Lexington, KY - The 2012 Rolex/FEI World Cup Champions have not been in the ring in six weeks - but based on their performance in the Husky Energy Classic on Thursday night at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, it didn't make any difference.
Rich Fellers and Flexible bested a field of 19 and made it look easy, stopping the jump-off clock at 51.237 to score victory by just less than a second over Beezie Madden and Coral Reef Via Volo. This class serves as the first half of the final Observation Event for the US Show Jumping Team for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Fellers and Flexible jumped one of only three first round clears over the 1.60m track designed by Bob Ellis, and scored their third consecutive victory in a USEF Observation Event. With Harry and Mollie Chapman's 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse stallion, Fellers took top honors at two classes at Del Mar in May, but since then Flexible has been waiting for Spruce Meadows to return to the ring. It was a detour from his normal schedule but with selection for the 2012 Olympic Games on the line, so far for Fellers, it has paid off.
"The horse is still in the zone," said Fellers. "We always worry, as any athlete does if you're prepared enough for the competition - I don't regularly give him six weeks off in the middle of the season, so I was a little worried. But my worries were gone after two or three jumps in the first round. He was really dialed in."
The Wilsonville, OR pair outran Madden (Cazenovia, NY) and Coral Reef Ranch's 14-year-old Belgian mare - who stopped the clock at 52.401. The Team Gold and Individual Silver medalists from the 2011 Pan American Games also jumped two clear rounds at the previous Observation Event at the Devon Horse Show.
Reed Kessler, 17, who won the USEF Selection Trials in March in Florida and currently leads the USEF Long List for the Olympic Games, jumped the third clear but opted not to jump off with her 11-year-old mare Cylana.
Complete results are available here: http://www.sprucemeadows.com/tournaments/media/1339724325188_541.pdf
The CN Performance Grand Prix closes out the Observation Event on Saturday, June 16th at 4:30 PM Eastern. Watch it live on www.usefnetwork.com/