Top Five Equine Performers in Cross Country for 2015

Will Coleman and OBOS O'Reilly at the Blenheim Palace CCI3*. Photo by Shannon Brinkman. Will Coleman and OBOS O'Reilly at the Blenheim Palace CCI3*. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

Welcome to the second post in our series highlighting the top five horses and riders in each phase at the Advanced, three-star, and four-star levels from 2015. Yesterday we highlighted the top five dressage powerhouses among the American and U.S. based horses. Today we pay tribute to the top five cross country horses of 2015.

To be considered for EN’s Top Five in this category, we first began with horses that completed every cross country round they started and incurred no jump penalties or frangible penalties in any of their starts; in other words, a perfect jump penalty record for 2015. The horses also needed to have completed at least cross country rounds this season to be considered.

We then ranked the horses according to who averaged the fewest number of time penalties across the country. Two horses managed to complete all of their cross country courses without any time penalties this year. These two horses nominally tied for first, but the tie-breaker was given to the one who managed to stay closer to optimum time.

Boyd Martin and Master Frisky. Photo courtesy of Kasey Mueller.

Boyd Martin and Master Frisky. Photo by Rare Air Photography.

FIFTH PLACE: Master Frisky

Jump Penalties: 0

Time Penalty Average: 2.00

Number of Runs: 3

The 2014 Fair Hill CCI3* runner-up didn’t get a lot of runs this year, but he showed he excelled in the cross country phase at the events he did go to. Boyd Martin began the year with this horse at Carolina International CIC3*, piloting him to a double clear round exactly on the optimum time of 7:05 to finish in second place.

Next up was the The Fork CIC3*, where Master Frisky put in his slowest round of the year, finishing 11 seconds over the optimum time of 6:49 to accumulate 4.4 time penalties. Then at his first CCI4* at Rolex, Master Frisky proved the mud was no issue, rocking around the 11:06 course only four seconds over to finish with just 1.6 time penalties.

Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Cubalawn at Aachen. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Cubalawn at Aachen. Photo by Jenni Autry.

FOURTH PLACE: Fernhill Cubalawn

Jump Penalties: 0

Time Penalty Average: 1.95

Number of Runs: 8

Fernhill Cubalawn spent the year firmly cementing himself in the upper echelon of U.S. horses. This horse started and completed eight cross country rounds and only once did he finish more than 10 seconds over optimum time.

Fernhill Cubalawn began the year at Pine Top, putting in a workmanlike round six seconds over a course of 6:16 for 2.4 time penalties. Next up he earned his first double clear round of 2015 at Carolina International CIC3*, clocking in seven seconds under the optimum time of 7:05. In his final prep for Rolex at The Fork CIC3*, he accumulated 1.6 time penalties before heading to his first four-star to finish only eight seconds over the time on muddy ground.

Millbrook Advanced was his slowest round of the season, as “Cuba” finished 15 seconds over time in his final prep before heading overseas to the Aachen CICO3* for one of the fastest rounds with only 2.4 time penalties. These would be his last penalties of the year, as he put in a quick round five seconds under the optimum time of 6:14 at the Plantation Field CIC3* and followed it up with a round 15 seconds below the 10:00 optimum time at Fair Hill CCI3*.

Lauren Kieffer and Meadowbrook's Scarlett. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Lauren Kieffer and Meadowbrook’s Scarlett. Photo by Jenni Autry.

THIRD PLACE: Meadowbrook’s Scarlett

Jump Penalties: 0

Time Penalty Average: 1.36

Number of Runs: 5

This mare was still flying under the radar at the start of the 2015 season, but her ability to consistently perform in all three phases has now made Meadowbrook’s Scarlett a well-known name.

Scarlett began her Advanced career this year at Rocking Horse II, finishing only three seconds over the optimum time of 6:09 in her first try at the level. Proving it wasn’t a fluke, she came to Carolina International CIC3* and put in a round only five seconds over.

Lauren then brought this precocious mare to The Fork, where she put in her slowest run of the season, finishing seven seconds over in the Advanced division. Meadowbrook’s Scarlett then polished off her spring season with a double clear round over the 9:54 course at Jersey Fresh CCI3*, finishing right on optimum time.

She then took some time to represent Team USA at the Pan American Games and had most of the fall season off, before heading west to contest the Galway Downs CCI3*, finishing only two seconds over the optimum time of 10:23.

James Alliston and Parker. Photo by Sally Spickard.

James Alliston and Parker. Photo by Sally Spickard.

SECOND PLACE: Parker

Jump Penalties: 0

Time Penalty Average: 0.0

Average Seconds Under Optimum Time: 17.50

Number of Runs: 4

Parker is arguably the most consistent cross country horse in North America, having last incurred time penalties in March of 2013 and having never incurred a jump penalty in an Advanced career that started in 2010. In fact, only one fluke fall at Rolex in 2012 mars this horse’s otherwise perfect cross country record.

This year was no exception for Parker, as he and James Alliston clocked in a double clear round at Twin Rivers Advanced before heading east to Kentucky. At the Rolex CCI4*, he put in his third consecutive double clear cross country round, coming in 14 seconds under the 11:06 optimum time.

Heading back west in July, Parker put in an astonishingly quick round at the Rebecca CCI3* by finishing a whopping 38 seconds under the 10:41 time, before capping the season at the Woodside CIC3* in October with a leisurely round 14 seconds faster than the optimum time of 6:25.

Will Coleman and Obos O'Reilly. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Will Coleman and Obos O’Reilly. Photo by Samantha Clark.

FIRST PLACE: OBOS O’Reilly

Jump Penalties: 0

Time Penalty Average: 0.0

Average Seconds Under Optimum Time: 14.25

Number of Runs: 4

While Parker has always been quick across the country, OBOS O’Reilly turned over a new leaf in 2015. Previously averaging around 30 seconds over optimum time, Will Coleman turned this horse into a cross country machine that didn’t once incur a penalty in the second phase.

OBOS O’Reilly began the year at The Fork Advanced with a blazing double clear round in his final prep for his first crack at a four-star. He continued on to Rolex CCI4*, completing his first course at this level in the mud two seconds under the optimum to win a two-year lease on a Land Rover Discovery Sport.

Next up was the Richland CIC3*, which OBOS O’Reilly tackled easily, clocking in three seconds early before heading overseas for the first time. At the Blenheim CCI3*, he finished double clear on his dressage score, nine seconds under the optimum time.

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