An Emotional Comeback for Tamie Smith and Mai Baum in AEC Gold Cup Advanced Final

“It’s emotional because it’s been a long road to get him back.” A teary Tamie Smith gives Mai Baum a big hug after their winning show jump round. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

The $20,000 check won by Mai Bau this morning in the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Advanced Final will at least put a dent in the vet bills he has accrued over the past three years.

“He’s literally tried to off himself multiple times,” Tamie Smith says of Alexandra and Ellen Ahearn and Eric Markell’s 12-year-old German Sport Horse gelding (Loredano x Ramira). “He strained his tendon after Fair Hill (which he won, in 2015) and we rehabbed him from that and then he fell on the trailer and he got a guttural pouch infection and then he had to be in a cast … it was just one thing after another.”

Once all his body parts were back in working order, Tamie faced the not-small task of getting the big, black horse reconditioned after his stint as a couch potato. “It took a long time to get him fit,” she says. “So we took our time and kept saying he’s worth it, and we just have be patient. Gosh, it seems like yesterday but it’s been three years. It’s crazy.”

Their hard work paid off today as Mai Baum took the Advanced title here at the 2018 American Eventing Championships presented by Nutrena, clinching the win this morning with a fault-free show jumping round for a final score of 28.0. Mai Baum is the sort of catlike, spring-loaded event horse that looks like he’s manufactured from elastic, and he bounced around the course with apparent ease.

“He’s back and 100% and strong and feels so happy to be here,” Tamie says. “He’s happy, but I’m even happier.”

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Their trajectory to the win began on Thursday with their leading dressage score of 26.4, followed by a clear cross country with 1.6 time penalties and double-clear show jumping. Mai Baum’s commanding presence turns heads wherever he goes, even when he’s just out for a hand-walk, but  his return to the public eye here at Colorado Horse Park was not without some antics.

“He’s actually been completely wild all week,” Tamie says. “He hasn’t been in an atmosphere like this in three years, and so he’s a little spicy and nearly bucked me off in the warm-up before his test. But he’s such a workman and a showman, and he’s just a freak.”

The Advanced cross country course was beefed up with some monstrous tables, and Tamie says he was impressed by the first few jumps — “He jumped five feet over fence four — I was like, ‘Your legs are going to break off!’ — but by the corner at #6 things clicked in and he was back to his old self.

Tamie describes Mai as the equine version of Taylor Swift: talented and attractive, basically a perfect human being, yet down-to-earth. “He looks at the camera and poses all the time, and he knows he’s beautiful and wonderful, but he’s not cocky at all,” she says.

Tamie and her string are en route from California to the East Coast for the fall. Mai Baum’s next stop is Stable View, with eyes on Ocala Jockey Club as their season finale. Beyond that, she says, she’ll talk to his owners and Erik Duvander about big picture plans. Mai Baum is clearly special and a bright, shining, bubble-wrapped hope for the future of the U.S. team.

“We’re trying to keep him preserved,” Tamie says. “He’s going to do minimal — he knows his job. I’m going to keep him a little bit in a glass case: ‘Break in case of an emergency.'”

Jordan Linstedt and Revitavet Capato. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

 Jordan Linstedt and Revitavet Capato Claim the Reserve Championship

Jordan Linstedt and Revitavet Capato, Barbara and Gary Linstedt’s 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Contendro x Annabelle), held fast to the 2nd place position throughout the week. After posting a 27.5 in dressage, the pair added four time faults cross country and dropped two rails today for a final score of 39.5.

“I didn’t go out of the box and really have a plan to be super competitive,” Jordan says of yesterday’s cross country. “I let him run and he just went. I never kicked him once around the entire course; he just flowed. I wanted to be efficient and make inside turns, and I can get in his face a little bit — he’s so big and has such a massive stride — so I have to let him kind of back himself up. I did that, and therefore he came in pretty quick, so I was really happy with him.”

Capato is notorious for throwing a shoe in the warm-up, and he pulled out his favorite trick a couple minutes before they were set to head to the start box here at the AEC. “And then he was a monster for the farrier — luckily there was a guy there, and the farriers here are phenomenal — but Capato is dancing around and I can barely keep him on the ground and he’s trying to tack nails in his feet.”

