I couldn’t have had a better seat in which to watch 40 of the world’s best equestrians compete in last night’s Charlotte Jumper Classic Welcome Stake. l believe I held my breath over every rail, not because of nervousness, but because it was breath-takingly beautiful.
And what a site to see up close! Although they came in at 7th place in the final results with a time of 33.57 and four faults in the Welcome Stake, watching that particular horse and rider ranks first place in my personal equestrian interest and experience.
I love Madden’s story, A Sunday Horse. She is a woman I really admire. Madden is the first American to ever reach the top three world rankings in show jumping and one of only two Americans to win a Pulsar Crown prize. Madden and Authentic, a gorgeous 13 year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, were Gold Medalists in the 2004 Olympics. Just recently, the pair made the US Equestrian Federation’s short list for the 2008 Olympics.
In the end, it was Canadian Eric Lamaze and his 12 year-old Dutch-bred stallion, Hickstead, who took the biggest prize in the $50K purse with a time of 33.32 and zero faults. His performance was truly amazing and near perfect. Also among the list of Welcome Stake competitors was NC’s own Eliza Shuford of Hickory.