Sinead Halpin and Manoir De Carneville came home clear and 13 seconds inside the time in what had to be the fastest trip of the day to clinch the Plantation Field CIC3* win on their dressage score of 37.8. The footing held beautifully throughout the day, making for easy going for the riders who chose to go for time. Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda also had one of the eight double clear rounds across Tremaine Cooper’s course to hold second place, finishing on a score of 46.2. Erin Sylvester and No Boundaries’ fast double clear round moved them up one spot to finish in third place on 52.2, while Doug Payne and Crown Talisman went clear with just 0.8 time penalties to move up to fourth place on 53.9. Phillip Dutton and Mr. Medicott round out your top five after a double clear trip to finish on 54.2.
Here’s where things get interesting. Since the top pairs ran in reverse order, none of them had to contest the water complex at 15ABC, which recorded three horse falls, four additional rider falls and numerous other rocky rides before event officials pulled 15AB from the course about three-fourths of the way through the division. The trouble came during the jump into the water complex at 15A. Horses that ran into trouble here were either stumbling badly or going down, which is a real mystery when you consider this same water complex was used yesterday for the Advanced division without any problems. While I’m sure there will be much speculation over what exactly happened today on course, I’ve done some sleuthing to bring you an educated guess.
Photographer extraordinaire Amy Dragoo had a remote timer at the water complex yesterday and today, and after looking at her pictures, I’m thinking that riders were jumping in much more boldly today than yesterday, and horses were left scrambling upon landing in the water. While it did rain overnight, the water rose by an inch max and was still only up to my ankles when I walked it this morning. Riders who successfully rode through the water complex today took the same conservative approach with a bouncy canter into the water we saw yesterday from the Advanced riders. Many thanks to Amy for providing this comparison photo. The photo on the left is of Erin Freedman and Viola in the Advanced yesterday; the photo on the right is of Amanda Wilson and Cool Decision in the CIC3* today. The vast majority of Amy’s photos from the CIC3* today show the same bold jump into the water.
As to why so many riders came in boldly to the water complex, I can only speculate. We’re nearing the end of the season and many of the CIC3* riders are prepping their horses for a fall CCI3*, meaning horses are fighting fit right now and riders are pushing for the sake of fitness. With the water complex coming at fence 15, horses were cruising along at a very fast speed and making a huge leap into the water. For those of you who followed along with my live cross-country updates, I apologize for only reporting on the problems. We did see some really lovely rides through the water before officials yanked 15AB. But issues were cropping up so fast at the water that I could barely keep up. I’ve never had my phone die while posting live updates, and it keeled over on me while Sinead and Tate were on course.
Phillip Dutton and Mr. Medicott were originally announced as the first pair to make the time, but the ground jury ultimately decreased the time allowed after removing the water complex, so more riders ended up with double clear rounds who were originally scored with time. We ultimately ended up with eight double clear rounds, and just 29 of the 48 pairs who set out on course made it home. Thankfully, all horses and riders who fell at the water complex walked away, and it’s unfortunate that there were so many problems on course to mar an otherwise picture-perfect weekend at Unionville. I still have much more to bring you from Plantation Field, including a report on the PRO Bareback Puissance and lots of photos from the CIC3* cross country. Stay tuned.