Articles Written 511
Article Views 1,090,329

Maggie Deatrick

Achievements

Become an Eventing Nation Blogger

About Maggie Deatrick

Latest Articles Written

The Good, the Bad, and the Weird: The Olympic Hangover

I’m obviously a bit late for this final op-ed, but I have a good reason…I couldn’t get the individual medal round to work on the NBC Sports app on my TV, the same way I had watched all of the other phases. For whatever reason, the video stopped after the Team Medal Final. On Friday, I finally realized that the NBC Sports app on my computer had the full stream all the way through the Individual Final and got the closure I needed.

THE GOOD

The British Team reacts. Photo by FEI / Arnd Bronkhorst.

Dramatic Storylines: A rider who lost all her top rides and came back to win individual gold on her untested young horse? Check. A rider who switched disciplines to chase an Olympic dream for his home Olympics and spent months away from his family securing a top four finish? Check. A legendary rider who became the oldest medaling athlete for his country at his eighth Olympics? Check. An eventing superpower who has nonetheless not taken home the gold in almost five decades smashing the field and taking home a decisive victory? Check. 

Conditioning of the Horses: Everyone knew that the weather conditions in Tokyo were going to cause a lot of tired horses, and on cross-country day there were notably some horses who struggled near the end. However, every single horse who competed in the final phase seemed to have bounced back extremely admirably. While most had lost a touch of spring to their jump, not one horse looked visibly gassed. There were uncharacteristic rails, particularly through the triple combination and time absolutely played a factor. This made the stadium rounds influential without being ugly. Kudos to all of the riders who made sure their horses were prepared for the conditions.

Julia Krajewski does it all! Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Women: It was really wonderful to finally see a woman win the top individual honor in the sport. Finally!

Overall Organization: By all accounts, the Tokyo organization and execution of the eventing phases was excellent. Unlike both Rio and Tryon, there were no rumors leading up to the Games that the courses were not ready, housing was not finished, infrastructure was not complete. Undoubtedly the extra year didn’t hurt on this end of things, but regardless there was no drama regarding whether or not the venue would be ready. 

Course Design and Presentation: The show jumps were downright gorgeous. Period. Not that they have been subpar in other Games, but I found Tokyo’s stadium jump design to be thoughtful, lovely and meaningful. 

THE BAD

Switzerland’s Robin Godel and Jet Set. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Social Media Abuse of Robin Godel: It’s always tragic to lose one of our equine partners and we as a sport, as always, need to try and do better. More research into the causes and treatments of catastrophic injuries is marching forward but there is always going to be the unique challenge that horses need four legs to be weight bearing to survive. However, losing a horse on the Olympic stage is uniquely challenging these days, with the advent of social media opening up the horse’s rider and other connections to the vitriol of the general public. Online abuse is never okay. Our deepest sympathies extend to Jet Set’s connections.

Groom Accommodations at Sea Forest: Look, I don’t have much more than an email telling us that this was a problem, but it seems that no one thought about where the grooms were to sleep the night before cross-country after the horses were trailered over to the Sea Forest venue. It’s 2020/2021. Let’s make sure the most important person in the well-being of these horses is treated like a human being, please.

The Live Leaderboard: Yes, there are bigger issues than this. But let’s be real, even watching live can be hard to follow who is getting penalties, who is on course, and where penalties have occurred. An easy-to-follow live leaderboard can really enhance the viewing and a poor live scoring platform can really detract from the experience…even when you’re there at the venue, watching in person, and trying to follow all the action on our phones. This is not the only venue that struggles with this aspect and I ask the FEI and all competition venues to put some genuine thought into their live leaderboards. If those of us who are super fans are having trouble following the scoring, how can we attract new fans to the sport and expect them to understand the already-confusing scoring format?

The Poor Riding and Abuse in Modern Pentathlon: No it is not ‘our’ sport. No, it’s not even under the FEI umbrella. But the FEI needs to be pushing back hard against the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) regarding their lax standards when it comes to horse welfare and horse/rider safety. The IOC should hear from the FEI that even though these horses are not falling under their ‘umbrella’ of horse sport, it is absolutely unacceptable for UIPM’s treatment of these horses to continue.

THE WEIRD

The U.S. Team Final Placing: Sports bring out the strongest feelings in us; elation and devastation by turns. After several cycles of experiencing devastation on cross-country day, it was a relief to not have to deal with crushing disappointment upon the completion of three clear rounds from Team USA. But instead I walk away from the Tokyo Games feeling underwhelmed. We came, we participated, we finished. Three clear cross-country rounds is great, but we ultimately finished behind a team who had cross-country penalties on two of their three riders. While one of three riders achieved their expected performance in all three phases, the other two riders both mildly underperformed in their horse’s strongest phase. Not drastically, but when other teams are hitting their expected scores across the board, it adds up. The completion feels like progress but there’s nothing much to say beyond that. 

Team Germany, gold medalists. Photo by FEI/Christophe Taniere.

The Three Score Format: I still don’t like it. But I didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would. I think if cross-country had been more influential in terms of falls it might have been much more confusing but as it was, most of the top nations completed three horses and so did not have to address the substitution question. It was extremely strange to see horses that didn’t do dressage or cross country do the show jumping on the final day. And certainly the horse welfare issue regarding no drop scores did crop up in the show jumping discipline under the Irish team; Shane Sweetnam kept riding despite his horse jumping erratically after losing a shoe and eventually his mount fell through a fence. It’s only a matter of time before we see something similar in eventing.

On the other side of the coin, I thought it was really nice to see horses who had been retired or technically eliminated or even have a rider fall allowed to complete the event on the final day, albeit with significant penalty. We all spend so much time, emotion, and money on this sport that I’d be inclined to see this practice implemented through all the levels. Going forward, I’d rather see the fourth pair, marked as alternates this time, competing as an individual and the three person team allowed to sub in that rider’s total score for a penalty up until the start of the final phase. That would keep the competition true to our sport but also allow for the emotional completion of the competition by other individuals.

Michael Jung and Chipmunk FRH. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

Michael Jung’s Frangible: One thing that has flown under the radar and needs a second look is the under-the-radar rule change, implemented in 2020, that a frangible pin on cross-country is 11 penalties….period. That was never part of the deal, FEI. Thanks for sneaking that in while we were all looking the other way at the wording of the flag penalty. But for that rule change, Michael Jung would have been individual Olympic gold….again. But suddenly we are going where we all feared where we’d be when the frangible penalty was enacted, having to be careful about making sure we show-jump any fence fitted with a frangible pin, which thankfully is more and more these days. This deserves a deeper dive than I can commit today but I hope the federations raise hell at the FEI rule change forum later this year.

Show Jumping Powerhouses of Tokyo

The time change has me all in a tizzy; so strange to do jogs what seems to me as late evening and show jump the following morning. Of course by now I should be used to it, but the frenetic pace we’ve been at over in chinchilla world has been non-stop for the last 5 days and I therefore can no longer tell up from down.

This is it, the final moment. Order below is in reverse order of go, as you will see each pair enter the ring. Only the competitive teams have been done, alongside the one competitive individual.

Sandra Auffarth & Viamant du Matz (GER)

Predicted Jump Penalties: 0

Predicted to Have Time: No

Jesse Campbell & Diachello (NZL)

Predicted Jump Penalties: 0

Predicted to Have Time: Yes

Doug Payne & Vandiver (USA)

Predicted Jump Penalties: 4

Predicted to Have Time: No

Phillip Dutton & Z (USA)

Predicted Jump Penalties: 0

Predicted to Have Time: No

Kevin McNab & Don Quidam (AUS)

Predicted Jump Penalties: 4

Predicted to Have Time: Yes

Boyd Martin & Tsetserleg TSF (USA)

Predicted Jump Penalties: 4

Predicted to Have Time: No

Nicolas Touzaint & Absolut Gold (FRA)

Predicted Jump Penalties: 4

Predicted to Have Time: No

Jonelle Price & Grovine de Reve (NZL)

Predicted Jump Penalties: 4

Predicted to Have Time: Yes

Karim Florent Laghouag & Triton Fontaine (FRA)

Predicted Jump Penalties: 8

Predicted to Have Time: No

Michael Jung & Chipmunk FRH (GER)

Predicted Jump Penalties: 0

Predicted to Have Time: Yes

Shane Rose & Virgil (AUS)

Predicted Jump Penalties: 0

Predicted to Have Time: 

Christopher Six & Totem de Brecey (FRA)

Predicted Jump Penalties: 0

Predicted to Have Time: No

Andrew Hoy & Vassily de Lassos (AUS)

Predicted Jump Penalties: 0

Predicted to Have Time: No

Tom McEwen & Toledo de Kerser (GBR)

Predicted Jump Penalties: 0

Predicted to Have Time: No

Kazuma Tomoto & Vinci de la Vigne (JPN)

Predicted Jump Penalties: 0

Predicted to Have Time: No

Tim Price & Vitali (NZL)

Predicted Jump Penalties: 0

Predicted to Have Time: No

Laura Collett & London 52 (GBR)

Predicted Jump Penalties: 0

Predicted to Have Time: No

Julia Krajewski & Amande de b’Neville (GER)

Predicted Jump Penalties: 4

Predicted to Have Time: Yes

Oliver Townend & Ballaghmor Class (GBR)

Predicted Jump Penalties: 4

Predicted to Have Time: No

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Website, EN’s Ultimate Guide to Tokyo 2020, Latest News, Live Scores , SJ Order of Go, SJ Team Start List, Team Final/Inv. Qualifier Course Map, EN Olympic Digest Newsletter Signup, Live Stream Guide, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Instagram, EN’s Twitter

 

Tokyo Final Horse Inspection: Live Tweet Updates

Unfortunately the lack of live feed continues to be a problem for the final horse inspection. Once again, we make an effort to keep the superfans updated and have forced on-site reporter Sally Spickard to tweet furiously after each horse in order to keep up to date on information coming out of Tokyo. The feed will go live at 8:15 PM EST and the jogs begin at 8:30 PM EST. (That’s 9:30 AM Tokyo time.)

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: WebsiteEN’s Ultimate Guide to Tokyo 2020Latest News, Live Scores XC Start OrderXC Guide and PreviewEN Olympic Digest Newsletter SignupLive Stream GuideEN’s CoverageEN’s InstagramEN’s Twitter

The Good, the Bad, and the Weird: Weather is the Worst Enemy

There was plenty of good, bad, and weird going around during the cross-country phase. Like the rest of the world, we had eyes glued to the TV during prime time, with our world-beating journalist Tilly Berendt doing live updates up until the moment that our website crashed. We’re back up and functioning but crossing out little chinchilla whiskers that all systems remain good! In her latest opinion piece, Maggie Deatrick shares some thoughts on cross country day.

Tokyo Bay’s Sea Forest, where eventing cross country took place. Photo via Tokyo2020.jp

I do not have any numbers-based analysis today simply because the online scoring system is not very good and I am not confident in my breakdown of jump versus time penalties as I tried to manually record them while watching. I plan on breaking down the penalties next week once the FEI database updates with their results and will bring you a more nuanced analysis at a future date. If you’re really jonesing for some math, the EquiRatings Instagram is always a good source to get your fix.

Sadly we are going into the bad news first, as we have to address the tragic news regarding the loss of the Swiss horse Jet Set.

THE BAD

Switzerland’s Robin Godel and Jet Set. Photo by Sally Spickard.

The Tragic Loss of Jet Set: The former Andrew Nicholson ride, now piloted by the Swiss rider Robin Godel, was en route to a solid completion for the Swiss team when, by on-grounds accounts, he faltered after jumping through the final water at fence 20 and the screens went up. Although standing on his own, he was transported to the vet hospital immediately where he was ultimately euthanized due to a catastrophically ruptured ligament.

Our thoughts and sympathies go out to all connected to Jet Set, including the rider, owners, grooms and teammates. It is devastating beyond words anytime we lose these tremendous athletes and to do so on the world stage is the worst nightmare of any rider.

The Weather: Much has been made in the mainstream media about how truly difficult the conditions have been for all athletes, not just the horses. Images of triathletes strewn across the ground after their finish line and accusations that the Tokyo Olympic bid and IOC both glossed over true weather conditions this time of year, simply because the end of July is best for TV ratings, have highlighted the issue. Indeed, the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 were held in mid-October, not the end of July, precisely because weather conditions were more favorable.

It was evident across the board that the heat and humidity impacted our equine athletes as well. Many horses looked absolutely drained as they crossed the finish line, despite the fact that the course was shortened to just under 8 minutes off of the originally planned 10 minutes. The Brazilian horse Fuiloda G simply stopped only 3 fences from home and looked in severe distress while Diachello was notably exhausted and masterfully nursed home by the New Zealand rider Jesse Campbell. Many others were visibly out of gas more than a minute from home, and of the U.S. horses, Vandiver particularly seemed to be a bit wilted right at the end. 

Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done under the Olympic umbrella, with Equestrian being a niche sport with little power to influence either the bids of potential Olympic locations or the IOC. The only thing that we can do as a sport to really prepare for a Games in weather conditions like this is lean on the national federations to insist on sending horses who have proven their fitness in similar conditions. That will not be possible for all nations, some of whom have the bare minimum pairs qualified to even fill a team, but it is perhaps the best we can do.

The Online Scoring System: The Tokyo Olympics result website was fine for dressage but absolutely abysmal for eventing. The live fence scores were difficult to view all fences, and only available for horses actively running. Once completed, any fence breakdown was impossible. Once added to the leaderboard, scores were not broken out by jump penalties versus time penalties, making it difficult to figure out the final breakdown of who had what type of penalty, and the finishing times were not indicated. This last thing is minor and simply keeps us from determining who had the fastest ride of the day without manually recording each finishing time of those who completed inside the time. However, this is the Olympics; Tokyo had an extra year to ask our sport what was important and failed to. A fence report has since been released but the leaderboard itself continues to show penalties for both time and jump in one lump sum rather than broken apart. Oh, and did anyone else have a heart attack when a rider fall for Weerapat Pitakanonda was misattributed to Laura Collett? 

The Technical Eliminations: In the end four pairs received technical eliminations, three of whom completed the course and were much, much later listed as eliminated due to missing an element of an obstacle. According to the official fence report, Louise Romeike (SWE) with Cato 60, Janneke Boonzaaijer (NED) with Champ de Tailleur, and Malgorzata Cybulska (POL) with Chenaro 2 all received technical eliminations later in the day at fences 18B, 18C, and 14C. Merel Blom (NED) and The Quizmaster were also technically eliminated at 8C but were not pulled up until the approach to fence 19.

This many technical eliminations typically results when the lettering system is too complicated; while this is the Olympics and competitors should be expected to know their route options inside and out, two of the four riders have considerable experience under their belt. To see this many technical eliminations at this level is a result of a lack of clarity in the options. Additionally, the fact that three of the four riders completed the course and the fourth took ten fences to pull up is a failure on the part of the officials. In this weather, horse health was very much at stake and all of these horses could feasibly have been re-routed to the European Championships next month if they had been pulled up.