With only eight horses to start Advanced cross country, there wasn’t much budge room in the schedule. Tamie went straight from jumping around on her first horse, Fleeceworks Royal, to warming up her second ride, Mai Baum, and that bought Jordan a bit of time — although the struggle was real for Tamie as well with her back-to-back rides: “They were like ‘You have to go,’ and I’m like, ‘I can’t breathe!'”

Tamie headed on out with Mai Bau, leaving Jordan as the last rider to go. “I think the TD was coming over to tell me pretty much ‘you’re either getting on or you’re not going to go.’ He got the last nail in so I jumped on, jumped the oxer and trotted to the box,” she says.

Both Tamie and Jordan had big praise for the footing, which was perfect thanks to hard work from the grounds crew and the two inches of rain that forced the postponement of several divisions but worked wonders for the course. “Honestly I was saying some prayers for that rain. I was concerned that it looked hard, I think all of us were,” Jordan says. “But the guys did an incredible job, and we could not have asked for better weather that night even though I know for the organizers it made things much more difficult to run everything and get through the weekend.”

Tamie told the course builders, who worked so hard to get the ground right, that she would give them $1,000 of her prize money if she won. “They had a lot to do on the on the footing out there, and I know they stayed up all night tall night aerovating and working it and watering it, and then we got this torrential downpour which was exactly what we needed. It packed it all in and the footing felt phenomenal yesterday,” she says.

Jordan took the summer easy with Capato, giving him some time off when he came up a little bit sore after the Fork then bringing him back at Woodside. Tamie and Jordan both traveled upwards of 20 hours to contest the AEC; while it’s a pitstop for Tamie, it’s a roundtrip for Jordan and her crew, who’ve had a successful week here as well. Jordan’s student Madelyn Floyd won the Jr./YR Prelim championship.

What’s next for Capato is still up in the air. Jordan really wants to get him to Europe, she’d love to tackle Badminton or Burghley next year, but says that a fall trip abroad for Boekelo or Pau might now be possible thanks to her prize money from the AEC.

Tamie Smith and Fleeceworks Royal. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Tamie Smith and Fleeceworks Royal Finish Third

Rounding out the top three we have Tamie and Fleeceworks Royal, Judith McSwain’s 9-year-old Holsteiner mare (Riverman x Marisol). Hot off a CIC3* win at Rebecca Farm in July, the mare is now on her way to the East Coast for a month of prep before heading overseas to the Dutch CIC3* at Boekelo in October.

“She got selected to go to Boekelo so I knew I was going to have a conservative ride this weekend,” Tamie says. “She went fast at Rebecca Farm and I can’t go fast on her all the time, so as much as I wanted to go for it yesterday I was thinking about the bigger picture.”

Tamie and “Rory” started off their week with a score a 30.8 in dressage. “The ring was quite electric and the horses really came up in there,” Tamie says, which coupled with the threat of incoming weather put the mare a tiny bit on edge. “Right before I went in the wind came up and it sprinkle and I thought, ‘It’s going to monsoon, like right now’ and luckily it didn’t, but I felt her tighten her back. She held it together and was very obedient, I just rode very conservatively to school her in there.”

They picked up 11.6 time faults cross country, which was the easy tune-up trip that Tamie had planned. “She was super over everything, and she show jumped beautifully — it was her best show jump today,” Tamie says. “When I ride her well she jumps phenomenally, and I finally got it.”

Best of luck at Boekelo, Tamie and Rory!

Emilee Libby and Jakobi. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Emilee Libby and Jakobi, her own and Linda Libby’s 9-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Ustinov x Expression, by Coriano), had no jumping and one time fault to finish 4th on a score of 53.6.

Rebecca Braitling and Soaring Bird. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Rebecca Braitling and Soaring Bird, Andrea Baxter’s 12-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, had five rails and three time penalties to finish fifth on a final score of 84.4.

Kim Liddel and Eye of the Storm. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Kim Liddel and Eye of the Storm, her own 9-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Olympic x Message Of Honey), had six rails and six time faults to finish 6th on a final score of 112.6.

More to come this afternoon as the final 2018 AEC champions are crowned here in Parker, Colorado. Go Eventing!

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