It’s a blustery day here at the Carolina Horse Park as we kick off three full days of dressage at the Cloud 11 ~ Gavilan North Carolina International, which has quickly grown to be one of the most anticipated events of the spring season. Now in its fourth year, the event continues to raise the bar on everything from hospitality to the courses, and a large CIC3* field of 54 competitors are facing off for a $35,000 chunk of the $65,000 total in prize money.
After the first two sessions of CIC3* dressage, Jennie Brannigan and Nina Gardner’s Cambalda lead at the lunch break on 41.5, more than a 10-mark improvement on their test from Red Hills two weeks ago, where they ultimately finished in second place.
The 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding is on his comeback tour following a lengthy period of time off after Pau in 2015, and he definitely looked to have knocked more of the rust off today. EN and EquiRatings have both marked Jennie and “Ping” as a serious combination to watch for the weekend, and they are well on their after a strong start.
Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot sit second on 43.1, nearly bang on our expected mark for them of 43.0. The 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned and bred by Jacqueline Mars already has one CIC3* win under his belt this season at Red Hills, and he is also slated to compete in the CIC3* at Chattahoochee Hills next month as his final prep run before the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials.
Caroline Martin and Sherrie Martin’s The Apprentice round out the top three in the early going on 44.3 in the first time we’ve seen them partnered together at the three-star level. While she won’t be aiming the 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event next month, Caroline will be competing in her first CCI4* aboard Spring Easy.
Although the scoring seems to be on par with expected scores with only a 0.21 variation thus far, there does seem to have been a distinct advantage to riding in the first morning session. Riders who went before the first break on average scored 3.52 points better than expected, while those who went after ended up averaging 3.10 point above their expected scores.
Of all the riders who bettered their expected score this morning, only one, Jennie Brannigan on Cambalda, rode after the first break. Christina Klingspor is sitting at C and Bobby Stevenson is sitting at B.
Looking to the CIC2*, Cornelia Dorr and her own Louis M lead on 44.4, with Phillip Dutton and David Garrett’s Corazon in second on 48.4, and Will Coleman and Four Star Eventing Group’s OBOS O’Reilly in third on 51.6.
In the CIC*, Boyd Martin and Long Island T Syndicate’s Long Island T sit in first place on 35.5. Clayton Fredericks and FE Vindus, owned by Eckart Siewert, Amanda Bernhard and Diana Crawford, are second on 39.1, and Dana Cooke and Kingfisher Park’s FE Mississippi sit third on 41.1.
In addition to today’s very windy conditions (which are practically blowing cameras out of the photographer’s hands!) heavy thunderstorms rolled through the area last night, leading to some escaped horses taking their own self-guided tour of the venue. Thankfully, all horses made it safely back to their stalls!
We still have a full afternoon of dressage action to come, so stay tuned for much more. Remember that you can watch CIC3* dressage live on EQSportsNet. The next session starts at 1:26 p.m. EST. Many thanks as always to EN’s amazing data analyst Maggie Deatrick for crunching numbers today. Go Eventing.