While only nine horses did their dressage tests yesterday afternoon at Great Meadow International, our top three remained unchanged all day until the very last pair to go here at the FEI Nations Cup in The Plains, Virginia.
Phillip Dutton and John and Kristine Norton’s I’m Sew Ready battled through the heat to score 42.0, a personal best for the horse at three-star level. That performance not only topped the leaderboard after dressage but also boosted Team USA into the lead in the Nations Cup standings, just 1.1 points ahead of second-placed Canada.
“He’s a good moving horse, and I’m fortunate to get him at this stage in his career,” Phillip said. “Kristen Bond put in a lot of the work, so it’s fun for me now to be able to take him on and see what he can do at this level and the four-star level.”
Phillip temporarily had the ride on I’m Sew Ready twice over the past three years while Kristen welcomed her children, Beckham and Berkley. Now the dedicated team of people behind “Jackson” have decided to have Phillip take the ride permanently.
“We’ll keep working on all three phases and try to get better,” Phillip said. “Great Meadow should be a good outing for him. It’s a proper track with good, big, bold fences. I’m looking forward to it.” (Preview Mike Etherington-Smith’s cross country course here.)
Phillip and Jackson already have five top-1o placings at three-star level on their record, plus a 10th place finish at Kentucky in April in the horse’s four-star debut. Looking ahead, Phillip hopes to take the horse to Pau CCI4* in France in the fall.
“He did Kentucky and was a brilliant horse there, and I’d like to think he could step up from there and do another four-star and be a little bit more in his comfort zone,” Phillip said.
Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti, a 15-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Don Good, sit in second place on 44.0. Looking ahead to show jumping, which starts at 5 p.m. this afternoon, Jessie said the key will be keeping Pavarotti focused on the task at hand — which isn’t easy in such a busy atmosphere.
The main arena here at Great Meadow is lined on all sides with various horse-eating monsters, like the jumbotron and generator powering it, which spooked a number of horses today. With plenty of tents also surrounding the arena and people milling about in the country fair atmosphere, tonight’s show jumping will certainly be an action-packed nail-biter.
“Pavarotti is a lot of fun to ride in the show jumping,” Jessie said. “He’s super careful and has a ton of scope. As long as he stays focused and relaxed, it should be a fun evening for us.”
Inmidair, an 18-year-old New Zealand Thoroughbred gelding Jan Byyny owns with her parents Dick and Jo, is making a big impression in his upper-level comeback, sitting in third place after dressage on 46.6. He last competed at the Advanced level in 2014, and Jan told EN last week that “JR” thinks he is “better and badder than ever.” Go JR!
Kurt Martin and Anna Bella, an 11-year-old Holsteiner mare owned by the GSC Syndicate, sit fourth on 46.7. Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High, a 14-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding owned by John and Judy Rumble, sit fifth on 46.9, giving Canada two of their Nations Cup team members in the top five.
Canada was poised to lead the Nations Cup standings going into show jumping, but Phillip and I’m Sew Ready’s personal best score bumped the U.S. into the lead on 139.1 after the first phase. The U.S. has three team riders in the top 10, with Phillip Dutton and I’m Sew Ready leading on 42.0, Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda in sixth on 48.2, and Lynn Symansky and Donner in eighth on 48.9.
Canada also has three riders in the top 10 and sits second in the Nations Cup standings on 140.2, just 1.1 points behind Team USA. Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti are second on 44.0, Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High sit fifth on 46.9, and Waylon Roberts and Kelecyn Cognac sit tied for ninth on 49.3.
Great Britain sits third in the Nations Cup on 151.6. Nicky Roncoroni and Watts Burn, a 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Lorna McWilliam and Janey Barclay Roncoroni, sit in equal ninth on 49.3 as the highest-placed British combination.
If you missed watching dressage on the USEF Network or FEI TV live stream, be sure to check back at 5 p.m. EST when horses and riders take on Marc Donovan’s show jumping course. Cross country will also be streamed live at 9:30 a.m. EST.
Keep checking EN’s Instagram for more photos from #GMI2017. Chinch is also running around creating mayhem — no surprises there. Thank you to all the organizers, officials, volunteers and everyone who is working hard to keep the show running smoothly. It’s another hot day in Virginia but everyone has a smile on their face! Go Eventing.