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Norman Dello Joio And Glasgow Win $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational At WEF
Showjumping Press Release
Tampa, FL – April 3, 2004 – Norman Dello Joio, 47, of Wellington, Florida, riding Glasgow for The Glasgow Group topped a field of 35 horses to win the $200,000 Budweiser American Invitational presented by Publix and The Tampa Tribune in Tampa, Florida, on Saturday night, April 3. In a five-horse jump-off, Dello Joio was the faster of two clear rounds and claimed $60,000 for his win.
Beezie Madden, 40, of Cazenovia, New York, riding Authentic for owners Elizabeth Busch Burke and John Madden Sales placed second, earning $44,000. Alison Firestone, 27, of Upperville, Virginia, aboard Casanova for Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone placed third for a $26,000 check. The 32nd American Invitational, held on grass under lights at the Raymond James Stadium with a crowd of 9,800 fans in attendance, capped off the 2004 Winter Equestrian Festival.
For ‘Stormin’ Norman’, the 1992 Individual Bronze Medallist at the Barcelona Olympic Games, the win marked his second victory in this historic class – he notched his first win 26 years ago aboard Allegro. “I was star-struck and awe-struck when I came here that first time,” said Dello Joio. “The second time I showed in the Invitational, I remember my horse hung a leg really badly over the first jump and it scared him into jumping clean. I felt like I won by accident actually. It was nice to win because it was a plan for Florida – to try to bring the horse up and have a good night tonight.” This was Glasgow’s third time competing in the American Invitational. Dello Joio is aiming the 13-year-old Dutch gelding for the Athens Olympic Selection Trials in May.
Steve Stephens, who has designed the American Invitational courses for 19 years, erected a 17-effort Round One with Time Allowed set at 96 seconds – a track that proved to be a stiff challenge. Four riders did not complete the course. Rails fell at every jump except for No. 8. Most problematic was No. 10, a liverpool with a scalloped top element that 14 horses were unable to clear. The crowd witnessed two dramatic falls – with both riders able to walk away – Eliza Shuford, 26, of Hickory, North Carolina, aboard Gustel 11 owned by Nancy Shuford crashed the triple bar at No. 11 with both horse and rider going down; and Laura Chapot, 30, of Neshanic Station, New Jersey, aboard her Little Big Man toppled the third element of 6ABC and was flung head over heels but exited with a smile on her face. The final fence, a white wall at 14, caught four riders but Ireland’s Kevin Babington, 36, of Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania, aboard Carling King owned by Kindle Hill Farm, knocked it down so completely that the fans were brought to laughter as the jump crew and Stephens scrambled to re-build the scattered pile of Styrofoam blocks. Babington retired on course.
“The triple line was really, really difficult, and that was fairly early in the course. It’s as big a test as I’ve seen in a non-championship grand prix,” said Dello Joio. “It was a big course – hard to jump.”
Indeed it was not until the 26th rider on course, Lauren Hough, 26, of Wellington, FL, aboard her 2000 Sydney Olympic mount Clasiko, that the leader board flashed a clear round. Hough was the first rider to take a different route to the liverpool, making a wide loop around Fence 5 rather than the hairpin turn through the gap inside No. 5.
Dello Joio, who went 27th in the order, did not follow Hough’s path to the liverpool – that approach did not concern him as much as what followed – the triple bar at No. 11, which seven horses were not able to jump clean. “I was planning four strides and then I talked to Beezie’s husband John [Madden] and he said ‘That four looks long to me’. I looked at it again and I thought he was right. You could do it either way as long as you did it well, but you had to do what suited your horse the best,” said Dello Joio. “When I first walked it I thought the triple bar was really, really big and I didn’t anticipate the liverpool causing as much problems. I thought you could gallop the liverpool and get there comfortably in four. It proved to be more difficult than we all thought.”
The order of go in the American Invitational is set by money won during the WEF, so some of the heaviest hitters were among the last to go, which produced three more clean rounds – Firestone, Chris Kappler, 37, of Pittstown, NJ – the 2003 title holder of the American Invitational aboard Royal Kaliber, a stallion he owns with Kathy Kamine, and Madden. Last to go, the top money-earner with $73,825 to his name, McLain Ward, 28, of Brewster, New York, aboard Sapphire, a mare he owns with Missy Clark and Double H Farm, incurred eight faults and did not qualify for the Jump-Off.
