Caen, France- The United States sent two combinations into the d’Ornano Stadium for the Third Individual Qualifier of the FEI World Individual Jumping Championship, held as part of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, and came within a 3/10th of a point of qualifying both riders for the Final Four. Beezie Madden and McLain Ward were among the field of 29 that took on Frédéric Cottier’s 12-obstacle first round course, and came back along with 19 other competitors to contest round two.
On the strength of near immaculate jumping over the week with Cortes ‘C’, Madden (Cazenovia, N.Y.) will make her second career Final Four appearance on Sunday afternoon after finishing five rounds on a score of 4.16. In final competition of the 2014 World Championships, the Olympic Team Gold and Individual Bronze medalist will be joined by France’s Patrice Delaveau with Orient Express HDC (five round total of 4.08), Sweden’s Rolf-Goran Bengtsson with Casall Ask (five round total of 4.34), and The Netherland’s Jeroen Dubbeldam with Zenith SFN (five round total of 6.25). On Sunday, all four will start on a clean slate and jump a Cottier-designed course with their own horse, as well as with all three of their competitors’ horses.
Madden and Abigial Wexner’s 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding entered the d’Ornano Stadium for round one on Saturday afternoon looking to produce their fourth consecutive clear of the week, but it was not meant to be when the oxer came down at fence five.
“I still feel like my horse jumped fantastic,” said Madden of Cortes ‘C’s first round performance. “I thought I let him shift a little on take-off, I thought he jumped high enough, he just clipped it coming down.”
The 2013 Rolex/FEI World Cup Jumping Final champion came back in round two, knowing that a faultless effort over the 10-obstacle course would secure a spot in the Final. Cortes ‘C’ once again delivered with an immaculate performance to stamp their ticket into Sunday’s competition.
Madden is no stranger to Final Four competition after winning Individual Silver at the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games in Aachen, Germany.
“It’s just an honor being in the final; switching horses anything can happen. It’s just adapting to those horses, I’ve seen these horses before and having done it before definitely helps,” said Madden. “For sure it’s a challenge and you can always be a little surprised which horse you get along with best.”
Ward (Brewster, N.Y.), who on Thursday won Team Bronze alongside Madden, jumped to an Individual fifth-place finish with Sagamore Farm’s Rothchild at the 2014 World Championships. The pair had proved unlucky with rails in the Speed Leg and the second round of Nations Cup when the slightest of rubs resulted in four faults. On Saturday, the pair left nothing to chance as the 13-year-old Warmblood gelding produced faultless efforts and was one of only three competitors to jump double clear. Ward finished the five rounds of jumping in fifth place on a score of 6.56.
“He was amazing, he’s jumped amazingly all week,” said Ward of Rothchild’s performances in France. “I’m thrilled with my horse and my whole team, it hasn’t just been a week getting here it has been years. I think what we did was pretty remarkable.”