Best Event Ever: Action Underway at Plantation Field International

Alex O’Neal and RF Eloquence. Photo by Jenni Autry.

The Best Event Ever didn’t exactly have the best weather ever as the action kicked off today at Plantation Field International Horse Trials in idyllic Unionville, Pennsylvania. The skies absolutely opened up this morning in a torrential downpour, which mercifully slowed to a misty drizzle by the time dressage started this afternoon.

With an eye-popping 110 horses entering the CIC2*, Plantation Field opted to split the class, and the first 20 horses in the A division made their way down centerline this afternoon. Alex O’Neal and Sally  Crane’s RF Eloquence, a 12-year-old Holsteiner by Contender, lead the way in the early going on 38.1.

Alex has the temporary ride on his wife’s CCI4* mount while Ellie MacPhail O’Neal recovers from an especially nasty break to her right collarbone, sustained in a fall at Richland Park Horse Trials last month.

Ellie is recovering well after surgery and displaying the typical stoic attitude of an event rider in the wake of a serious injury. As Alex put it: ” I can honestly say I’m not sure whether I’m even more attracted to her for being this tough through this terrible broken collar bone break or mildly afraid of her!”

Jenny Caras and her own Fernhill Full Throttle, an 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding by Cyrano, were the final pair to go today, scoring 39.1 to sit in second place overnight. Bobby Meyerhoff and Diane Kerney’s Rascal Rap, a 9-year-old Oldenburg by Rapture R, sit third on 40.6.

Last year we saw only two pairs score in the 30s in dressage in the entirety of the CIC2* division at Plantation Field. We already have two in the 30s after the first 20 horses, so we are almost certainly in for an exciting show across the next two days of dressage as both CIC2* divisions complete the first phase.

This is just the beginning of what is set to be a very exciting weekend as Plantation Field celebrates the 10th anniversary of the premier fall horse trials. This year’s event benefits the Retired Racehorse Project, and Thoroughbreds are the stars of the show.

Steuart Pittman and the Retired Racehorse Project will host a demo on Saturday, previewing select horses that will be competing at the Thoroughbred Makeover and ultimately available for sale at the Kentucky Horse Park next month.

During the Sunday lunch break, legends of the racing world will ride off-track Thoroughbreds in the Real Rider Cup, a show jumping competition that will see jockeys, trainers, owners and vets face off. Rosie Napravnik, Sean Clancy, Joe Sharp, Sanna Neilson and many more big names will compete.

If you can’t be in Unionville to watch the action live, USEF Network is live streaming the entire three-star competition starting Friday morning. Dom Schramm and I will be commentating and bringing in a slew of surprise guests, so be sure to tune in on USEF Network starting Friday at 8 a.m. EST.

Tomorrow is a full day of dressage in the CIC2* and CIC* divisions. Click here to view the full event schedule. Click here to visit the brand new Plantation Field International website, which has all the information you need to know. Keep it locked on EN — your Plantation Field headquarters! Go Eventing.

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