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New York rider captures the $200,000 Invitational
By CHRISTINA K. COSDON
Published April 3, 2005
TAMPA - For the first time in the 33-year-history of the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational, only two of the 30 riders and their mounts made it through the course without a fault.
But 41-year-old Beezie Madden of Cazenovia, N.Y., and Authentic, a 10-year-old Dutch-bred gelding, beat them all to take home $60,000.
For a while at Raymond James Stadium Saturday night it appeared no one among the field of international and Olympic riders representing five countries would make it through the 14-obstacle course with a clean ride.
Many riders' hopes were dashed by an airy aqueduct obstacle. Seven horses refused to jump over it, Todd Minikus fell off when his horse refused and another horse ran through it.
Madden said that kind of wall (the aqueduct) always causes problems. "The only time I've seen a wall like that was at the Olympics," she said. She and Authentic were members of the silver-medal show-jumping team last year at the Athens Games.
The course "was very difficult," she said. But Authentic "has been jumping fantastic - it was kind of his time (to win)."
It was Madden's first Invitational victory.
The first clean ride didn't occur until the 19th rider, 29-year-old Jeffery Welles of Westport, Conn., and his horse, Armani, a 10-year-old Dutch-bred gelding. Welles finished second and earned $44,000.
Welles said he knew the course was difficult when he walked it early in the evening.
"I was thrilled," he said when he and Armani made it around the course with no faults. His horse had never been in the stadium and "you never know what to expect when a horse hasn't been in this situation before."
Course designer Steve Stephens said the aqueduct was a "test of bravery."
Asked if the obstacle should be called an aqueduct or a viaduct, he said: "I don't know, it has a new name tonight - the bridge over troubled waters."
Stephens said he has used the obstacle in competitions during the day. The stadium setting at night should not have made a difference to this caliber of horse and rider, he said.
Ramiro Quintana, 26, of Argentina and Middleburg, Va., and his mount, Hurricane, a 16-year-old German-bred gelding, took the third and $26,000.
McLain Ward of Brewster, N.Y., won $16,000 for fourth place with Sapphire, the 10-year-old Belgian-bred mare he rode on the silver-medal team last year in Athens.