Boyd Martin On Cue at Inaugural Event and Kent Farrington Win in USA
With Champions day at Ascot done and dusted, other events over the weekend were also as important to many in the equestrian world; namely the new 5 star horse trial inaugural event in Maryland in the USA and major five star competitions showjumping including a European World Cup qualifier in Norway.
At Fairhill in Elkton, Maryland, the first inaugural 5 star event took place for the 46 riders entered. The season has been rather odd this year with both Badminton and Burghley cancelled and with two new events added to the calendar later in the year, riders were rather at odds to know where to go and how to prepare their horses for the 5 star events which did run. As a result, the entry numbers were all down on previous years. In fact for most of the shows in 2021, the numbers were down by about 50%. Hopefully from early next year, all the events will be able to run in their usual slots with each attracting the usual 100 or so combinations.
In the first trot in front of the jury made up of Angela Tucker (GBR), Martin Plewa (GER) and Mark Weissbecker (USA), sadly one of the participants was spun and did not start, that being Sharon White (USA) and her ride Cooley On Show. Another rider to have a little local difficulty, but did survive was Leslie Law (GBR) and his ride Voltaire De Tre. Although, unsurprisingly, most of the competitors were from the USA, there were some from Europe, Canada and New Zealand keen to support the putting on of this 5 star competition.
The first of the 22 horses to go in the dressage on day one, never easy to be the trail blazer, was Bruce Davidson Jr for the USA and although he made a couple of minor mistakes, he still got a very respectable score of 28.7 riding Carlevo. The first day of dressage saw the first 22 riders going at the end of which Oliver Townend riding Cooley Master Class was well out in front on his best score yet for dressage, 21.1. This score saw Townend going for the cross country phase in the lead. After the first day of dressage, unusually, two horses were tied on 28.0, both from the USA, Hannah Sue Burnett riding Harbour Pilot and Lynn Symansky riding RF Cool Play. Jennie Brannigan riding Stella Artois with 28.5 ended the day in fourth. On the second day, the final 23 riders took their chance. Tim Price (NZL) riding Xavier Faer was the first in for the day and took the competition by the scruff of the neck getting a score of 24.3, his personal best dressage score for a 5 star competition. His score was not to be bettered during the rest of the day, and he ended up going to the cross country stage in second place behind Oliver Townend. Boyd Martin riding On Cue was second during the session which left him in third place on the leader board overall going onto cross country.
The Cross country course was set by Ian Stark (GBR) He set a bold course with quite a few ditches and a very imposing water jump. The riders had to jump a crab going into the water at fence 15 before going through quite deep water. Ian Stark’s main concern was the terrain. He had to build his course using the undulations which are present over the whole course with a strong hard uphill climb to the finish. Ian was very conscious of the hills on the terrain and was keen that the fences should not too big in either the height or spread, and be of a 5 star quality, but not so big that the horses were too tired to finish; so particularly, towards the end of the course, he built fences which were flowing. After only two fences at the beginning to get the horses going, the designer put in his first combination at the third fence, 2 solid tables. There were three water features, the first at fence 5, a combination of shipping containers. Fence 24 saw the riders have a large jump and then to climb towards the last combination of the course at fence 25 which was an offset pair of owl holes. The final fence was fence 28, a brush fence. The time allowed was 11 minutes and this was thought to be hard to achieve.
There were three who either retired or were eliminated at the cross country stage. Of all the others, the top of the leader board remained the same as the dressage with Oliver Townend finishing with no further penalties and the same for Tim Price and Boyd Martin. Although the rider’s fears that the time would be a difficult challenge, about half of the field actually went completely clear and time was not as onerous as many originally thought.
