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She thrilled her fans by winning the $100,000 President’s Cup Grand Prix CSI-W3* with Cylana, along with being named Leading Jumper Rider at WIHS, while her family was named Leading Owner of the show.
Kessler and Cylana clear the final fence in the jumpoff. Photo ©Shawn McMillan
In the space of this year the 18-year-old has risen from up-and-comer to established top rider, and she proved why during a masterful performance over two rounds.
Watch Reed and Cylana's jumpoff round, via Jennifer Wood Media:
“Cylana can do anything,” Kessler gushed about her mount, the 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare that was also her partner in London. Despite WIHS being Cylana’s first competition indoors, the mare showed no signs of difficulty getting around or clearing Anthony D’Ambrosio’s 1.60m track. Kessler compared her to the great Sapphire in body type and rideability, and noted that she was learning to ride the mare's big stride in an indoor environment while taking advantage of her speed.
Thirteen obstacles were artfully designed to fill the space available inside the tight Verizon Center arena. The track created a challenge that asked the technical questions and also flowed well.
“It’s my job to try to make the courses comfortable enough so that they can be built to the specifications of international competition,” noted D’Ambrosio. “And doing that in a narrow ring, in an arena that is basically the size of a hockey rink, isn’t the easiest job.”
The jumpoff of nine was exciting and unpredictable, with first one rider going clean and fast, and then the next beating the previous time, and so on.
Engle and Indigo are together again after time off for Engle's injury.
Margie Engle, who is only one week officially back in the saddle after breaking her ankle in a riding accident in July, jumped off clear to lead the class with Indigo in a time of 36.42 seconds.
But Australian Olympic veteran Matt Williams and his young horse Watch Me VD Mangelaar quickly beat that time in the following round, only to see Paulo Santana finish quicker than that time with Taloubet.
Williams said that riding more equitation horses lately has helped with his patience in the jumpers
The following three riders failed to jump clear, and as last to go in the first round and jumpoff, Kessler was clear on what she had to accomplish.
“It’s always great to go last and know exactly what you have to beat,” she said. “I’ve learned that I have to do less strides between the jumps and make it slick. So there were turns where I made up the time.”
Kessler will next compete at the Alltech National Horse Show in Lexington, KY. Having moved to Lexington earlier this year, she is looking forward to spending some time at her home base after traveling for the majority of the spring and summer seasons.
Kessler finished a full two seconds faster than Santana, and was thrilled to win the President’s Cup in her very first Grand Prix outing at WIHS.
“It’s my first year being old enough to do (the grand prix),” she explained. “Last year I was leading as leading rider going into it and I wasn’t old enough to do it! So I really wanted to come back here this year and seal the deal.”
Seal the deal she did, decisively and with style.
“I was telling her she just made us feel old!” Santana joked. “I knew that she would run when she went, so I just tried to catch her.”
Santana, who rides for Brazil, said that Taloubet adjusted to the tight conditions at Washington well. He has high hopes of qualifying for the World Cup Finals with the talented 12-year-old KWPN gelding.
Santana and Taloubet looked amazing
In fact, both Santana and Kessler are focused on earning World Cup Points to qualify for the Final next April, but Kessler is now sitting pretty with nearly enough points to qualify.
Other than the World Cup Final and World Cup points, all the talk was about the Washington International Horse Show itself. Being held in the middle of downtown Washington D.C. is a rarity for any equestrian event, and while the space constrictions make for special challenges, it was clear that all the riders felt honored to compete at WIHS. Much more on that to come.
Did you miss the grand prix? You've got another chance to watch and relive the excitement! Be sure to watch (or set your DVR) to NBC Sports Network on Sunday, October 27th at 3:30pmEST. The $100,000 President’s Cup Grand Prix will be aired on television! Visit www.wihs.org for full details and horse show results.
Top Ten - $100,000 President’s Cup Grand Prix
Rider | Horse | Round 1 faults | Round 2 faults | Round 2 time
- Reed Kessler | Cylana | | 0 | 0 | 32.62
- Paulo Santana Taloubet | 0 | 0 | 34.15
- Matt Williams | Watch Me VD Mangelaar | 0 | 0 | 36.15
- Margie Engle | Indigo | 0 | 0 | 36.42
- Charlie Jayne | Waldman Z | 0 | 4 | 34.05
- Marie Hecart | Myself De Breve | 0 | 8 | 35.03
- Christine McCrea | Wannick WH | 0 | 8 | 35.46
- Sean Crooks | Armaggedon | 0 | 16.00 | 38.41
- Brianne Goutal | Onira | 0 | ret
- Jessica Springsteen | Vindicat W | 4
Photos ©ProEquest except where otherwise noted
Going 1-2; Kessler and Santana walk it out
Ludo Philippaerts flew in from Belgium to watch his twin sons Olivier and Nicola compete
Jessica Springsteen was best of the four faulters with her new mount Vindicat
Nick Skelton won last year's President Cup, but this year he was just at WIHS to assist others
Call to start to the competition
Kessler's parents, Murray and Terri Kessler, pose during the awards