If the lettering was sufficiently unclear that the officials were unsure themselves if these riders had been eliminated and therefore were reluctant to pull them up in case they were wrong, then the lettering was too complicated and should have been addressed by the officials prior to the start of cross-country.

THE GOOD

Laura Collett and London 52. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Team Great Britain: The Brits came into this weekend as the heavy favorites, then left the door slightly open for the Germans after slightly underperforming in dressage. We’re literally talking about a point or three from each rider, but it adds up – and suddenly it looked like the Germans were in with a chance for gold. Team GBR put that notion to bed on cross-country day by adding no penalties across the board, with all three of their riders finishing clean and inside the time. They are ahead by four rails of the second-placed Australian team on a set of jumpers that combined has only one occasional rail. Unless something catastrophic happens, they’ve all but tied up first place. 

French anchor Karim Laghouag and Triton Fontain. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

Team France…: France went into Rio with high medal hopes and delivered with a team gold. This time, they came in with a younger, greener team with horses more on the cusp of experience rather than in the midst of it. The loss of Birmane under Tom Carlile before dressage was a huge blow to their medal hopes, and yet the three riders have risen to the occasion. All three finished with a total of only two time penalties between them, putting them in bronze position only 0.9 penalty points behind Australia in silver. 

…and French Breeding: Also notable is how many Selle Français horses are being ridden across the board now, and how well-suited they seem to be to the hot environments. Of the ten Selle Français horses ridden by team riders (as opposed to individual riders), eight were clear cross-country and nine finished within seven seconds of optimum time, with the sole exception being a horse ridden for Japan who incurred a stop. Three of the seven horses who were clear inside the time were Selle Français, and five of the top ten individual placings headed into stadium are mounted on French-bred horses. (Andrew Hoy’s Vassily de Lassos is registered as an Anglo-Arab, not a Selle Français, but was bred and produced in the French system.)

Andrew Hoy and Vassily de Lassos. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

Teams from the South Pacific: Ok, 5 of 6 pairs on Teams NZL and AUS are based in England, but these riders all continue to be a testament to the strong eventing tradition that originates in both countries. Both teams finished with three clear rounds from three riders, with Australia clocking in two of three riders inside the time (including the fastest clear of the day from Andrew Hoy) and with only seven seconds of time from their third rider, while the Prices from New Zealand combined had eight seconds of time. Although Jesse Campbell had to nurse home a flagging Diachello, he did a masterful job of managing the horse’s performance through the final minute, minimizing the damage on time penalties while keeping the horse’s energy into account.

Julia Krajewski and Amande de b’Neville. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Julia Krajewski and Amande de b’Neville: Julia has not had the easiest time of it since her last appearance on the world stage iat the 2018 WEG; first, her world-beating talent Chipmunk FRH was sold and secured as a ride for fellow team rider Michael Jung, then earlier this year, her father passed away and she was forced to retire her long-time partner and 5* winner Samourai du Thot after he lost an eye. While a one-eyed horse can indeed compete at the top levels, an adjustment period is usually required and at this late stage in his career, she felt it was unfair to ask it of him. So she came into this Games far from assured from a team slot with her young Selle Français mare, who has not yet started a 5* event. Now she finds herself in the silver medal position, the sole German rider to go clear across the country.

Kazuma Tomoto and Vinci de la Vigne. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

Kazuma Tomoto and Vinci de la Vigne: It’s been no secret that the Japanese have been gunning hard for this Olympics, and with much success lately, there was perhaps a bit too much pressure in the team overall in their home country. However Kazu, who started eventing only in the last few years after switching from show jumping, is a beacon of light for the Japanese program, which will hopefully continue to receive investment after this Olympics. Paired with the Selle Français horse previously ridden by Astier Nicolas of France in the 2018 World Equestrian Games, Kazu made the course look like nothing. They now sit in fifth position and within a rail of the gold medal. As a pair they’ve only incurred one rail, so are in a strong position to put pressure on those above on the ranks. An individual medal for Kazu would justify all his sacrifices and give the Japanese a reason to continue investing in their program.

THE WEIRD

Alternate Routes: Earlier in the week, course designer Derek di Grazia revealed that while doing the design, he took into consideration the weather conditions and wanted to make sure that the alternate routes weren’t turning horses around in circles. Considering the weather conditions did in fact have a huge impact, this was a well-considered choice. However, in practice, the alternate routes all had very minor impacts on time and were therefore utilized extremely consistently across the board, making a significantly easier course for the well-established countries. Amongst the Big Six countries (AUS, GBR, GER, FRA, NZL, USA), only one horse incurred jump penalties for a disobedience. 

The coffin in particular was notable as only two riders, both of the Russian Olympic Committee, attempted the direct route, both having stops. With the ‘long route’ not only placed directly next to the direct route but also notably lacking even a ditch element, every other pair in the competition chose to go to the alternate. In the end, time penalties seemed more to depend on the condition of the horse and their ability to handle the weather and less on the rider’s choice to employ alternate routes.

Michael Jung gallops away from 14B; the rail dropped a split second later. Photo from Jarno Debusschere via Instagram.

Frangible Penalties: Over and over, we saw the frangible corner at 14B break. Sometimes it clearly prevented the pair from a serious fall, but on at least a couple of occasions, the rail appeared to break from a lighter tap on the hind end. The frangible penalties were applied across the board to whomever the pin fell for, which has traditionally been the process. 

But surprise! One thing that appears to have gone by the wayside is the appeal process for pairs who lightly tap a fence, as they might during show jumping, and have the rail fall. In 2019, the proposed rule changes for the 2020 rulebook were discussed, with the primary focus being on the controversial flag penalty. Under the radar flew the removal of any clarifications to the frangible pin penalty and as of 2020, the FEI rules now read that the 11 penalties will be applied to any change in dimension of the fence with no qualifications regarding strength of hit.

This is the third time this year that the application of a frangible has had a hugely significant impact on the top placings of the biggest events; without a frangible penalty, Tamie Smith and Mai Baum would have finished second at the Kentucky 5*-L and Michael Jung and fischerWild Wave would have won the Luhmühlen 5*-L. While fischerWild Wave was unmistakably saved by the pin at Luhmuhlen, Mai Baum’s penalty was debatable due to hitting it with his hind end on the way down and by all reports, Chipmunk FRH’s penalty was extremely suspect and would have certainly been removed under the previous wording of the rules.

Without the frangible pin, which reportedly fell several seconds after Chipmunk FRH completed the fence, Michael Jung would be leading the standings heading into the jumping phase. At this point, it is clear that the application of 11 penalties again needs a further look to keep the cross-country phase from turning into a showjumping-style ride.

Doug Payne and Vandiver. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Team USA: Clear rounds with single digit time penalties from each pair is an accomplishment for the USA; an American team hasn’t finished a team with three clear cross-country rounds at an Olympic games since Athens in 2004. (We came close in London when there were five members on a team in 2012, but ultimately one of our three clear cross-country rounds did not pass the final horse inspection.) We’ve had trouble with this, too, at World Equestrian Games, failing to complete a team at the 2014 World Games and moving into the stadium in 2018 with only two clears. So this is a step in the right direction – if still slightly underwhelming, particularly since our riders were by far the most experienced at Derek di Grazia courses than any other team. 

Hopefully tomorrow will continue to be a step in the right direction as we continue to develop our equine depth and experience to hopefully take the next step at 2022 WEG in Pratoni and contest for a medal, while simultaneously obtaining our Olympic slot in Paris.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: WebsiteEN’s Ultimate Guide to Tokyo 2020Latest News, Live Scores XC Start OrderXC Guide and PreviewEN Olympic Digest Newsletter SignupLive Stream GuideEN’s CoverageEN’s InstagramEN’s Twitter

The Good, The Bad, and The Weird: We Can’t Expect the Unexpected

Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Dressage is done and dusted, and yet we can’t seem to stop talking about it. Dressage is unique in the three phases in that there is effectively no cap in what you can achieve, while the other two phases tend to be pass/fail. In show jumping and cross-country, if you jump all the jumps high enough and within the right amount of time, you pass and add nothing to your score. But in dressage, there is no level of sufficiency that allows you to pass with no penalties: extra credit is given for better and better performances. Is this the way the sport should be? That’s a conversation for another day, but this is the way the sport is now.

THE GOOD

Baji Koen Equestrian Park. Photo by FEI/Christoph Taniere.

Shortened Dressage Tests: I for one am a huge fan of the shortened dressage test. I’m about as die-hard of an eventing fan as you can get and yet I find my brain straying to other things during two days of dressage.  The shortened test is a good thing for our sport and I’d love to see it rolled out across the board, particularly at the lower levels. A shorter dressage test could bring us back to the days of a true three-day event, with all the dressage completed in one day. That would have the advantage of saving money for organizers and competitors alike by shortening the competition for a day and opening up more competition opportunities to populations who have limited time off from work or school.

The Judging: There will always be overall variances on an individual level; some horses love the arena, others hate the weather. On any particular day we will see some pairs shining and others faltering. But as a field, those variances should really fade away if the judging is consistent with the international standard. That’s exactly what we saw at this venue, with the overall field averaging only +1.12 points above the expected field average. There was no apparent session bias or halo effect and the largest disagreement between the three judges was a 5.00% difference between Jane Hamlin and Nick Burton for Virgil’s performance. There was agreement to within 1.00% between all three judges on a whopping 16.1% of the field (10 pairs) and a very solid 75.8% of the field had scores that fell within 3.00% of one another. All in all a very successful panel for this weekend.

Malgorzata Cybulska and Chenaro 2 lead the way for Poland after dressage. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

Team Poland: Poland in particular should be pleased with their performance, although they find themselves down the order. Losing at Banderas as the jogs was a huge blow but the team members responded beautifully by each exceeding their expected dressage score by an average of 1.5 points.

Tim Price and Vitali. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Tim Price and Vitali: With only three 4* tests under their belt as a pair (and only four total overall for the horse), Vitali stepped up in a big way for Tim Price. Tim has a bit of a rough spring, with most of the experienced campaigners he had in his string having rough times of it at their long formats this spring. Taking Vitali was a calculated risk; perhaps better the unproven potential world beater was better than horses who might not be on top of their game. These two equaled their previous personal best, which takes the New Zealand expected dressage score down by just over 3 penalty points. Pairing that up with two scores within one point of expected from both of his teammates could prove huge if things fall their way on cross-country day.

Marcelo Tosi and Glenfly exceed expectations for Brazil. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

Marcelo Tosi and Glenfly: The sole Thoroughbred in the competition also rose to the occasion beyond any other horse in the field, scoring more than five points below his expected score. His final score of 31.5 edged out his previous personal best, not just at 5* but at 4*. The pace on cross-country will still likely be a problem for him but hopefully the Brazilian rider can exceed expectations once again.

THE BAD

Over-Reliance on Lead Changes: I’d like to see less reliance on one specific skill. Four changes in a shortened test means that 18.2% of the dressage score is reliant on the ability of the horse to execute good changes. It seems like overkill to be insistent on testing one specific skill and weighting it so significantly in our method of scoring. To put this in perspective, a change that is late behind is an automatic 4; if you’ve gone from a possible 8 then you’ve lost 4 points on that mark. That loss equates to 4.5 seconds worth of time penalties or 1.8 rails….if you’ve flubbed four changes, then you’re now spotting 21 seconds of time on cross-country or 2 rails in stadium. The committees who create the dressage tests should be taking into consideration how much weight one particular skill is given in relation to the penalties in the other phases.

Laura Collett and London 52. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Team Great Britain: This team came riding high into the competition with high expectations that this was their competition to lose. Make no mistake, this team is still the favorite and of course lead the way, but it wasn’t by the ten point margin they should have had. Both London 52 and Toledo de Kerser underperformed by approximately four points, which is fairly remarkable considering their respective scores of 25.8 and 28.9. However, that left the door open for Germany to be hard in the hunt for the gold instead of chasing after Great Britain for the next two phases.

Teams Ireland and Italy: Although neither of these teams came into the Olympics with dreams of leading the way after dressage, they will now both find themselves in a much bigger hole than expected after two members on each team underperformed to the tune of 4 to 7 points. That loss adds up quick.

Boyd Martin walks out of the arena after his test on Tsetserleg TSF. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF: Despite a lovely entry, things seemed to come off the rails after the rein back, when Thomas clearly thought he was supposed to step into the canter. The mistake seemed to rattle the horse, who spent the remainder of the test worried he was doing the wrong thing, causing major issues when picking up the counter-canter after the walk. The result is a major blow both to Boyd himself who had a shot at an individual medal, and to Team USA, whose other members put in performances within 2.5 points of their expected score.

THE WEIRD

Event Scheduling: Having the eventing dressage immediately after the pure dressage really highlights the differences between the two types of rides and not in a way that is flattering to eventing. While I know this is not under the control of anyone except the IOC, it would really suit better to have eventing either go first, or at least follow show jumping; following dressage is akin to watching the equestrian phase of modern pentathlon….compared to the pure dressage horses it looks rough.

Three Members Only: There’s a lot less calculating going on behind the scenes without the drop score, which on one hand is nice but on the other hand is clearly not the right way to run a team for eventing. It’s jarring seeing the alternates load up to travel over to the cross-country, clearly preparing to step in should something go wrong with the team horses; quite frankly it makes no sense to have not had a fourth dressage session in the evening and allow the alternates to compete as individuals unless called up for the team.

Team USA surrounding Doug Payne after his test. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

USA Team Selection: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — it’s absolutely bizarre to me that the selectors felt that it was best to leave what is possibly one of our generational equine talents off the team. Tsetserleg TSF’s surprising issues aside, Vandiver and Z are both horses whose 5* averages vary significantly from their 4* averages so despite false hopes that we should have been better off across the board, two of the three members performed within their expected ranges. However, I have the utmost faith that the selectors would have taken this performance variance between the dressage tests into account and we will hopefully see both of these two horses prove their mettle and reason for selection in the coming days.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: WebsiteEN’s Ultimate Guide to Tokyo 2020Latest News, Live Scores XC Start OrderXC Guide and PreviewEN Olympic Digest Newsletter SignupLive Stream GuideEN’s CoverageEN’s InstagramEN’s Twitter

Cross Country Powerhouses of Tokyo

I’ve lost track of the day, the hour, and possibly my mind. There’s spreadsheets on spreadsheets and my computer has crashed several times, but it’s worth it to see all the lovely graphs that I’ve developed. There’s nothing quite like looking at performance in a graph; when I look at numbers, they tell me a story. But when I put them in a graph, they come alive for others, and that is even better.

Let’s briefly talk course designer. Derek di Grazia has a very solid record of track design in America; he has designed the Elkton (Fair Hill) 4*-L for decades and has been the Kentucky 5*-L designer since Mike Etherington-Smith stepped aside after the 2010 World Equestrian Games, alongside a couple of short formats here in the States. The percentage of horses who have successfully navigated Derek’s course clear on any particular date has ranged from 35 to 75% of starters; overall 60% of all horses who have attempted his courses have run clear.

