by Donald Yovanovich
The Amateur Riders Club of America made history on Sunday when Bethany Baumgardner became the first American lady rider ever to win the Champ de Mars, the finale of the Longines Fegentri Ladies Championship in Mauritius.
In an invitational race limited to the top eight riders in the season-long competition, Bethany rode Social Network to a gate-to-wire victory in the 1,500-meter turf race.
Bethany has competed in about 60% of the offered races in the series and during most of the summer was ranked second. With a short hiatus in September and October, she fell to sixth in the standings, but a third-place finish aboard Bonnie Acclamation at Pisa on Nov. 26 moved her into the fifth spot.
Her victory in Mauritius placed her fourth in the world, with only 17 points separating the second-, third-, and fourth-place ladies. The series leader, Sara Vemeersch representing Belgium, ran away with the competition, winning by a huge margin. Bethany had two wins and seven seconds during the series, and she was thrilled by the finale victory. “It was an incredible experience,” she said.
We should also mention that the ARCA Fegentri World Cup Team finished the year by placing second to Norway. Special thanks to the riders, Erika Taylor, Amelia McGuirk, Brittany Trimble, Teresa Croce, and Mark Galligan. All the riders, including Bethany, are National Steeplechase Association-licensed jockeys.