While the West Coast has a fairly quiet weekend, the East Coast is running one of the largest upper-level competitions in North America at Plantation Field, with 55 horses alone in the CIC3* and 17 horses in the Advanced. The show is big enough that we’re giving Advanced and the CIC3* a separate By the Numbers breakdown.
Plantation Field really bends over backwards to not only create a fabulous show for the riders but also a fantastic spectator event for even non-horsey people. The short hop for those who live in the area, the phenomenal exposure and the fantastic courses means it’s a huge draw for the professionals. And this year, PRO will be live streaming the cross country on the all new PRO TV, so make sure to tune in at some point to watch what is one of North America’s premier events.
For the Advanced, the dressage test will be 2014 USEF A-B. Plantation Field has brought in Mike Etherington-Smith to do course design for the CIC3*, and it’s likely that Tremaine Cooper will stick mostly to his course when designing the Advanced, though we’re definitely curious to see exactly how the Advanced course shakes out. The show jumping course designer is Marc Donovan.
1. Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda: Jennie and Cambalda are fresh off a win in the Advanced at Richland, and the numbers say that they’ve got a good chance to be on top here again. It’ll be close though, so Jennie and Cambalda will need to put in a consistent performance in each of the three phases.
This pair is fairly well known for their prowess on the flat, and while they don’t have experience in the past two years with this particular test, they average a solid 31.9 on the flat. This will be good enough to rank them in the top three, if not at the top, after dressage.
There’s a few good show jumpers in this field, and Cambalda is one of them, averaging a double clear over a Marc Donovan course. However, Jennie’s turn of foot on cross country is where they will win this event, averaging clear cross-country rounds with a paltry 6.0 time penalties. They’ll likely end this event as the only pair to finish on a score in the 30s.
2. Lauren Kieffer and Veronica: This is Veronica’s first effort at this level since Rolex, and as the second-placed horse there, it’s easy to see why this pair will be Jennie’s closest competition.
Veronica and Lauren are also very good on the flat and have a slight affinity for this test, with 30.1 as their average. They might be in the lead after the flat and will maintain their position with a double clear through the Marc Donovan show jumping course. However, they’ll have a few more time penalties, averaging 10.8 at this level. Lauren ought to end up comfortably in second with this mare, cruising home with a score in the very low 40s.
3. Lillian Heard and Share Option: Lillian and Share Option are slated to head to the Pau CCI4* in France next month, so they’ll be looking for a solid run here. All the WEG riders are probably jealous that she gets to go to France without having to deal with #WoodstockWEG, as Pau is known for lovely weather and lots of sunshine.
Lillian and Share Option will likely be in the middle of the pack after the flat, with an average of 36.1 on this test. They’ll make up ground in the show jumping, as Share Option averages double clears on Marc Donovan show jumping courses, and will come home with approximately 14.0 time penalties. This pair will ease into third with a score barely over 50.
4. Sally Cousins and Westerly: Sally and Westerly have a ridiculously good jumping record, and that will let them sneak into the top four here. This horse doesn’t shine on the flat, and an average of 41.5 will put them near the bottom of this particular division. However, Westerly averages a clear jumping round on Marc Donovan courses with only 1 time penalty. A clear cross-country round with 13.2 time penalties will put them on a final score in the mid-50s, solidly ahead of the rest of the pack.
5. Allie Sacksen and Sparrow’s Nio: Allie and Sparrow’s Nio took top honors in the Fair Hill CCI2* last fall but haven’t quite been able to replicate their success at the top level yet. They do favor this dressage test, scoring more than four points better on it than their average, and ought to be in mid-pack with a 36.5 after the flat. Unfortunately, they average four rails and 6 time penalties over Marc Donovan courses, which will drop them down the ranks after the second phase. A quick and clear cross country with only 7.6 time penalties ought to bump them up again, and they’ll easily take the final spot in the top five.
THE DARK HORSE
Katherine Groesbeck and Oz the Tin Man: Katy and Oz the Tin Man originally hail from the West Coast and first made the trek east last year to compete at the Dutta Corp Fair Hill International. She ended up staying and working for Buck Davidson, and this pair has been present at the big shows on the East Coast ever since.
Katy and Oz the Tin Man will be right up with the leaders after dressage, although they don’t have any recent experience with this particular test. Katy and her horse have only attempted one Marc Donovan course at Rebecca Farm in 2013, where they had one rail and 4 time. They haven’t yet had more than two rails at this level — though they did have an uncharacteristic refusal at Millbrook — and have also occasionally brought home clear rounds, so could possibly move up after the show jumping this weekend.
While they ran into a bit of trouble this spring on the cross country, the pair seems to have straightened out any lingering issues. Clear rounds at Jersey Fresh, Bromont and Millbrook show that they’re back on track, and I think they’ll continue this trend here. Katy and Oz the Tin Man have also gotten quicker their last three runs, so there’s a good chance that with a fast, clear round, we’ll see this pair possibly cracking the top three.
Lauren Kieffer and Czechmate: This will be Czechmate’s first attempt at this level, and Czechmate has had a light year in 2014 to begin with, but this horse looks like a potential star for Lauren. Czechmate hasn’t had a stop or a rail on his record since 2011, when he was running Training. He generally scores in the 20s and low 30s in dressage, and Lauren has shown he can run double clear at Intermediate.
This weekend, Lauren will likely be looking to give him a good first experience at this level, and any kind of ribbon will be a cherry on top. Look out in the spring though, when Lauren’s ready to really turn him into a competitor.