Carolina International is now entering its fourth year, having grown leaps and bounds into one of the can’t-miss Rolex preparation events. This is another show that offers the option to choose between entering the CIC3* to run stadium first, or to practice jumping a less-than-fresh horse by entering the Advanced division.
Like Red Hills, Carolina experienced a change of course designers last year, with Ian Stark picking up his first East Coast venue in the spring. While quite prevalent out west, Ian Stark had previously only designed at Richland Park east of the Mississippi.
Marc Donovan has been the course designer here at the Carolina Horse Park since it ran as Southern Pines II, and his courses are known to challenge even the best pairs and shake up the standings.
- In Ian Stark’s first year of designing, the cross-country completion rate improved from 89% to 92% — but the percentage of clear rounds fell by 15%, and the percentage of pairs who made the optimum time dropped from a whopping 31% down to 5%.
- In 2014, 27% (seven pairs) of the field finished on their dressage score. In 2015, that percentage dropped to 9% — just one pair.
- The past two winners of this division were either sitting first or tied for first after dressage. Will that pattern hold this year?
- Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen just threw down a personal best score of 32.2 in their last start, leading from the first phase to win the Pine Top CIC3*. With 90% of their CIC3* tests since 2013 hitting in the 30s, they’re a good bet to be leading the field heading into show jumping.
- Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night really started hitting their stride on the three-star tests last year, pushing their average down into the high 30s over their last three CIC3* starts.
- The winners of last year’s event, Arthur and Allison Springer, will have their work cut out for them if they hope to catch the lead this year. Although they haven’t hit the 30s on a three-star test since 2012, these two frequently flirt with the very low 40s.
- Carlevo, Harbour Pilot, Anthony Patch, Cambalda and Cooley Dream all have averages that fall below 46.0, clustering together within a three-point range. The top five will truly depend on what the judges, Christina Klingspor and Robert Stevenson, are looking for this weekend.
- Congo Brazzaville C, ridden by Mara DePuy, could make a splash in his rookie debut at the CIC3* level. These two scored the equivalent of a 44.0 in the horse’s Advanced debut at Pine Top last month.
Show Jumping Powerhouses
- Hannah Sue Burnett’s mount Cooley Dream has only three runs under his belt at this level, but he has yet to have a single penalty in the stadium phase.
- Phillip Dutton’s young mount Z has only had one rail in five stadium rounds in his budding Advanced/three-star career thus far. When show jumping is held first, he is a perfect 3-for-3 on clear rounds.
- Doug Payne has improved Vandiver’s stadium phase beyond recognition. Together they have incurred only one rail in eight rounds when stadium comes first.
- Despite a rough round at Rolex last spring, Fernhill Fugitive is actually one of Phillip’s best show jumpers. At the three-star level, he hasn’t incurred a rail in almost two full years, having last had a rail at The Fork in 2015.
Cross Country Machines
- Covert Rights is making his first appearance since The Fork last spring. His average pace puts him coming in just a fraction under optimum time on a regular basis. But with this being his first run back, Colleen Rutledge might choose a slower pace this weekend.
- Never OutFoxed and Holly Payne Caravella have secured a spot on the wait list at Badminton and we are crossing our fingers they make it in. These two have finished under optimum time in five of their last nine CIC3* or Advanced runs, an impressive rate of double clears.
- Loughan Glen and Simply Priceless share the next quickest spots, with both averaging only 2.8 time penalties in this phase when running clear over Advanced and CIC3* courses.
- Other speedsters include Fernhill Fugitive and Luckaun Quality, both of whom average under 10 seconds over optimum time at this level.
PREDICTED WINNER: Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen
Keep Your Eye On:
- Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch
- Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda
- Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot
- Buck Davidson and Copper Beach
- Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Fugitive
- Phillip Dutton and I’m Sew Ready
- Phillip Dutton and Mr. Candyman
- Kurt Martin and DeLux Z
- Doug Payne and Vandiver
- Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights
- Lynn Symansky and Donner
- Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night
- Boyd Martin and Steady Eddie