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Despite a brisk wind all day in the Catskill mountains, the HITS Saugerties $1 Million Grand Prix was fun to watch as the 40-plus horse and rider combinations tackled the demanding jumper course on September 10, in Saugerties, N.Y. So demanding was the internationally designed course, with a new derby bar jump after the water jump, they were no fault-free rounds. Which meant no jump off, which is disappointing to a spectator like me, who wanted some fast-paced action at the end of a long event.
And while I saw some great rounds in grand prix, including the only clear jumping round with one time fault for the winner, German rider Andre Thieme on Conthendrix, it still felt like something was missing in the day’s rider lineup. Missing from the competition were celebrity riders like the 2016 grand prix winner Jessica Springsteen, members of the 2016 US Olympic Silver Medal winning team, including New York natives Beezie Madden and McLain Ward, also the reigning 2017 FEI World Cup champion, as well as Kent Farrington. There weren’t even as many international riders like I’ve seen in the past.
Then the light bulb went off. They must be somewhere else (like the $3 Million Spruce Meadows grand prix and Nations Cup in Canada) or saving their horses for something else, or both! Or course, I’ll see them all at the $216,000 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping New York grand prix competing for the American Gold Cup this weekend, Sunday, September 17 at Old Salem Farm (OSF). This event is also an FEI World Cup Qualifying Competition for the prestigious 2018 Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final, which will take place in Paris, April 10-15.
American Gold Cup
This premier jumping event is celebrating its 47th anniversary. For the last five years, top riders from around the world have vied for top honors on the beautiful grass grand prix field at OSF at 190 June Road in North Salem, N.Y. I love this venue as one of the best places for a leisurely afternoon on the grassy slope at ringside under the shade trees. Bring a blanket, chairs, and your picnic basket to enjoy a day of horsey fun. The main event starts at 2 pm, but the gates open at 11 am for a day of family fun. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under and seniors 65 plus. Tickets are available for purchase at the gate or online at theamericangoldcup.com.
The family entertainment begins at 11 am with pony rides, face painting, a magician, and shopping on “boutique row” featuring Hermès and Danbury Porsche/Audi. At noon the JustWorld International Horseless Horse Show sponsored by Voltaire Design will begin. It is open to all kids of all ages. For those unfamiliar with this event, kids and stick horses tackle small jumps in a simulation horse show. Tons of laughs and keen competition.
Afterward, at 1:30, there will be the Big Apple Circus and the Halftime Dogs performing before the start of the grand prix opening ceremonies. And if you can’t make it in person, FEI TV (FEITV.org) will offer live streaming and extensive video on demand coverage. FEITV.org is FEI’s official video website and a sophisticated online broadband offering to equestrian enthusiasts around the world.
The American Gold Cup is one of the most prestigious and iconic equestrian sporting events in the world of international show jumping. Founded in 1970, with a mere $15,000 in prize money, it was originally held in Cleveland, Ohio. The record holder of both most wins by a rider and a horse are held by my childhood grand prix team idol of Rodney Jenkins and Idle Dice. Jenkins holds the record for most rider wins (1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, and 1985), and Idle Dice for most horse wins (1973, 1974, and 1975).
The event has had several homes, including Tampa, Philadelphia, and eventually its home for more than 20 years, the Devon Horse Show grounds, in Devon, Penn. In 2012, the American Gold Cup moved to the spectacular and historic OSF, a state-of-the-art equestrian sports training and event facility widely recognized by competitors as a premier venue for its picturesque show grounds, equine-friendly facilities, and unique grass grand prix field.
So pack up the family and plan to see some awesome jumper action this weekend as the top rider and horse will walk away with the stunning large gold loving cup trophy, aptly named, the American Gold Cup. Riders will be on hand for autographs after the competition.