Hello from Plantation Field! We’ve just wrapped up the Advanced division here on the first day of the Best. Event. Ever., and as Maggie predicted in her By the Numbers preview, Lauren Kieffer and Veronica are leading the way after dressage on a score of 31.8. It’s wonderful to see “Troll” back and looking in such good form after their minor setback on the eve of the World Equestrian Games prep trials at Great Meadow, which ultimately forced her withdrawal from the U.S. WEG squad and Burghley.
Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda are hot on their heels with a score of 32.4 for second place. Our prediction to take the win in this small division — which only features 16 horses but is packed with talent — Jennie and Ping typically deliver scores in the low 30s on this test, and this score is just a touch higher than their average of 31.9. But they’ll be well positioned for show jumping on Sunday, which is another phase where they shine; Ping has never pulled a rail on a Marc Donovan show jumping course.
Katy Groesbeck and Oz the Tin Man sit tied with coach Buck Davidson and Mar de Amor on scores of 33.2. We’ve tapped Katy and “Wort” as the Dark Horse in this division — a pair with talent to burn that can easily find themselves at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the weekend if they can put together three good phases. Katy and Wort have started out on a high note and now look ahead to show jumping, a phase in which they had an uncharacteristic stop at their last outing at this level at Millbrook.
Originally slated to run in the Open Intermediate this weekend, Buck bumped Mar de Amor up to Advanced at the last minute, and the decision paid off today, as they’re sitting near the top of the leaderboard after a lovely, consistent test. The horse hasn’t done much this year, and this is his first run at this level of the season after withdrawing from Jersey Fresh CCI3* in May. Just as a side note, the horse took Captain Jack’s spot in Advanced, so his name doesn’t show up on the live scores.
Mackenna Shea and Landioso and Courtney Cooper and Who’s A Star round out the top five on a score of 33.8. Mackenna and “Landi” are competing this weekend in their final prep run before Boekelo CCIO3* in the Netherlands this month, and they put in a lovely performance today. Landioso is very elastic and rhythmic in his gaits — a real pleasure to watch — and he looks like a real workman who loves his job. Who’s A Star also looked very good today in a relaxed, consistent performance. Courtney and “Tag” retired on course in the CIC3* here last year, so they’ll be looking for redemption on Sunday.
CIC2* and Intermediate dressage is underway now, and the big 50-strong CIC3* class starts tomorrow at 8 a.m, with CIC* dressage starting tomorrow morning as well. There’s an uncharacteristic chill in the air this afternoon, but the forecast looks beautiful for the rest of the weekend, so we’re hoping the sun comes out to join us soon. The main tent for Saturday night’s much-anticipated Dancing With the Stars party is being set up by the wonderful volunteers, and everyone is excited for a great weekend. Stay tuned for much more from Plantation Field.