Time made all the difference in the CCI2* at the Dutta Corp Fair Hill International, with Jennie Brannigan and Stella Artois jumping one of the nine clear rounds inside the time in the division to just edge Emily Beshear and Silver Nighty Lady for the top spot on the leaderboard after cross country.
After Emily and Silver Night Lady jumped clear with 2.0 time penalties, Jennie and Stella Artois could only afford one second over the optimum time of 8 minutes, 49 seconds to take the lead. The 8-year-old Holsteiner/Thoroughbred mare Jennie owns with Beth Battel was foot perfect today to beat the clock and storm to first on 44.5.
“My main goal was just to give the horse a good go. … She’s always been the horse who probably is one of the most talented horses I have, but I’ve yet to have that day where you put it all together. I didn’t even look at my watch the last two minutes because my main focus was really to give the horse a good go and just hopefully be as quick as I could. I’m just really trying to enjoy the fact that it was a good go for her and a safe day,” Jennie said.
“The mare is a very bold horse and very honest. The only problem I’ve ever had on her was at Jersey Fresh when she fell at that final combination, so for me it’s just about rideability.”
Emily and Deep Purple Eventing’s Silver Night Lady now sit just 0.5 penalties behind Jennie and Stella Artois in second place on 45.0. “I thought it looked like (the course) was one that was going to allow for a lot of galloping, but you definitely had to make sure that you had the communication for the technical jumps,” Emily said.
“There were plenty of big jumps. I think it proved whether a horse is going to be able to move up to the next level, and I think we definitely had nearly perfect ground at Fair Hill, so that seemed to make it easier for the horses at the end to keep galloping,” Emily said.
Emily added that she thought Derek de Grazia’s course rode very well: “It definitely encouraged forward riding, but I feel like Derek really set us up to be successful in our forward riding and gave you approaches that made you sit up and balance while you went forward.”
Lauren Kieffer and Landmark’s Monaco, a 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse/Thoroughbred stallion owned by Jacqueline Mars, jumped clear and inside the time to move up one spot on the leaderboard to third place. With two top-10 finishes at CCI2* events both in the U.S. and England, Landmark’s Monaco is very competitive at this level and proved that once again on Derek’s course today.
“It was a very instinctual course because the ground changed so much, and certainly jumping into combinations your eye would see something but the ground would change and it would disappear, so you actually had to ride off your instinct and ride forward with a short neck so they had options,” she said. “You actually couldn’t dictate what your step was doing in there, so certainly it had a different kind of feel, but I think it was really educational.”
Looking to the rest of the leaderboard, Meghan O’Donoghue and Rich N Famous sat tied for Lauren and Landmark’s Monaco after dressage. While Meghan and Rich N Famous also jumped clear and inside the time, Lauren was closer to the optimum time to give her the edge on the leaderboard. Meghan and Rich N Famous now sit in fourth on 48.2.
The next three pairs on the leaderboard all delivered double clears. Will Coleman and Boris O’Hara moved from 10th to fifth on 48.9, Dom Schramm and Bolytair B moved from 13th to sixth on 50.3, and Maya Simmons and Archie Rocks jumped up from 16th to seventh on 51.1.
Matt Flynn and Wizzerd picked up 6.8 time penalties to remain in eighth place on 54.9. Holly Payne Caravella and Bruisyard Hall added 5.2 time penalties to their clear round to move from 15th to ninth on 56.0. Chelsea Kolman and Dauntless Courage round out the top 10 thanks to a double clear round to remain on their dressage score of 56.3 and move 20 spots up the leaderboard.
We have to send a big shout out to the other pairs that delivered clear rounds inside the time: Will Coleman and Gideon (11th), Chris Talley and Unmarked Bills (12th) and Lizzy Jahnke and Princeton (13th).
For a play-by-play of what happened where on course, check out EN’s live updates here, and you can also see the fence report courtesy of scoring guru Rick Dunkerton here. Click here to catch up on all of EN’s coverage so far.
Fair Hill concludes tomorrow with the final horse inspection at 8:30 a.m. EST. CCI2* show jumping starts at 10:30 a.m. EST, with CCI3* show jumping at 1:30 p.m. EST. Click here for all of EN’s Fair Hill coverage.