For the tiebreaker, Stephens re-set with nine fences to jump in a Time Allowed of 53 seconds. Hough aboard Clasiko led off but had the seventh fence down for four faults in 46.69, and finished in fourth place. Dello Joio and Glasgow went next and raced the course clean in 41.84, which proved to be unbeatable. Firestone and Casanova followed, and had a rail down at the third fence, but clocked in splits faster than Hough at 46.30, for third place. Kappler and Royal Kaliber toppled the first and seventh fences, logging eight faults in 48.87 for fifth place. Madden and Authentic were last to go and broke the beam clean in 43.99, but had to settle for second place.
“After B and C of the original triple I was slow to the last fence and just a little bit slow in general,” said Madden, who has had the ride on the nine-year-old Dutch warmblood for four years. “I didn’t see Norman go but I think he just had a faster clip right from the beginning. His horse is a lot more experienced than mine and I just wasn’t as confident as Norman was to go all out. Authentic is only nine. I was going fast. It’s just that nothing came up out of the turns for me.” In addition to Authentic, Madden has two other Olympic hopeful mounts. She asked for and was granted permission to bring Authentic, DeSilvio and Judgment to the Olympic Selection Trials.
A disappointed Kappler has won the American Invitational twice, in 1995 with Seven Wonder and 2003 with Royal Kaliber, but he was not able to enter the history books on this occasion as a rider able to claim back-to-back victories on the same horse (Michelle Grubb and Molly Ashe are the only riders to accomplish this feat). “I was trying to line up one to two for a seven and I thought he felt like he slipped a little at the first fence,” said Kappler. “I was a little bit emotionally out of it for the rest of the jump-off after that. I was thinking too much about that fence for the rest of the course really.” But Kappler was positive about his horse’s performance. “The most important thing was I wanted to have a good solid first round and he did that for me. I took a big shot in the jump-off and that happens. He was brilliant tonight and I was really happy with how he performed. I can’t ask for more. He had a great circuit.” Kappler noted that he now plans to ask for a ‘bye’ for Royal Kaliber for Athens so that he can rest and condition him before Devon and Europe rather than compete in the Selection Trials.
Firestone is also aiming Casanova, a 14-year-old Swedish gelding, for the Selection Trials and her third place finish in the Invitational confirmed her path. “I’m really excited. It’s part of my plan. It’s one of my last classes before the Trials. I couldn’t be happier with how my horse jumped,” she said.
Hough intends to shoot for a second Olympics with Clasiko, a 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding, and considered her fourth place performance in the Invitational another step towards Athens. “I came off a win in Palm Beach and that was the last class until tonight. I thought he jumped the first round beautifully. I’m not very fast in jump-offs with him. I’m just thrilled with my results tonight. I’m thrilled that we got to jump in a venue so similar to what we’ll be seeing later down the road,” said Hough, referring to the Athens venue, which will also be at night on grass under lights. “This is it for me until the Trials.”
The camaraderie among the five Olympic hopefuls was evident when it was pointed out that on the day Dello Joio won his first American Invitational, Hough hadn’t been born yet and Firestone was only two years old. “But I beat them!” beamed Dello Joio, which elicited peals of laughter from all of them.
Winning the American Invitational proved to Dello Joio that his horse has made progress since the Selection Trials for the 2000 Olympics and the 2002 World Equestrian Games. “He’s just had more experience. He’s a little older and he doesn’t try to fight me as much,” said Dello Joio. “He’s always had a lot of character and was hard to make focus. I had to work him very, very hard sometimes – a little bit too hard and you fatigue him too much. Now he doesn’t need as much work. He’s more settled in himself.”
Total prize money for the 2004 WEF was three-million-dollars. Produced by founder Eugene R. Mische and Stadium Jumping, Inc., the Winter Equestrian Festival is the largest and longest consecutively running equestrian sporting event in the world.