It’s not every day that you declare one winner in a CIC3* but then end the day with a different rider accepting the big check — and taking a dunk in the pool to boot. While Jon Holling and Downtown Harrison were initially declared the winners of the inaugural Ocala Jockey Club International CIC3*, a dressage scoring discrepancy ultimately gave Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF the win.
While you might think this would be a controversial conclusion to the CIC3*, Matt and Jon both could not have been more gracious about the final outcome of the competition.
As Jon put it: “I was pumped that I had won, and then I found out that Matt had, and Matt came up to me in the barn and the first thing he said was, ‘Make sure you take your test and double check it,’ which is a huge credit to Matt for coming to me and making sure, which I did, that my score was calculated correctly. Matt wins, and that’s the sport.”
Matt and Super Socks BCF and Jon and Downtown Harrison ultimately completed the event on the same score of 46.3. Super Socks BCF was one of two horses in the division to make the optimum time of 6 minutes, 9 seconds, while Downtown Harrison accumulated 1.2 time penalties to give the win to Matt.
One could argue that Jon might have taken a different strategy setting out of the start box had he known Matt’s dressage score would ultimately be recalculated, but our top two didn’t want to dwell on that technicality tonight.
“I’ve lost before out of a technical error like that,” Matt said, “and I didn’t bring it up and I wish now that we had brought it up earlier after dressage … I’ve gotten second before when I should have won and I didn’t check the test until after I got home, so I thought ‘let’s double check the test,’ and neither one of us thought in a million years that we were going to actually find another mistake.”
But that’s ultimately what happened to flip flop our top two. Super Socks BCF, a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by the Blossom Creek Foundation, has been hunting for redemption after a lackluster performance at Aachen CICO3* this summer, and Matt said he could not have been more thrilled with how the horse went today.
“We didn’t have a great result at Aachen and I was pretty disappointed in that, and I felt like I just needed to take some time and figure it out. I think it was my mindset going into the event that I wasn’t prepared enough. I didn’t want to jump back in and get ready for the next event, and so we took a little bit more time and went back to the drawing board,” Matt said.
“I have to give credit to Cecily, my wife, because I sort of go up and down as far as being really confident one day and the next day feeling like I can’t ride, and she really helped me sit down and talk about why I wasn’t feeling as confident as I should and come up with a plan that obviously paid off training-wise for us.”
It’s been a similar happy slew of emotions for Jon, who meant to take Downtown Harrison, his family’s 12-year-old Trakehner/Thoroughbred gelding, to Pau this fall before uncharacteristic stops in the show jumping warm-up at Stable View thwarted his plans.
“To be trying to get the horse to Pau earlier in the season and then not go to Pau but still come here and go home with a big check with him running around and feeling great — I’m just excited that I got my horse back and he feels like a million bucks,” Jon said.
While the course could have benefited from more rain in recent weeks, both Matt and Jon agreed that Mike Etherington-Smith’s three-star track lived up to expectations today.
“It looked to me like it was going to be a really galloping course and it was,” Jon said, “and that track was as close to feeling like you were going around a CCI while being at a CIC that I’ve ever felt, which I think is a testament to the property and to Mike E-S and to Richard (Trayford’s) vision for finding the place, and obviously to the Nygaards for letting us be here. I can’t think of any other place in America to have a big event than here.
“(Downtown Harrison) is a pretty experienced horse, and he went out there and all the questions were very understandable — big bold fair questions. I think when you’re eventing … young horses you always say, ‘Courses are supposed to teach them; they should be better when they finish.’ I’ve found at the Advanced level that doesn’t always happen …
“Maybe it’s because my horse was spectacular today, which he was, but I would say at 12 years old he went out there today and became a better horse than when he started. For an Advanced horse to do that on course? I’d love to say it’s because he’s a special horse and I gave him a decent ride, but I think the biggest credit is to the design, the fences and the property.”
Matt echoed the same positive sentiment about the track and the venue. “It’s an amazing property, and I didn’t know what to expect coming down here, and I am totally blown away with what they’ve done. … It was really nice to run around a big, galloping, fair course for the horses. I think the sport is going in the direction of very turning, tight, smaller courses, and so to be able to go out and gallop through questions felt really good.”
