The close of February brings us closer to the thick of the spring eventing season, and Pine Top (Area III) is the latest on the Advanced calendar this weekend, providing an early season glimpse at both some top pairs as well as debutantes. It’s a beefy Advanced division, starting a 43-strong mixture of experienced and younger horses and riders. We’ll see the first eventing return of a Tokyo Olympian in Doug Payne and Vandiver, who is aimed at the Grand-Prix Eventing next weekend in Aiken.
Leading the way after Friday’s Advanced is Ariel Grald, teamed up with Annie Eldridge’s Forrest Gump 124 (Fuerst Nymphenburg – Amaterasu, by Amerigo Vespucci xx), who you may recognize as the USEF CCI3*-L National Champion crowned at Tryon last fall. The 11-year-old gelding earned a 25.9 in his Advanced debut.
Doug Payne also brings forward his 2019 Pan American Games partner, Laurie McRee and Catherine Winter’s Starr Witness (Chello III VDL – Carmen, by Veneur) for her first eventing start since May of 2021. Doug’s spent the winter working on the 11-year-old mare’s flatwork and is also aiming at the Grand-Prix Eventing next weekend. This pair got their weekend off to a competitive start, sitting second following dressage on a score of 27.5.
Allie Knowles and Katherine O’brien’s Ms. Poppins (Congress – Copa Cabana, by Champion du Lys) complete the top three, earning a score of 28.9 from judge Cindy DePorter.
The Intermediate pairs have completed their dressage and show jumping and will tackle the cross country later on today. Courtney Cooper and the Dare to Dream Team’s Excel Star Time to Shine (Luidam – Lismore Bella, by Cavalier Royale) moved into first place in the Intermediate Horse, adding no show jumping penalties to their dressage mark of 31.0. Morgan Batton and her own I’m Sew Ready (Lupicor – Jarda, by Elcaro), the former Kristen Bond and Phillip Dutton ride, lead the Intermediate Rider also remaining on their dressage score of 29.6. Dan Clasing and the MW Gangster’s Gang Syndicate’s MW Gangster’s Game (Solitair – Fernhill City Girl, by Ghareeb) kick off their season in the Open Intermediate A, leading following two phases on a 26.0, while Australia’s Dom Schramm and the Quadrocana Syndycate’s Quadrocana (Quadrofino – Rocana II, by Ituango xx), a half-sister to Michael Jung’s famous fischerRocana FST, lead the B division on a two-phase score of 31.2. Emily Beshear and Grace Fiedler’s Cayr Della Caccia (Canturo – Babelle, Acobat II) lead the Open Intermediate C on a score of 22.8.
Derek di Grazia has designed the Preliminary through Advanced cross country, which we’ll see results from today (the Advanced pairs will show jump first this morning). As is par for the early parts of the season, this weekend’s run will primarily be for leg-stretching or educational purposes. Thanks to show photographer Liz Crawley, we’ve got a peek at this pipe-opener track for the Advanced pairs:
We’ll be back later today with a report from cross country day! In the meantime, safe rides to all and #goeventing.