It was an extremely busy day today with both cross country and show jumping photos running for multiple levels at The Fork Horse Trials, presented by Lucky Clays Farm, at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, NC. The Advanced and CIC3* divisions kicked off the morning with show jumping and will conclude tomorrow at the White Oak cross country course.
The CIC2* and CIC* division winners were decided on cross country today with a significant shakeup in the leaderboards. We had multiple press conferences today to accommodate the schedule and riders with multiple horses. Thanks to the competitors for their flexibility and to the press officer Carly Weilminster for her help. Here are must read quotes from our winners and leaders of the day.
Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous jumped a gorgeous double clear round to hold their lead in the CIC3* after show jumping. Marilyn and the 12-year-old Oldenburg mare owned by Jacqueline Mars, Robin Parsky and Phoebe and Michael Manders will leave the start box tomorrow with a score of 41.7 and a couple of points to spare over second place Kim Severson and the Cross Syndicate’s Cooley Cross Border.
“We’ve been working a lot on the show jumping over the winter. Obviously she knows she’s at an event here and she could have still been a bit up but she came in very relaxed and relaxed in the warm-up area as well as the ring so I couldn’t have really asked any more of her,” Marilyn said. “To me show jumping at an event, I feel so much more pressure and I walk the courses an extra 15 minutes. When I’m show jumping here I’m jumping 15 rounds a day and it’s all part of a larger program. Here walking into that ring on her, that’s all the pressure of a grand prix because this is her grand prix and we’ve worked so hard to prepare for this moment.”
Marilyn told us that she will take it easy at the start of the cross country since it is the mare’s first full event of the year. “It looks very hard to make the time on I think because the fly fences are well presented and there are great shots at them. However there is so much terrain on the approach, a lot of up and down, not big pulls, but the tee boxes that are there are in the middle of the galloping lanes so that will really slow them down and it can take their toll in terms of their size of stride and their confidence coming towards the end of the course … I’ll just try to take care of her out there and have a nice confident round because this is the event that will really determine where our season goes after this.”
Sara Kozumplik Murphy partnered with Rubens D’Ysieux, a 12-year-old Selle Français owned by the Rubens D’Ysieux Syndicate, last September and they “got on like a house on fire” but after rider fall on the cross country at the Ocala Jockey Club CIC3* in November, Sara decided to take a step back and re-evaluated their partnership development. A clear round and second place finish at the CIC2* in Red Hills was a confidence booster for them both and moved back up to the CIC3* level this week.
Sara felt her dressage test on Thursday, which scored a 50.6, wasn’t as polished as she would have liked, but today Rubens jumped double clear and moved up from fifth to third place. “He’s a magical horse,” Sara said. “Mikki (Kuchta) did a super job training him in all three phases. She brought him along slowly so he’s very confident and obviously he’s a wickedly talented jumper.
“I got too greedy last year. We got on like a house on fire and he was so easy that I just got a little bit feeling confident that whatever we did was going to be fine. At the Jockey Club he was beautiful until I made a mistake and I think if we had been two or three months longer together we’d have been on the same page in how we were reading it … it was complete rider error. From that I reminded myself I need to go and be smart and back him down and do a lot more cross country training than I ever really do because I don’t know the horse that well.”
Sara said that if tomorrow goes well on cross country she will probably back down to the two-star again for Jersey Fresh and then back to three-star for Bromont. She said she’s trying to be more cognizant of their training and partnership and balance the ‘testing’ levels with easier outings.
“I think Mark is a very good course designer and he likes to have lots of accuracy things that you have to ride forward and be accurate to and he has quite a lot of that out there. He’s made it friendly but I also think it will ride a lot harder than it walks,” Sara said. “I’ll have a lot more information about my horse after doing it. You can never go out and say you’re going to be careful around a track like, you’ve got to go out and ride. But for me and I’m sure a lot of riders, it’s a brand new track and for me a horse I haven’t had that long. I am going to go as fast as I think is appropriate to be jumping the fences we’re jumping, but I’m also going to take an extra pull here and there because I want to make sure I ride better than I did at Jockey Club.”
‘It’s all about Rolex now’
The two Advanced divisions are filled with horses aiming for Rolex later this month. There were fewer clear rounds than in the three-star and the time had been tight for both levels. Liz Halliday-Sharp took the early lead in the Advanced A division with Rolex-bound Fernhill By Night, a 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse owned by Deborah Halliday, and jumped double clear today to hold their position on 25.9.
“He tried really hard. He wasn’t quiet awake in the warm-up and needed a little bit of a gee up out there but he tried really hard in the ring. He’s a great jumper and as long as I don’t make any mistakes he’s pretty cool. He’s definitely a bit of a sensitive flower so you have to look after him a little bit. I would be someone who is prone to time faults with him because I usually look after him a little too much. I was really pleased with him today because I thought the time was tight enough and he kept rolling.”
