North Salem, NY - With the only double clear effort of the day, the saying "luck of the Irish" rang true for Richie Moloney as he galloped home with the $215,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping New York victory at the American Gold Cup. The Irish native bested a six-horse jump-off with his careful mount Carrabis Z, opting for a slower round, they were the only pair to leave all the rails intact.
"It was great to win here today," smiled Moloney. "My horse jumped amazing. He's been jumping great lately and it's nice for him to get the win here today." Forty athletes qualified for the second event in the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League East, which boasts a minimum of $2.4 million prize money across the series featuring the best Jumping athletes from North America and around the world. Ireland's Alan Wade designed the technical track on the Grand Prix Field at Old Salem Farm, which featured 17 jumping efforts that included an oxer-oxer-vertical triple combination and a vertical-oxer double combination.
nly six of the original entries were able to master the first round course and advance to the tiebreaker, where Colombia's Daniel Bluman and Conconcreto Sancha LS were the first to return. They had a rail at the 'B' element of the double combination, but were able to complete the track in 43.38 seconds to set the pace.
"I had to go first and I wanted to make a nice quick round," explained Bluman. "I knew I had great riders coming after me and unfortunately I had a very cheap rail at the combination, but after that I just sort of wanted to keep a nice canter because when you have a small group of riders in the jump-off anything can happen."
The youngest rider in the jump-off, 21-year-old Catherine Tyree, was up next, but as she turned back on one of the wide oxers, her mount Enjoy Louis had a rail down. Their slower time of 44.59 seconds would hold up for fifth place.
Saturday's winner Laura Kraut returned to the field with Deauville S, owned by Old Willow Farm, but her chance at the win also came to an end quickly when they had the 'A' element of the combination down. The pair managed to beat Bluman's time when they broke the beam at 43.27 seconds, which would hold up for second place, while Bluman claimed third.
"I wasn't going for the slow clear at all," laughed Kraut. "I went in to try and give them something to beat, but I just chickened out on the turn. I saw the one to leave out and I thought that it wouldn't be a very good angle for my horse, so I just swung out one more stride. I was doing the math in my head and I thought, 'Well I better speed this up!' and worst case scenario then I would be fourth, so it just worked; I got lucky today and ended up second."
Richie Moloney followed Kraut with Equinimity LLC's Carrabis Z, and after watching the first three riders struggle for a clear, he opted for a more careful approach. Slow but accurate, the pair finished the course with a clear round to take over the lead with a time of 45.74 seconds.
"In the jump-off there was nobody clear before I went," said Moloney. "The first four jumps in the jump-off I kind of stopped my plan and went a little forward and then towards the end of the jump-off round I got a little bit careful and made sure I jumped a clear round."
Hometown hero Peter Lutz of Fairfield, Connecticut, has attended the American Gold Cup for a number of years, but this marked his first entry in the highlight event. He tried to match Moloney's effort with his mount Robin de Ponthual, owned by Katherine Gallagher and M. Michael Meller. He and the 10-year-old Selle Francais stallion also fell victim to the combination though, and their time of 43.95 seconds would take over the fourth place position in the standings.
"The course today was quite difficult, and it's different now in this location on this field with the hills and the grass," said Lutz. "This facility, they've done a beautiful job re-doing the barn and making the grass footing excellent. I've come to this show for many years but I've never done Gold Cup so I'm thrilled with the results today."
The final rider to challenge Moloney's lead was Germany's Andre Thieme with Conthendrix, but they had down the second fence as well as part of the combination. Their eight-fault score in 46.11 seconds would earn them sixth place and seal Moloney's victory.
Moloney has been riding Carrabis Z for four years and has developed a strong partnership with the 12-year-old Zangersheide stallion. "He's a lot of blood, he's a little bit difficult to ride, but he's very careful," he explained. "Even though he's 12 this year I feel he's just starting to really improve now since the start of the summer so hopefully there are more good things to come." As part of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League, Sunday's main event allows riders to gain valuable points for the World Cup Finals in Gothenburg, Sweden.
"I suppose World Cup Finals is a goal now with the win today, but it wasn't my first aim," admitted Moloney. "I went to Word Cup Finals this year in Vegas to watch and I saw how hard it was. I wasn't sure I had a horse or two horses that it would suit. We'll see; you never know by the time the end of April comes."
After the competition, another Irish rider received a special award. Conor Swail was presented with the M. Michael Meller Style Award, donated in memory of Theresa Hogan. "Conor is one of the world's most gifted riders," expressed Meller. "He has a talent for developing a partnership with his horses. When a horse does well, he lets them do it all the way, and what they're lacking on he holds their hand and shows them the way."
Graciously accepting the award, Swail commented, "It's great to have such a nice award. It is nice to know that my riding is looked at as one of the nicer styles because I always try to do everything correctly and ride in the correct manner. It is great to be awarded with this great prize and I'm glad to get it."
For further information on the 2015 American Gold Cup visit www.theamericangoldcup.com. To watch a broadcast of Sunday's competition tune in to NBC Monday, September 14 at 7 p.m. EST.