Happy Thanksgiving, EN! Usually the U.S. season for the upper levels is complete after Galway Downs, but starting this year the Ocala Jockey Club is offering a chance for a final CIC3* run before the year’s end.
Being held over the Thanksgiving weekend certainly hasn’t deterred a healthy three-star field. With Mike Etherington-Smith designing the CIC3* cross country and Richard Jeffery creating the show jumping, Equiventures and the Ocala Jockey Club have really pulled out all the stops in order to create a world-class event.
- The field consists of 22 horses ridden by 18 riders. Five riders — Buck Davidson, Leslie Law, Joe Meyer, Doug Payne and Ronald Zabala-Goetschel — have two mounts each.
- Of the 17 riders, 15 (89% of the field) have completed at least one CCI4*.
- Of the 22 horses, 10 (46% of the field) have completed a CCI4*. Two more have started a CCI4* but did not complete.
- Five horses will be attempting their first CIC3*. Only one, Zach Brandt’s mount Vasiliev, has not yet run an Advanced horse trials.
- Two horses are paired up with their riders for the first time at this level. Rubens D’Ysieux will compete with Sara Kozumplik-Murphy after previously campaigning under Mikki Kuchta. Leslie Law will take the reins on Charleston VI, who competed earlier this season with Lexi Scovil.
To no one’s surprise, Allison Springer and Arthur have the best overall dressage average in the field, averaging a 42.3. Although their highest score since 2010 (48.3) came doing this test at Carolina International in 2015, this pair is a solid bet to be leading the pack after the first phase.
Arthur’s closest challenger will likely be Carlevo. Buck Davidson stepped this horse up to the level last year, and while the cross country phase has been a work in progress, the flat scores have been there from the get-go. With an overall average of 43.5, Buck and Carlevo will be contenders from day one.
FE Bowman has a brief record at this level, having only started at two Advanced events, but he has averaged the FEI equivalent of 46.4 thus far. Clayton Fredericks will make sure this horse is a factor in the standings right from the start. This will be the horse’s first attempt at this particular dressage test.
Jon Holling and Downtown Harrison are definitely a threat to top the leaderboard after the first phase. With scores that range from high-30s to mid-50s, Downtown Harrison could be a wild card for a top placing after dressage.
Show Jumping Powerhouses
Petite Flower is one of the best show jumpers in the country, putting in clear rounds almost 80% of the time. With Buck Davidson in the irons, she’s competed at 11 shows where show jumping was held before cross country; 10 of those rounds were double clear.
Jon Holling and Downtown Harrison have had only one rail down in seven show jumping rounds at this level since 2013. That one rail came at Boekelo CCIO3* after a wet cross country day. With show jumping first up in the schedule, don’t expect to see a rail from these two.
Vandiver began his partnership with Doug Payne by racking up six double clear show jumping rounds in a row. Although their record since Rolex has been slightly marred by an occasional single rail, these two are still one of the best show jumping pairs in the field.
Escot 6 shines in the jumping phases, with show jumping leading the way. Although he and Colleen Rutledge occasionally had a rail during the first year of his Advanced career, he hasn’t touched a single pole at this level for the entirety of 2016.
Cross Country Machines
Petite Flower struggled at first at this level but turned it around completely in 2015, going clear in nine of her 10 runs since that time, including two Rolex completions. When Buck and Flower run clear, they run quick, averaging only 5.2 penalties over the optimum time. They’ve finished in the top two placings three of the four times they’ve run double clear across the country.
Joe Meyer and Clip Clop have one of the fastest average times across the country in the field, clocking in at only 6.0 time penalties when running clear, which they very consistently do. Although they ran double clear across the country for the first time at the Fair Hill CCI3* in October, they have averaged closer to 9.2 time penalties in CIC3* divisions.
Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF are another very quick pair across the country, accumulating on average 7.2 penalties on a clear run. Like many of the pairs, their average CIC3* pace is slightly slower, but they have run double clear on multiple occasions.
Colleen Rutledge is known for her strong cross country game, and Escot 6 is no exception. Although a bit less consistent in putting in clear rounds than others horses mentioned, he nonetheless runs very quickly when he does come home with no jumping penalties, averaging 7.2 penalties overall. Although they’ve only run double clear once in the horse’s career at this level, they most recently came in only four seconds over the time at Fair Hill CCI3*.
When Doug Payne took over the ride on Vandiver nearly 18 months ago, he cautiously steered the horse through obtaining the necessary qualifications to compete at Rolex last April. After Rolex, Doug put the pedal down, and this pair have gone from an overall average of 8.4 time penalties in their time together to an astounding 2.0 time penalties in their last four runs. Keep a close eye on this pair for one of the quickest rounds of the day.
PREDICTED WINNER: Doug Payne and Vandiver
Keep Your Eye On …
- Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF
- Buck Davidson and Petite Flower
- Jon Holling and Downtown Harrison
- Boyd Martin and Steady Eddie
- Allison Springer and Arthur
- Lynn Symansky and Donner