There’s quite a bit of variety in the CIC3* division this weekend at the Event at Rebecca Farm, from experienced four-star horses readying for a fall campaign to horses that only have one or two runs under their belt at this level so far. Unlike the CCI3*, the CIC3* field draws almost exclusively from the West Coast competitors, with two Texas-based riders tossed in for variety.
For the CIC3*, the dressage test will be 2015 FEI 3*-B. The cross country course designer is Ian Stark, who also designs courses at Richland Park and Galway Downs and has been tapped to take over Carolina International next year. The show jumping course designer is Richard Jeffery, who most recently created the courses for Rolex and Great Meadow.
1. Tamie Smith and Mai Baum: Tamie might be sitting on one of the greener horses in the field for the level, but these two are hot off a strong spring campaign in their run for the U.S. Pan American Games team. Mai Baum most recently placed fourth in an extremely strong Great Meadow CIC3* field in only his second attempt at this level. Although he had some green moments, he will only grow stronger and steadier as he gains more experience.
This horse is really lovely on the flat, and if these two lay down anything close to their current average of 37.7 (that’s FEI, folks), they’ll end the phase one with an extremely comfortable lead over their nearest competition. Mai Baum hasn’t seen an Ian Stark course yet, but averaged only 5.6 time penalties over his two previous courses.
Ordinarily a very careful jumper, Mai Baum did pick up two rails over Richard Jeffery’s Great Meadow show jumping course in a very close, electric atmosphere. Even if he replicates that, his dressage prowess will give him the cushion he needs to still take home the blue with a score in the 50s.
2. Alyssa Phillips and Bliss III: Alyssa Phillips may be an unfamiliar name to some of our readers, but expect to become familiar with her very soon. Alyssa won NAJYRC CH-J* individual gold in 2011 at the young age of 14, then secured the ride on Exploring to help her learn the ropes at Intermediate. Now she’s brought the mare Bliss up through the levels, and they are tackling their first CIC3* this weekend.
Alyssa and Bliss have averaged an FEI score of 53.3 in their two starts thus far, which could be good enough for top three after the flat. This will be their first Ian Stark course, but they have run quickly across the country so far, averaging only 4.4 time penalties. An average that teeters on double clear for the show jumping should help them over their first Richard Jeffery course. These two should end up second, with a score in the mid-to-high 50s.
3. Barb Crabo and Eveready: Barb and her experienced campaigner are back in action this weekend. Eveready consistently places at the top, and has a habit of sneaking up and snatching victories when you least expect it. I wouldn’t put it past him to do it again this weekend.
Barb and Eveready haven’t performed this dressage test yet, but they average a 53.6 on the flat, which should give them a top four placing right off the bat. Eveready can be relied on for a swift cross country round, averaging only 6.0 time penalties across Ian’s courses. This horse is also extremely careful and usually jumps double clear over Richard Jeffery’s designs. Look for these two to finish in third on a scores in the high 50s.
THE DARK HORSE
Jen McFall and High Times: Jen is planning a trip to Blenheim CCI3* next, which will be this pair’s first trip overseas. Although the numbers keep her out of the top three, Jen and High Times started out the spring season with much improved form before a slight injury de-railed their plans to return to Kentucky.
All three of their phases improved this spring. Their dressage averages dropped by a whopping 14 points (FEI). They went from being around 45 seconds over optimum time to only three seconds over, and they jumped their first double clear show jumping round at the level. If they maintain their upward trajectory, this pair will be tough to beat.