The U.S. All-Time Highest Scoring Horse Ballynoe Castle RM has numerous accolades to his name, but he’s never won a CCI3* until today when he jumped clear in show jumping to clinch the win for Buck Davidson at the Jersey Fresh International Three-Day Event with his mom, Carol, watching on Mother’s Day and owners Carl and Cassie Segal in attendance too.
Buck had Reggie’s groom Kathleen Blauth-Murray ride the 15-year-old Irish gelding into the awards ceremony to acknowledge her longtime dedication to the horse — and it doesn’t hurt that the honor came on this particular holiday, as Kathleen is a mom to two sweet little girls.
“I jumped him a little bit this morning, and he was jumping great, and in warm-up he was jumping great. You always think, ‘Oh my God, he didn’t touch one in the warm-up. What if my luck runs out?’ But I trust him completely,” Buck said, “Halfway around the (cross country) course yesterday, I thought, ‘If Reggie wins, I’d like to have Kathleen ride him in the prize giving.’ So that was my motivating factor today to have that happen.”
Lauren Kieffer and Marie LeMenestrel’s Meadowbrook’s Scarlett dropped one rail but still maintained their second place position to finish on a final score of 46.0. This 8-year-old Thoroughbred/Holsteiner mare has a virtually flawless show jumping record; that was just the fifth rail of her entire career. “She really jumped well, and I was thrilled with how she came out and felt because it was a long course yesterday,” Lauren said.
Now Lauren plays the waiting game to see if Scarlett will be named to the U.S. Pan American Games team. With Jersey Fresh being the final selection trials, Lauren said she hopes the second place finish today will help strengthen her bid. “I don’t think she could have made much of a stronger case,” Lauren said. “She did her job really well. She didn’t look green anywhere.”
Boyd Martin and Pancho Villa are also hot on the Pan Ams trail with their third place finish. They had one rail down but still moved up the leaderboard to finish on 49.9 after Kelly Prather and Blackfoot Mystery pulled two rails. “It was a frustrating rail because he’s a very good show jumper; it’s his strongest phase,” Boyd said. “I think it was a $1,000 rail! But I was pleased overall with his performance this weekend.”
While Pancho, a 12-year-old Selle Francais gelding owned by the Pancho Villa Syndicate, was originally entered to compete in his first CCI4* at Rolex Kentucky, Boyd withdrew him to aim for Jersey Fresh with the Pan Ams in mind. “If I took him to Rolex, I would have been hoping to get around the course well, and I knew if I took him here he would be really competitive, which would give me a better chance at getting picked for the team,” he said.
Boyd also has Steve Blauner’s Master Frisky in the mix for the team, but Boyd confirmed to EN that he told the selectors he would rather have Pancho be considered for the Pan Ams in order to keep “Mikey” on a path for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where he hopes the horse will be a good back-up for the Shamwari Syndicate’s Shamwari.
“The selectors have got a very confusing job to sort through who they want to pick,” Boyd said. “At the end of the day, it’s really up to them if they want to pick seasoned horses and seasoned riders or young horses and riders without team experience. Whatever the team is, that’s their call on what they feel is best to give us our best performance.”
Looking at the rest of the final CCI3* leaderboard, Kelly Prather and Blackfoot Mystery finished fourth with two rails on a final score of 52.2 to complete the horse’s first CCI3*, and Matt Brown and Happenstance pulled one rail to round out the top five on a final score of 52.7. Matt also finished a second horse inside the top 10 with BCF Belicoso, who pulled two rails to finish 10th on 63.1.
Only three pairs jumped double clear rounds over Sally Ike’s course. In addition to Buck and Reggie, Michael Pollard and Ballingowan Pizazz jumped double clear to finish in sixth on 53.3, and Colleen Rutledge and her own Escot 6 also jumped double clear to finish seventh on 56.1. “Monkey,” a 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding, was also named Best Conditioned Horse in the awards today — a great way for Colleen to finish the horse’s first CCI3*.
We’ll have many more thoughts to bring you on the final Pan Ams picture in the coming days. The U.S. team is expected to be named no later than May 20, so we have 10 days to gnaw on the data and make our predictions. Keep it locked on EN — your top source for Team USA news. Go Eventing.