So to the final stage of competition, the showjumping after the final morning trot up. 35 of the original 45 runners were presented and where one was withdrawn leaving 34 to go forward. The top three riders were within one fence of each other, so no room for any mistakes, and they were the last three to go over the 13 jump course. Jennie Brannigan, always snapping at the leader’s heels in fourth put further pressure on the top three by getting just 1.2 time penalties riding Stella Artois and finishing on a total score of 31.3. With just three to go, Boyd Martin went clear which meant that if either the other two above him dropped a pole, they would lose their position. Next in was Tim Price and he had one pole down at the second fence, thus he dropped to third position. The final entrance for Oliver Townend was the decider – and Cooley Master Class rubbed fence 4 and it dropped. That put him in second place behind the American Boyd Martin by 0.1 of a penalty score. I bet Ollie wasn’t pleased!! So the final result was Boyd Martin riding On Cue, was exactly that and he won with 25.00 penalties. He was very closely followed by Oliver Townend on 25.1 penalties and Tim Price on Xavier Faer in third on 28.3 penalties.
World Cup in Oslo and three other Five Star Showjumping Meetings
With the past two year’s World Cup competitions decimated by the pandemic, it is a fervent hope that this season, things would be as much back to normal as possible. So it was with the first major meeting in Norway for showjumping. Course designer from Italy, Elio Travagliati set a 16 jumping effort course with the top jump set a 1.60m to include a double and a treble with two water features. The time allowed was 79 seconds for the first of the two possible rounds. 35 combinations representing 14 nations came forward. Three riders either retired or were eliminated, two of which were rather surprising, Marcus Ehning from Germany and Swiss rider Pius Schwizer. Of the others, there were seven to complete the first round with a clear. Of those, three had a pole down in the jump off which left four. In fourth was Alessandra Reich riding Loyd from Austria, who was double clear but the slowest of the double clears on 50.20 seconds. Jen Fredricson riding the 10 year old gelding Markan Cosmopolit for Sweden was third finishing on 46.72 seconds. In second was the Belgian rider Pieter Clemens riding a 9 year old mare Hulde G finishing very closely, just ahead of the Swede on 46.09 seconds leaving the stage clear for Kevin Jochems from the Netherlands to take the win riding 12 year old stallion Turbo Z in 44.77 seconds.
The Longines Global Champions Tour, now in its final stages for the year, this time in Slovenia saw 34 riders start. The usual fence heights and time allowed were in force and in the first round there were ten that went clear. Four of the ten had a pole down in the jump off including the world number one horse currently, King Edward for Sweden’s Henrik Von Eckermann. There was less than one second between the top five riders, all of whom had double clear rounds. Scott Brash (GBR) riding Hello Jefferson was fifth with 40.56 seconds, with Jessica Sprinsteen (USA) riding Don Juan De Donkhoeve coming fourth just 0.12 of a second in front. On exactly 40 seconds, the Netherland rider Jur Vreiling riding Fiumicino Van De Kalevallie came third with German rider Christian Ahlmann coming second riding Dominator 2000 Z. This left United States rider Spencer Smith riding Therdore Manciais to win by just 0.02 seconds. A truly exciting finish to this competition.
In Grimaud in France, another 5 star CSI took place. This time there were 37 combinations to take on the Frenchman Cedric Logis designed course. There were 14 clears at the end of the first round of which 8 went double clear. In the first round the protagonists had to jump 13 obstacles in a time allowed of 77 seconds, and in the second, with fewer fences, the time was cut to just 52 second. The third placed horse was from France, Ilex VP a 13 year old gelding and ridden by Nicolas Delmotte. Ireland took the second place with Mark Mcauley riding his own 12 year old gelding, Jasco VD Bisschop in 40.47 seconds. The winner won with nearly two seconds to spare was from Brazil, Eduardo Pereira de Menezes riding H5 Chaganus, another gelding, this time rather younger at only 8 years old. The rider is also the owner of the winner.
Finally, we return to the United States for our final competition round-up. This time in White Sulphur Springs in West Virginia. Eleven countries were represented in the Grand Prix. Only five of the 30 runners collected clears in the first round and another three collected just 1 time fault with a time allowed of just 70 seconds. Of the clears, Erynn Ballard of Canada dropped a pole in the jump off with the other four going clear. Irish riders occupied third and fourth places through Daniel Coyle riding Legacy in fourth and Conor Swail in third aboard Count Me In. The second place was with Ashlee Bond, who lives in the States bit rides for Israel, she was on Donatello, her Olympic ride, and the winner by a clear 2 seconds was Kent Farrington riding for the UAS on Austria.
Images courtesy Boyd Martin, Facebook and twitter