You know it was an influential day of show jumping when riders with rails found themselves moving up the leaderboard. With the dust settled — literally — on this blustery day at The Fork in Norwood, North Carolina, Jennie Brannigan and Nina Gardner’s Cambalda took the lead in the big CIC3* on their dressage score of 42.8 after delivering one of the handful of double clear show jumping rounds in the division.
While 12 in all jumped clear rounds, only six managed to do it inside the tight time of 72 seconds around Chris Barnard’s twisty track. With multiple turns requiring hairpin rollbacks after verticals, we saw plenty of rails fall as riders tried to take inside lines to beat the clock. And the near gail-force winds only upped the ante, with planks and flags blowing off the jumps and the decorative ferns rolling around like tumbleweeds.
The horses and riders enjoying spots at the top of the leaderboard overcame the conditions. Bruce Davidson and Ballynoecastle RM executed a beautiful round with 1 time penalty to move up from fourth to second place on a score of 45.7. Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deborah Halliday’s Fernhill By Night led after dressage but pulled the second to last fence today in their race against the clock, though they’re still enjoying a spot inside the top three on a score of 45.8.
Mackenna Shea and her own Landioso, who hauled from California to compete at The Fork before tackling their first CCI4* at Rolex, pulled off the save of the day by far and are now sitting in fourth place to reward their efforts. When “Landi” found a long spot to the first fence of the tricky triple combination, Mackenna slipped the reins and smartly let the horse pick his way through. They ultimately jumped clear with 2 time penalties to move up from seventh on a score of 48.3.
Colleen Rutledge told her homebred CR “good boy” after he cleared the last fence on course, where they pulled one rail to move up to fifth place on 50.3 in their final preparation for the horse’s first four-star at Rolex. To show you just how much clear rounds caused movement on the leaderboard, Marilyn Little and Team Demeter’s RF Demeter moved all the way up from 16th to sixth place after jumping one of those six double clears.
Silvio Mazzoni, the USEF eventing team show jumping coach, watched attentively from the side of the ring as Boyd Martin and Steve Blauner’s Master Frisky started their round. Boyd and Silvio have been working hard on the show jumping with “Mikey,” and while the horse pulled a rail at the third fence, they still moved up from ninth to seventh place on a score of 50.9.
Lynn Symansky and her own Donner, who is notoriously spooky in busy atmospheres like the one we saw today, jumped a lovely clear round with 3 time penalties, moving from 13th to eighth place on 51.6. Phillip Dutton is having a hell of a weekend with Tom Tierney and Annie Jones’ Fernhill Fugitive as the horse prepares for Kentucky; the horse jumped beautifully despite pulling one rail, which moves them up to ninth on 51.7.
Michael Pollard and Ballingowan Pizazz round out the top 10 in the big CIC3* class on a score of 52.1 after a bit of a hairy moment at the final fence, a big blue vertical going toward the crowd of spectators. They pulled a rail there and picked up 2 time penalties to drop from sixth place.
In addition to the pairs already mentioned, the following combinations also jumped double clear: Julie Richards and Beaulieu’s Cayenne, 22nd; Boyd Martin and Crackerjack, 24th; Jessie Phoenix and A Little Romance, 25th; and Caroline Martin and Quantum Solace, 26th.
It was definitely a dramatic afternoon of show jumping to say the least. Santino had a refusal with Holly Payne at the triple bar after seeming a bit upset by the atmosphere. With this being Good Friday, large crowds were out enjoying the sunshine at the event today, so the rails were packed with spectators, which upset some of the horses.
Leah Lang-Gluscic and A.P. Prime parted ways at the second fence on course, a vertical jumping away from the crowd. It looked like “AP” stumbled on landing and couldn’t quite get his balance back, and Leah tumbled over his head. She was up right away and walking. In an ideal world, the event officials will allow her to go cross country HC tomorrow, as this is their final prep run before their first CCI4* at Kentucky.
The CIC2* is show jumping now, and I’m about to go tour the cross country course with designer Tremaine Cooper to bring you a full fence-by-fence preview. If you missed the Advanced show jumping report from this morning, be sure to click here to read all about how Lauren Kieffer is dominating both divisions. Stay tuned for much more from The Fork.
The Horse Pesterer is busy uploading videos from today’s rounds, and he’s already uploaded Jennie’s ride in the CIC3* this afternoon:
You can view more rides from the day as they are uploaded here.