The return of the Essex Horse Trials is upon us and quite a robust contingent has turned out to contest the revival of the historic show grounds. Although Essex has been hosting a Preliminary Challenge every year, this is the first iteration of their Advanced course.
- A fifth of the field will be horses who are stepping up to the level for the first time.
- Three of those riders are making their first Advanced attempt as well.
- On the other side of the spectrum, 12 horses in the field have completed five-stars in their career.
- OBOS O’Reilly and Will Coleman have the best A/4* average in the field over the last two years, sitting at 30.2. In the spring of 2018 they were on fire, scoring sub-25 at The Fork and clocking in two more sub-30 scores right after. But their last two starts have seen their dressage scores float up to the 34 range.
- Buck Davidson and Copper Beach are another pair who were killing it in the first phase in 2018 and early 2019, scoring over 70% in three of four A/4* starts. However their last three starts have raised their overall average to 30.4.
- Fernhill Revelation hasn’t been out at this level for two years but in his five starts under Phillip Dutton, he averaged 30.9 and scored above 70% twice.
SHOW JUMPING POWERHOUSES
- With his last outing fresh in our minds, it may be easy to disregard Z in the stadium phase but the reality is that this is still one of the best horses in the country over the colored poles. Under Phillip Dutton, he has jumped clear rounds in 17 of 20 stadium rounds at the top and hasn’t had a rail at A/4*-S since early in 2017.
- Islandwood Captain Jack is another to keep an eye on, with Caroline Martin having guided him to a solid clean show jumping record. They have never had a jump penalty in nine rounds at this level.
- A plethora of young horses in this division have also jumped clear in their first one or two Advanceds; Fortuna, TKS Cooley, DonDante, Newmarket Jack, and I Bella have all been clear in their first couple attempts at the level. Meanwhile both Hannah Sue Burnett and Lukeswell and Bridgette Miller and Tsunami III have made new partnerships and clocked in clear rounds thus far with their experienced partners.
CROSS COUNTRY MACHINES
- Military Mind and Whitney Mahloch have a reputation for speed and at this level — they are almost certain to get the job done. In eight career completions at this level they have either made the time or finished with the fastest round of the day in every single one of them.
- OBOS O’Reilly is another horse who could make the time this weekend with Will Coleman in the irons. In his five completions at A/4*-S dating back through 2015, he either made the optimum time or was the fastest round of the day in four of them.
- Jak My Style has shown a turn of speed under Buck Davidson. He’s finished within 10 seconds of the fastest time of the day in three of their five joint runs at this level.
- In three completions at this level with Clark Montgomery, Caribbean Soul has never finished more than 10 seconds over the optimum time.
PREDICTED WINNER: WILL COLEMAN AND OBOS O’REILLY
- Buck Davidson and Jak My Style
- Clark Montgomery and Caribbean Soul
- Sharon White and Cooley On Show
- Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Revelation/Z