Matt also wanted to send a special shout out to Bob and Valerie Fish for all of their support in getting “Flaxen” to this point in this career, and to Carol Gee for spotting the horse initially. Three cheers for Flaxen!
Looking to the rest of the leaderboard, Boyd Martin and Steady Eddie, a 13-year-old Australian Thoroughbred owned by Gretchen Wintersteen, Pierre Colin and Denise Lahey, were the only other combination in the division to make the optimum time, which put them in third place on 47.2.
Doug Payne and Debi Crowley’s Vandiver, a 12-year-old Trakehner gelding and our overnight leader after show jumping, picked up 6.4 time penalties to finish in fourth place on 48.1. Joe Meyer and Clip Clop, a 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse owned by Madison and Theresa Foote, finished fifth on 52.8 thanks to a speedy cross country trip with 3.2 time penalties.
Hannah Sue Burnett and Cooley Dream Keep CCI2* Lead
Hannah Sue Burnett and Cooley Dream held onto their CCI2* lead after dressage thanks to a clear cross country round with 2.8 time penalties, and their score of 46.7 gives them a rail in hand over Jennie Brannigan and Cool As Ice as we look ahead to tomorrow’s show jumping finale.
But for Hannah, having “Cooley,” an 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Cooley Dream LLC, feel confident and bold over Clayton Fredericks’ cross country course is already a victory.
“We’ve backed way up after our fall at Rebecca Farm, and I’ve been trying to be really sensitive to what he needs from me encouragement-wise and also letting him have his time and be confident,” Hannah said. “It’s a fine line with an Irish horse; especially with the Cruising line. They need to know what they’re good at and feel that confidence from you but also not be pushed past it.”
Hannah said U.S. Coach David O’Connor has been instrumental in helping her develop a strategy to develop Cooley’s confidence on cross country, and that strategy paid off in spades today.
“Cooley went out today and took the bit, to the point where I was not trusting it completely because I like to be sensitive to him; that’s why I picked up some time faults. But he was so honest to the combinations and the skinnies and the corners and angles. I don’t ever have to worry about any of that, and that’s such a nice feeling. He’s so genuine.”
Jennie Brannigan and Cool As Ice, an 8-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Beth Battel, moved up to second place on 52.7 in the CCI2* with a clear round and 1.6 time penalties. Boyd Martin and Santos, a 7-year-old Thoroughbred gelding owned by Craig and Gloria Callen and Ron and Densey Juvonen, jumped one of the three clear rounds inside the time in the division to move from seventh to third on 53.1.
Kristen Merala and Tiki Tiki Tumbo also made the optimum time of 8 minutes, 30 seconds to move from 11th to fourth on 54.5. Buck Davidson and Bounce Pass delivered the only other double clear in the division to move from 13th to fifth on 54.5.
Liz Halliday-Sharp Dominates CCI*
Liz Halliday-Sharp continued her total dominance of the CCI* today, jumping clear and inside the time with both Deniro Z and Elarona to hold onto first and second place.
“Deniro hasn’t had a run since the beginning of October, so I was thrilled with how he went. He found the time very easy, and he finished very fresh. He’s such a trier, and he has such a great brain and really enjoys his job. It’s a pleasure to ride a horse like that,” Liz said.
“Elarona was magic. She felt like a world class horse today. She’s still quite green, but she’s so brave and she covered the ground really well. Both horses have had enough experience at this level, but neither one of them has ever done a CCI*, so I couldn’t have asked for a better day.”
Allison Springer and Business Ben also jumped clear and inside the time to remain in third place on 43.5. Leslie Law and Fernhill Divergent moved up one spot on the leaderboard to fourth on 44.7, with Jon Holling and Sportsfield Two Doors Down rounding out the top five on 45.3.
EN has been with you this entire holiday weekend, and we’re not going anywhere now! Tomorrow’s final horse inspection starts at 8 a.m. EST, and CCI* show jumping will be streamed live on EQTV starting at 10:30 a.m. EST, followed by CCI2* show jumping at 1:30 p.m. EST. Thanks for following along with us. Go Eventing.