Stephanie Böhe was not on my short list to win the Boekelo CCI3*. She was not on my long list. She’s 23 years old but could pass for a Pony Clubber, and throughout the weekend her mount Haytom always looked like he was this close to running away with her. (I think their partnership is best expressed by this Libby Law photo from cross country yesterday: Haytom may be tough, but Stephanie is tougher.)
Boekelo was her first CCI3* attempt, although she and the 14-year-old Holsteiner gelding have been on fire of late in the CIC3* realm. A couple weeks ago they won the CICO3* at Waregem, an event in Belgium notable for its hilly cross country track, beating out several of the same names that appeared on Boekelo’s start list.
Even after leaping from 7th after dressage into 1st on the wings of a double-clear cross country trip, today nothing seemed certain. Stephanie was taking whole-hearted tugs on the big, powerful horse throughout and by the time they cross cantered into the triple I assumed they were probably doomed.
But Haytom took care of business, and Stephanie kept her eye fiercely on the prize. They made it through the finish flags fault-free, turning in one of 11 double-clear rounds we saw from 60 show jumping starters.
“What’s this German chick’s story?” I asked around the press room, being the only American in the mix, and was informed that Stephanie is a legit, if youthful, force. She is at the forefront of the new wave of talented German eventing machines coming up through Europe’s Young Rider/Pony programs, who are coming for us all.
“These new kids, they make Michael Jung look stupid,” one photographer told me. “In a few years, watch out.”
Good to know.
On Stephanie’s heels heading into show jumping were Lauren Kieffer and Meadowbrook’s Scarlett, lurking just 0.6 point behind. They cantered into the ring with ice in their veins but had an unlucky rail, which bumped them to 4th in the tightly-bunched leaderboard queue.
But you know what this Germany plus one riff-raff can’t take away from you, Scarlett, you perfect perfect princess?
Manners. The common decency and basic respect for your country to not lose your freaking mind completely during the national anthem.
Pffft. Commoners. You’ll get ’em next time, ladies!
Ellie MacPhail and RF Eloquence finished 23rd as the U.S.’s second highest placed combination — today they added one rail and one time fault to their score for a total of 70.4. This was Ellie’s first overseas competition, and she and “Ricky Bobby” will be departing Boekelo with a serious accumulation of eventing SkyMiles that they’ll no doubt be cashing in on in the future.
Tamie Smith‘s prodigious 8-year-old Dempsey will also be heading back to the States on Wednesday with a college degree in Eventing Abroad. The pair picked up 8 faults over today’s show jumping syllabus of atmosphere and rideability after a long, hard day of cross country. They finished in the top third of the field, in 32nd, and the future is bright for this pair.
“His eyes are popping out of his head,” Tamie says of Dempsey’s Boekelo experience. “I can’t wait until he goes to a normal horse show at home because he’s going to be like a broke plow pony.”
“I thought all three riders came in here and did good, professional jobs,” Coach David O’Connor said “It’s always difficult, going fast on that kind of course, to come back and jump a clear round and I thought all three were good.”
I asked him about the takeaway from Boekelo 2016.
“This is the first time Ellie has competed overseas, so that was a good experience for her, and Tamie’s young horse is exciting for the future, he’s only 8. And Lauren — that’s our best individual placing at Boekelo in 20-some odd years. So it’s good.”
We’ll second that! Go USA eventing.
Boekelo CCI3* Final Individual Top 20:
Boekelo Nations Cup Top 3:
Germany was announced winner of 2016 FEI Nations Cup Series.