EN’s Year in Review: Top Five Pairs in Cross Country for 2016

Welcome to the second post in our series highlighting the top five horses and riders in each phase at the Advanced, three-star and four-star levels from 2016. Recently we highlighted the top five dressage powerhouses among the American and U.S. based horses. Today we pay tribute to the top five cross country horses of 2016.

To be considered for EN’s Top Five in this category, we first began with horses that completed every cross country round they started and incurred no jump penalties or frangible penalties in any of their starts — in other words, a perfect jump penalty record for 2016. The horses also needed to have completed at least three cross country rounds this year, of which at least one must be a CCI, to be considered.

We then ranked the horses according to who averaged the fewest number of time penalties across the country.

Timothy Bourke and Luckaun Quality. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Tim Bourke and Luckaun Quality. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

FIFTH PLACE: Luckaun Quality

Jump Penalties: 0

Time Penalty Average: 5.73

Number of Runs: 3

This Irish duo has long been known for prowess on cross country, with Luckaun Quality’s enormous stride making it easy for this pair to lope across the country and still come home inside the optimum time. Although “Obie” ran only three times this year, he showed strong consistency in his pace.

Luckaun Quality began his season at the Carolina International CIC3*, putting in a solid run with 5.2 time penalties. He repeated his performance at The Fork CIC3*, again clocking in only 5.2 time. At Rolex in the mud, this horse demonstrated he had no problem with rough conditions, clocking in 6.8 time penalties, one of the faster rounds of the day.

Will Coleman and Tight Lines. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Will Coleman and Tight Lines. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

FOURTH PLACE: Tight Lines

Jump Penalties: 0

Time Penalty Average: 4.70

Number of Runs: 4

Although the winner of the 2015 Fair Hill International CCI2* didn’t move up to the top levels until July, he made a statement with Will Coleman in the four cross-country rounds he posted in the latter part of the year. Beginning with 7.2 time penalties in a clear round at his very first CIC3* during Great Meadow, “Phish” then put himself on the map by throwing down a 3.6-penalty round in the mud at Richland Park CIC3* to take the win.

Next up Will took him to the Plantation Field CIC3*, where he eased up a bit for 8.0 time penalties before posting a double clear round in his very first CCI3* at Fair Hill International. Keep an eye on this one, folks.

Katherine Coleman and Longwood at Bramham International. Photo by Libby Law Photography

Katherine Coleman and Longwood at Bramham International. Photo by Libby Law Photography.

THIRD PLACE: Longwood

Jump Penalties: 0

Time Penalty Average: 1.60

Number of Runs: 6

One horse who may be flying a bit under the radar is Longwood, who is ridden by British-based American rider Katherine Coleman. Longwood spent the spring season competing in the U.S. before heading back to Katherine’s home base in England for the rest of the year.

Beginning with a smashing run of only 3.6 time penalties at Red Hills in the CIC3*, “Woody” emphasized his ability by then posting one of only three double clear rounds in the Carolina CIC3*. He finished up his American trip with another double clear round at The Fork CIC3*.

Back to England in May, Longwood continued his streak with double clear rounds at Houghton Hall CIC3* in May and Bramham CCI3* in June. This pair finished the year with a more sedate pace at the Gatcombe Park CIC3* in the Event Rider Masters division, clocking in 6.0 time penalties.

James Alliston and Parker. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

James Alliston and Parker. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

SECOND PLACE: Parker

Jump Penalties: 0

Time Penalty Average: 1.52

Number of Runs: 5

Parker once again demonstrates his incredible consistency across the country by placing second in our rankings for the second year in a row. Unlike last year, Parker did accumulate a few time penalties at the beginning of the year but finished it out in his typical style.

Beginning the year at Twin Rivers in the Advanced, James Alliston took an easier pace across the country to accumulate 4.0 time penalties. Next up was Parker’s sixth consecutive appearance at Rolex, where he posted yet another clear round with only 3.6 time penalties, tying for the fifth fastest round on a day when not one horse made the optimum time.

Parker then returned to his tradition of double clears for the remainder of the year, knocking off Rebecca Farm CCI3*, Woodside CIC3*, and Galway Downs CCI3* all without any cross-country penalties. This horse is a beast.

Mark Burke and Prince William. Photo by Tim O'Neal.

Mary Burke and Prince William. Photo by Tim O’Neal.

FIRST PLACE: Prince William

Jump Penalties: 0

Time Penalty Average: 0.0

Average Seconds Under Optimum Time: 5.00

Number of Runs: 4

Prince William made his first CIC3* start of the year at Rebecca Farm CIC3*, where he and Mary Burke put in one of only two double clear rounds of the division, six seconds under the optimum time. Mary then took Prince William to Aspen Farms for the Advanced division, where they won Prince William’s debut at the level the previous year. This year they again won after clocking in four seconds under the optimum time.

Next up was their first CIC3* win at Woodside, where Prince William came home five seconds within the time. At Galway CCI3*, Prince William put in his final double clear round of the year with a round five seconds under. Despite being withdrawn prior to show jumping, Mary and Prince William had a perfectly flawless year in the cross country phase.

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