following the conclusion of Saturday night’s class, several special awards were presented along with the top grand prix prizes. Mändli was presented with the $10,000 Leading International Rider Award, sponsored by Robin Parsky; the Leading Foreign Rider Award, and the International Jumper Championship. Tyree was awarded the $10,000 Leading 25 Years of Age & Under Award, sponsored by Sleepy P Ranch, and the Leading Lady Rider Award, sponsored by Longines. The Leading Jumper Owner Award went to Grant Road Partners.
The George Morris Style of Riding Award was also presented earlier in the day to Mändli, as the International Jumper rider who best exemplifies the American style of equitation and jumping and the respectful, dignified, and workmanlike manner of a true sportsman.
Newly introduced this year in honor of the late Dr. John Steele, the “Doc Steele” Spirit Award, presented by M. Michael Meller, went to Cristalline, ridden by Adrienne Sternlicht and owned by Gabrielle Kuna, recognized as the horse that best exemplifies the heart and athleticism necessary to be competitive at the highest levels of show jumping.