Kimberly Frey of Hume, Va., and Bergerac won the $20,000 President's Cup Qualifier at the Washington International Horse Show, held at MCI Center yesterday, beating out 29 competitors.
Bergerac, a 13-year-old Selle Francais owned by Katherine and Louise Miracle of Stoneville, N.C., posted a time of 48.60 -- 1.1 seconds faster than Rio, ridden by McLain Ward, and 1.24 seconds faster than Conejo with Karen Cudmore.
"I actually wasn't going to go that fast, but he was a little on the wild side so I just thought I'd let him go a little bit rather than trying to hold him back all the time," said Frey about the 16.3 hand chestnut.
Thirteen of 30 competitors jumped Robert Ridland's 13-obstacle course clean, with the top 20 qualifying for the $100,000 President's Cup Saturday night.
Frey said the course rode well, though the triple combination proved tricky. "The 'EA' and 'EC' were kind of normal but 'EB' was abnormally huge. But I thought my horse jumped it great," she said.
Schuyler C. Riley, 31, of Wellington, Fla., and her Opus Sept captured the $20,000 Open Jumper Gambler's Choice by accumulating 1,480 points -- 10 more than Vale and Garcon, a 12-year-old Hanoverian. In this class, riders choose what fences to jump in a given time. Each obstacle is assigned a point value, and the highest score takes the blue.
"My horse is really not the fastest across the ground," Riley said about her 17-hand, 11-year-old Belgian warmblood. "He's really very easy to ride, so I can take jumps on angles and rely on him to turn when I ask him to turn. But if there were not jumps there and it was just a straight line there, I wouldn't be able to beat Aaron [Vale]."
Erin Stewart, 18, proved unbeatable against 10 other ASPCA-Maclay finalists. The Ocala, Fla. native rode Doubleoseven, a 12-year-old warmblood she acquired in September.
"He's very soft off the ground," said Stewart about the former grand prix jumper. "The only time he ever felt like a jumper [as opposed to an equitation horse] was the day we got him. I think he realizes how much easier his life is now."
Philip J. DeVita of Apopka, Fla., said he and judges Christine Tauber and Frank Willard appraised the riders, not the horses, though a horse who jumps in good style makes a better picture. "The bottom line is that we're looking at hunt seat equitation, and you design a course that has a flow and a rhythm to it but yet challenges the riders with options and situations where they have to use their eye," he said.
Stewart said the course, with its inside- or outside-track options, suited her and Doubleoseven just fine. "I think [the judges] just wanted to see the most smooth ride, and I really like a course that has a lot of options," she said.