The 2019 American Gold Cup, presented by CaptiveOne Advisors, LLC, made its triumphant return at Old Salem Farm to commence the event’s 49th installment Wednesday, with FEI competition attracting some of the world’s best horse-and-athlete teams to the pristine grass Grand Prix Ring.
Beginning the week on a high note, Hardin Towell (USA) and Carlo topped the leaderboard in the $10,000 Douglas Elliman 1.40m Jumper CSI4*, while Cormac Hanley (IRL) piloted Cortani FBH to the blue ribbon in the $8,000 Porsche Danbury & Audi Danbury 1.40m Jumper. In the $2,000 Eastern Hay 1.30m Jumper, Captain Future Z carried Erynn Ballard (CAN) to victory ahead of a lofty field.
The feature event of the first day of competition, the $10,000 Douglas Elliman 1.40m Jumper CSI4* brought a large pack of 70 exhibitors to center stage for a chance at some early prize money. As the first to contest designer Alan Wade’s (IRL) 13-effort track in the speed class, pathfinders Hanley and Heathman Farm LLC’s Alma Z set a quick precedent with a blazing trip in 60.83 seconds, leaving all the rails in their cups to jump to the early lead.
Throughout the class, subsequent challengers chased down Hanley and the 12-year-old Oldenburg mare, but it would take nearly 50 trips for new leaders to emerge. Slicing across the grass more efficiently than the rest, Towell and Ann Thompson’s Carlo eclipsed Hanley and his ride thanks to their successful navigation of the pattern in 59.19 seconds to secure the lead spot in the lap of honor. Hanley and Alma Z retained second position, while Sweden’s Mariano Maggi and Uma O’Neill’s Quintago VA clinched third place penalty-free in 61.12 seconds.
Towell and Carlo have been gaining momentum recently in the show ring, most recently coming off of a first-place finish in the $35,700 Welcome Stake CSI2* at Great Lakes Equestrian Festival in July. In 2018, they claimed victory in the St. Louis National Charity Horse Show $50,000 Grand Prix and added to their achievements that same month in Lexington, Kentucky, where the pair won the $60,000 Kentucky National Betsy Grand Prix.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Hardin Towell’s thoughts on his winning ride:
“I did one horse before so I knew the track. Carlo is a very quick horse and I actually added from fence one to two. I didn’t mean to, but I did seven strides instead of six, and that helped me get back to the third jump a lot quicker and then everywhere else I just stayed on my track. He is just so naturally quick and it makes my job a lot easier.”
“Carlo is 13 years old and owned by Ann Thompson. I’ve had him for about a year. He is a great horse. He will come and win 1.40m classes and 1.50m classes. I am very lucky to have him. Since the start of our business [Oakland Stables], with Darragh [Kenny] and myself, he was one of the first horses that I had. Last year he was my top horse, and I’m lucky enough to have a great group of horses now. He can step up and be the top horse, but this week he is my second horse. It’s nice to be able to not always have to ask him to do the biggest classes all the time. His turns are really good, especially on the landings. His turns are so quick sometimes you almost get a little bit loose because he is always looking for the turn. That’s where he is naturally so quick. He is a small horse but typically I like smaller horses. I’ve always ridden a bit of a smaller horse. Today he was great.”
On competing at the American Gold Cup:
“I love the American Gold Cup. I’ve only shown here once two years ago. I was third in the [$216,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping New York CSI4*-W] and I had a very good show, so it is nice coming back. Last time I had some nice rounds out in the grass field and it seems to be going the same so far so let’s hope this week continues like that.”
$10,000 Douglas Elliman 1.40m Jumper CSI4*
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / Faults | Time
1. Carlo / Hardin Towell / USA / Ann Thompson / 0 | 59.19
2. Alma Z / Cormac Hanley / IRL / Heathman Farm, LLC / 0 | 60.83
3. Quintago VA / Mariano Maggi / SWE / Uma O’Neill / 0 | 61.12
4. Gletscher Eis E / Alberto Michan / ISR / A D M Equestrian / 0 | 61.75
5. HH Qualido / Quentin Judge / USA / Double H Farm / 0 | 61.96
6. Dingeman / Santiago Lambre / MEX / Aurora Rangel de Alba / 0 | 62.35
7. Clearville / Hardin Towell / USA / Rock Ridge Farms / 0 | 65.08
8. Akuna Mattata / Nicole Shahinian-Simpson / USA / Carol Rosenstein & Silver Raven Farms / 0 | 67.00
9. Judge Hof ter Zeedycke / Erynn Ballard / CAN / Skymaster LLC / 0 | 68.81
10. Alejandro / Shane Sweetnam / IRL / Seabrook LLC, Spy Coast Farm, LLC and Sweet Oak Farm / 0 | 69.28
11. Jeleena de Muze / Lauren Tisbo / USA / Tequestrian Farms, LLC / 0 | 69.85
12. Casco / Lauren Tisbo / USA / Tequestrian Farms LLC / 0 | 70.39
Special thanks to Phelps Sports for the press release.