Switzerland’s Beat Mändli Bests Six-Horse Tiebreaker to Win $132,000 Prix De Penn National

Three riders tested the Michel Vaillancourt-designed course in the tiebreaker before the first clear round. Pathfinder Abigail McArdle on Victorio 5, owned by Victorio Equine Group, LLC, had two rails down for eight faults. Recent World Equestrian Games U.S. Team Gold Medalist Adrienne Sternlicht had a rail for four faults on Toulago, owned by Starlight Farms, LLC, but the time was 35.59, which was quick enough for third place. Then Canada’s Jonathon Millar, third in the order, set the target time of 38.45 seconds with a clear round on Bonzay, owned by Isotropic Networks Inc. Since three of the world’s best show jumpers had yet to go, Millar was not sure his time would hold up.

“My first thought was that I wanted to jump clean and see how it played out. I thought I had left room for someone else to beat me,” said Millar who eventually finished second. “My horse is a little sensitive and I wanted to play to his strengths so I tried to keep the turns short. It wasn’t playing out that it was going to be a superfast class tonight, so I just wanted to leave the jumps up and see what happened.”

Millar’s compatriot, Olympic veteran Mario Deslauriers (CAN) on Amsterdam 27, owned by Luja, LLC & Wishing Well Farm LLC, followed with less favorable results, knocking down a rail for fifth place. Mandli was next, but he knew that right behind him was four-time Olympian and 2017 Longines FEI World Cup Champion, McLain Ward. Mandli, the 2007 FEI World Cup Champion, did not change his plan.

“I didn’t have a chance to watch anyone before me, but I heard what was going on. I knew that there was only one clear round, but I already had a plan,” said Mändli who finished clean in 37.66 seconds. “I didn’t want to go too fast or do anything that wouldn’t work out, so I just made the round that I wanted and it was fast enough to win as well.”

Ward had a rail at the first part of the combination on Contagious, owned by Beechwood Stables, LLC, and ended up in fourth place. Mändli was not able to see if he secured the victory or if Ward had taken the top spot away from him.

“I thought he would win,” said Mändli of Ward. “It was very quiet, so I thought that he might have had a rail down. I expected him to win, but I guess we all make mistakes.”

Following the Prix De Penn National, the following special open jumper awards were presented:

The Caretaker Award Joe Hena received the Moira Jane Caffarey Memorial Perpetual Trophy donated by Her Friends and The George L. Hennessy Memorial Perpetual Trophy donated by His Friends. Hena won the award as the caretaker of the Prix de Penn National winning horse. The Cafferey-Hennessy Groom’s Award was first awarded in 1998. It was the first award of its kind to be awarded in the U.S.

The Open Jumper Championship, sponsored by Jay Cawley Beat Mändli (SUI) and Dibatsja were crowned Open Jumper Champions and the Reserve Championship went to Kelli Cruciotti and Hadja Van Orshof. The William J. Cawley Memorial Challenge Trophy, donated by Mr. & Mrs. Brian G. Cawley was awarded to the Champion and Reserve Champion horses.

Beezie Madden received both the Leading Rider Award for Open Jumpers and the Leading Lady Rider Award for Open Jumpers. As Leading Rider, Madden received The Hunterdon, Inc. Challenge Trophy donated by Hunterdon, Inc. As Leading Lady Rider Award for Open Jumper, she received the Wissie Brede Memorial Challenge Trophy, donated by Debbie Stephens, Jeff Wirthman and Tom Wright. The trophy was retired by Madden for winning it three times, but she generously returned it to the competition, only to receive it once again.

Prior to the Grand Prix, the Pennsylvania National Horse Show held its annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Inducted was two-time Olympic medalist Leslie Howard has competed at Harrisburg for 51 consecutive years. In 2015, Howard won the Grand Prix de Penn National, a victory that had eluded her for over three decades. 

Also, inducted was, Jack Stedding. Stedding was one of the top hunter professionals in the U.S. He spent most of his life as a trainer, starting some of this country’s best riders and horses. Stedding passed away in 2017 after a long illness.