North Salem, N.Y. – Sept. 14, 2016 – Old Salem Farm came to life with vendors, the world’s top horses and athletes and spectators as the venue celebrated the start of the fifth consecutive American Gold Cup on Wednesday. The first day of competition featured two highlight jumper events on the Grand Prix Field: the $8,000 Danbury Porsche Audi 1.40m Jumpers and the $8,000 Douglas Elliman 1.40m Jumpers CSI4*.
The week’s first FEI class, the $8,000 Douglas Elliman 1.40m Jumpers CSI4*, took center stage during the afternoon with 80 exhibitors looking to start the week off strong with a win.
Andrew Kocher (USA) and Zantos II, owned by MKO Equestrian LLC, navigated the Alan Wade-designed courses and bested the field of international horses and athletes with 0 faults in 58.70 seconds, taking over the top spot from Theodore Boris (ISR) and Jacomo Von Rocherath, owned by Stal Bucci B.V. & Equidiamond SRL. Boris secured second place honors, crossing the finish line with a double clear performance in 60.43 seconds. Catherine Tyree and Corleone, owned by Mary and Joseph Tyree, rounded out the top three of the class, posting a score of 0 penalties in 61.38 seconds.
Kocher just recently acquired Zantos II this summer after importing the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding from England where he was previously ridden by British international show jumpers Robert and Louise Whitaker as well as their father and two-time Olympian John Whitaker. The pair claimed their first grand prix win together in August in the $50,000 Grand Prix of Williamsburg CSI2* during Week Five of the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival and just one week later also won the $35,000 Kubota Sunday Classic CSI3* at Angelstone Tournaments.
Prior to competing at the American Gold Cup for the first time, Kocher traveled to the Hampton Classic, where he showed Zantos II on a grass field for the first time. However, despite the pair still being in the early stages of their partnership and figuring each other out, they’ve proven their consistent winning ways throughout the past few months.
“He was a little bit strong on me at the Hampton Classic so I added a little bit more bridle,” said Kocher. “That seemed to work pretty well, but we’ll see when the jumps go up. He was good this afternoon. It was a good class. I wasn’t going in there to try to win. He’s just really fast. I was going medium; I really was holding the breaks a little bit. I added a few strides by just sitting still. I figured after I jumped halfway clear he was jumping pretty well so I let him loose a little bit.
“I am starting to figure him out I think,” continued Kocher. “I feel more comfortable. Last week, he had the week off and he just jogged around the farm. He hasn’t jumped a fence since the Hamptons. This was his first time seeing any jumps since then. I am starting to get comfortable so I don’t need to practice on him. I just take him to the horse show and go.”
Kocher plans to compete in the remaining FEI classes throughout the week, and is thrilled to be in attendance at Old Salem Farm this year for the American Gold Cup.
“The jumps are beautiful here,” said Kocher. “I don’t know if Zantos will be doing the World Cup class or not. I have Uppie De Lis who I had planned to jump in the World Cup class, but we will see. Whoever is jumping the best I am going to use.
“I’ve never shown here,” admitted Kocher. “My dad used to come here when I was a little kid, almost 20 years ago. They didn’t have this fancy footing. The last American Gold Cup I went to was watching my dad show at Devon. I am having a great time so far!”
The day started off with the $8,000 Danbury Porsche Audi 1.40m Jumpers on Wednesday morning, with the first blue ribbon of the 2016 American Gold Cup going to Shane Sweetnam and Seabrook LLC’s Kelly Tramp. Sweetnam and the 9-year-old Oldenburg mare outpaced a starting field of 53 entries and navigated the course with ease, finishing double clear and tripping the timers in 37.765 seconds.
“Kelly Tramp is owned by Lacey Gilbertson,” said Sweetnam. “She will be showing the mare in the High Amateurs Thursday and Friday. Today was just a schooling ride to get her on the grass. She was good at the Hamptons a couple of weeks ago as well. She’s getting better and better. We’ve only had her for a few months so we’re just still getting to know her.”
Todd Minikus and Pegaso, owned by Two Swans Farm, followed Sweetnam in second place with no faults in 38.370 seconds. Sweetnam also grabbed third place honors with Sweet Oak Farm’s Cantero Da Lagoa in another double clear round in 39.285 seconds.
“Cantero Da Lagoa is only an 8-year-old, but he’s very competitive,” said Sweetnam. “He placed in two classes at the Hamptons as well a couple of weeks ago. I think he’s going be a good horse.”
Of returning to the American Gold Cup, Sweetnam said, “It’s a great show and they always do a great job. The weather is beautiful and it only gets better each year.”
The 2016 American Gold Cup starts at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday and features the $35,000 Don Little Memorial Welcome Stake CSI4* at 2 p.m. as well as the Beval Saddlery Cocktail Party from 4 p.m.–6 p.m. A celebration of the extraordinary life of Kiki Ulma will also be held on Thursday at the Clock Tower Grill at 6 p.m. Friday will highlight the $86,000 American Gold Cup Qualifier, presented by Windsor Show Stables, with an exhibitor party immediately following the competition at the Grand Prix Overlook with live music. Saturday presents an array of jumper classics, including the $35,000 Hermès Sellier Cup and the $86,000 Fidelity Investments® Classic CSI4*, as well as the Region 1 and 2 ASPCA/NHSAA Maclay Championships. The week culminates in the $216,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping New York CSI4*-W as athletes vie for the highly sought-after American Gold Cup.
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