We can always expect a proper show jumping track from Richard Jeffery, and he certainly didn’t disappoint this afternoon at the inaugural Ocala Jockey Club International Three-Day Event. Poles went flying on the CIC3* course, leading to a major shake-up and three fresh faces topping the leaderboard as we look ahead to tomorrow’s cross country.
Doug Payne and Debi Crowley’s Vandiver, who sat tied for third place on 41.7 after this morning’s dressage, jumped one of the nine clear rounds inside the time to take the overnight lead. Jon Holling and Constance Holling’s Downtown Harrison left the poles in the cups to move from eighth to second on 45.1, and Sara Kozumplik Murphy and Rubens D’Ysieux also jumped double clear to scoot from ninth to third on 45.7.
EN’s predicted winners this weekend, Doug and Vandiver are one step closer to taking home a serious chunk of prize money after a day that’s gone their way from the start. This morning the 12-year-old Trakehner gelding, better known as “Quinn,” delivered a personal best dressage test, and while he does trend towards clear show jumping rounds, it certainly wasn’t an easy afternoon. With his CIC3* first-timer Lysander also sitting inside the top 10, Doug is a very happy man tonight.
“Quinn is getting better and better in dressage, and I thought he was exceptionally good today — probably the most ridable he’s been yet,” Doug said. “About halfway through the test I was thinking ‘Wow, I actually can start to go for it a bit more.’ I can’t wait to see what comes in the future, but this is a great step forward for sure.”
Quinn finished 16th at the Dutta Corp Fair Hill International CCI3* last fall, and Doug said he didn’t see a reason to run him there again. “His weakest link in the last six months has been on the flat, and he’s had a lot of clear rounds in show jumping, but he was also rubbing rails. We took a lot of time through the summer and into the fall doing some straight show jumping and working on the flat,” Doug said.
“I figured that given the opportunity to run good quality horse trials that have a great course that it would be more beneficial for him in the end. We found out about this event, and I spoke to Clayton (Fredericks). He said it was going to be a great open galloping course, and it was one of those things that made a whole lot of sense to come here and then target Kentucky in the spring.”
While Jon and Downtown Harrison, a 12-year-old Trakehner/Thoroughbred gelding better known as “Will,” were originally planning to compete at Pau CCI4* last month, their fall plan changed suddenly after the horse had uncharacteristic refusals in the show jumping warm-up at Stable View’s Advanced horse trials. Jon ultimately withdrew from Stable View, and subsequently Pau, and re-routed to the Ocala Jockey Club’s event instead.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been as nervous going into a show jumping round as I was today,” Jon said. “We’ve spent the last six weeks trying to regroup and figure out what went wrong and going to work with Leslie (Law). This was our first big test to see if we had sorted it out. He’s my horse and my parent’s horse, so there’s really no pressure aside from the pressure I put on myself, which is tremendous.”
Jon, who is based about 30 minutes from the Ocala Jockey Club, echoed what we’re all thinking about the quality of the venue: “We have to say a huge thank you to Erik and Pavla Nygaard. I certainly haven’t been to every venue in the world, but I’ve been around awhile, and I have to say I can’t think of any place that is more beautiful than this place. Certainly there are some beautiful venues in the world, but this one would rival any of them.”
Sara Kozumplik Murphy has only had the ride on Rubens D’Ysieux for a handful of months, but they’ve quickly crafted a partnership that has them enjoying a spot in the top three at this inaugural CIC3*. Mikki Kuchta produced the 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding through the CCI3* level, and when she decided to take a step away from competing at the highest levels of the sport, Sara suddenly found herself with the opportunity to take the ride.
Since then, Sara’s longtime owner and supporter Edy Rameika has stepped in to help her buy “Ruben,” and they’re tackling their first CIC3* together as partners this weekend. “I’m not a catch ride type of person, but I really love this horse. … He’s a wicked cross country horse with a great brain, and Mikki has trained him beautifully on the flat,” she said.
“I have worked with Linda Zang for many years on the flat, and she has helped me a lot with my position and riding my horses more through. Since I came down to Florida I’ve also been working with Clayton over the past two weeks, and he has sharpened me up seriously and has made me a much better ring rider.”
Looking ahead to tomorrow, Mike Etherington-Smith’s cross country course is certainly a big ask. “We all have a lot to do tomorrow,” Jon said. “It’s a big track, but I think it’s one of the nicest CIC3* tracks I’ve seen. It’s probably the most galloping, big, proper track I’ve seen at this level.”
Sara, who is perhaps the founding member of the Mike E-S Fan Club, said she thinks the course is “magical.” But given that her partnership with Ruben is still a very new one, she plans to take a more conservative approach tomorrow.
“I’m a good cross country rider, but on my own horses, and I don’t know this horse that well. I’m going to go out and ride, but there are a couple places where I might be a little slower. I agree it’s a big, galloping course, and I’m certainly going to go out and give it a go, but I don’t think it’s fair to be too demanding of a horse I don’t know that well.”
As for whether our overnight leader Doug Payne plans to put the pedal down with Vandiver, he said: “I really don’t like losing.”
Looking to the rest of the CIC3* leaderboard after show jumping, Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF jumped double clear to move from 10th to fourth on 46.4. Dressage leaders Buck Davidson and Carlevo dropped two rails to slip to fifth on 46.7. Boyd Martin and Steady Eddie are still on their dressage score of 47.2 for sixth, and Lynn Symansky and Donner had one down to slip from fifth to seventh on on 48.4.
Buck and Doug both have two rides in the top 10. Petite Flower had one rail down to drop one spot on the leaderboard from seventh to eighth on 48.6. Lysander also had one rail but moved up two spots on the leaderboard to round out the top 10 on 52.0. Joe Meyer and Clip Clop jumped clear and inside the time to move from 14th to ninth on 49.6.
In addition to the pairs already mentioned, three more in the CIC3* division jumped double clear rounds: Leslie Law and Tre’ du Kernat (13th on 54.8), Colleen Rutledge and Escot 6 (14th on 55.2), and Ronald Zabala Goetschel on Wundermaske (18th on 61.7).
Click here to catch up on more of the day’s action in the morning report. Liz Halliday-Sharp sits first and second in the CCI* after the conclusion of dressage, leading with her own Deniro Z on 36.7 and followed by her own Elarona on 41.8. Allison Springer and her own Business Ben are third on 43.5. Click here for quotes from Liz.
The CCI2* did their dressage yesterday. Hannah Sue Burnett and Cooley Dream LLC’s Cooley Dream lead on 43.9, with Boyd Martin and Christine Turner’s Kyra in second on 44.9 and Sara Kozumplik Murphy and Edy Rameika’s L’Alezane in third on 47.0. You can read quotes from Hannah, Boyd and Sara in yesterday’s report.
You can watch cross country live all day tomorrow thanks to EQTV. The CCI* starts at 9:30 a.m. EST, followed by the CIC3* at 1:10 p.m. EST and the CCI2* at 2:45 p.m. EST. We’ll also be running live updates here on EN. Click here to catch up with all of EN’s #OJCInternational coverage thus far. Go Eventing.