EN’s Year in Review: Top Five Pairs in Show Jumping for 2016

This series highlights the top five horses and riders in each phase at the Advanced, three-star and four-star levels from 2016. While we often recognize greatness over all three phases in our sport, EN believes we should also recognize strength in each phase. This series aims to give that recognition, highlighting horses and riders who have had particularly strong years in one phase.

We’ve already looked at top cross country horses and dressage powerhouses among the American and U.S.-based horses. Today we pay tribute to the top five show jumping horses of 2016.

To be considered for EN’s Top Five, we first began with horses with at least three show jumping rounds at this level who had no rails the entire year. We then ranked the horses according to the number of rounds that were jumped clear, with the horses who jumped the most clear rounds ranking higher.

Then the level of competition was considered, and the horses tied for number of runs were ranked according to the level of their CCI (or if no CCI was completed). Finally, if a tie still existed, we turned to time penalties, using that as the final tie breaker. Here we go!

Heather Morris and Charlie Tango. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Heather Morris and Charlie Tango. Photo by Sally Spickard.

FIFTH PLACE: Charlie Tango

Jump Penalties: 0

Time Penalty Average: 0

Number of Rounds: 4 (No  CCI)

As the only freshman horse at this level on the list, Charlie Tango displayed an impressive ability for the show jumping phase this year for a horse at such an early place in his career. He proved he could show jump both before and after the cross country phase, finishing the year with absolutely no faults in this phase with Heather Morris in the irons.

Right off the bat, this young horse proved he could jump after cross country with a double clear round in the Advanced at Galway Downs in March. Two weeks later he clocked in a clear round prior to the cross country at Twin Rivers, followed by a double clear in his first CIC3* at Copper Meadows in June. He finished the year with another clear round at the fall edition of the Copper Meadows CIC3*.

Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border. Photo by Jenni Autry.

FOURTH PLACE: Cooley Cross Border

Jump Penalties: 0

Time Penalty Average: 0

Number of Rounds: 4 (1 CCI3*)

In just his second year at the level, Cooley Cross Border managed to improve upon his almost flawless record from 2015, which included only two instances of one lone time penalty. This year, he continued his remarkable string of clear rounds and this time did it double clear each time. He has yet to have a rail at this level in his entire career.

Although he didn’t compete at this level until Millbrook, Cooley Cross Border put in a strong statement by delivering in a double clear round after running cross country. He and Kim Severson repeated that feat at the American Eventing Championships before heading to Morven Park CIC3*, where he jumped double clear again, this time before cross country. These two rounded out the year with a strong double clear at the Fair Hill CCI3* for the second year in a row.

Lauren Kieffer and Veronica. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Lauren Kieffer and Veronica. Photo by Jenni Autry.

THIRD PLACE: Veronica

Jump Penalties: 0

Time Penalty Average: 0.25

Number of Rounds: 4 (1 CCI4*)

Veronica’s strength in this phase is long established, last having dropped a rail in 2014. Although she is careful, she does incur a very occasional time penalty on her otherwise perfect record. Starting with the Advanced at Red Hills, Veronica proved jumping after the cross country phase was no issue, winning the division clear and inside the time. She then repeated that feat at The Fork CIC3*.

Then at Rolex CCI4* Lauren Kieffer and Veronica put in a very clutch clear round with their only time penalty of the year on a day when many rails fell. Their final show jumping round of 2016 came at Great Meadow CICO3*, with a double clear helping seal the deal for a team spot for Rio.

Lillian Heard and Share Option. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Lillian Heard and Share Option. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

SECOND PLACE: Share Option

Jump Penalties: 0

Time Penalty Average: 0

Number of Rounds: 4 (1 CCI4*)

Like Veronica, Share Option is an extremely experienced horse with established strength in the stadium phase. With the same number of clear rounds this year and both completing a CCI4*, Share Option gained his edge over Veronica with a record completely devoid of either rails or time penalties.

Lillian Heard and Share Option started the year out early at Pine Top Advanced with a clear round before cross country. At Carolina International, he repeated the double clear after cross country in the Advanced division. Next up was The Fork, where he again jumped clear in the Advanced before repeating the feat at Rolex.

Colleen Rutledge and Escot 6. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Colleen Rutledge and Escot 6. Photo by Jenni Autry.

FIRST PLACE: Escot 6

Jump Penalties: 0

Time Penalty Average: 0.29

Number of Rounds: 7 (1 CCI3*)

Escot 6 tops our show jumping list this year thanks to a prolific season of clear rounds. Although his record isn’t completely pristine due to two time penalties in one of his rounds, he still has two more clear rounds inside the time than his nearest competition.

Escot 6 and Colleen Rutledge began the year with clear round at Pine Top CIC3* before heading to Carolina International CIC3*, where they jumped a clear round but incurred two time penalties, their only penalties in this phase all year. They returned to staying inside the time at The Fork CIC3*

At Richland Park CIC3*, Escot 6 proved he could also jump a clear round after cross country. The mud at Morven Park CIC3*, the length of the Fair Hill CCI3* course and the grind of a long season at Ocala Jockey Club CIC3* all proved no match for him, as he churned out three additional double clear rounds.

Comments