EN’s Year in Review: Top Five Pairs in Cross Country for 2017

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 2017. Yesterday 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 2017.

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 2017. 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.

Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High. Photo by Amy Dragoo Photography.

FIFTH PLACE: Foxwood High

Jump Penalties: 0

Time Penalty Average: 3.43

Number of Runs: 7

Foxwood High and Selena O’Hanlon started the year off a bit slower and then ended by picking up the pace, ultimately winning the CCI3* at Fair Hill, the first time a Canadian has won the division.

These two started their season at Rocking Horse Advanced, accumulating 4.8 time penalties. At Red Hills, they had a speedy 2.0 time penalties to help win the Advanced division. Next up was the WEG venue at The Fork CIC3*, where they had a solid clear round with 4.8 time penalties. The two finished their spring season at the Rolex CCI4*, with a clear round and 10.4 time.

Foxwood High and Selena came out guns blazing for the fall season, beginning with a clear round 3 seconds inside the time at the Great Meadow CICO3*, followed by another clear round at Plantation Field CIC3*, this time 6 seconds inside the time. Their crowning achievement this fall was the win at Fair Hill CCI3*, helped by their round only 4 seconds over the optimum.

Doug Payne and Vandiver. Photo by Libby Law.


Jump Penalties: 0

Time Penalty Average: 3.37

Number of Runs: 7

Doug Payne and Vandiver had a very good year in the second phase, finishing inside the time on three occasions and finishing fifteen seconds or less over optimum all but once.

These two started the year at Pine Top CIC3*, putting in the fastest round of the day after finishing 11 seconds under optimum. Vandiver followed it up with a quick but not lightning-fast round at Carolina in the CIC3*, finishing 12 seconds over optimum for 4.8 time penalties. At The Fork CIC3*, the WEG venue for 2018, they equaled the fastest round in the CIC3*, finishing 3 seconds under optimum. Their fall season concluded at Rolex Kentucky CCI4*, where Vandiver had a very solid 5.2 time penalties.

After a break while Doug mended from a broken collarbone, Vandiver next appeared at Millbrook, clocking in a slower round with 8.4 time penalties. Doug then put the pedal to the metal for the American Eventing Championships, proving his earlier run at the venue wasn’t a fluke with a clear round 9 seconds inside the time. The pair rounded the year our with a trip across the pond to Blenheim, finishing with 5.2 penalties in the CCI3*.

Kylie Lyman and Da Vinci Code. Photo by MWL/Hoofclix.com.

THIRD PLACE: Da Vinci Code

Jump Penalties: 0

Time Penalty Average: 3.20

Number of Runs: 3

Da Vinci Code is flying under the radar after he had a strong spring season. A clear run with only 5.2 penalties at Pine Top CIC3* marked a solid start to the year. At Carolina CIC3*, where time was extremely difficult to make this year, Da Vinci Code and Kylie Lyman came close, accumulating only 3.2 time penalties. Then Da Vinci Code established his cross-country talent over the Bromont CCI3* course, where he was only 3 seconds over optimum time.

Matthew Brown and Super Socks BCF. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.


Jump Penalties: 0

Time Penalty Average: 2.67

Number of Runs: 3

Super Socks BCF and Matt Brown were coming off a high in 2016 with a win at the inaugural CIC3* at the Ocala Jockey Club, and clearly had a goal in mind. Choosing to run at a slower pace in their first run of the year, they accumulated 7.6 time penalties at the Pine Top CIC3*.

That would be the slowest they’d go all year. At Carolina, they pressed the pace in the Advanced and managed the fastest round of the day over a hard-to-make-time track, finishing only one second over optimum time. At Rolex, Super Socks BCF became a super hero after finishing with the second fastest round of the day, fastest of all the American riders.

Frankie Thieriot Stutes and Chatwin. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.


Jump Penalties: 0

Time Penalty Average: 0.27

Number of Runs: 3

Chatwin had an abbreviated year due to his rider’s growing family, but Frankie Theriot-Stutes quietly assembled a supremely solid spring season with this young horse.

This pair began the year at Twin Rivers, running clear in the Advanced division while finishing 7 seconds under the optimum time. They continued the pattern at the Galway Downs CIC3*, this time finishing 17 seconds under optimum en route to a clear round.

After a monsoon at Jersey Fresh caused Frankie to withdraw prior to the cross country, Chatwin re-routed to the Bromont CCI3*, where he finished only two seconds over the optimum time in his first CCI3*, marking the third-fastest round of the day.