Tamie Smith and Fleeceworks Royal Dance to 12th at Boekelo; Doug Payne 38th

Tamie Smith and Fleeceworks Royal. Photo by Libby Law Photography.

The top three remained unchanged today at Military Boekelo CCIO3* in Enschede, Netherlands, with Tim Lips and Bayro still leading the way on 19.2 — the lowest score ever recorded by a Dutch rider, according to EquiRatings.

Today all eyes turned to the two American combinations in the field, and Tamie Smith and Fleeceworks Royal rose to the occasion as the first pair out for the U.S. “Rory,” a 9-year-old Holsteiner mare (Riverman X Marisol, by Corofino I) owned by Judy McSwain, scored 26.8 to sit in 12th place.

The mare delivered a personal best score of 26.7 two weeks ago in the Stable View CIC3*, and she just narrowly missed matching that on the international stage today. Tamie said she is absolutely thrilled with how Rory handled the biggest atmosphere she has faced yet.

“That’s what happens with young horses — they keep getting better and better. She just clicked up to another level. … The wind was blowing quite strong during our test, so the flags were whipping and you could really hear that. She can be a bit sound-sensitive, but she wasn’t bothered at all.”

Tamie’s dressage trainer, Niki Clarke, flew out to the East Coast to help her ahead of Stable View, and Tamie said U.S. Performance Director Erik Duvander was also extremely helpful this week in the lead-up to her test at Boekelo.

“Erik was super about letting me do my thing but then giving me pointers about what he saw, and I was able to remember those things in the ring. It was just the right amount of help from him,” Tamie said. “I was hoping that it would all fall into place today, and it did. She handled everything like a pro. I’m so proud of her.”

Doug Payne and Getaway. Photo by Libby Law Photography.

Doug Payne and Getaway, an 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Contendro X Ladula, by Lady’s King) owned by Lisa Wall, scored 32.8 to sit in 38th place at the conclusion of dressage. “Flynn” has averaged 30.0 since stepped up to the three-star level this season, and Doug said he was happy with how the horse handled himself in such an an electric atmosphere.

“I would have liked a better score, but in the grand scheme of things with where he is right now in his career, I think he was really good. He’s still not 100% strong enough to hold the movements. You’ll get five strides where he has it now and then he can’t hold it anymore, but he is making a lot of progress,” Doug said.

“As he continues to get stronger and accustomed to bigger atmospheres, it’s going to keep getting better. You don’t get better without exposing him to atmospheres like Boekelo, so this is a big step forward for him.”

A field of 77 horses will go forward to the cross country tomorrow. When you consider that Chris Burton and Cooley Lands moved from 69th up to 10th place last year as the only pair to make the optimum time, we are poised to see plenty of movement on the leaderboard.

Boekelo has dry, sunny conditions for the first time in recent memory, and temperatures are expected to rise up to 80°F (27°C) tomorrow in the afternoon. Doug said he thinks the warmer temperatures could play an advantage to the two American horses, who have been competing in hot, humid weather on the East Coast.

Tamie said the ground feels a bit firm today, and as it has a sand base there is a question as to whether the footing will get deep later in the day. While the riders won’t be facing deep mud like they usually do at Boekelo, as Tamie pointed out: “Galloping through sand isn’t necessarily great either.”

Sue Benson’s course is reversed this year (click here for a fence-by-fence preview) and Tamie said she really likes the flow in this new new direction. “The thing about Boekelo is it has to be your day. You have to be ultra focused. There just isn’t a lot of room for mistakes on a course like this.”

You can watch cross country live tomorrow at this link starting at 10:30 a.m./4:30 a.m. EST. Click here for cross country start times. Times for Tamie and Doug are as follows:

  • Tamie Smith and Fleeceworks Royal: 1:46 p.m./7:46 a.m. EST
  • Doug Payne and Getaway: 2:50 p.m./8:50 a.m. EST

As we look ahead to cross country, Germany tops the Nations Cup leaderboard on 80.0, with Great Britain close behind in second place on 80.7. The Dutch team sits third for the home nation on 82.1. Click here to view team scores.

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