The 63rd annual Tevis Cup is officially in the books.
Sixty-four riders in total completed the Western States Trail Ride by early Sunday morning. Hundreds of riders, crew members, board members and supporters gathered Sunday afternoon at the Placer County Fairgrounds for an awards luncheon, presenting the best of the best from the 2018 Tevis Cup.
Heather Reynolds of Florida added a third Tevis Cup victory to her resume, finishing at 10 p.m. exactly – a trip that took her and her horse, Cayu, just under 17 hours to complete.
“I typed into my GPS, ‘Cayu, get me to Auburn,’ and he did the rest,” laughed Reynolds as she was announced to the crowd Sunday.
Reynolds had a seven-minute advantage coming out of the final veterinary checkpoint at Lower Quarry. Forty-four minutes later, she finished with 18 minutes separating her from the next rider for her seventh career Tevis completion.
“Each time is different because each horse is different. It was definitely hotter this year,” said, Reynolds, whose previous victories came in 2003 and 2014.
Only 42 percent of the 150 entrants rode the full 100 miles, which is the lowest completion rate in the Tevis Cup since 2001. The dry heat and carryover of smoke from the Northern California Carr fire served as factors, some of the riders said.
“It was like riding through this muggy seed of hot waves of air,” said Sarah Gray, whose 10th-place finish was a huge jump from her 2017 Tevis standing, in which she was pulled at the Pieper Junction checkpoint.
“It was all just this amazing horse,” Gray said of “Rader”, a 12-year-old Arab. “He's done this four times, and he's completed every time. He's just a rock star. I just cling on and let him do his job.”
Husband-and-wife duo Wasch and Gabriella Blakeley finished second and third, respectively. Their son, Barrak, finished fifth.
“Doing it together (as a family) is really nice because my son can outrun me, but when we get on a horse, it kind of levels out the field a little bit,” Wasch said.
2017 runner up Lindsay Fisher finished fourth while last year's winner, Tennessee Lane, finished seventh. Lane came into the 2018 ride with intentions of being the first back-to-back Tevis winner since Chris Knoch in 1993–94.
“I was going for it this year,” said Lane, who finished her sixth of eight Tevis tries. “We were fine going uphill, but then (her horse, “Bluff”) got a little downhill sore. But he never gave up on me, and I never gave up on him, so it's still an awesome completion.”
Coming in sixth was Diane Stevens and her horse, “Titan”, who was one of two horses to earn the Wendell Robie Award for completing at least five Tevis rides. The other was Maryland native Claire Godwin’s 27-year-old, “Murcury”, who finished 13th.
Stevens said that Titan winning the Robie trophy was especially gratifying since she nearly lost him two years ago. An accident nearly cost Titan his life as the top of a fence post badly impaled the inner part of his rear thigh. Stevens said that she was lucky to have been able to save Titan’s life, but was told that he would never ride endurance again. But just two years later, Titan has two Tevis completions and an Arabian National Championship to his name.
“I didn't give up on him,” said Stevens. “I said, ‘He's going to get me through Tevis one day.’ All of my five buckles were on him. I don't know if I'll do another Tevis on him. I think he's earned the right to not do it again.”
Rounding out the Top 10 were Mykaola Corgnell (8th) from Penn Valley, whose horse “MM Cody” was named the Haggin Cup winner for being the horse in the most “superior condition”. Mark Montgomery, also from Penn Valley, and “Woody” finished ninth for Montgomery’s second overall buckle.
Caroline De Bourbon (14th), Frank Smith, Jr. (37th) and Kassidy Zulliger (44th) were the three recipients of Scripps Cup recognition for completing as junior riders, and Bronwyn Swan earned her 1,000-mile buckle for completing the trail for the 10th time in her career.
The 64th edition of the Western States Trail Ride is already set for July 20, 2019.
For full results of the 2018 Tevis Cup, visit www.teviscup.org.