With Lara de Leiderkerke-Meier’s withdrawal, that range means we’ll likely see approximately 21 horses run clear for sure. An additional 15 would run clear if we see more of an average Derek course in terms of difficulty, and if it turns out to be a bit softer than he expected, up to 46 total pairs would be entering stadium with no jump penalties. With this being the Olympics, you’ll probably see an odd mix; those looking for a completion may come home with a surprise clear having taken mostly long routes but adding a boatload of time penalties while team and individual medal hopes will rely on the best pairs to go out and have a crack, taking calculated risks that could result in a mistake they would otherwise never make.

In terms of time, only 10.7% of the pairs who attempt Derek’s courses have come home inside the time; with 45 jumping efforts over only 7 minutes and 45 seconds of courses, time is likely to be tougher to make than a typical long format event. If Derek’s pattern holds, we should see approximately 6 pairs come inside the time.

With no further ado, behold the performance of every team horse. All time penalties are for runs that are direct, with no pauses for stops at fences. 

Arinadtha Chavatanont & Boleybawn Prince (THA)

Predicted to Have Issues: Yes

Predicted Time Penalties: (Direct Round) 12.0

Oliver Townend & Ballaghmor Class (GBR)

Predicted to Have Issues: No

Predicted Time Penalties: 0.8

Doug Payne & Vandiver (USA)

Predicted to Have Issues: Probable No

Predicted Time Penalties: 4.0

Felix Vogg & Colero (SUI)

Predicted to Have Issues: Yes

Predicted Time Penalties: (Direct Round) 3.2

Kazuma Tomoto & Vinci de la Vigne (JPN)

Predicted to Have Issues: Probable No

Predicted Time Penalties: 1.6

Shane Rose & Virgil (AUS)

Predicted to Have Issues: Probable No

Predicted Time Penalties: 7.2

Alex Hua Tian & Don Geniro (CHN)

Predicted to Have Issues: Probable No

Predicted Time Penalties: 12.0

Joanna Pawlak & Fantastic Frieda (POL)

Predicted to Have Issues: Probable No

Predicted Time Penalties: 9.6

Therese Viklund & Viscera (SWE)

Predicted to Have Issues: No

Predicted Time Penalties: 15.2

Christopher Six & Totem de Brecey (FRA)

Predicted to Have Issues: Probable No

Predicted Time Penalties: 4.4

Vittoria Panizzon & Super Cillious (ITA)

Predicted to Have Issues: Probable No

Predicted Time Penalties: 0.4

Sam Watson & Flamenco (IRL)

Predicted to Have Issues: No

Predicted Time Penalties: 4.4

Jonelle Price & Grovine de Reve (NZL)

Predicted to Have Issues: No 

Predicted Time Penalties: 3.6

Julia Krajewski & Amande de B’Neville (GER)

Predicted to Have Issues: No

Predicted Time Penalties: 3.6

Marcelo Tosi & Glenfly (BRA)

Predicted to Have Issues: No

Predicted Time Penalties: 13.6

Weerapat Pitakanonda & Carnival March (THA)

Predicted to Have Issues: Yes

Predicted Time Penalties: (Direct Round) 10.8

Laura Collett & London 52 (GBR)

Predicted to Have Issues: Possible Yes

Predicted Time Penalties: (Direct Round) 0

Phillip Dutton & Z (USA)

Predicted to Have Issues: No

Predicted Time Penalties: 1.2

Melody Johner & Toubleu de Rueire (SUI)

Predicted to Have Issues: No

Predicted Time Penalties: 4.8

Toshiyuki Tanaka & Talma d’Allou (JPN)

Predicted to Have Issues: No

Predicted Time Penalties: 6.0

Kevin McNab & Don Quidam (AUS)

Predicted to Have Issues: Possible Yes

Predicted Time Penalties: (Direct Round) 6.8

Huadong Sun & Lady Chin V’T Moerven Z (CHN)

Predicted to Have Issues: Yes

Predicted Time Penalties: (Direct Round) 26.0

Malgorzata Cybulska & Chenaro 2 (POL)

Predicted to Have Issues: Possible Yes

Predicted Time Penalties: (Direct Round) 10.0

Lousie Romeike & Cato 60 (SWE)

Predicted to Have Issues: No

Predicted Time Penalties: 6.0

Nicolas Touzaint & Absolut Gold (FRA)

Predicted to Have Issues: No

Predicted Time Penalties: 3.6

Susanna Bordone & Imperial van de Holtakker (ITA)

Predicted to Have Issues: No

Predicted Time Penalties: 5.6

Austin O’Connor & Colorado Blue (IRL)

Predicted to Have Issues: No

Predicted Time Penalties: 5.2

Jesse Campbell & Diachello (NZL)

Predicted to Have Issues: No

Predicted Time Penalties: 0

Sandra Auffarth & Viamant du Matz (GER)

Predicted to Have Issues: Possible Yes

Predicted Time Penalties: (Direct Round) 4.4

Rafael Mamprin Losano & Fuiloda G (BRA)

Predicted to Have Issues: Probable No

Predicted Time Penalties: 16.4

Korntawat Samran & Bonero K (THA)

Predicted to Have Issues: No

Predicted Time Penalties: 10.8

Tom McEwen & Toledo de Kerser (GBR)

Predicted to Have Issues: Probable No

Predicted Time Penalties: 6.8

Boyd Martin & Tsetserleg TSF (USA)

Predicted to Have Issues: Yes

Predicted Time Penalties: (Direct Round) 2.4

Robin Godel & Jet Set (SUI)

Predicted to Have Issues: No

Predicted Time Penalties: 6.4

Yoshiaki Oiwa & Calle 44 (JPN)

Predicted to Have Issues: No

Predicted Time Penalties: 6.8

Andrew Hoy & Vassily de Lassos (AUS)

Predicted to Have Issues: No

Predicted Time Penalties: 0

Yingfeng Bao & Flandia 2 (CHN)

Predicted to Have Issues: Possible Yes

Predicted Time Penalties: (Direct Round) 13.6

Jan Kaminski & Jard (POL)

Predicted to Have Issues: Yes

Predicted Time Penalties: (Direct Round) 0

Ludwig Svennerstal & Balham Mist (SWE)

Predicted to Have Issues: Yes

Predicted Time Penalties: (Direct Round) 0.4

Karim Florent Laghouag & Triton Fontaine (FRA)

Predicted to Have Issues: Yes

Predicted Time Penalties: (Direct Round) 0

Arianna Schivo & Quefira de l’Ormeau (ITA)

Predicted to Have Issues: Probable No

Predicted Time Penalties: 13.6

Sarah Ennis & Woodcourt Garrison (IRL)

Predicted to Have Issues: Possible Yes

Predicted Time Penalties: (Direct Round) 2.0

Tim Price & Vitali (NZL)

Predicted to Have Issues: No

Predicted Time Penalties: 5.2

Michael Jung & Chipmunk FRH (GER)

Predicted to Have Issues: No

Predicted Time Penalties: 0

Carlos Parro & Goliath (BRA)

Predicted to Have Issues: Yes

Predicted Time Penalties: (Direct Round) 25.6

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: WebsiteEN’s Ultimate Guide to Tokyo 2020Latest News, Live Scores XC Start OrderXC Guide and PreviewEN Olympic Digest Newsletter SignupLive Stream GuideEN’s CoverageEN’s InstagramEN’s Twitter

Dressage Powerhouses of Tokyo: Session Three

It’s only a blink of an eye, but with the way the schedule hits the time zones in America, the dressage sessions feel to go by very quickly indeed. Everything is absolutely flying by, and this evening we will have our final horses enter the ring for Tokyo’s Saturday morning session. Confused yet? Me too.

For the final time, math nerds should check out the charts below while everyone else should veer over to the Team Form Guide and Individual Form Guide compiled by Tilly Berendt.

Korntawat Samran & Bonero K (THA)

Predicted Score: 34.6

Tom McEwen & Toledo de Kerser (GBR)

Predicted Score: 24.7

Boyd Martin & Tsetserleg TSF (USA)

Predicted Score: 25.8

Robin Godel & Jet Set (SUI)

Predicted Score: 34.7

Yoshiaki Oiwa & Calle 44 (JPN)

Predicted Score: 28.2

Andrew Hoy & Vassily de Lassos (AUS)

Predicted Score: 31.5

Yingfeng Bao & Flandia 2 (CHN)

Predicted Score: 37.0

Jan Kaminski & Jard (POL)

Predicted Score: 34.7

Ludwig Svennerstal & Balham Mist (SWE)

Predicted Score: 30.7

Karim Florent Laghouag & Triton Fontaine (FRA)

Predicted Score: 32.3

Arianna Schivo & Quefira de l’Ormeau (ITA)

Predicted Score: 35.1

Sarah Ennis & Woodcourt Garrison (IRL)

Predicted Score: 31.2

Tim Price & Vitali (NZL)

Predicted Score: 28.7

Michael Jung & Chipmunk FRH (GER)

Predicted Score: 24.2

Carlos Parro & Goliath (BRA)

Predicted Score: 36.6

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: WebsiteEN’s Ultimate Guide to Tokyo 2020Latest NewsDressage Order of GoTeam Start OrderEN Olympic Digest Newsletter SignupLive Stream GuideEN’s InstagramEN’s Twitter

Dressage Powerhouses of Tokyo: Session Two

It might be overnight for those of us in America, but it’s mid-day in Japan and morning over in Europe, so we’re rolling out content 24/7. There is 100% chance that I wrote this prior to Session One, so if you want to know what happened yesterday today earlier, then I suggest you head over to our recap. Otherwise, you know the drill, graphs below, and check out the Team Form Guide and Individual Form Guide compiled by Tilly Berendt if you’re having a minute to have your morning coffee and/or can’t sleep in the middle of the night.

Weerapat Pitakanonda & Carnival March (THA)

Predicted Score: 36.9

Laura Collett & London 52 (GBR)

Predicted Score: 21.8

Phillip Dutton & Z (USA)

Predicted Score: 28.2

Melody Johner & Toubleu de Rueire (SUI)

Predicted Score: 35.6

Toshiyuki Tanaka & Talma d’Allou (JPN)

Predicted Score: 33.7

Kevin McNab & Don Quidam (AUS)

Predicted Score: 27.6

Huadong Sun & Lady Chin V’T Moerven Z (CHN)

Predicted Score: 32.9

Malgorzata Cybulska & Chenaro 2 (POL)

Predicted Score: 32.2

Lousie Romeike & Cato 60 (SWE)

Predicted Score: 28.8

Nicolas Touzaint & Absolut Gold (FRA)

Predicted Score: 31.2

Susanna Bordone & Imperial van de Holtakker (ITA)

Predicted Score: 34.2

Austin O’Connor & Colorado Blue (IRL)

Predicted Score: 33.1

Jesse Campbell & Diachello (NZL)

Predicted Score: 30.9

Sandra Auffarth & Viamant du Matz (GER)

Predicted Score: 30.9

Rafael Mamprin Losano & Fuiloda G (BRA)

Predicted Score: 33.7

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: WebsiteEN’s Ultimate Guide to Tokyo 2020Latest NewsDressage Order of GoTeam Start OrderEN Olympic Digest Newsletter SignupLive Stream GuideEN’s InstagramEN’s Twitter

Dressage Powerhouses of Tokyo: Session One

It’s been five long years and suddenly there’s only a few hours before we commence the eventing portion of the Olympic Games. With Session One going down centerline starting at 8:30 a.m. Tokyo time, we’ve got prime viewing hours for most of those in America, outside of those pesky work hours who can sometime make watching a four day event a nightmare. I’d tell you who to watch, but it’s the Olympics…even the horses who aren’t going to bring it on day one are likely part of teams who you should keep an eye on. If you want some light intense reading before the competition starts, check out the Team Form Guide compiled by Tilly Berendt, who is wearing her fingers down to the nub in order to make sure you know every detail about our fabulous competitors. Only team pairs will be profiled in graphs this weekend; if you’d like to more about those representing as individuals, then check out Tilly’s Individual Form Guide.

Arinadtha Chavatanont & Boleybawn Prince (THA)

Predicted Score: 36.1

Oliver Townend & Ballaghmor Class (GBR)

Predicted Score: 24.7

Doug Payne & Vandiver (USA)

Predicted Score: 34.5

Felix Vogg & Colero (SUI)

Predicted Score: 28.0

Kazuma Tomoto & Vinci de la Vigne (JPN)

Predicted Score: 28.5

Shane Rose & Virgil (AUS)

Predicted Score: 29.4

Alex Hua Tian & Don Geniro (CHN)

Predicted Score: 22.6

Joanna Pawlak & Fantastic Frieda (POL)

Predicted Score: 42.3

Therese Viklund & Viscera (SWE)

Predicted Score: 29.7

Christopher Six & Totem de Brecey (FRA)

Predicted Score: 30.0

Vittoria Panizzon & Super Cillious (ITA)

Predicted Score: 32.6

Sam Watson & Flamenco (IRL)

Predicted Score: 30.3

Jonelle Price & Grovine de Reve (NZL)

Predicted Score: 29.9

Julia Krajewski & Amande de B’Neville (GER)

Predicted Score: 26.1

Marcelo Tosi & Glenfly (BRA)

Predicted Score: 36.7

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: WebsiteEN’s Ultimate Guide to Tokyo 2020Latest NewsDressage Order of GoTeam Start OrderEN Olympic Digest Newsletter SignupLive Stream GuideEN’s InstagramEN’s Twitter

First Horse Inspection: Live Tweet Feed

One question we’ve been asked (over and over again) is where to watch the jog livestream.

Sadly, the short answer appears to be nowhere. The media powers that be have not yet cottoned on that the inspections are another phase that is meant to be on display to the world. There is no jog livestream.

Alas.

In an effort to do what we can to bring you all the best from Tokyo, Sally Spickard will hearken back to the early days of EN, when the power of the keyboard and the speed of John’s fingers were all that kept our readers abreast of the action. Sally will be furiously putting all of the jog updates on Twitter. And for those of you who, like me, find Twitter to be an exhausting and bewildering place, we have located the Tweet feed below for your reading leisure.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: WebsiteEN’s Ultimate Guide to Tokyo 2020Latest NewsEN Olympic Digest Newsletter SignupLive Stream GuideEN’s InstagramEN’s Twitter

Cross-Country Powerhouses of Kentucky

It is cross-country day! By all accounts the courses today are beefy and tight for the time, and with the rain supposed to start by noon today, we’re in for an action-packed day.

The action starts quick for the 5*, with our trail-blazer headed out of the box at 8:30 am. Click here to see the order of go with ride times and here for all the details on how to watch live. For the ultimate experience, including more data just like this, download the Eventing Nation Ultimate Form Guide to have open on your computer, phone, or tablet while viewing!

HOW TO READ

The charts below visually shows the experience of horse and rider as a pair. Each slice represents a start at Advanced, 4*, or 5*. Orange is for Advanced/4*-S, pink shows 4*-L starts, and dark blue represents 5* starts. If the slice is full color, it was a clear cross country round with jump penalties. If the slice is a bit lighter, that indicates the round had jump penalties in the form of stops, flags, or frangibles but still completed, while a very light color indicates a non-completion for any reason. That can include technical elimination, retirement, elimination from accumulation of stops, fall on the flat, or rider or horse fall.

