Richland Park is always a very popular event, and this year is proving to be no exception, with entries filled only a week after the opening date. The three-star division is extremely strong in terms of numbers, with a nearly 50 percent increase in entries over last year’s CIC3* division. This fall is bound to be an exciting time for the U.S. as the ranks swell at the thre-star level.
Richland’s geographical location means it is a big draw from all over the country, and a few pairs are even making the trek out from the west. Most notable East Coast names have shown up this weekend, with the exception of Phillip Dutton and Boyd Martin (who are hosting a symposium in Pennsylvania this Sunday). The CIC3* field as a whole is fairly experienced with only three horses who have never run an Advanced, each with more experienced riders.
The dressage test will be 2015 FEI 3*-B, which was performed at Carolina International and The Fork earlier this spring. The cross country course designer is Ian Stark, who generally designs out west for courses like Rebecca and Galway Downs. The show jumping course designer is Marc Donovan, who we recently saw at Millbrook and Bromont.
1. Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM: Reggie is the equine equivalent of the energizer bunny, apparently, as he just keeps winning and winning and winning. This weekend he’ll go head-to-head with Cambalda in a showdown reminiscent of The Fork earlier this spring. While Cambalda may have taken the win in April, I’m predicting the cards to fall Reggie’s way here at Richland.
Buck and Reggie average a 48.0 on this particular dressage test, which is a few points higher than their typical performance. A double clear round over Marc Donovan’s show jumping course should inch them up the ranks. While these two haven’t tackled an Ian Stark course in recent years, they are very quick across the country, typically averaging only 0.8 time penalties. Finishing on a score in the high 40s should move them ahead of Cambalda for the win.
2. Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda: Richland was where Jennie and Cambalda began their undefeated fall season last year, and no one should be surprised if this pair ends up in the pole position this year too. Cambalda is headed to Pau later this fall to contest another four-star, so look for Jennie to be making sure all systems are go.
Always consistent on the flat, Jennie and Cambalda knocked it out of the park with a 42.8 the only time they performed this test earlier this year at the Fork. Another horse who always jumps double clear over Marc’s courses, Cambalda will sit at or near the top after show jumping. This pair did average 7.2 time penalties over Ian’s Richland course last year, which is double their typical average pace. This would drop them into second position, with a final score just under 50, comfortably ahead of the rest of the field.
3. Will Coleman and OBOS O’Reilly: Will and OBOS O’Reilly have been flying somewhat under the radar, doing their homework at dressage shows and quietly getting better and better. OBOS O’Reilly has come a long way on the flat in the past year, which has made him more competitive as time goes on. With a trip overseas to Blenheim looming, Will can look forward to being competitive in all three phases.
OBOS O’Reilly hasn’t performed this dressage test yet, but his current average sits at a 52.8. This horse is another who is likely to jump double clear over Marc Donovan’s designs, bumping him up the placings. Will hasn’t yet taken this horse over an Ian course, but together the two average a swift 4.8 time penalties. A similar effort will leave this pair in third on a score in the mid-to-high 50s.
4. Buck Davidson and Copper Beach: The U.S. has quite the contingent headed overseas later this year, and Copper Beach is a part of the group headed to Boekelo. Buck has been clear that this is a horse who needs to build confidence throughout the season, and he’ll be looking for a solid run at Richland to build a foundation on for later this fall.
Although Copper Beach typically scores in the high 40s, he averages a 51.6 on this particular test. Jumping double clear over Marc Donovan’s courses will be key to a top placing this weekend, and Copper Beach has proven that he has the chops for that. This horse has tackled two Ian Stark courses at Galway and Tattersalls and averaged only 6.4 time penalties between the two. Buck will take another top four placing with this horse, just a whisker behind Will and OBOS O’Reilly.
5. Kim Severson and Fernhill Fearless: Fernhill Fearless recently returned to competing at the Advanced level with a bang at Millbrook, taking second in a huge division of top quality horses. Kim and her 2014 World Equestrian Games partner will once again be back at the top this weekend.
This pair hasn’t yet tried one of the new 2015 3* tests, but overall their average of 51.3 should set them up in stalking position. Fernhill Fearless averages one rail when attempting Marc Donovan courses, which will help him hold his position in a weekend when many riders will have one or more rails. These two have never tackled an Ian course together but average 5.6 time penalties across the country, which should put them into the top five with a score just over 60.