As for tomorrow’s cross country test, Liz said the primary goal is a clear round. “It’s no secret that Blackie can be a little tricky cross country,” she said. “I actually think he’s in the best place he’s ever been despite what the record might show he’s actually going the best he’s probably ever gone on the cross country … I’m just hoping to give him a really good confident positive round rather than go out thinking I have to win. It’s all about Rolex now.”
Jessica Phoenix rode four horses in the two Advanced divisions, selecting which division to enter each horse based on which dressage test would benefit them the most. She jumped clear today on Bentley’s Best, Pavarotti and A Little Romance, all three of whom are entered at Rolex. Bentley’s Best, a 10-year-old Trakehner gelding owned by Don Good, added one time fault to his round but still moved up from third to take the lead in Advanced B on 35.6.
“He’s such a cool horse to ride and he really feels like he’s getting playful at this level,” Jessica said. “I’m really thankful that I entered this event. Just getting them in this atmosphere and this venue, having to walkthrough to that big ring is really great for the horses and being able to do dressage and show jumping in this venue is a really good setup for Rolex.
“The course looks amazing. I think they’ve done an incredible job. I think having as much rain as we did has really been helpful for the footing… it’s an interesting course with the roping and terrain. It feels like a major games and to be galloping a golf course is unusual for us. The terrain and technical questions out there are going to be a good test and prep for Rolex.”
Kylie Lyman Wins the CIC2* with Loop the Lup
Kylie Lyman and Joan Nichols’ 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse Lup the Loop had a ‘blip’ at Carolina International when Kylie’s stirrup broke when they were competing in the CIC3*, so she opted to take a step back for a confidence booster here at The Fork. “It definitely served that purpose,” she said.
Kylie and “Loopy” scored a 49.1 in dressage to start off in 8th place in the CIC2*. A double-clear show jumping round yesterday moved them up to sixth and a clear round with 9.6 time on today’s cross country gave them the win.
“Today was definitely not a breather for either one of us. There was a lot to do out there. Even though it was a two-star I thought it rode quite difficult. I think he came away from it having learned something. We both had to work for it. He learned something which doesn’t always happen when you take a step back sometimes,” Kylie said. “In my style of cross country riding it was probably not the most natural. I like to just kick on and go a little bit and the terrain made that more difficult, so I think it was a great experience for the two of us to have to be patient and work with the terrain a bit more. Things definitely came up quickly and he was adjustable and rideable which is something we’ve worked on.
“I’m taking a different approach for Loopy this spring. We had a really good go at Bromont last year so I think my plan now is just to take a little breather and not do a spring CCI with him and just work backwards to Fair Hill. He’s done a lot last season and this spring so I think he’s earned a little quiet time and we’ll just do our homework and figure out what the summer looks like.”
Overnight leader Allison Springer and Lord Willing had a fall on cross country when the horse slipped on the turn after the drop bank. This resulted in a mandatory retirement but they are both thankfully okay.
Valerie Vizcarrando and Favian Earn Their First FEI Win
Valerie Vizcarrando and her 9-year-old Oldenburg Favian just completed their sixth one-star competition and earned a well-deserved win in The Fork CIC*. They scored a 41.9 for second after dressage and remained in the same position despite a rail down in show jumping. They produced one of only a few double clear cross country rounds in the division to secure at least second, but overnight leader Rachel Wilks and Great Expectations crossed the finish two seconds over time, giving Valerie and Favian the win by a mere 0.1 penalty point.
“He’s a relatively new horse for me and he’s really cool. It took me a bit to get him figured out but he’s starting to feel like he’s mine,” Valerie said. “He handled the atmosphere great, he was really happy to scorch around the cross country today … He’s not an inherently confident horse but he wants to do the right thing.”
Valerie and “Faves” were coming off a third place finish in the Carolina International CIC* two weeks ago. “I love that track, I love the place, I know it really well. This was not quite that same thing … He made me confident because he wasn’t waffling at all. He has these big ears and they were pricked straight forward out of the box and that was a good feeling.
“I was joking channeling my Jimmy Wofford lessons, plan for the plan to change. He was galloping great in the first field but didn’t know where he was supposed to go. I was as ready for that as you can be. You have to trust you have some training, guts and skills to call on.”
Valerie feels Favian still needs to be stronger before moving up to Intermediate. She plans to aim for Bromont for a good education over Derek di Grazia’s course and hopefully move up later in the summer.
The CIC3* and Advanced cross country gets underway at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow. There is no live streaming but we will be tweeting and bringing you as much up to the second information as possible. Click here to catch up on all of EN’s Coverage of The Fork so far and check out Instagram to see extra photos and find out what Chinch has been getting into. Thanks for reading! Go Eventing.