The outer rings represent the speed rating; the closer to a full ring, the faster that pair at each level. Again, three rings for three types of starts.

HORSES IN THE TOP TEN

Marilyn Little (USA) and RF Scandalous

Ride time: 9:58 am

Tamie Smith (USA) and Mai Baum

Ride time: 11:58 am

Oliver Townend (GBR) and Cooley Master Class

Ride time: 10:26 am

Boyd Martin (USA) and Tsetserleg TSF

Ride time: 12:30 pm

Oliver Townend (GBR) and Ballaghmor Class

Ride time: 12:26 pm

Buck Davidson (USA) and Carlevo

Ride time: 12:38 pm

Boyd Martin (USA) and On Cue

Ride time: 10:30 am

Liz Halliday-Sharp (USA) and Deniro Z

Ride time: 12:10 pm

William Fox-Pitt (GBR) and Oratorio

Ride time: 9:14 am

Anna Siemer (GER) and FRH Butt’s Avondale

Ride time: 11:42 am

OUTSIDE THE TOP TEN – MAKING A MOVE ON SATURDAY

These horses have some strong game on the cross-country and will be looking to make up significant ground on the leaderboard thanks to their reliability and speed in the cross-country phase.

Boyd Martin (USA) and Long Island T

Ride time: 8:38 am

Will Coleman (USA) and Off the Record

Ride time: 12:22 pm

Jennie Brannigan (USA) and Stella Artois

Ride time: 12:06 pm

Jonelle Price (NZL) and Grovine de Reve

Ride time: 12:18 pm

Phillip Dutton (USA) and Z

Ride time: 11:46 am

Sydney Elliott (USA) and QC Diamantaire

Ride time: 10:54 am

Will Faudree (USA) and Mama’s Magic Way

Ride time: 11:54 am

Jonelle Price (NZL) and Classic Moet

Ride time: 10:18 am

OUTSIDE THE TOP TEN – LOOKING FOR QUALITY ROUNDS TO BUILD ON FOR SUNDAY

The horses below are expected to put in a solid cross-country round, then build on that Sunday with their solid jumping ability to contest for a position inside the top fifteen.

Kevin McNab (AUS) and Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam

Ride time: 10:34 am

Doug Payne (USA) and Quantum Leap

Ride time: 12:02 pm

Doug Payne (USA) and Vandiver

Ride time: 8:54 am

Sharon White (USA) and Cooley On Show

Ride time: 9:46 am

Jonelle Price (NZL) and Grappa Nera

Ride time: 8:30 am

Will Coleman (USA) and DonDante

Ride time:8:34 am

#LRK3DE21: WebsiteEN’s Ultimate Form Guide5* Entries4* EntriesScheduleNorth America Live StreamWorldwide Live StreamEN’s CoverageEN’s InstagramEN’s Twitter

Dressage Powerhouses of Kentucky: Friday

Welcome to the 2021 edition of the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event! Yesterday we had the first half of the field kick off the competition, with some truly exciting results. Today, the action is non-stop once again, with the 4*-S continuing dressage this morning. This afternoon our 5* contenders will conclude their tests. Click here to see the order of go with ride times and here for all the details on how to watch live. For the ultimate experience, including more data just like this, download the Eventing Nation Ultimate Form Guide to have open on your computer, phone, or tablet while viewing!

The competitors will be performing the 2021 FEI 5* Test B. Judging the competitors will be Christina Klingspor of Sweden, who presides over the ground jury. Robert Stevenson of the United States and Peter Gray of Canada join her as members of the ground jury.

THE FIELD, DAY ONE

The chart below visually shows the range of each pair (in draw order). The purple demonstrates the range that the pair scores in 67% of the time. The shorter the purple bar, the more consistent the pair score; a very long purple bar indicates a pair who can score all over the board. The black bar indicates the average of the latest three A/4* tests that the pair has done, giving an indication as to recent form.

The black dot with accompanying text indicates the personal best score at A/4* while a red X with text indicates the personal best scores at 5*.

Boyd Martin (USA) and On Cue

Aiming For: Top Fifteen

Ride time: 12:15 pm

Kevin McNab (AUS) and Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam

Aiming for: Top Ten

Ride time: 12:23 pm

Buck Davidson (USA) and Erroll Gobey

Aiming for: Top Twenty

Ride time: 12:31 pm

Hannah-Sue Burnett (USA) and Harbour Pilot

Aiming for: Top Ten

Ride time: 12:39 pm

Sydney Elliott (USA) and QC Diamantaire

Aiming for: Top Fifteen

Ride time: 1:03 pm

Colleen Rutledge (USA) and Covert Rights

Aiming for: Top Ten

Ride time: 1:45 pm

Jesse Campbell (NZL) and Diachello

Aiming for: Top Twenty

Ride time: 2:17 pm

Phillip Dutton (USA) and Z

Aiming for: Top Five

Ride time: 3:23 pm

Tim Price (NZL) and Xavier Faer

Aiming for: Top Twenty

Ride time: 3:31 pm

Tamie Smith (USA) and Mai Baum

Aiming for: Top of the Leaderboard

Ride time: 3:57 pm

Doug Payne (USA) and Quantum Leap

Aiming for: Top Twenty

Ride time: 4:05 pm

Jennie Brannigan (USA) and Stella Artois

Aiming for: Top Twenty

Ride time: 4:13 pm

Liz Halliday-Sharp (USA) and Deniro Z

Aiming for: Top Five

Ride time: 4:21 pm

Clayton Fredericks (AUS) and FE Stormtrooper

Aiming for: Top Twenty

Ride time: 4:29 pm

Will Coleman (USA) and Off the Record

Aiming for: Top Ten

Ride time: 4:55 pm

Oliver Townend (GBR) and Ballaghmor Class

Aiming for: Top of the Leaderboard

Ride time: 5:03 pm

Boyd Martin (USA) and Tsetserleg TSF

Aiming for: Top Three

Ride time: 5:11 pm

Lauren Nicholson (USA) and Vermiculus

Aiming for: Top Fifteen

Ride time: 5:19 pm

Buck Davidson (USA) and Carlevo

Aiming for: Top Ten

Ride time: 5:27 pm

#LRK3DE21: WebsiteEN’s Ultimate Form Guide5* Entries4* EntriesScheduleNorth America Live StreamWorldwide Live StreamEN’s CoverageEN’s InstagramEN’s Twitter

Dressage Powerhouses of Kentucky: Thursday

Welcome to the 2021 edition of the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event! Yesterday marked the beginning of the competition with an uneventful jog after an eventful morning with snow blanketing the horse park. Today, the action is jam-packed, with the 4*-S kicking off dressage this morning. This afternoon our 5* contenders will begin their tests. Click here to see the order of go with ride times and here for all the details on how to watch live. For the ultimate experience, including more data just like this, download the Eventing Nation Ultimate Form Guide to have open on your computer, phone, or tablet while viewing!

The competitors will be performing the 2021 FEI 5* Test B. Judging the competitors will be Christina Klingspor of Sweden, who presides over the ground jury. Robert Stevenson of the United States and Peter Gray of Canada join her as members of the ground jury.

THE FIELD, DAY ONE

The chart below visually shows the range of each pair (in draw order). The purple demonstrates the range that the pair scores in 67% of the time. The shorter the purple bar, the more consistent the pair score; a very long purple bar indicates a pair who can score all over the board. The black bar indicates the average of the latest three A/4* tests that the pair has done, giving an indication as to recent form.

The black dot with accompanying text indicates the personal best score at A/4* while a red X with text indicates the personal best scores at 5*.

Purple bar is 67% of scores, black bar is average of latest three A/4* tests. Black dot is personal best at A/4*, red dot is personal best at 5*.

Boyd Martin (USA) and Long Island T

Prediction: Top Ten

Ride time: 12:39 pm

Phillip Dutton (USA) and Fernhill Singapore

Aiming for: Top Fifteen

Ride time: 12:55 pm

Doug Payne (USA) and Vandiver

Aiming for: Top Twenty

Ride time: 1:11 pm

Liz Halliday-Sharp (USA) and Cooley Quicksilver

Prediction: Top Twenty

Ride time: 1:37 pm

William Fox-Pitt (GBR) and Oratorio

Prediction: Top Twenty-Five

Ride time: 2:01 pm

Matt Flynn (USA) and Wizzerd

Prediction: Top Thirty

Ride time: 2:09 pm

Tim Price (NZL) and Bango

Prediction: Top Thirty

Ride time: 2:51 pm

Marilyn Little (USA) and RF Scandalous

Prediction: Top Two

Ride time: 3:47 pm

Jonelle Price (NZL) and Classic Moet

Prediction: Top Thirty

Ride time: 4:37 pm

Oliver Townend (GBR) and Cooley Master Class

Prediction: Top Ten

Ride time: 4:53 pm

#LRK3DE21: WebsiteEN’s Ultimate Form Guide5* Entries4* EntriesScheduleNorth America Live StreamWorldwide Live StreamEN’s CoverageEN’s InstagramEN’s Twitter

By the Numbers: Kentucky 4*-S

Erin Kellerhouse & Woodford Reserve. Photo by Sherry Stewart Erin Kellerhouse & Woodford Reserve. Photo by Sherry Stewart

For the first time in modern eventing times, the Kentucky 5*-L will be accompanied by a 4*-S division, making for a jam-packed weekend. Between the largest 5* field in five years and the presence of another fifty horses in the 4*-S, we are in for some exciting but long days ahead.

The field for the 4*-S is an interesting mix. Some promising young pairs are competing in this division because they are not yet qualified for the 5* level. Others consist of horses who aren’t ready for the 5*-L although may be competing multiple others in the marquee division. Some are more experienced pairs who have aimed at goals later in the year or haven’t been able to ramp things up in time to contest the 5* itself. Regardless, one thing many riders couldn’t pass up was the chance to ride at this venue during this competition, with all the pomp and circumstance (and pressure) that accompanies it.

The 4*-S will run in the traditional order of phases with stadium last, matching the 5*-L. One interesting thing to watch on Saturday is the weather; the 4*-S is scheduled to run cross-country first, with the 5*-L in the afternoon. However with the chance of rain currently 100% for Saturday, we could see things shifted around to allow the best ground for the 5* competitors.

DRESSAGE

Tamie Smith and Danito. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

There are a plethora of top level dressage competitors here this weekend but Tamie Smith continues to be the queen bee in this phase. The sublime Danito owns the only sub-25 dressage average in the field, as he exceeds the 75% mark in 50% of his tests in his time at the level. Not to be left out, his stablemate EnVogue with almost equal panache. She has broken into the twenties in all over her starts at the level save her initial foray at the 4*, recently putting in a personal best 4* mark of 25.0 at Stable View.

Also coming in on the lovely chestnut front is the impressive Starr Witness, who impressed last year in her freshman season at the level in this phase by breaking 70% at every show she competed at, then continued the trend into her sophomore year with three sub-thirty scores already this spring under Doug Payne. The lightly competed but always well-placed Luke 140 should also join the group near the top of the leaderboard; with Boyd Martin in the irons, he has been knocking about two points off each sequential A/4* test since October and last put in a personal A/4* best of 26.7 at Tryon.

The West Coast contingent has sent a strong group of horses this year and one pair in particular to keep an eye on is Erin Kellerhouse and the well-named Woodford Reserve, who will be competing less than thirty miles away from the distillery for which he was named. Despite both being new to the level in 2020, these two have been the picture of consistency, scoring in a range of only a couple points apart from 27.5 to 29.7 in all but one of their seven starts.

Liz Halliday-Sharp has one of the shortest drives to the Kentucky Horse Park, and Cooley Moonshine should benefit from being well-rested. The impressive black gelding is making only his fourth start at the level but impressed at Tryon in the atmosphere by solidly breaking into the twenties for the first time. Jenny Caras and Trendy Fernhill are also a pair to watch out for a sub-thirties score, consistently putting in marks ranging from 26.1 to 31.2 in all but one of their seven starts. Up-and-coming pair Woods Baughman and C’est La Vie 135 have shown that they aren’t just a flash in the pan as well, putting in similar marks in a three-point range around 29 after setting a strong impression at Great Meadow 4*-S last August with a 25.8.

For a bit of flash, the striking Rubens D’Ysieux could throw down a flashy test that contends for the lead, a solid test that sits just beyond the leaders, and anything in between; this is his first return to the Kentucky stadium since Sara Kozumplik-Murphy obtained the ride on him in 2016.

CROSS COUNTRY

Tamie Smith & Passepartout. Photo by Kim Miller.

For the 5*-L, the time is gettable but data surrounding the impact of a short format is minimal. The only Advanced or 4*-S held at the Kentucky Horse Park in recent memory was the Advanced division at the American Eventing Championships, where the fastest time of the day still exceeded the optimum time by a whopping sixteen seconds. If it is similarly difficult to make the time for this division, the dressage scores on day one will take a backseat to the ability to make the pace on day two.

Of course, Tamie Smith is perfectly capable of doing that two, and all three of her trio of horses is used to pushing the pace under her guidance. EnVogue has historically been the fastest of her three pairs, with an almost perfect speed rating average of 1.75; in three of her four clear A/4*-S runs, she has finished as the fastest pace of the day. However since coming east for Tryon last fall, her jump record has suffered and stops and a TE in her last three consecutive runs at the level make her a big question mark for performance this weekend.

No such questions surround Danito, who has solidly proven himself reliable at the short format. Although this horse typically doesn’t set the pace, he does tend to finish an average of only 12.4 seconds behind those who do. Keeping that gap to a minimum would keep him in contention for a win. Tamie Smith’s final ride Passepartout could suddenly be a contender as well; Tamie steps back into the irons and with a record of two for two in setting the pace for the day, this pair could make an equally large splash as they did at Galway Downs last fall. However, Passepartout has struggled in the jumping phases this spring after returning to Kaylawna Cook and it will be an open question as to whether his troubles will linger under Tamie’s guidance.

Not to be discounted is Woodford Reserve, who has his own history of clocking in a fast pace at the short format; he averages only 7.5 seconds slower than the pace of the day. This will be this horse’s first foray east of the Mississippi though, and the rain and turf may combine to be a serious test for this pair.

Boyd Martin and Luke 140. Photo by Shannon Brinkman for Erin Gilmore Photography.

Luke 140 has been shockingly consistent on pace, no matter what others do or who is in the irons; in five runs at A/4*-S under both Phillip Dutton and Boyd Martin, he has clocked in 10.0 to 10.8 time penalties in four of them. Starr WitnessTrendy Fernhill, and C’est La Vie 135 are all expected to clock in double digits worth of time penalties, but keeping it in the mid-teens would keep them in contention for a top-ten placing.

