With the advent of Pine Top CIC3* this weekend, we are officially in full swing of the season! As the only three-star run in the entire world in February this year, Pine Top also has the honor of kicking off the international scene at this level.
Traditionally used as a move-up event for Advanced horses, Pine Top is now also attracting a very competitive field of horses who will likely be headed to four-stars later this spring. Offering a three-star opens up the spring schedule to Rolex contenders, allowing them to pick and choose among the best dates and ideal venues to prepare their horses to do their best in April.
- The field consists of 13 horses ridden by 12 riders. Only one rider, Jessica Phoenix, has two mounts in this division.
- Of the 12 riders, 9 (75% of the field) have completed at least one CCI4*.
- Of the 13 horses, 7 (54% of the field) have completed a CCI4*. Two more have started a CCI4* but did not complete.
- One pair, Michael Walton and Woodstock Wallaby, are both attempting their first CIC3*. Michael competed in international show jumping up until 2013. He made his first international eventing start in 2014.
Overall, this field has a surprisingly high rate of strong dressage horses, with 50% of the horses averaging under 50. Look for a closely clustered leaderboard on the top half after dressage.
Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen are one of the best dressage pairs in the world, so it’s no surprise that they are the heavy favorites to take the lead after the first phase. As the only pair in the field to average in the 30s, it’s unlikely anyone will be able to catch them on the flat.
Liz Halliday-Sharp has the best shot at sneaking into the lead with Fernhill By Night, who has the ability to drop down into the high 30s on a regular basis. If Loughan Glen has a bad day while Fernhill By Night has a good one, this pair could snatch the top position on the leaderboard.
With Cooley Cross Border now entering his third season at this level, his consistency and strength on the flat with Kim Severson are now well-known. His best 3* score of 41.3 was laid down in 2015 though, and he’s been slowly inching up towards the high 40s since. A return to his 2015 form would put this pair up in the top three after phase one.
Rounding out the top four is Pavarotti, who averages a 45.5. This horse excels with Jessica Phoenix in the dressage phase on a regular basis
Show Jumping Powerhouses
Cooley Cross Border and Kim Severson have an almost perfect show jumping record at this level. They have not yet had a single rail in nine show jumping rounds, and only two instances of a single time penalty keeps their record from being totally pristine.
Vandiver has proven himself quite a careful jumper with Doug Payne in the irons, as they’ve clocked in double clear in nine of 12 stadium rounds. When stadium runs first, as it will this weekend, they are particularly strong, jumping double clear 86% of the time.
Loughan Glen is another who excels at the show jumping phase, although he is actually stronger when show jumping is the last phase, with a perfectly clean record at the CCI3* and CCI4* levels. When stadium is first, he and Clark Montgomery can have an occasional single rail, but has still jumped double clear in 75% of his stadium rounds in the past two years.
Cross Country Machines
Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF have a stellar cross country record, having jumped clear around seventeen of their 19 career starts at this level. In the past two years, they’ve averaged only 5.2 time penalties at the A/CIC3* level, but tend to split their runs between a fairly steady pace or a press to make the time.
Doug Payne and Vandiver have accumulated a truly impeccable cross country record in the past 18 months together and they’ve really stepped up their game following their Rolex run. This pair hasn’t clocked in a round slower than 20 seconds over optimum time since this event last year, aside from their first four star together.
Allie Sacksen and Sparrow’s Nio have never had a problem on cross country at the 3* level, and have only twice finished more than 25 seconds over optimum time. Look for these two to have a quick and clean round to move up the ranks.
PREDICTED WINNER: Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border
Keep Your Eye On…
- Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF
- Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night
- Kylie Lyman and Da Vinci Code
- Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen
- Doug Payne and Vandiver