It was a super busy weekend for U.S. eventing, with eight American riders competing in England at the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials and the largest field of any U.S. CIC3* this year competing at Plantation Field International Horse Trials in Unionville. Now that we’ve had some time to digest the results, here are four numbers you need to know from Blenheim and Plantation Field.
Clark Montgomery joined an elite group on Sunday when he became the third American to win Blenheim, ending a 14-year drought since we’ve seen the stars and stripes on top of the leaderboard at this event. Kim Severson and Winsome Adante last won it in 2001, and Bruce Davidson won aboard Squelch in 1994.
Clark and Loughan Glen’s win is the best American result at the event since 2011, when Tiana Coudray and Ringwood Magister finished in second place on a final score of 49.4. (Clark and Glen finished in fifth place that year.) We’re thrilled for Clark and Jess, as well as Glen’s owners, Kathryn Kraft and Holly and William Becker!
It’s also notable that Clark and Glen delivered the lowest finishing score at this event since at least 2002 (which was as far back as I could find full results online). Their final score of 33.8 is easily the lowest in the past decade, and they totally dominated the competition this year to finish an impressive 8.2 faults ahead of Chris Burton and Nobilis 18.
You don’t best more than 100 horses to take the Grantham Cup CIC3* win at Belton, finish sixth at Luhmühlen on 37.5, and then win Blenheim on a 33.8 by accident. Clark has been very forthcoming in interviews that working on Glen’s fitness has been a huge priority this season, and it’s clear that strategy and all the hard work has paid off in spades.
Another thing to consider is that Clark and Glen have now delivered fantastic results at Luhmühlen and Blenheim, both of which are listed as U.S. selection trials for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. There’s still a long way to go on the #roadtorio, but good results recorded at selection trials in 2015 will definitely factor into how the team picture shakes out in 2016.
Holly Jacks-Smither shaved 27.9 penalty points off her previous best CIC3* finishing score with off-track Thoroughbred More Inspiration this past weekend. Holly and “Morris” delivered a personal best dressage score of 48.7 and added just 0.8 time penalties on cross country to that score to finish in fourth place on 49.5 at Plantation Field — the best Canadian result in the CIC3*.
Those 0.8 time penalties were actually the lowest number of faults added to a dressage score by any of the 47 horse-and-rider combinations that ultimately completed the CIC3*. On a weekend when double clean show jumping rounds and clear and fast cross country trips were very hard to come by, Holly and Morris made it look easy.
But we know that riders don’t come by those type of results by luck. Holly took a huge financial risk to take Morris to Germany on her own dime for her first overseas and team competition at Aachen, arguably the most difficult CIC3* in the world and certainly one with a very prestigious field. But the risk paid off.
Completing Aachen showed Holly she could do it, as she said after cross country that day, and it’s clear she’s brought all that experience and confidence back home with her. Holly will continue working hard with her coach Jon Holling as they look ahead to the Dutta Corp Fair Hill International CCI3* next month and ultimately Rolex next year. Go Holly go!
Just four combinations managed final CIC3* finishing scores under 50 penalties at Plantation Field, with Tamie Smith and Mai Baum delivering the only sub-40 finishing score to win on a personal best of 39.5. “Lexus” has now won three CIC3* events in a row, improving on each of those final scores by about 7 penalty points each time.
With the Ahearn family’s super horse next aiming for his first CCI3* at Fair Hill, it’s not a bad time of the season for Lexus to be peaking and for his partnership with Tamie to be blossoming. The 9-year-old German Sport Horse gelding will definitely head to Maryland as one of the heavy favorites with all the talent to take the win.
The other three sub-50 finishing scores at Plantation Field came from Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous (second on 45.1), Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Cubalawn (third on 48.3 and the only combination to make the optimum time), and Holly Jacks-Smither and More Inspiration (49.5).
Mai Baum, Fernhill Cubalawn and More Inspiration are all heading to Fair Hill CCI3* to finish out their seasons, while RF Scandalous will cross the Atlantic to take on her first CCI3* at Boekelo.
Icabad Crane delighted Thoroughbred fans around the world on Sunday when he won the first CIC* event of his career at Plantation Field on his dressage score of 41.1. The Preakness and Belmont Stakes runner just seems to get better and better in his new career, and Phillip Dutton has made it clear he thinks the horse’s fitness prowess and competitive drive will only suit him more as he progresses through the levels.
“America’s Horse,” as Phillip like to call Icabad, will next head to Hagyard MidSouth for his first CCI*, and he’ll also give a demonstration at the TCA Thoroughbred Makeover & Symposium that same weekend, Oct. 23-25. Click here for more information on the Thoroughbred Makeover and here to follow Icabad Crane’s progress on Facebook. Icabad also has a fan club you can join here.