While horses like Rubens D’Ysieux and Cooley Moonshine will likely take a slower tack and therefore fall from contention, several will be ready to take advantage of a tough-to-get optimum time. The chief of these are the full brothers Landmark’s Monaco and Landmark’s Monte Carlo, ridden by Kim Cecere and Lauren Nicholson respectively. The more experienced of the two, Landmark’s Monte Carlo has a history of making a cross-country run look smooth as butter and while he historically hasn’t been pushed for speed at the short format, he did notably set an astonishing pace of more than a minute faster than optimum at Red Hills. On the other hand, Landmark’s Monaco hasn’t fully found his feet at the A/4* level, but when he and Kimmy Cecere complete a clear round, they are either the fastest pace of the day or inside the optimum time.

Other horses who have proven they have the pace to make up some ground after dressage include Pan American horse RF Cool Play, ridden by Lynn Symansky, and Puerto Rican Olympic pair Castle Larchfield Purdy and Lauren Billys. RF Cool Play has been sparingly competed at A/4* but has made the most of his time there, averaging only fifteen seconds off the pace. The experienced Castle Larchfield Purdy has picked up the pace in recent years and in his last three outings has finished no more than 20 seconds slower than the fastest time.

SHOW JUMPING

If the West Coasters have successfully negotiated the mud and the hills with the same aplomb they handle the courses out in California, they’ll be sitting pretty come stadium day. Erin Kellerhouse will be in fine position if this is the case, sitting on Woodford Reserve who has incurred only one rail in seven A/4* rounds, including twice jumping clear when stadium was the final phase. That’s a good place to be in when your fellow Californians are more likely to have a rail than not; EnVogue has incurred two rails in each of three rounds jumped after cross country while Danito has yet to jump a clear round when stadium is last. While Passepartout has yet to have a rail under Tamie Smith in sanctioned competition, he has struggled this spring under Kaylawna Cook; Tamie may have her hands full just getting a solid completion on this horse.

That would clear the field for Landmark’s Monaco and Kimmy Cecere to continue their climb up the ranks as long as cross-country day went their way. These two have been a one-or-none pair at the 4*-S level, jumping clear in 67% of their rounds. Castle Larchfield Purdy and Lauren Billys are also a pair who have jumped clear in this format in the last two years more often than not; while a rail is possible, a clear is certainly within their grasp.

Lynn Symansky and RF Cool Play. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Three horses who are almost certain to jump clear are Starr WitnessRF Cool Play, and Luke 140. Starr Witness has jumped clear in six of her seven A/4* starts, including a long format completion. RF Cool Play has never added anything to his dressage score in a short format and has jumped clean in two of three long formats on top of that. Meanwhile, Luke 140 has not had a rail period at the A/4* level, including while being catch ridden in two of his A/4*-S starts. These are all horses expected to climb the ranks on the final day.

PREDICTIONS:

WINNER

Erin Kellerhouse and Woodford Reserve. Photo courtesy of MGO Photography.

Quite frankly, this division is wide open, with a number of competitive pairs who could take the win and a number of factors that might come into play. On paper, it looks like Erin Kellerhouse and Woodford Reserve will have the edge, but contending with mud and rain on Saturday won’t be easy for this pair in their sophomore season at the level.

FASTEST CROSS-COUNTRY ROUNDS

Kimmy Cecere and Landmark’s Monaco. Photo by Abby Powell.

If they go clear, Landmark’s Monaco is likely to set the pace for the day; in his three clear A/4*S rounds under Kim Cecere, he has either made the time or clocked in the fastest time.

SPOILER ALERT

Tamie Smith & Passepartout. Photo by Kim Miller.

Passepartout comes into this show with a bit of baggage after a rough spring, but it can’t be ignored that Tamie Smith finished in second with him at Galway Downs 4*-L last fall despite it only being their second second full competition together. If they come out with similar form to last fall, they’ll be one of several who could spoil a big win for Erin.

EXTENDING CLEAR JUMPING STREAKS

Boyd Martin and Luke 140. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Luke 140 has jumped six A/4* rounds. Luke 140 has had zero rails. Currently he owns the longest streak of consecutive clear rounds in the field.

BIGGEST MOVER

Joe Meyer and Clip Clop. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Five-star horse Clip Clop knows what the Kentucky Horse Park means, and while a relaxed test is a bit out of reach, he and Joe Meyer are reliable enough in the stadium phase and fast enough in the cross-country phase to move considerably up the ranks by Sunday.

Dressage begins tomorrow, with the 4*-S going in the morning. We’ve got multiple boots on the ground in Kentucky as well as a full complement of journalists covering remotely. Keep your eyes locked here for all of our coverage!

#LRK3DE21: WebsiteEN’s Ultimate Form Guide5* Entries4* EntriesScheduleNorth America Live StreamWorldwide Live StreamEN’s CoverageEN’s InstagramEN’s Twitter

By the Numbers: Fair Hill CCI4*-S

Update 4/9 @ 11:15 am: Phillip Dutton and Sea of Clouds are a late scratch. This article has been updated to reflect current entries.

Fair Hill is the final prep event taking place this weekend, and while a few Kentucky-bound horses are competing in the 4*-S division, the majority of those headed for the Bluegrass State have opted for the Advanced division instead. As this venue will be the final international run at this venue prior to the inaugural Maryland 5* this fall, this offers many an opportunity to test the waters in the new venue.

Historically, no one has made the time at this venue for the Advanced or short format, which means this venue has provided for a lot of movement up the leaderboard over the years. The leader after dressage hasn’t won this division since 2015 and the ultimate winner has come from as low as eighth after dressage.

DRESSAGE

Daniel Clasing and MW Gangster’s Game. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

MW Gangster’s Game and Daniel Clasing could be possible competitors for the pole position, showing flashes of promise and flirting with scores in the twenties. They scored a personal best of 27.0 at Great Meadow last summer and while that was a significant improvement over their prior performance, they showed it wasn’t a fluke laying down two consecutive tests below 32.

The other pair to likely appear near the top of the leaderboard is Fylicia Barr and Galloway Sunrise, who have yet to break into the twenties but have been extremely consistent, scoring between 30 and 35 in ten of thirteen A/4* outings dating back through 2019.

SHOW JUMPING

Daniel Clasing and MW Gangster’s Game. Photo by Jenni Autry.

MW Gangster’s Game and Galloway Sunrise both unfortunately did have considerable trouble in this phase in their latest outings. For MW Gangster’s Game, a return to form would put him more likely to incurring only a single rail or even having a clear round; prior to Carolina, he had been a one-or-none horse at every venue dating back to the spring of 2019. Galloway Sunrise on the other hand is more likely to incur at least two rails, with only three clears in 15 rounds at the A/4*S levels.

One pair likely to capitalize on the weakness of the field in this phase is Arielle Aharoni and Dutch Times, who have been a one-or-none pair for the entirety of their A/4* career. They’ve jumped clear in more than 50% of their stadium rounds and could capitalize if the rest of the field struggles.

CROSS COUNTRY

Fylicia Barr and Galloway Sunrise. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Fylicia Barr and Galloway Sunrise are a pair who could contend for the fastest time on cross country day; they can certainly put the pedal to the metal and put in a blazingly fast round. They’ve twice put in the fastest round in their 2020/2021 seasons, particularly when they can be competitive by utilizing it.

MW Gangster’s Game and Honor Me (ridden by Lisa Marie Fergusson) are also pairs who should end up with cross country penalties in only the single digits.

PREDICTIONS:

WINNER

Daniel Clasing and MW Gangster’s Game. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Update 4/9 @ 11:15 am: The scratch of Sea of Clouds leaves the way clear for Daniel Clasing and MW Gangster’s Game to pick up the win.

NEW TO EACH OTHER (SORT OF)

 

Holly Payne Caravella and CharmKing. Photo by Abby Powell.

One pair to keep an eye on is Holly Payne-Caravella and CharmKing, who are paired together at this level for the first time after Holly returns from maternity leave. Lillian Heard piloted this horse to some excellent results last year after stepping into the irons for Holly, and in his first return to the ring with his main rider, CharmKing and Holly won a competitive Open Intermediate division at Carolina.

OTHER DIVISIONS

  • The Advanced division sports more 5*-bound. FE Lifestyle, Stella Artois, Bendigo, and Unmarked Bills will all be headed next to Kentucky.
  • The aptly-named Super Socks BCF returns to the Advanced level for the first time this year; he and Matt Brown were previous winners of the 4*-S back in 2015.
  • 4* horse Olney Uncle Sam is now paired with Daniel Clasing and will be contesting the 3* this weekend.
  • Dressage guru Silva Martin appears on the entry list, but don’t get too excited; she is only slated to do dressage on Boyd’s Kentucky horses.
  • Erika Nesler will be competing Right Above It in the Training division in his first return to competition since 2019.
  • Pan American horse RF Cool Play will contest the Intermediate in preparation for the Kentucky 4*-S.

Dressage takes place on Friday. Keep your eyes locked here for all of our coverage!

Fair Hill International: WebsiteEntry StatusRide TimesLive Scores

By the Numbers: Chattahoochee Hills CCI4*-S

We’re in mid-April and the season is full tilt, with three venues offering 4* divisions this weekend. This is the last weekend for Kentucky-bound pairs to nab one final prep run, with less than two weeks until jog day. Eleven horses competing here in Georgia are slated to start in the 5* at Kentucky, with 10 of those competing in the 4*-S division.

This event has been running since 2013 and there has been no single path to the victory here. Winners have won wire to wire, or come from as low as 12th; some have broken into the twenties, while others have failed to even break below 35. Some winners have been on the slower side on cross country, or had a rail … or three rails. However, the last three editions of this event have been won by pairs who left all the rails up in stadium and then put in the fastest round of the day on cross country. If you can do both, you can win this weekend.

DRESSAGE

With six starts now under his belt, Trendy Fernhill can no longer be counted as a newcomer to the level. From his first start, he’s shown talent under the supervision of Jenny Caras, breaking 70% in his first try at the level. He’s since scored in the twenties in three consecutive A/4*-S starts, with an overall average of 29.6 penalties.

Lauren Kieffer and Vermiculus. Photo by Tim Wilkinson/Eventing Images.

On the other side of the coin is Vermiculus, an experienced campaigner who is headed to Kentucky next month for his sixth 5* start. This will be his first A/4* start of 2021, but Lauren Nicholson has helped this horse get better and better, averaging only 29.7 penalties in five 4* starts over the last two years.

SHOW JUMPING

Despite an uncharacteristic two down at Stable View, Trendy Fernhill is thus far clocking in 67% clear rounds at this level. If he and Jenny Caras stick true to form, they will cement their position on the leaderboard headed into the cross country. Sadly, Vermiculus tends to be more impressed with the 5* size fences than the 4*; he hasn’t jumped a clear round at the A/4*-S level since 2018.

Karl Slezak and Fernhill Wishes. Photo by Shelby Allen.

This will leave room for Cooley Quicksilver and Fernhill Wishes to climb up the leaderboard in this phase. Liz Halliday-Sharp has clocked in clear rounds in nine of twelve of Cooley Quicksilver’s A/4*-S rounds while Karl Slezak has only had one A/4* rail on Fernhill Wishes since 2018.

CROSS COUNTRY

None of the horses that will be near the top of the leaderboard will be contending for fastest round of the day, but will  more likely be in the realm of 10 to 15 seconds over optimum time. By incurring less than five time penalties, Trendy FernhillCooley Quicksilver, and Fernhill Wishes should all be able to maintain their position on the leaderboard.

Natalia Neneman and Electric Lux. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Because time can shake up the standings so much at this venue, some of the faster horses will have a crack at a solid finish.  Natalia Neneman and  Electric Lux are a pair to keep an eye on for a top five finish, with an average speed rating of 10.33 seconds over optimum time. Abigail Niles and Carrick Finest Lad have only had two starts at the Advanced level, but have finished less than 20 seconds over the fastest time of the day each time, which would rocket them up the ranks today as well.

PREDICTIONS:

WINNER

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Trendy Fernhill already has one win at this level under his belt, and he’ll be able to make it two this weekend so long as he sticks to form in the stadium round.

Update 4/8 @ 1:00 pm: Jenny Caras has shared that Trendy Fernhill will just be doing the combined test and withdrawing prior to dressage. This leaves the field clear for Cooley Quicksilver to edge out Fernhill Wishes for the win this weekend.

FASTEST CROSS-COUNTRY ROUNDS

Nilson Da Silva and Magnum’s Martini. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Chatt Hills is once again another venue where making the time is extremely difficult; out of 258 pairs to start the cross country, only six have made the time at this venue. One of those pairs, Nilson Moreira da Silva and  Magnum’s Martini, is responsible for two of those clear rounds and comes back this weekend to make their final prep prior to the Kentucky 5*.

NEW TO THE LEVEL

Abigail Niles and Carrick Finest Lad. Photo by Abby Powell.

Carrick Finest Lad and Abigail Niles are ones to watch; in two starts they’ve been incredibly consistent, scoring less than half a point apart in two dressage tests in the mid-thirties, adding nothing to their score in stadium yet, and clocking in speed ratings less than 20 seconds slower than the fastest rounds of the day.

OTHER DIVISIONS

  • Kentucky 5* entry Jak My Style will contend the Advanced division, along with a few others aimed at Kentucky 4*-S.
  • Kentucky 5* entries Eroll GobeyOff the Record and DonDante will stretch their legs in the OI division.
  • Kentucky 5* entries Johnny Royale and Lancaster will be in the 3*-S division.
  • Copper Beach contends the 3*-S with new rider Cosby Green.
  • Former 5* horses: OBOS O’Reilly and Sound Prospect will be in the 2*-S while Cisko A runs in the OI.

Dressage takes place on Friday. Keep your eyes locked here for all of our coverage!

Chattahoochee Hills International: WebsiteEntry StatusRide TimesLive Scores

By the Numbers: Twin Rivers CCI4*-L

Last year the pandemic put the debut of a number of new long formats on hold: Morven CCI4*-L, Maryland CCI5*-L and Twin Rivers CCI4*-L were all victims of 2020 that will finally get to see their debut in 2021. Twin Rivers is a venue that has been a staple out west for many years, and with the debut of this division, gives the West Coast a spring 4*-L on the calendar.

With Kentucky only a couple weeks away and also offering a 4*-S division this year, most of the experienced pairs from this region have headed east to the Bluegrass State. The handful that remain are all fairly green to the level, with only one horse having made a previous attempt at a 4*-L.

DRESSAGE

Amber Levine and Cinzano. Photo by Kim Miller.

One of the most experienced horses of the bunch, Cinzano is a strong candidate to lead the way after dressage day. Although he has yet to break into the twenties in the first phase, he and Amber Levine have very reliably scored in the low thirties. In nine starts at the A/4* level, they’ve averaged 33.5 penalties.

CROSS COUNTRY

Marc Grandia and Campari FFF. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Cinzano‘s consistency on the flat has not been matched by his performance on the cross country; despite nine runs at the A/4*-S levels, he only achieved his first clean run late in 2020. A clear round here is possible, but not likely, leaving room for Campari FFF and Marc Grandia to make their way up the leaderboard. Campari FFF is the only horse in the field to have attempted a 4*-L, which sadly ended in a technical elimination; aside from that, the horse has had no jump penalties or eliminations at A/4*.