6. Mikki Kuchta and Rubens D’Ysieux: Rubens D’Ysieux will be attempting his first CIC3* this weekend after a successful weekend at Millbrook. He ran his first Advanced at Pine Top earlier this year, then stepped back to the two-star level for more miles before making the jump back to Advanced.
This horse appears to be quite nice on the flat, averaging a 48.0 in his two tests thus far. Most recently at Millbrook, Rubens D’Ysieux jumped double clear over Marc Donovan’s show jumping course. With the horse new to the level, Mikki has been taking her time across the country, and if she matches the 16.4 time penalties acquired at Millbrook, she’ll maintain a spot in sixth, finishing on a score in the mid-60s.
7. Ellen Doughty-Hume and Sir Oberon: Ellen and her own Sir Oberon are beginning their fall campaign this weekend, with the ultimate goal being a trip back to the Dutta Corp Fair Hill International. We last saw them at Great Meadow in the CIC3*, and this will be their first outing since placing in the top 10 there.
Ellen and Sir Oberon haven’t performed this test yet, but average a 52.6 for the level. They do average one rail over Marc Donovan’s courses, and a time penalty average of 9.6 over Ian’s courses will move them up into the top 10. They should finish seventh on a score in the mid-60s.
8. Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High: This will be a good weekend for Pan American team alternates to shine, and Selena is no exception. After traveling to Toronto to be the reserve for the Canadian team, this pair is back on track for a fall CCI.
Selena and Foxwood High have done some serious homework on the flat this year, and it’s paying off, as their average of 50.5 on this particular test is nearly seven points better than their typical score. Foxwood High does tend to average two rails over Marc’s show jumping courses, but makes up for it with only 8 time penalties over Ian’s cross country. Selena and this horse will finish in eighth, with a score in the mid-to-high 60s.
9. Sally Cousins and Tsunami III: Sally and her ever-stalwart partner Tsunami are back at it for the first time since Rolex and will waste no time picking up a top 10 placing. Tsunami tends to rise to the top through her jumping prowess, and this weekend will be no exception.
Tsunami is not the most patient horse on the flat,and averages a 59.8 for this level. But she makes up for it in the jumping, averaging just one rail and 2 time penalties over Marc Donovan’s courses. A very swift round with only 2 time penalties across Ian Stark’s course will put this pair into ninth, with a score around a point behind Foxwood High.
10. Waylon Roberts and Kelecyn Cognac: Waylon and this horse have been fairly consistent all year, and with a third place finish at Bromont in June, they seem to have sorted out their partnership. Despite sometimes struggling to pick his feet up over the colored poles, Kelecyn Cognac is solid on the flat and strong on the cross country, which will help him sneak into the top 10 this weekend.
Kelecyn Cognac averages a 56.5 when performing this test. An average of two rails over Marc’s show jumping course might bump him down a bit. However, a swift run across the country with an overall average of 4.4 time penalties will move this pair up again. Waylon and Kelecyn Cognac should finish just inside the top 10 with a score in the high 60s.
THE DARK HORSE
Ronald Zabala and Che Mr. Wiseguy: Ronald is making his first CIC3* start in the U.S. on this horse since 2010, when he withdrew from The Fork after dressage. Ronald and Che Mr. Wiseguy did tackle their first three-star course since 2009 earlier this year at Campo de Mayo in Brazil, winning it handily on a final score of 60.8. If they match that same score this weekend, they could climb as high as the top five.
Caroline Martin and Center Stage: Caroline Martin has become a familiar face at this level, but she’s entered in the three-star with two horses new to the level this year, with Spring Easy moving up in the spring and Center Stage doing his first Advanced at Millbrook.
Center Stage performed quite admirably in his debut at this level, scoring sub-50 on the flat (once converted to FEI scoring), jumping a clear show jumping inside the time, and clocking in at 10.4 time penalties on a course that was difficult for time. If Center Stage continues to develop along these lines, he could be a big contender for Caroline moving forward.
Emily Beshear and Shame on the Moon: Emily and Shame on the Moon have a ticket in their name to Blenheim right now, and the flashy grey mare could really make a splash overseas. Shame on the Moon is fairly young and still maturing, but shows flashes of brilliance in all three phases.
This pair is a bit all over the board in terms of dressage scores, dazzling with scores as low as 41.6, but also sometimes scoring in the mid-50s. In their last start at Bromont, they posted their first double clear cross country round at this level, and while show jumping hasn’t come easy, they’ve proven they have the ability to jump double clear. If Emily can bring all three phases together in one weekend, they will be right up at the top of the leaderboard.