Stable View Farm has stepped up to host Aiken’s inaugural Advanced horse trials this weekend. With all three phases running on one day tomorrow, this show will mimic the format of Advanced events held in countries like England. Only a handful of events in the U.S. use the one-day format for the Advanced levels, so competitors with multiple horses will be quite busy.
The dressage test is 2014 USEF A-B, the most commonly used test for Advanced divisions around the country, so a large majority of the competitors are familiar with it. Capt. Mark Phillips, who recently designed the new course at Tryon, has also created the cross country at Stable View. Richard Jeffery, the course designer for Rolex Kentucky CCI4*, is designing this weekend’s stadium course.
1. Jon Holling and Downtown Harrison: Downtown Harrison is competed very strategically, which means he sometimes flies a bit under the radar with Jon. With a veritable north meets south showdown occurring in Aiken this weekend, Jon will get a chance to prove that this horse is, as always, an extremely strong competitor.
Downtown Harrison averages a 26.3 on this test, a score that will likely put him inside the top three at the beginning of the day. Although he hasn’t recently jumped a Richard Jeffery course, his overall tendency in stadium is to put in a double clear. As with many in the field, he has no experience over a Capt. Phillips course, but averages 11.6 time penalties across the country. Even with those time penalties, this pair should end up in the top position with a score in the mid-to-high 30s.
2. Doug Payne and Vandiver: This pair has been in the mix more and more lately as they have solidified their partnership at the highest levels of the sport. With Doug willing to push the pace across the country, they’ve progressed from showing flashes of talent at this time last year to consistently being in the hunt for the win at each competition.
With an average of 30.2 on this test, Vandiver will be right in the top of the pack after dressage. Although he had one rail over Richard Jeffery’s course at Rolex, Vandiver is a careful jumper with Doug in the irons and tends to jump double clear. Their overall average across the country is only 9.2 time penalties, although they are getting faster with every outing, including putting in a 6.0 time penalty round over Capt. Phillips’ course at the American Eventing Championships. If they go closer to their average pace, this pair should squeak into second place with a score just under 40.
3. Phillip Dutton and I’m Sew Ready: Reunited once again, Phillip and I’m Sew Ready showed they haven’t skipped a beat in their partnership at Plantation Field, finishing third in the CIC3* after leading through two phases. With that first successful outing under their belt, Phillip is likely to pick up the pace across the country.
These two average a 31.4 on this test, which is nearly identical to their overall average together. This will be I’m Sew Ready’s first Richard Jeffery course, but he averages one rail overall. A quick cross country average of only 5.2 time penalties will aid them as they tackle the horse’s first Capt. Phillips course. A final score just over 40 would put them into third at the end of the day.
4. Boyd Martin and Welcome Shadow: Boyd confirmed to EN that he will be taking fan favorite Welcome Shadow across the pond to Pau in France to contest her first four-star in a couple of weeks. Stable View will be her final prep event, and a top-five finish would send her off in style.
This mare has really stepped it up on the flat this year, currently averaging a 33.2 on this test. A careful jumper, Welcome Shadow will take a tendency to jump double clear into her first Richard Jeffery stadium round. If she equals her overall time penalty average of 8.0 as she tackles her first Capt. Phillips course, she’ll end the weekend in fourth, with a score less than a point behind I’m Sew Ready.
5. Phillip Dutton and Mr. Candyman: We can’t forget about the winner of the Plantation Field CIC3*, and Mr. Candyman is just now hitting his stride. With more experience under his belt and as one of Phillip’s primary Advanced horses for the fall season, he should be able to keep the momentum going as he heads to Fair Hill.
Mr. Candyman averages a 30.5 on this test, which should put him in the top bunch. This horse does average one rail and one time penalty overall in the stadium phase, which would drop him down a bit. He’ll maintain his strong placing across the country if he matches his overall time penalty average of only 6.0. A score less than half a point behind Welcome Shadow should have him rounding out the top five.
THE DARK HORSE
Allison Springer and Arthur: Arthur and Allison were a bit handicapped at the AEC by being the very first pair to tackle a brand new Advanced course that turned out to be very difficult to make the time. This pair led the dressage at the AEC and delivered the best test of the American contingent at Rolex this year, plus tied for the lead at Carolina after the first phase. Their dressage prowess is legendary, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them on top after the first phase here.
It’s the next two phases that can be tricky for these two. If Arthur puts in a strong stadium round and Allison can use her experience to guide him quickly and cleanly across the country, this pair will end the weekend right near the top of the leaderboard.
Whitney Mahloch and Military Mind: Expect to see Whitney Mahloch and Military Mind near the top of the leaderboard in the next few years, as this young pair has already risen to the occasion by leading the Richland Park CIC3* through two phases in their first CIC3*.
In three attempts at this level, Whitney and Military Mind have scored in the low 30s or below on the flat and finished clear and inside the time on cross country twice. Stadium appears to be the phase that has yet to fall into place, although a clear round with only one time penalty at Chattahoochee Hills in April shows that the ability is there. Once this pair has dialed in the show jumping, they’ll be serious contenders.