If there’s one take away from the first two legs of the Major League Show Jumping tour, it’s that the format works.

Three rounds. Two jumps offs. One winning team. All delivered in under two hours. It’s all the best parts of team jumping with double the stakes and three times the excitement.

This week in Traverse City, Phase I runner ups team Eye Candy trotted out the same horse and rider combinations as the previous week—Amy Millar (CAN) and Christiano, Jacqueline Steffens (CAN) and Freaky, Paul O’Shea (IRL) and Squirt Gun—and jumped straight to the top of the MLSJ leaderboard.

In Round One of the team competition, all eight teams compete their riders back-to-back-to-back over the first course to determine which four will advance to First Jump Off. Eye Candy was the only team to post three clear rounds over the Olaf Petersen Jr. (GER) designed course.

“I think all three horses [Squirt Gun, Freaky, and Christiano] are really strong partnerships that we’ve had a little bit of time to get to know and I think we were really pleased with them. All three jumped great clear rounds in the first,” said Steffens.

Diamond Devils (8), Road Runners (4) and Crusaders (4) rounded out the top four.

In the First Jump Off, a faults converted to time speed round, scores are wiped clean as two riders from each team compete for their team’s place in the medal deciding round. Diamond Devils’ Sam Walker and Bliss Heers posted the fastest combined time of 102 seconds to secure a spot in the gold medal match. Eye Candy’s Amy Millar and Jacqueline Steffens took the other with a cumulative time of 104.85, relegating Roadrunners effort by Kaitlin Campbell and Kyle King (105.09) to the bronze medal match.

For the Podium Jump Off, the rider from each team who did not compete in the First Jump Off returns for the medal deciding round, a head-to-head faults converted to time jump off.

Crusaders Molly Ashe and Berdien faced off against Roadrunners Adrienne Sternlicht and Lafayette Van Overis in the bronze medal match. Ashe set the pace with an efficient clear in 47.94. A refusal on course ultimately cost Roadrunners their spot on the podium.

The Gold Medal match came down to O’Shea (IRL) and Squirt Gun, riding anchor for the second week in a row for Eye Candy, against Kristen VanderVeen (USA) on Bill Run’s Risen for Diamond Devils. Returning first, O’She set the standard in just 47.70 fault-free seconds. VanderVeen and Bill Run’s Risen bested their time, but fell a costly rail on the short course to add three seconds to the clock and hand Eye Candy the win.

Eye Candy now tops the League Standings with 18 points. Diamond Devils and Roadrunners are tied on 11. Crusaders, 10.

MLSJ next heads to Toronto for Phase III, August 20–22, 2021!

Feature image: ©MLSJ/Ashley Neuhof