Another pair to keep an eye on will be Madison Temkin and Dr. Hart, who are both making their debut at the level. Like Cinzano, Dr. Hart only achieved consistency in this phase in 2020 after a bit of trouble early in his A/4*-S career. However, he has now strung together three clear runs in a row. Both Cinzano and Dr. Hart would contest for the lead if they can put in a solidly clear round.

SHOW JUMPING

Madison Temkin and Dr. Hart. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

This field is not the strongest in this phase, so the final day will be a challenging experience for these first-timers as they face their first 4*-L stadium rounds. Madison Temkin and Dr. Hart lead the way for their ability in this phase, never having more than a single rail at A/4*-S. In two rounds that were held after cross-country, these two split the difference, clocking in a clear round in one and hitting a rail in the other. Marc Grandia and Campari FFF are another likely to put in a one rail-round. At the A/4*-S level, they have three times done stadium last, and three times had a single rail.

PREDICTION:

WINNER

Madison Temkin and Dr. Hart. Photo by Sally Spickard.

It will be close, but first-timers Madison Temkin and Dr. Hart will take the inaugural CCI4*-L win here at Twin Rivers, building on their successful 2020 and 2021 seasons thus far.

OTHER DIVISIONS

  • Andrea Baxter is saving her long-time campaigner Indy 500 for overseas events but has Indy 500’s son Laguna Seca competing in the 4*-S division.

Dressage takes place on Thursday for the 4*-S and Advanced and continues on Friday for the 4*-L. We’ll be receiving regular press updates from Kim Miller and the team on the ground, and you can follow along with the free live stream from Ride On Video all weekend here.

Twin Rivers International: WebsiteEntry Status/Ride Times/Live Scores

By the Numbers: The Fork CCI4*-S

Half a decade ago, The Fork was the final destination for almost every Kentucky-bound pair, offering a preview of who was really reaching peak performance prior to the late April event. With the addition of so many other options, the competition has largely split. However that doesn’t mean we won’t see some brilliant performances this weekend; several top contenders have chosen this venue as their final prep run, likely due to the similarity in atmosphere between the stadiums. Tryon offers a setting that rivals Kentucky for sheer spectacle and helps prepare a fit horse for what he might see in the Bluegrass in a few weeks.

Since The Fork relocated to Tryon in 2017, there has only been one pair for all of the Advanced and 4*-S divisions to finish on their dressage score, and not one winner has done it. Phillip Dutton and Z came the closest in 2018, adding only one second of cross country time to their dressage score en route to the 4*-S win in 2018, while Tsetserleg TSF and Boyd Martin won in 2019 thanks to having the fastest cross-country round with only 12 seconds over optimum time.

The winners of both the Advanced and CCI4*-S here have never had a single stadium rail, with the 4*-S winners adding nothing at all to their score in the stadium phase. All of the winners have also been within 16 seconds of either the optimum time or the fastest pace of the day, but their dressage ranking has mattered less; winners of these divisions have varied from 1st to 10th after dressage.

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF return as the only pair to previously win a division at this venue, having won the most recent running in 2019. Liz Halliday-Sharp paired with her experienced Fernhill By Night to win an Advanced division in 2017, but instead brings Deniro Z and the green Cooley Moonshine out to play this weekend.

DRESSAGE

It’s not often we get to see Mai Baum put on his dancing shoes and it’s been even longer since Tamie Smith last competed him on the East Coast…since the fall of 2018 in fact. Competed conservatively during 2020, Tamie conserved this talented horse for his first 5* start this spring and a further eye on the Tokyo Olympics. Mai Baum has only gotten better with age, with a 2020 average of 18.8 bettering his 2019/2018 average by nearly 7 points.

Mai Baum will be very difficult to beat, but one of the few horses to top him on the flat is his stablemate Danito, also ridden by Tamie Smith.  The striking chestnut sits on a career average of 24.8 in seven starts at the level, and bested Mai Baum last summer at Galway Downs. Yet another flashy chestnut who will be contesting for the top is Mai Baum’s Pan American teammate Starr Witness, ridden by Doug Payne. This mare has been extremely consistent since her debut at this level at the beginning of 2020; she has scored 70% or better in each of her six starts at the level thus far.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Yet another Pan American horse, but this one far more experienced, will also be right up in the mix. Tsetserleg TSF has a two year A/4* average of 27.0 penalties but Boyd Martin made sure the horse did his homework during the competition break in 2020 and came out swinging, averaging only 25.4 penalties in his two 2020 starts. Meanwhile, Deniro Z and Liz Halliday-Sharp spent most of the fall 2020 season racking up wins, proving that the horse has come into his own on the flat. In five 2020 starts, Deniro Z broke the 75% mark in three of them, and scored no worse than 27.5 overall.

Doug Payne has another heavy hitter in Vandiver, who hasn’t scored less than 70% since 2019, and twice exceeded the 75% mark in 2020 for the first time in his career. Wizzerd and Matthew Flynn round out the pairs most likely to score in the twenties; in five starts in 2020 and 2021, they’ve laid down sub-thirty tests all but once.

SHOW JUMPING

After stadium, most of the top five should stay in the top five, but with a bit of a scramble in the order. Two of the potential top five horses, Vandiver and Danito, are more likely to have a rail than not. Since 2018, Vandiver has had a rail in 70% of his 4*-S stadium rounds when cross-country was held last, while Danito has a 50% clear rate at this level but five total rails overall out of six rounds. Both of these horses may have enough cushion after the first phase to maintain a top position despite a rail but will likely drop a few placings.

Matt Flynn and Wizzerd. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Meanwhile, Mai Baum hasn’t had a rail in a short format since 2015, Deniro Z has jumped clear in 9 of 10 A/4*-S rounds dating back through 2019, and Wizzerd hasn’t added anything to his dressage score in four ’20/21 starts. Starr Witness has incurred rails in only one of her six starts at the A/4* level and although Tsetserleg TSF averages half a rail in his career A/4*S starts, he hasn’t had a rail in four A/4/5* starts dating back through 2019.

Other horses to keep an eye on in this phase are Quantum Leap, VermontMiks Master C, and QC Diamantaire.

CROSS COUNTRY

Don’t look for the top five to look appreciably different again on Sunday; the top five to six horses all have some serious speed in the cross country phase.

Body Martin and Tsetserleg. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

Tamie Smith is not one to dawdle on cross country and on Mai Baum, she has the ability to turn and burn as she’d like. With the fastest speed rating in the field, this horse will be right up with the fastest pairs, if not the fastest, on Sunday. Liz Halliday-Sharp has been on a mission with Deniro Z and has made the time in her last two 4*-S runs with him with runs that were near the top of the field in terms of pace. Tsetserleg TSF hasn’t had a lot of runs to stretch his legs in the past couple years but he hasn’t needed to; in his last 4*-S run, which was at this venue two years ago, he posted the fastest round of the day and followed that up with a round inside the time at Kentucky.

Both Danito and Vandiver should bounce back in this phase even if they do incur a rail in stadium. Doug Payne posted the second fastest time of the day last fall with Vandiver at Blue Ridge here at Tryon and followed it up with a round at the Tryon 4*-L only one second over the time. Danito might be a touch off the pace of the leaders but not by much; when going clear across the country at the 4*-S level, he and Tamie Smith average less than 10 seconds off the fastest pace.

Other horses to watch in this phase who could creep up into the top ten based on speed are Voltaire de TreMiks Master C, Quantum Leap, and QC Diamantaire.

PREDICTIONS:

WINNER

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Mai Baum is extremely hard to bet against, based on his record. He has won 8 of his 10 career starts at the A/4*-S level, and never finished worse than 4th. Between his strengths in dressage and stadium, he should have a significant cushion headed into the final phase and even if he doesn’t, he owns the best speed rating in the field.

FASTEST CROSS-COUNTRY ROUNDS

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

As mentioned above, Mai Baum also owns the fastest speed rating in the field but you wouldn’t know just by glancing at his record; he has never made the time at this level and format. The reason for that is that in only three of his starts at A/4*-S has anyone in the field made the time, meaning that in seven of his starts, the entire field posted cross-country time penalties. That is when this horse seems to excel, posting the fastest pace in four of those seven runs, and coming in at only one and four seconds over the fastest pace in two others. Since this venue is incredibly difficult to make the time, the field is set for this horse to do what he does best once again.

NEW TO THE LEVEL

Colleen Loach and Vermont. Photo by Abby Powell.

Vermont continues to be a horse to keep an eye on for the future. Colleen Loach has brought this horse on carefully and after three starts, the pair has an average of 30.7 in dressage, has incurred only one rail in three rounds, and a speed rating of less than 20 seconds slower than the fastest pace.

EXTENDING CLEAR JUMPING STREAKS

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum also happen to own the longest clear jumping streak in the field at the A/4*-S level; they’ve jumped eight consecutive clean rounds at these levels.

BIGGEST MOVER

Meghan O’Donoghue and Palm Crescent. Photo by Shannon Brinkman for Erin Gilmore Photography.

Keep an eye on  Meghan O’Donoghue and Palm Crescent to climb the leaderboard; these two have significant strength in the jumping phases and a likely clear stadium round paired with a cross-country round within 20 seconds of the fastest pace should propel them up the ranks throughout the weekend.

OTHER DIVISIONS

  • Of course the two Advanced divisions contain some Kentucky-bound horses to watch; Mama’s Magic Way and Islandwood Captain Jack will be contesting the A test while Qorry Blue d’Argouges, Long Island T, Cecelia, and Business Ben all make their final prep for Kentucky in the B test.
  • Caribbean Soul, a horse competed through 4* by Clark Montgomery, is now being campaigned by Caitlin Silliman in the OI.

Dressage and show jumping take place on Saturday, with cross country held on Sunday. Sadly, there is no live stream but keep your eyes locked here for all of our coverage!

The Fork at Tryon International: WebsiteEntry StatusRide TimesLive Scores

By the Numbers: Galway Downs CCI4*-S

The East coast eventing scene is on a roll, with international 4*-S events every weekend from now until mid-April, but the West Coast has its own share of top pairs making their final preps before heading to the Bluegrass. Galway Downs will see thirteen pairs contest the 4*-S this weekend, with three pairs headed next to Kentucky. Emilee Libby and Jakobi will be making the horse’s 5* debut next month with Lauren Billys and Erin Kellerhouse will make the trek with Castle Larchfield Purdy and Woodford Reserve to contest the 4*-S.

Galway is a venue that is constantly re-inventing itself in order to bring the best of eventing out to the West coast and this weekend is no exception. Clayton Fredericks will be designing the 4*-S for the first time, after making his debut as course designer here last fall for the 4*-L. Marc Donovan, another east coast favorite, returns for the third year to create the stadium courses.

In the last half decade, the winner of this division has had two things in common: a clean round in stadium and finishing at most 3 seconds over optimum time. While doing those two things will not guarantee you a win in this division, one thing is apparent: you cannot win the division without it. In the last edition of this event in 2019, Emilee Libby and Jakobi were the only pair in the field to do so, and clinched the win as a result.

DRESSAGE

Helen Aliston and Ebay. Photo by Ride On Photo.

Helen Alliston (née Bouscaren) has been a rider to watch with her current mount Ebay, placing in the top three for five of their six completions and winning twice at the A/4* level in their last four outings. The pair demonstrated their potential last winter when they laid down a 23.6 in the Advanced at Twin Rivers and reiterated that it wasn’t a fluke this February, scoring a 25.7 at the same event.

Meanwhile, Erin Kellerhouse and her ride Woodford Reserve made waves in their debut at the top level with a similar record; they too have placed in the top three for five of their six starts at this level. This pair has scored sub-thirty in all but one outing, so will ready to contest with Helen and Ebay for the lead after the first phase.

SHOW JUMPING

Woodford Reserve has jumped clear in four of his five A/4*-S starts, so don’t be looking for Erin Kellerhouse to drop down the ranks at all during the second phase. On the other hand, Ebay has more typically had a rail or two than jumped clear, and last put in a fault free stadium round in 2018. He and Helen Alliston will leave the door open for Lauren Billys and her long-time partner Castle Larchfield Purdy, who have stepped up the game in this phase. In their four outings over the last two years, this pair has incurred only one rail.

Emilee Libby and Jakobi. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Keep an eye out too for Emilee Libby and Jakobi in this phase, as they climb the leaderboard based on the strength of this horse’s jump.

CROSS COUNTRY

Lauren Billys and Castle Larchfield Purdy. Photo by Shelby Allen.

There’s not likely to be much movement on the final day in the top three placings; Woodford ReserveCastle Larchfield Purdy, and Ebay all boast speed ratings that indicate they could very well make the time if the historic percentage of clear rounds at this venue is equaled. Even if they don’t, their average pace is very similar to one another, leaving little separation in the scoring on the final day.

Jakobi and Emilee Libby will likely be just outside the time but will continue to climb into a top four placing.

PREDICTIONS:

WINNER

Erin Kellerhouse & Woodford Reserve. Photo by Sherry Stewart

Woodford Reserve and Erin Kellerhouse have been knocking on the door for a year for a win at the 4*-S level; this weekend will be ripe with opportunity for them.

FASTEST CROSS-COUNTRY ROUND

Chloe Smyth & Stag Party. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Keep an eye on the young pair Chloe Smyth and Stag Party to set the pace for the day; in three clear completions at A/4*, they set the pace at Woodside and were only 9 seconds off the leader at Copper Meadows last fall.

Sally Spickard will be on the ground in Temecula bringing you coverage from each phase of the CCI4*-S at Galway Downs, and Ride On Video is also providing a live stream for those who’d like to follow along.

Galway Downs International: WebsiteEntry StatusRide TimesLive Scores

By the Numbers: Stable View CCI4*-S

New to the spring competition schedule is Stable View 4*-S, which tried to put on their inaugural spring show last year only to be an early casualty of the pandemic. With a slate of 52 entries far exceeding their attendance record for the fall show, Stable View’s attraction to the riders headed to the long formats this spring can’t be understated.

Thus far, the venue’s Advanced and CCI4*-S divisions have hardly been a dressage show: in fact only once has the winner of the dressage gone on to win one of these divisions and that was in a sparsely populated Advanced class that was held alongside the show’s first FEI edition. While the winner of these classes have come from the top five dressage tests all but once, they rarely have produced the win thanks to the tricky nature of cross country here. In fact, in order to win this division, you have to put in a speed rating of zero, meaning the pair either needs to make the time or be the fastest round of the day. Five of seven winners here have done it, with a sixth pair winning off only one second of time.

Up until 2019, Phillip Dutton and Boyd Martin dominated this venue, winning every Advanced and 4*-S division until 2020. Phillip returns this weekend with Z, who has won this division twice, while Buck Davidson trots out Carlevo, the horse who broke the streak of ex-Australian winners. Liz Halliday-Sharp, who won last fall, will have a pair of contenders as well but not her Stable View winner Fernhill By Night, who finished second at Carolina International just last weekend.

