Hold onto your hats, because WEG was only the beginning of an action-packed fall season. We had one off day, then Plantation Field began dressage for the CIC2* on Wednesday. In the next five weeks, we have four heavily populated three-stars on the East Coast, plus two Advanced events and a three-star on the West Coast. So buckle up!
Mike Etherington-Smith is now entering his fourth year designing at Plantation Field, firmly stamping his style on the course. Chris Barnard designs the show jumping, which often shakes up the standings over the signature dark footing.
- For the past four runnings of the Plantation Field CIC3*, the winner has been in the top three after dressage.
- Only three of 198 starters since 2014 have finished on their dressage score; all three of those pairs finished inside the top four.
- At least one pair has made the time in each of the last four runnings of this event, with five pairs making it last year. This averages out to 6.5% of cross-country starts; with 46 pairs entered, three are estimated to come home within the time this year.
- Allison Springer has found a solid dressage powerhouse in Lord Willing, who had been solidifying his grasp of the first phase all year. In his first three starts at the level, he just missed the 70% mark but has scored in the 20s for his last four tests. His average of 29.1 penalties is the low mark in the field.
- FE Ophelia is making her first start of the year with Clayton Fredericks, but in her first four starts at the level last fall, she scored over 70% in three of them. This pair has an average of 29.7 penalties in four tests.
- Allison Springer has another potential dressage star in Business Ben, who is making only his third start at the level and first start at 3*. He has yet to break into the 20s but averages 31.5 in his two starts.
- Olney Uncle Sam is another stellar gray for Emily Beshear, who broke into the 20s in his last outing at Millbrook with a personal best of 25.7. He has otherwise averaged a 31.5 at the level.
- Mara DePuy and Congo Brazzaville C have started to hit their stride on the flat, breaking the 70% barrier more consistently than they did in the horse’s first year at Advanced. Their average of 32.5 would keep them in the hunt right off the bat.
Show Jumping Powerhouses
- Sportsfield Candy has kept the rails up in every one of of his six show jumping rounds with Phillip Dutton in the saddle. He has incurred a time penalty or two in three of the six, but the colored poles have all stayed in the cups.
- Lord Willing has incurred one rail in seven rounds at the level under Allison Springer, with an occasional time penalty added.
- Mara DePuy and Congo Brazzaville C are strongest in the show jumping phase, where they have had only two rails in 14 Advanced/3* starts.
- Buck Davidson has averaged only 7.75 seconds over optimum time on Archie Rocks since taking the reins this spring. In four Advanced/CIC3* completions, they’ve been inside optimum once and added only one second on another occasion.
- Galloway Sunrise and Fylicia Barr have quietly racked up an extremely solid cross country record in five Advanced/CIC3* starts in the last 14 months. With three of their five finishes only four seconds or less over optimum, they have potential to finish inside the time this weekend.
- Since Phillip took over the ride in 2018 while Kevin Keane recovered from injury, Sportsfield Candy has averaged a pace only 12.5 seconds slower than the fastest ride of the day. This is a significant decrease from the 2016 season when Phillip rode the horse, which was on average 48.5 seconds slower than the fastest ride.
- Palm Crescent and Meghan O’Donoghue are another pair who have picked up the pace, averaging only 12 seconds over optimum at their two clean Advanced/CIC3* runs in 2017/2018, versus an average of 29.25 in four Advanced/CIC3* starts in 2016.
Jack of All Trades
- Pfun is returning to the level for the first time since finishing Kentucky in 2017 with Will Faudree, and is one to watch out for. Their expected dressage average of 35.6 will keep them in play but well behind the leaders, but an average of only 0.38 penalties per show jumping round at the Advanced/CIC3* level and an average pace only 19.14 seconds behind the cross country leaders could see him climb the rankings through the weekend.
- Paddy the Caddy with Erin Sylvester are another pair to watch out for, averaging 33.7 in the dressage phase, 0.43 penalties in the show jumping phase at Advanced/CIC3*, and a pace of 20.86 seconds behind the fastest rides on cross country.
PREDICTED WINNER: Meghan O’Donoghue and Palm Crescent
Keep Your Eye On …
- Phillip Dutton and Sportsfield Candy
- Emily Beshear and Olney Uncle Sam
- Will Faudree and Pfun
- Buck Davidson and Archie Rocks