[Calgary, CAN] Rich Fellers continued his remarkable winning streak yesterday evening aboard his London 2012 partner Flexible by capturing the $35, 000 Sun Life Financial ‘Reach for the Sun’ Grand Prix on the opening night of the Spruce Meadows North American Tournament.
This Fourth of July evening saw a star studded jump off that essentially pitted the London 2012 American show jumping team against itself.
Fellers and Flexible continue to win, win, win. Photo ©Spruce Meadows Media Services
Out of 25 starters, four jumped clear to advance to the jump off, including American team members Fellers and Flexible, Beezie Madden with Cortes C, McLain Ward and Rothchild as well as Canadian Yann Candele and Carlotta Singular La Magnifica.
Time was arguably the biggest hurdle in the difficult 1.60m course, which was designed by Canadian Michel Vaillancourt. Fourteen of the 25 horse/rider combinations racked up time faults, as the sprawling International Ring lived up to its formidable reputation of providing some of the toughest tracks in the world.
The jumpoff could have gone either way, with Madden, Ward and Candele all providing stiff competition for Fellers. But first Candele, then Ward, and finally Madden all tipped rails throughout the jumpoff course, clearing the way for Fellers to cruise to victory with yet another clean round. Remarkably, Flexible still hasn't touched a rail in competition since Round 2 of the Rolex FEI World Cup Final in April.
Fellers sits precariously close to reaching the number one spot of all time money winners at Spruce Meadows, and he cited all wins at Spruce Meadows as difficult to achieve.
“They’re all great wins at Spruce Meadows whether it’s the meter 1.60 or the meter 1.20” he noted. “Vaillancourt provided a fair course that resulted in a decent number of clear rounds.”
The show jumping community is buzzing with the excitement of 16 year old Irish bred stallion Flexible, who draws excited whistles, claps, and cheers from the crowd at Spruce Meadows even when there is only a sprinkling of spectators throughout the stands. Anticipation is high for what might be in store for London as he is recognized and appreciated for his greatness every time he enters the arena here at Spruce.
Even Fellers, who knows the horse better than anyone, is unsure as to why the little stallion is on such a winning streak, saying the success is “kind of freaky.”
The ever humble horseman and 2012 FEI World Cup Champion is never one to take credit for their string of impressive victories, but when asked if this most recent victory involved putting the pedal to the metal, he laughed, shook his head and with calm reassurance said, “no, that wasn’t pedal to the metal.”
While the North American Tournament will continue all week at Spruce Meadows, Flexible will not return to competition until this Saturday’s $200,000 Queen Elizabeth II Cup, where the duo hope to keep their winning streak going strong.
Earlier in the day Olympic team member Reed Kessler won the Suncast Cup aboard Onisha, topping 76 other entries. And Richard Spooner kept the American flag flying high with a win in the 1.50m AON Cup. The competitive course of 14 jumping efforts saw 19 of the original 45 starters return for the jumpoff, and with Apache, Spooner topped them all and picked up yet another FEI victory at Spruce Meadows.
The American flag topped the flagpole all day long this 4th of July in the winner's circle of the International Ring.
Visit www.sprucemeadows.com for full results.
$35,000 Sun Life Financial ‘Reach for the Sun’ FEI 1.60m Grand Prix
Rider | Horse | Owner | Round 1 Faults | Round 2 Faults | Round 2 Time
- Rich Fellers | Flexible | Harry & Mollie Chapman | 0 | 0 | 37.09
- Beezie Madden | Cortes C | Abigail Wexner | 0 | 4| 39.38
- Yann Candele | Carlotta Singular La Magnifica | Susan Grange | 0 | 5| 41.70
- McLain Ward | Rothchild | Sagamore Farm | 0 | 12 | 40.74
- Kent Farrington | Uceko | RCG Farm | 1
- Richard Spooner | Cristallo | Show Jumping Syndication Intl. | 1
- Lauren Tisbo | King Kolibri | Tequestrian Farms LLC | 1
- Ashlee Bond | Cadett 7 | Little Valley Farm | 1
- Jonathan Asselin | Showgirl | Attache Stables | 1
- Samantha Buirs | Total Touch | Samantha Buirs | 4