DRESSAGE

If you read this and think you’ve read it before, don’t feel surprised because once again we have Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous competing head to head in the first phase with Tamie Smith and EnVogue, two weeks after they met at Red Hills. Unsurprisingly, Marilyn and RF Scandalous are the most likely to lead after day one; they’ve now extended their winning dressage streak to eleven consecutive A/4*/5* starts. With a two-year average of 22.0 penalties, it’s hard to see where anyone will be able to catch them.

Buck Davidson and Carlevo. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Tamie and EnVogue slip into the next slot with an average of 27.7 for the level, having broken 70% in all but the mare’s first start at the 4* level. Despite seven consecutive scores in the twenties, they will have sharper competition this weekend in the form of Buck Davidson and Carlevo, who won last year at this venue in June. Although Carlevo can lack the consistency of the two aforementioned mares, he consistently scores sub-thirty more often than he doesn’t, including clocking in a 25.8 earlier this year at Rocking Horse.

Not to be left out is another previous winner, Z with Phillip Dutton. Phillip did his homework with this horse during the pandemic lockdown and came out swinging, dropping their average in dressage nearly four points between the 2019 and 2020 seasons. The question will be if they can keep up the qualify of work in 2021 without that prolonged period to concentrate on it; a score of 23.4 at Pine Top this winter indicated that he perhaps has only gotten better.

The young horse Trendy Fernhill will be a fresh addition to the leaderboard under Jenny Caras; this horse has won two consecutive outings at the A/4*S level, although this will by far be the most competitive field he has faced thus far. In five starts, he has averaged a 29.8 which would leave him well placed this weekend.

SHOW JUMPING

Phillip Dutton and Z. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

The stadium will leave the top of the leaderboard unchanged, with three of the four top placings unlikely to drop a rail. RF Scandalous often moonlights in the jumper world with Marilyn Little and has had only two rails in 16 of 18 career stadium rounds; the last one occurred in 2018. Z too is a notoriously careful jumper; he and Phillip Dutton have put in 25 clear rounds out of 29 at the A/4*/5* levels.

Buck Davidson and Carlevo are also more likely to jump clear than not; they’ve jumped clear in 9 of 11 A/4* starts in the the last two years. Trendy Fernhill and Jenny Caras have had only one rail in five rounds at the level and have twice won thanks to clear stadium rounds.

Meanwhile, some stalkers after dressage will start making their move up the leaderboard. While Stella Artois can occasionally throw in a top score, she more consistently stalks the leaders after day one and makes up ground in the stadium phase on day two. She and Jennie Brannigan have jumped clear in seven of eight starts in the last two years.

Idaho-based Sara Mittleider and La Paz are another pair to keep an eye out for in the stadium. This pair jumps clear more often than not at the A/4*S level, clocking in only two total rails in six career starts. Another Sara, Sara Kozumplik-Murphy and Rubens d’Ysieux, join the super careful club with six clear rounds in seven stadium starts as a pair; they only incurred their first rail together at this level at the Advanced at Morven Park last fall.

CROSS COUNTRY

The question as always for RF Scandalous is going to be cross country time and whether she and Marilyn Little have sufficient cushion from their stellar dressage and stadium phases to keep their lead over the remainder of the field. Although this pair made time for the first time at the level two weeks ago, the fact that 36% of the field also made the time was an anomaly not only for the venue but for the level itself. At the 4*-s level, clear and inside the time rates of 30% or higher have only occurred thirteen times worldwide since 2015, so finishing times at the 2021 Red Hills will be an outlier for most horses.

Since Stable View is another venue notoriously tough to make the time at, it is much more likely that this pair will be back to needing some seconds in hand going into the final phase. Luckily, their talent in the first two phases will probably give them some breathing room, but ultimately the question, as always, will be is it enough?

Two-time winners Z and Phillip Dutton will be ready to pounce as one of the fastest pairs in the field. The 2018 WEG pair have accumulated a grand total of only 1 second over optimum time in two runs here at this venue, both of which culminated in a win.

Jacob Fletcher and Atlantic Domino. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Buck Davidson and Carlevo will be a touch slower, along with Jenny Caras and Trendy Fernhill and Sara Mittleider and La Paz, all of whom will probably rack up around ten seconds worth of time penalties. This will leave the door open for some speedsters to nab a top five spot; Jacob Fletcher with Atlantic Domino are capable of blazingly fast rounds when they want to, and have made the time at two venues difficult to catch the time at. EnVogue could also come roaring back to the top of the leaderboard with Tamie Smith if she returns to typical form; her clear rounds tend to be paired with the fastest pace of the day.

PREDICTIONS:

WINNER

Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

RF Scandalous should be able to make it two in a row this weekend, with enough cushion between her and the other top pairs to give her the time she needs to complete on cross country.

EXTENDING CLEAR JUMPING STREAKS

Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Singapore. Photo by Abby Powell.

Z is a great stadium horse but it’s his stablemate Fernhill Singapore who currently owns the longest consecutive streak of clear A/4*-S rounds in this field. Under Phillip Dutton, with one lone catch ride from Boyd Martin, this horse has jumped clear in his last seven at A/4* rounds.

BIGGEST MOVER

Nilson Da Silva and Magnum’s Martini. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Magnum’s Martini is a strong candidate to move well up the order after the jumping phases; with loads of experience at this level, this horse knows what comes after dressage!

OTHER DIVISIONS

  • As a 4-year-old, 2 A.M. won the 2016 East Coast YEH Championships. Under Charlotte Babbitt, he is back on the East coast to contend in the 3*-S.
  • Joe Meyer competes former Price ride Kindred Spirit II in the 3*-S division. Under both Tim and Jonelle this horse competed through the 4*-L level.
  • Former 5* ride RF Eloquence is back on the East coast with Meg Pellegrini in the 3*-S division.
  • Keep an eye out for Cornelius Bo in the 2*-S division. Under owner Alyssa Phillips, he has won his last eight consecutive events from Training level up through Prelim and 2*-S.
  • River King has competed up through the Advanced level with four total riders, including current rider Anna Pierce; they will be in the 3*-S division this weekend.

Dressage starts today. While there is sadly not a live stream for Stable View this weekend, we’ll be bringing you media reports from the press team on the ground all weekend.

Stable View International: WebsiteEntry StatusRide TimesLive Scores

By the Numbers: Carolina CCI4*-S

Updated Thursday, March 18, at noon to reflect the withdrawal before dressage of our original #1-2 rankings: Liz Halliday Sharp/Deniro Z, who is out with an abscess, and Tamie Smith/Danito.

Carolina was the first casualty of the pandemic last year and while it came as quite a shock to the system, I don’t think anyone quite had grasped the extent to which our season, year, and lives would ultimately be turned upside-down. One thing I’m grateful for is the chance to get back to the steady churn of the spring season and by the number of entries in each show coming up over the next several weeks, so are all of the competitors.

As a venue, Carolina has made continuous improvements throughout its existence based on feedback from riders, volunteers, and other important parties. The eagerness to keep marching forward is one of the things that gives this venue its magic and makes them a perennial highlight on the spring calendar. This event has been a key prep for many leading up to Kentucky, and with Ian Stark entering his fifth year as a course designer, it’s a true test of what might be seen in the fall at the inaugural Maryland 5*.

At least one pair has made the time in the 4*-S division over the last five runnings, with two  editions seeing more than 30% of competitors finish inside the time. Although time can be somewhat of a factor, it is not generally the deciding factor. Since 2015, the winner of this event has not only put in a sub 30 dressage score, but has also finished on that score in four of five times. Carolina is an event where you have to be on your A-game in all three phases to have any hope of a win.

The last two previous winning pairs of Doug Payne/Vandiver (2018) and Liz Halliday-Sharp/Fernhill By Night (2019) are back again to contest the 4*-S division. Will Coleman and Off the Record also won the Advanced Division in 2018 and are here to contest the 4*-S division as well.

DRESSAGE

Doug Payne and Starr Witness. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Carolina features a plethora of horses gunning for a Tokyo slot, and that means we should see a number of pairs break the 70% mark.Starr Witness is a talented younger horse paired with an experienced rider, Doug Payne, whose average at the level is nearly as impressive at 25.9 penalties.

They won’t be alone near the top though. Liz Halliday-Sharp brings forth Fernhill By Night, who won this division the last time it was run in 2019, and has historically been Liz’s ticket to the top of the leaderboard on day one. He’s averaged 27.9 penalties over the last two years.

Hot on Liz’s heels is Doug Payne again, this time with his long-time partner and winner of the 2018 4*-S here, Vandiver. This is another horse who is maturing into top dressage scores, with a 2020 average of 25.4 that betters his two-year average of 28.1 by almost three points.

Covert Rights is a good bet to break the 70% mark as well, averaging a 29.6 over the last two years with Colleen Rutledge, while Off the Record and Will Coleman have the potential to throw a curveball into the mix after laying down a stellar 21.6 in their only 2020 start. A number of others have the potential to play at the top of the leaderboard this weekend as well but have lacked the consistency to expect it; however, keep an eye out for C’est La Vie 135WizzerdCooley On Show. And of course, one cannot forget the USEA record-breaking score of 15.0 by Carlchen and Phillip Dutton at Pine Top earlier this year. That pair is discussed in further detail below.

SHOW JUMPING

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Unsurprisingly, a number of excellent jumpers feature here. We might see some shifting at the top of the leaderboard; Vandiver is more like to incur a single rail than to jump clear, while Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night are likely to jump clean. Despite that, there’s a good chance they all maintain positions well within the top 10.

Covert Rights and Off the Record will split directions here, with Colleen Rutledge‘s horse likely to fall down in the rankings with at least a rail while Will Coleman‘s ride has only ever had a rail at one venue, Great Meadow.  C’est La Vie 135 with Woods BaughmanOphelia under Clayton Fredericks, and Cooley On Show ridden by Sharon White should all make strong appearances in this phase as well, allowing them to move up into the top 10 if they haven’t started there.

CROSS COUNTRY

Will Coleman and Off The Record. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

The horses contending for the top position will have some speed, because at the end of the day, Carolina is impossible to win without putting in the work in all three phases. Fernhill By Night and Off the Record are two horses that you can almost certainly expect to have brought their A-game across the board and that is likely to pay off in spades on Saturday. Fernhill By Night has truly become a specialist at the short format. Off the Record has had some bad luck with injuries, but if things go well this spring could be a top contender for Tokyo as well and his superior turn of foot will make up for any deficits he might have in the first phase.

Not the be left out of the Tokyo discussion, Vandiver and Doug Payne will also make quick work of the course; if this horse puts in a clear stadium round, which he is well capable of doing, the competition will be his to lose on Saturday based on his typical average pace. Speed sensations Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights could also come roaring back if they limited the damage on Friday to one rail; Cooley On Show with Sharon White and Pfun under Will Faudree are also pairs to keep an eye on to make appearances in the top ten.

PREDICTIONS:

WINNER

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night. Photo by Jenni Autry.

In continuing with her streak of 4*-S wins, Liz Halliday-Sharp will win her second consecutive Carolina International with Fernhill By Night.

NEW TO EACH OTHER

Phillip Dutton and Carlchen. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Generally this section is reserved for horses or riders new to the level, but neither Carlchen nor Phillip Dutton fits that profile. While Phillip needs no introduction, our U.S. readers may not realize that Carlchen has had extensive experience at the 4* level on two continents and under three previous riders. He began his career with Stuart Tinney in Australia in 2015 before making the move to Europe to be campaigned by Francis Whittington. In 2018 Michelle Kenny of Ireland obtained the ride before being purchased for Phillip to ride at the end of that year. Injuries have waylaid their debut at the level until now, but Carlchen has talent written all over his record. With a career average of 29.6 in dressage, clear rounds in 11 of 15 stadium rounds with never more than a single rail, and primarily clear cross-country rounds, the main thing left for Phillip to try improve upon is the horse’s pace across the country.

These two finally made their first Advanced start as a pair at Pine Top in February, turning heads all over the world when they laid down a record-breaking 15.0 on the flat. With a bit of generosity apparent in the scoring on that day, they are unlikely to do that again today but will no doubt be right up in the mix from day one. It will be the pace that limits this horse this weekend; the biggest question will be what pace Phillip decides to push for, and if he can improve upon the effort of previous riders.

FASTEST CROSS-COUNTRY ROUNDS

Will Coleman and Off the Record. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Will Coleman‘s ride Off the Record has an extremely strong reputation for speed; in eight clear rounds at the 4* level, he has made the time on four occasions. When the time was unattainable in the other four clear completions, this pair was less than 4 seconds off the fastest pace in three of them, and has never been slower than eleven seconds off the pace.

EXTENDING CLEAR JUMPING STREAKS

Will Coleman and Tight Lines. Photo by Erin Gilmore Photography.

While Off the Record maybe getting more attention this weekend, his stablemate Tight Lines is the one to beat in the stadium phase. Will Coleman‘s WEG mount has not had a rail at an Advanced or 4*-S since the fall of 2017 and has posted eight consecutive fault-free A/4*-S rounds.

BIGGEST MOVER

Tim Bourke and Quality Time. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Tim Bourke and his quality mare Quality Time are the pair to watch rise up the ranks this weekend; while too young to have the maturity to put in a strong test yet, this talented horse is very strong in the jumping phases.

OTHER DIVISIONS

  • Holly Payne-Caravella returns to the saddle with her famous Never OutFoxed alongside her promising up-and-comer CharmKing in the OI.
  • Based in the UK with William Fox-Pitt for the last two years, American Lexi Scovil and Chico’s Man VDF Z make their first 4* start in North America.

Dressage takes place today with stadium tomorrow and cross-country on Saturday. Keep your eyes locked here for all of our coverage!

Carolina International: WebsiteEntry Status, ScheduleRide TimesLive Scores, Live Streaming

By the Numbers: Red Hills CCI4*-S

It’s a bit surreal to sit here and type this, as Red Hills was the final event in 2020 where things were still “normal”. A scant 10 days later, things shut down all over the world and with it a proper event season. This year we balance carefully the need to keep functioning and the reality that the virus is not yet gone, so our thanks to all the dedicated show organizers who have gone above and beyond in figuring out a way to run these valuable prep events while balancing finances without spectators.

As the first 4* start of the year for North America, Red Hills provides a true test with a notoriously tight cross-country track. Mike Etherington-Smith enters his sixth year as course designer for the venue, long enough to have established his stamp on the track. Chris Barnard also returns this year to design the stadium courses.

While time is a factor here, the dressage is equally important at this venue; the winner of the CCI4*-S division has been no worse than second after the dressage phase for the last six consecutive years. With a handful of strong dressage performers here this weekend, this is unlikely to be the year that streak is broken. In particular, keep an eye on Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous, who won this division back in 2018.

DRESSAGE

Regardless of whether she goes first or last in the order of go, Marilyn Little and her longtime partner RF Scandalous are about as close as it gets as a sure thing to lead the dressage after day one. They’ve led the field after the first phase in their last ten consecutive A/4*/5* starts dating back to this very venue in 2018, averaging a jaw-dropping 21.9 penalties over the 2020/2021 seasons.

