The Fork has long been a staple in the U.S. spring calendar, and this year brings many changes to the iconic event as it swaps venues in North Carolina. Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring is now serving as host instead of the The Fork Stables in Norwood.
Tryon has been expanding their cross country course to what was previously a golf course in preparation for the World Equestrian Games next year, and this will be the first real preview of what the track will look like.
Additionally, a few changes to the spring schedule means that The Fork is no longer the only viable option as a final prep run for the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event.
In previous years, The Fork was the only three-star or Advanced held between two and four weeks out from Rolex, but Chattahoochee Hills now falls on the same weekend, while Fair Hill has moved their date from one to two weeks prior to Rolex, creating three options for riders headed to Lexington.
- The field in the CIC3* this year will only have 24 pairs, which makes it the smallest CIC3* field at this show since the FEI began keeping records in 2006.
- The past two winners were sitting in second place after dressage. Will this be the year that someone can lead wire-to-wire? Or will the winner come from behind again?
- In all three of her three-star starts on American soil, RF Scandalous has scored 41.5 or lower in dressage. In her only overseas start at Boekelo, she and Marilyn Little scored a 45.5. An average of 41.4 would put this pair at the head of the pack on day one.
- Caroline Martin and The Apprentice began their career together with a bang thanks to a dressage score of 44.3 two weekends ago at Carolina International. That equaled The Apprentice’s previous best CIC3* score, which came at The Fork with Buck Davidson in 2015.
- Cooley Cross Border has a strong average at this level of 44.8 but seems to pull his best scores in the Advanced divisions, knocking off the FEI equivalent of a 40.7 at Carolina. His three-star scores have been creeping upward with every start though, sneaking into the 50s at Pine Top CIC3* in February.
Show Jumping Powerhouses
- Cooley Cross Border has only one rail in 11 stadium rounds marring his perfect jump record at this level. He and Kim Severson have occasionally picked up one lone time penalty but are otherwise perfect in this phase.
- Vandiver and Doug Payne are a good bet for a flawless stadium round, having jumped 10 of their 12 Advanced or CIC3* starts completely fault-free.
- Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Fugitive added to their strong stadium record at Carolina, where a clear stadium round inside the time matched the five other faultless stadium rounds they’ve had in the past two years.
- RF Scandalous, The Apprentice and Rubens D’Ysieux all have yet to touch a rail at this level with their current rider in either one or two jump rounds.
Cross Country Machines
- Chelsea Kolman and Dauntless Courage may only have two Advanced/CIC3* starts under their belt, but they’ve been flawless across the country at both, finishing clear and inside the time.
- Never OutFoxed and Holly Payne shine in this phase, finishing 16 seconds or less over optimum in every clear CIC3* or Advanced run they’ve had in the past two years.
- In the past two years, Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Fugitive have only once had more than eight seconds of time penalties at the three-star or Advanced level.
- Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High have clocked times below this field’s average pace in each of their CIC3* starts since 2015.
PREDICTED WINNER: Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous
Keep Your Eye On…
- Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Fugitive
- Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border
- Phillip Dutton and I’m Sew Ready
- Doug Payne and Vandiver
- Caroline Martin and The Apprentice