Boyd Martin should debut a new horse every year at Rolex if he’s going to continue to lay down dressage tests like this. Trading Aces looked superb in the first four-star test of his career, scoring a 47.5 to move into eighth place as the final horse before the lunch break here on Day 2 of dressage at Rolex. Aside from a few naughty moments where Oscar bucked during his changes, the test was very good, with the horse looking relaxed and obedient throughout. Boyd finished in third place at Rolex last year with Otis Barbotierre in the horse’s four-star debut, and he’s set himself up for a repeat performance this year with Oscar. Jonelle Richards and The Deputy also performed a brilliant test, and are sitting in 10th place on a 52.7. This is the horse’s first four-star, and I thought he handled the atmosphere very well. Jonelle’s test had some lovely moments, and aside from one break to the trot during a canter serpentine, this was very well done.
Ronald Zabala-Goetschel and Wise Equestrian Master Rose kicked things off for the second group of riders today, and they just barely scooted into the ring at the last possible second after the bell rang. The horse struggled a bit in the canter work, but overall I thought this was a very good test for Ronald. Also, Big Boy looked fabulously turned out; the horse was absolutely shining in the sunlight. Kudos to Ronald’s groom! Big Boy made mincemeat of the CIC3* course at The Fork earlier this month and should easily romp around the cross-country course tomorrow. Emily Renfroe and Walk The Line were the second to last to ride before the lunch break. This pair is making their four-star debut at Rolex this weekend, and suffered the same fate as Lynn Symansky and Donner yesterday when Emily struggled with the halt and had a tough time pulling the test together after that. I thought she recovered well under such pressure; the two are sitting in a 30th place on a 65.8.
The real heartbreaker of the morning was Erin Sylvester and No Boundaries. Bucky spooked badly while circling the arena before the test, which turned out to be a precursor for how the rest of their performance would fare. Erin did her best to settle the horse and get the test back on track, but Bucky was tense and unresponsive throughout. Considering their brilliant performance here at Rolex last year when this pair finished 13th, I know Erin has to be crushed that things did not go her way today in the little white box. But Erin is tough and this horse is fantastic; they will be back to fight another day. Erin and No Boundaries are in 34th place on an 86.3. We now have eight rides in the 40s going into the afternoon session. Lindsey Oaks and Enchantez will kick things off after the lunch break at 1:30 p.m. We still have some exciting rides yet to come, with William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning set to ride in the next group, and Andrew Nicholson and Quimbo and Phillip Dutton and Mighty Nice scheduled as the respective final rides of the day.