Traverse City, Michigan, USA – June 23, 2022 – Despite her horse’s name, Kelli Cruciotti VanderVeen (USA) hasn’t had the ride on Forever SFN for long. A partnership that just molded in March of 2022, the pair is making making their mark on international competition, rising from second place during Traverse City Spring II to securing the win during week three in Thursday’s $37,000 Two-Phase Challenge CSI 3*.
“Today feels amazing,” Cruciotti VanderVeen raved about her performance with the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Azteca VDL x Nonstop), owned by Springpaarden Fonds Nederland. “[Forever SFN] is such an amazing horse to have in the barn. Last week, we had great form. We were second; we came really close but didn’t quite get it, but today I just felt like it all came together. Today was our day.”
Iván Tagle (ARG) designed the track for the CSI3* ranking class to kick off FEI competition during the final week of Traverse City Spring Shows, presented by Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel.
Sixteenth in the order of 30 total entries, Cruciotti VanderVeen had to watch several competitive pairs contest her lead before she claimed victory. When asked how nervous she was with Beat Mändli (SUI) as the last to go, she responded, “Very. Extremely. No one wants Beat as the last to go – he makes it look so easy and he came very, very close, but it was a sigh of relief at the end.”
Beat Mändli (SUI) finished just over a tenth of a second off the leading time with the Grant Road Partners mount, Vic des Cerisiers in 29.66 seconds, with all three of his mounts finishing in the top eight.
Katie Dinan (USA) also finished all three of her rides in the top eight, scoring third place with the Grant Road Partners’ Atika des Hauts Vents in a time of 30.64 seconds.
Cruciotti VanderVeen attributed her success in the speed phase to a combination of Forever SFN’s speed and her own equitation upbringing. “My horse is naturally very fast across the ground and in the air,” the 2019 World Cup Finalist remarked of the gelding. “Last week in the grand prix I overdid it in the jump-off, and today I told myself to ride my plan and to trust that he’s fast enough. So I just kept focusing on my line and track; the equitation days paid off a bit.”
“He’s unlike any horse I’ve ever ridden,” Cruciotti VanderVeen continued. “He wants to win more than I do. He’s a horse that really makes you believe you can win every class. When I go in the ring, if I just do my plan he will take care of the rest. Today is really special.”
Cruciotti VanderVeen grew up coming to Traverse City, but COVID-19 changed her plans. She made her return to the area for the 2022 Spring Series in winning style. “All the improvements, updates, and the footing is amazing here; we always have such a nice time,” she said of the facility. “But with the addition of the FEI rings and space for us to ride, it’s made a huge difference.”
Forever SFN will jump the $138,600 Serra Grand Prix CSI 3* Sunday before earning a well-deserved rest. International competition continues on Friday with the $37,000 Launch Consulting Welcome Stake CSI 3*.
Final Results: $37,000 Two-Phase Challenge CSI 3*
1) Kelli Cruciotti Vanderveen (USA) & Forever SFN: 2010 KWPN gelding by Azteca VDL x Nonstop, Springpaarden Fonds Nederland – 0 / 0- 29.50
2. Beat Mandli (SUI) & Vic des Cerisiers: 2009 SF gelding by Olympic D’Anguerny x Desir du Chateau, Grant Road Partners LLC – 0 / 0 – 29.66
3. Katie Dinan (USA) & Atika des Hauts Vents: 2010 SF mare by Rock’n Roll Semilly, Grant Road Partners LLC – 0 / 0 – 30.64
4. Samuel Parot (CHI) & Buga Z: 2010 ZANG gelding by Chester Z x Quality Touch Z, Samuel Parot – 0 / 0 – 30.77
5. Katie Dinan (USA) & Athos d’Elle: 2010 SF stallion by Apache D’Adriers x Papillon Rouge, Grant Road Partners LLC: 0/0/30.87
6. Beat Mandli (SUI) & Dsarie: 2008 KWPN mare by Veron x Ahorn, Grant Road Partners LLC: 0/0/31.30
7. Katie Dinan (USA) & Dijon Terdoorn Z: 2011 ZANG gelding by Diamant de Semilly x Lord Z, Grant Road Partners LLC: 0/0/31.36
8. Beat Mandli (SUI) & Chartraine Pre Noir: 2012 SF mare by Kannan, Grant Road Partners LLC: 0/0/31.51
9. Roberto Teran Tafur (COL) & Dez Ooktoff: 2008 KWPN stallion by Colandro x Lys Rouge, Roberto Teran Tafur: 0/0/31.71
10. Samuel Parot (CHI) & Graf Compliment: 2010 HANN gelding by Graf Top x Compliment, Ashland Farms & QBS Equestrian LLC: 0/0/31.92
11. Freddie Vazquez (PUR) & Kirschwasser SCF: 2010 BWP gelding by Amaretto D’Arco x Nabab De Reve, Freddie Vazquez: 0/0/32.43
12. Margie Engle (USA) & Dicas : 2009 RHEIN gelding by Diarado x Cassini I, Gladewinds Partners, LLC: 0/0/33.15
Source: Press Release from Traverse City Horse Shows
Photos: © Andrew Ryback Photography