Tamie Smith and EnVogue. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Battling it out for second position will be the mother and daughter pair of Tamie Smith and Kaylawna Cook mounted on EnVogue and Passepartout respectively. Tamie may have made waves by taking second place at the Galway Downs 4*-L on Passepartout last fall, but Kaylawna had a strong record herself with the horse last year before taking the fall off for maternity leave. In three Advanced starts, this pair averaged a mere 27.6 penalties and broke the 75% barrier on one occasion. Meanwhile Tamie kept the heat up with EnVogue, scoring above 70% in six of the mare’s seven starts at A/4* level.
Although their experience is thin, Colleen Loach has a pair of promising horses to keep an eye on; both Vermont and FE Golden Eye have broken the 70% mark in one of their two career A/4* starts. Another FE horse could also make his mark on the leaderboard, with Clayton Fredericks bringing FE Coldplay back out for a second crack at the level after scoring a 26.6 in his first 4* start at Great Meadow last summer.

SHOW JUMPING

Colleen Loach and FE Golden Eye. Photo by Lisa Madren.

After phase two, we are unlikely to see our leader change hands. RF Scandalous often competes with Marilyn Little in the jumpers and it shows; the pair has only had two rails in 17 rounds at the A/4/5* level. Colleen Loach‘s pair of Vermont and FE Golden Eye are also clear in two for two stadium rounds at the level, while FE Coldplay incurred one rail with Clayton Fredericks at Great Meadow. Similar performances from these young horses would scramble but leave most of the top five intact.

Passepartout has incurred only two rails in his career in five rounds at this level, but under Kaylawna Cook, he has jumped two clear rounds out of three. A single rail would likely help this young rider maintain a spot on the leaderboard. However, we may see EnVogue take a bit of a tumble, with stadium as her weakest phase; despite a strong ride from Tamie Smith, this mare has had two rails down in five of her seven rounds at the A/4* levels.

Keep a sharp eye on Colleen Loach‘s experienced horse Qorry Blue d’Argouges, as well as her fellow Canadian Karl Slezak and Fernhill Wishes. Along with Kim Cecere with Landmark’s Monaco, these pairs all have the ability to score sub-35 and follow it up with a likely clear stadium round; doing so will put these pairs all within striking distance to make a big move on cross-country day.

CROSS COUNTRY

RF Scandalous is not known for her pace across the country and Marilyn Little will need to work hard if she intends to maintain her placing at the top of the leaderboard. This mare’s performance in the first two phases to provide a good bit of buffer to allow for some time penalties but too many will open the door for a quicker pair.

Tamie Smith and En Vogue. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

That pair could very well come in the form of Tamie Smith and EnVogue, who will have put their weak phase of stadium behind them and be ready to capitalize on the mare’s blinding pace across the country. In five clear A/4* cross country rounds, EnVogue has been the fastest time of the field in four of them, a remarkable feat that few can match. Although the East Coast turf paired with the twisty track will be a first for the mare, Tamie is always a competitive force.
FE Golden Eye will likely fall well down the order in this phase and with FE Coldplay retiring due to fitness in his only start at the level, he is likely to accrue substantial time penalties that will knock him out of a top placing.
In the meantime, Kim Cecere will use Landmark’s Monaco’s blazing pace across the country to get within competitive eyeshot on the leaders; these two tend to either make the time or set the pace at this level and format. If the time is hard enough to get, this will be a real advantage to them and could allow them to compete for the pole position at the end of the weekend.
Karl Slezak and Fernhill Wishes will also be using their prowess in the stadium phase to get within eyeshot of the leaders. On cross country day, their average pace would put them in single digit time penalties, allowing them to climb up into a top five finish if things go their way. Fellow Canadian Colleen Loach and Qorry Blue D’Argouges will be in a similar situation, but with slightly less turn of foot while Lauren Nicholson and Landmark’s Monte Carlo will be nipping at their heels.

PREDICTIONS:

WINNER

Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Despite RF Scandalous‘ weakness on cross country pace, her dressage abilities are strong enough that it’s likely she’ll be able to hold onto the win at the end of the day. She’ll have about 20 to 25 seconds to spot to her nearest competitor; based on the recent history of the track at Red Hills, that is probably sufficient to maintain the lead.

FASTEST CROSS-COUNTRY ROUNDS

Kimmy Cecere and Landmark’s Monaco. Photo by Abby Powell.

As mentioned above, Landmark’s Monaco has blazing speed in this phase; in his three clear A/4*S rounds under Kim Cecere, he has either made the time or set the pace for the day.

NEW TO THE LEVEL

Colleen Loach and Vermont. Photo by Abby Powell.

Colleen Loach has a pair of young horses at the level, and Vermont is the one to keep an eye on this weekend. In two A/4* starts, this horse as averaged sub-thirty on the flat, put in two clear jumping rounds, and averaged less than 30 seconds for their cross-country speed rating.

EXTENDING CLEAR JUMPING STREAKS

Karl Slezak and Fernhill Wishes. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Fernhill Wishes and Karl Slezak currently own the longest clear stadium streak in the field. These two have put in seven consecutive clear stadium rounds, including two at the 4*-L level. The last time they incurred a rail was in September of 2018.

BIGGEST MOVER

Joe Meyer and Clip Clop. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The experienced Clip Clop is a bit too aware of what is coming on subsequent days to put in a relaxed test on day one, but under the tutelage of Joe Meyer, he’s become quite reliable in the jumping phases. In his return to the level in 2020 after a 2019 hiatus, he’s had only one rail in three A/4*S rounds and has averaged a speed rating of less than 20 seconds off the pace. A similar move will shoot him up the ranks to put this pair within the top ten on the final day.

OTHER DIVISIONS

  • The Advanced division of course sports a plethora of stellar horses to watch, including a trio from Jennie BranniganKurt Martin‘s ride DeLux Z who returns to the level after a long hiatus,
  • Former 5* horses OBOS O’Reilly, Fly Me Courageous, Cisko A are all getting to stretch their legs in the CCI2*-S with young riders.
  • Former 4* mare Catalina is entered in the Prelim division as well.

Dressage takes place on Friday. Keep your eyes locked here for all of our coverage!

Red Hills International: WebsiteEntry StatusRide TimesLive Scores

By the Numbers: Tryon International 4*-L Stadium Day

Woods Baughman and C’est La Vie 135. Photo by Abby Powell.

It wasn’t clear to me until the cross-country how excited I truly was to have a long day of live-streaming ahead of me, filled with the size and type of field you normally only see at Kentucky. The ultimate goal of U.S. eventing needs to be to fill every 4*-L and 5*-L in North America with as big and quality fields as this one; hopefully the population of Advanced riders in this country are busy expanding their strings and working on maintaining their top campaigners for many years.

CROSS COUNTRY DAY ANALYSIS

The cross-country phase was certainly influential yesterday, but ultimately the biggest concerns regarding the footing in the end seemed unfounded; the grounds crew at Tryon made a herculean effort to get the turf as good as possible, and primarily succeeded.

Ultimately, 69 pairs started the course and 73.9% finished, a touch lower than the five-year world-wide completion average of 76.8% for this particular division. 62.3% of the field finished clear with no jumping penalties, a touch above the clear rate at 4*-L and 13.0% finished inside the time, which is almost exactly equivalent to the worldwide average of 13.4%. These averages indicate that the distribution of penalties across the field is consistent with a typical 4*-L.

The fastest time of the day was ultimately put in by Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan, who came home 18 seconds under optimum time. Nine pairs ultimately made the time, although one pair was also assessed a flag penalty that remains at the end of the day.

As always there are a few horses expected to be influential on the final day who ended up well down the running order today, if not completely out of the event. C’est La Vie 135, QC Diamantaire, and Carlevo are all unexpectedly well-placed yesterday after strongly exceeding their pace expectations. Leamore Master Plan also took advantage of his newly found flow to also jump up into the top ten and be in a better position to capitalize today.

THE COURSE

Chris Barnard has been the stadium course designer at this venue since its inception, and will continue to be the designer for this weekend. As a frequent designer for venues all up and down the East Coast, most riders will be very familiar with his style of courses. This venue also has a large number of rings to choose from for the stadium round, and therefore even though a pair may have jumped at this venue before, they may not have done so in the same ring.

It should hardly be surprising to hear that in this particular field, we have a high number of extremely good jumpers, with 29.4% of the remaining pairs expected to jump clear. More surprisingly is the fact that in the remaining top ten, only four pairs are expected to jump clear. This leaves significant room for improvement for any pairs who put in clean rounds today.

SHOW JUMPING SPECIALISTS

Buck Davidson and Carlevo. Photo by Shelby Allen.

It’s nice to see an experienced horse like Carlevo put his best foot forward and deliver a personal best speed rating for the 4*-L level yesterday; as consistent as he’s been at the level, the speed has always been the thing that has caught him up. Now he and Buck Davidson can look forward to the stadium phase, where this horse is particularly strong; in five completions at the 4*-L level, Carlevo has had only one rail.

Will Coleman and Dondante. Photo by Abby Powell.

DonDante has been quietly developing under the tutelage of Will Coleman for the past two years, and for the second year in a row he shows his jumping prowess is particularly valuable in the long format. Sitting just outside the top ten, this pair is extremely likely to put in a clear round; they’ve jumped clear in seven of eight of the horse’s A/4* starts, including his only 4*-L completion. A clear round will very quickly put pressure on those directly above, should they want to maintain their top ten rank.

Boyd Martin and On Cue. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Boyd Martin will be well poised to move up on some of his other horses but On Cue is more apt to maintain her placing rather than move up. In seven A/4* rounds, this mare has had one rail at five of them, jumping clear only at her first start at the level back in 2018. In her only 4*-L completion, she incurred one rail at Bromont in 2019. On Cue is a good bet to match her current average and maintain a top ten placing.

Will Faudree and Mama’s Magic Way. Photo by Abby Powell.

The young horse Mama’s Magic Way is green for the level but that didn’t seem to bother him yesterday as he cruised to the first clear round inside the time under Will Faudree. Although this horse has yet to see a stadium round as the final phase at the A/4* level, he’s jumped three of his four rounds clear. The only occasion on which he dropped rails was an unusual morning at Great Meadows, when the pair jumped around the stadium course in a blanket fog with surprisingly low visibility.

Jennie Brannigan and Stella Artois. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

In her first year at the level in 2017, Stella Artois showed promise in the stadium phase but lacked consistency, with three rails at her first 4*-L completion and a clear round at her second. After Jennie Brannigan brought her back in 2019, the improvement in consistency was apparent; in six A/4* rounds she’s jumped clear in all but one, incurring only one rail total. That includes adding another two clear 4*-L rounds in 2019 at Rebecca and Boekelo, something that she should be able to replicate today. A clear round should move this pair up massively, putting them well in contention for a top five placing.

Sydney Elliot and QC Diamantaire. Photo by Abby Powell.

In their only start at the 4*-L level, Sydney Conley-Elliott climbed with QC Diamantaire up to the fourth place position last fall at Fair Hill 4*-L. They are in a position to do so again, but will need to make sure that this one-or-none horse is none today. In two runs when stadium was last, he jumped clear only once and his record is almost perfectly split between clean rounds and one-rail rounds with one two-rail round thrown in early in the horse’s career. A rail is more likely than not, but these two have pulled off the round they needed under pressure once, and could possibly do so again.

Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan. Photo by Nico Morgan Media.

Ariel Grald has used 2020 to her horse’s best advantages, showing vast improvement in both the dressage and in the cross-country pace. Stadium has been a more secure strength for Leamore Master Plan, and these two could easily put in a clear round to put pressure on the later riders. In seven A/4* starts when stadium was the final phase, they’ve jumped clear in five of them, including both of their 4*-L completions in 2018.

Doug Payne and Vandiver. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

While primarily an eventer, Doug Payne does spend a considerable amount of time in the jumper ring as well which has paid off in spades with Vandiver. This horse’s record in this phase has transformed under Doug, jumping clear in 67.8% of their 28 completed rounds together. They’ve only once ever had more than one rail as a pair, back in 2017 at the Blenheim 4*-L. Out of five long format stadium rounds at the 4/5*-L, Vandiver has three clears and have also jumped clear in three of four A/4*-S when stadium is last. This pair will have no more than one rail today, and have a good shot at having a clear round; they’ll be in good position to capitalize on any mistakes from the riders placed above them.

Woods Baughman and C’est La Vie 135. Photo by Abby Powell.

C’est La Vie 135 and Woods Baughman have performed above and beyond their experience all weekend and are in a strong position to maintain a top ten placing. Their stadium record at the level isn’t squeaky clean; in two A/4* starts in 2019 they accumulated a total of three rails while their two 2020 A/4* starts in 2020 were both clear. They clinched the Fair Hill 3*-L title on the back of a clear stadium round last fall and haven’t had a rail in six starts at various levels in 2020. This pair could certainly put in a clear round and end up as the highest placed 4*-L rookie here this weekend but even a single rail should keep them in the top ten.

Phillip Dutton and Z. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Phillip Dutton has one of the best stadium horses of his career in Z; he has only ever had three rails in his career out of twenty-five 4* rounds, including three clear 4*-L rounds. He’s also jumped clean in two of three 5* rounds, including a clear here at this venue during the World Equestrian Games in 2018. He’s also jumped clear in his last consecutive eight A/4* rounds, three of which were in 2020. While it’s not impossible for this horse to have a rail, it’s highly improbable.

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg (USA). Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

Boyd Martin‘s second horse in the top ten is the famous Tsetserleg, who also happens to be the horse with the most potential to put in a clear round for Boyd. This horse has not had more than one rail in his entire career at the A/4* level, including three clears in five rounds when cross-country is the final phase. Despite a notorious three rails at this venue in the 2018 WEG, Tsetserleg has also jumped clear here in the spring of 2019, as well as famously jumping clear to preserve his second place at the 5* in Kentucky last year. A clear will rocket him up to put pressure on those at the very top, but even a rail should keep them in the contest for a top five placing.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z. Photo by Nico Morgan Media.

The hottest rider on the circuit this year is Liz Halliday-Sharp, who has won each of the three fall 4*-S on the East Coast, two of them with this horse Deniro Z. One thing that might surprise a lot of readers is that this pair has not yet jumped a clear round in the stadium when cross-country is before stadium; in five rounds under the phase order, they have twice had one rail, twice had two rails, and once had three. However, the pair has jumped four clear rounds out of four 2020 starts, so Liz Halliday-Sharp will be looking to translate that recent success to the long format this weekend.

PREDICTIONS – FINAL

Division Winner: I have to continue to call out Z as the biggest possibility of winning; his stadium record is considerably more solid on the final day than the two horses ahead of him. It will ultimately be a nail biter, where even the seconds matter; the top six are all separated by less than a rail.

MARS Tryon International: WebsiteScheduleOrder of GoRide TimesLive ScoresLive StreamCoverage