Getting the job done, and quickly, was the order of the day here at the Boekelo CCIO3*. Honest horses and scrappy riders came out on top with time playing the secondary sorting hat. There were only four double-clear rounds out of 85 starters, owing to the twisty, at-times-claustrophobic track.
Exhibit A: Lauren Kieffer and Landmark Monte Carlo‘s massive leap up the score board from 46th after dressage into the top 10 thanks to a swift, efficient cross-country round. Lauren told us yesterday that while “Patrick” may not have the flamboyant razzle-dazzle it takes to win in this stacked sandbox, he is the “broke-est” horse she’s ever ridden and that came in handy today.
The track was a constant test of “Are you listening? Are you still listening? What about now?” and as predicted, Patrick responded with an enthusiastic “yes ma’am,” adding only 1.2 time penalties to his dressage score of 48.6.
Our next best-placed American pair Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF moved from 28th to 14th, booking it around the course to finish with only 5.2 penalties. They had a foot-perfect pass where I saw them at the first water complex, making a quick getaway on the other side.
Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous were the U.S.’s second pair out on course and finished as our third best-placed pair, picking up 9.6 time penalties to head into show jumping in 24th position.
The footing this morning was a different story from what it was this afternoon — we were all a bit worried when there seemed to be so much trouble out on course early on. Later on, thankfully, the sun came out and sucked a lot of the wet out of the turf, but running on the slick ground may have slowed them down slightly.
Leslie Threlkeld, a true EN hero, got up at 4 in the morning to post updates from the livestream. Since I was out on course bouncing around and snapping photos I only saw a jump or two at a time, and the majority of the announcing was in Dutch, so it was tough to get a clear picture of what was going on. Of Marilyn and “Kitty,” Leslie summed up their go as “one heck of a ride.”
Jon Holling and Downtown Harrison are the next U.S. pair down the standings, finishing with 13.2 time for 30th place heading into show jumping. Leslie T. says they had a sticky moment at the first water, and that he was “honest to jump the brush after stumbling up the bank.” He looked fantastic where I saw him late on the course, at a gigantic ditch and wall, and Jon must be over the moon that he has a horse with so much talent and drive.
Buck and his team ride Copper Beach, who currently sit in 36th, were the third pair out on course and were very much trailblazing their way around. Buck had to work for it through the first water and took the long route at the second but they came home clear, looking like stars the rest of the way. Today was a great result for this promising partnership and they’re surely a better team for the experience.
Liz Halliday-Sharp and HHS Cooley picked up 23.2 time to finish in 41th place.
Marilyn Little and RF Quarterman picked up 11.6 time to move into 42nd place.
Lauren Kieffer and Vermiculus picked up 15.2 time for 43rd place.
Buck Davidson and Carlevo had 26.4 time for 44th place.
Canadian torchbearers Lindsay Traisnel and Candar van het Neerveld had 38.4 time for 55th (but were one of the best goes through the troublesome #7 combination that I saw).
And Katherine Coleman and Longwood collected 20 jumping and 18.4 time to finish 58th.
With an estimated 60,000 spectators (many of them registering somewhere on the tipsy-to-plastered spectrum, as bar after bar lined the galloping lanes), every North American horse who competed here this weekend will come away with the invaluable experience of competing in an atmosphere that will serve them well in future international competition. And of the 49 horse/rider combinations who made it around without jump penalties today, 10 of them were from our side of the pond. How exciting is that?
On non-American fronts…
Australia’s Chris Burton and Monarchs Exclusive clawed their way from 5th after dressage to 1st after cross-country, with New Zealand’s Jesse Campbell and Kaapachino and France’s Astier Nicolas and Spes Addit’Or on their heels.
Ireland now leads the Nations Cup Team standings (157.7 points), with New Zealand in 2nd (158 points) and the U.S. having moved from 4th after dressage to 3rd (170.1 points).
Top 20 after Boekelo Cross Country:
The final horse inspection takes place Sunday morning at 9 a.m. Dutch time, with show jumping to begin at 11 a.m.
Go Team USA. Go Eventing!