Devil's Dyke not easy for Beezie

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

Judgement falls in favour of the Devil.

Ending American Beezie Madden's spectacular run of three straight years as Nexen Cup Derby champion aboard her 18-year-old Dutch warmblood stallion at Spruce Meadows was one of the most intimidating obstacles in show-jumping.

The Devil's Dyke.

"It's an, excuse the expression, a bitch of a fence," said eventual derby winner Mario Deslauriers, one of only a few riders to get through that challenge cleanly.

Running fault-free until coming face-to-face with the threatening fencepost triple that sees the ground sink toward a rectangular pool in the middle, Madden fell to fourth place as Judgement clipped the first and third rails to finish with eight faults.

"Maybe I took it for granted a little bit," Madden said. "We didn't practise it a whole lot at home before we came here because he's normally good about it."

At least she didn't fall off her mount for a second straight day.

Iran's Ali Nilforushan wasn't so lucky. His 11-year-old Belgian warmblood balked at the first gate of the Dyke and sent the rider painfully into the pool. He was carted off.

Jorge Verswyvel (Mexico) and Brazilian Rodrigo Pessoa -- the last rider to beat Beezie in the derby before yesterday's event -- also saw their afternoon end early when the obstacle proved too frightening for their horses on second attempts.

Only a few riders managed to escape faults on the Devil's Dyke. Winner Mario Deslauriers, runner-up Pablo Barrios and Ian Millar.

Judgement's experience helped him earn three straight wins at the marathon-like event. But his age might finally have caught up with him.

"The one thing I was worried about before the derby was that he's not very competition fit," said Madden.

"He was blowing a lot harder when he came out of the ring than he has in past years for the derby. That had a little factor to it."


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