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Bred for the Job: Ellie Fredericks Takes NEXGEN Four-Year-Old Final on Granddaughter of 5* Winner

Ellie Fredericks and Upsi Britannia. Photo courtesy of NEXGEN/1st Class Images.

Teenage superstar — and daughter of multiple-time five-star champ, Lucinda Fredericks — Ellie Fredericks has won the Sulby Hall Stud NEXGEN Four-Year-Old Eventing Final at England’s Hickstead Showground, riding her mother’s Upsi Britannia.  

Ellie bests a competitive top five filled to the brim with Irish talent: the other four members of the business end of the leaderboard all hail from the Emerald Isle, with serious experience in their ranks from the likes of Olympian Austin O’Connor.

Though there’s still some essential education to come on the flat for Ellie’s exciting young horse, the judging panel of German team stalwart Frank Ostholt, British CCI5* winner Oliver Townend, and experienced ground jury member Judy Hancock were compelled to reward generously the horse’s expressive gallop and committed, gutsy cross-country technique.  

“He’s very, very cool, and he loves his jumping,” says 18-year-old Ellie, who took the tiny gelding on after he was broken in and has enjoyed a fruitful year with him so far.  

“He might not be the flashiest on the flat, but he definitely brings it back for the cross-country – and he’s got an incredible gallop. You look at him and he’s not particularly big, but then he gallops and you’re like, ‘there’s something there!’” 

Ellie, who competes up to Advanced and CCI3*-L level, also pilots the family’s duo of talented stallions – but she wasn’t particularly involved in breeding Upsi Britannia, the credit for which she gives entirely to her mother.  

“I love the breeding, but my mother obviously knows a lot more ­– so I probably didn’t get a massive say in him,” she laughs. “I’d have been quite young when he was bred – just fourteen or fifteen – so all I really knew was that one day, there was a really cute foal in the field.” 

Upsi Britannia boasts a pedigree for eventing that’s as impressive as his rider’s: he’s by the Selle Français stallion Upsilon, who competed at senior championship level with France’s Tom Carlile, and is out of a daughter of Lucinda’s Badminton, Burghley, and Kentucky CCI5* winner Headley Britannia. The precocious talent that that lends him also expresses itself as a big, expressive personality. 

“He’s definitely got a cheeky side, but he loves his jumping, and the dressage will come with time,” says Ellie.  

Ellie Fredericks and Upsi Britannia. Photo courtesy of NEXGEN/1st Class Images.

Ellie, who also has a ride in today’s five-year-old final, values the NEXGEN age class series, which was developed in 2020 by Rachel Wakefield of Uptown Eventing and Victoria Wright of Caunton Manor Stud, as a crucial part of her young horses’ continued education.  

“It’s brilliant. We took him and our five-year-old finalist to Barbury, and that’s quite a big atmosphere, which sets them up so well,” she says. “After that, he went double clear at his first BE80, and then did the same around his first BE90. It was so helpful that he’d had the chance to see so much – there are NEXGEN classes in so many different places, so you can really take them wherever you want and show them a lot.” 

The lessened emphasis on penalising mistakes, and a scoring system that emphasises technique and rideability over raw speed and lack of mistakes, also creates a productive learning environment, she explains.  

“If you have something that’s a little bit spookier and it’s not going to jump a fence, you’re allowed to go around it – so no matter what happens, your horse gets a great education. It’s a brilliant concept.” 

The Thoroughbred Aftercare Summit Returns for 2022

Got a super Thoroughbred in your barn? You’ll learn plenty at the Thoroughbred Aftercare Summit. Photo via Thoroughbred Makeover Marketplace.

The Thoroughbred Aftercare Summit, a joint effort of the Retired Racehorse Project (RRP), Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA), The Jockey Club Thoroughbred Incentive Program (T.I.P.), and Thoroughbred Charities of America (TCA), returns to the Thoroughbred Makeover on October 11, 2022 at the Kentucky Horse Park.

This year’s summit takes a unique angle compared to past conferences, which traditionally include panel-based discussion on a variety of topics. The 2022 Thoroughbred Aftercare Summit will take a hands-on workshop approach, allowing attendees (both in-person and virtual) to problem-solve through various scenarios that commonly face individuals and organizations in aftercare. Subject matter experts will help guide participants through a series of practice scenarios including biosecurity best practices, natural disaster preparedness, facility issues, and more.

“To provide the most value to our Aftercare Summit participants, both individuals and non-profit organizations, we decided to take a more interactive approach to our topics this year,” said the RRP’s development director, Erin O’Keefe. “By working through various scenarios, we hope participants will actively identify ways to apply the topics at hand to their own programs, while having the opportunity to receive input and guidance from our subject matter experts. We hope participants find this new format both engaging and educational.”

The conference is a collaboration of the four presenting organizations in an effort to bring together the Thoroughbred aftercare community — both non-profit organizations and the commercial sector — during what is already the largest gathering of both individuals and organizations who have a vested interest in Thoroughbreds after racing.

“The Thoroughbred Aftercare Summit will be a great opportunity for those involved in aftercare to think about ways in which unexpected scenarios can impact their programs,” said TCA’s executive director Erin Halliwell. “When the unexpected does occur, having a plan of action can potentially minimize disruption and assist with program continuity. With the collective knowledge of the RRP, T.I.P., TAA, TCA, and our subject matter experts, we hope to provide attendees with best practices that they can implement into their specific programs.”

Registration is required, which can be completed at therrp.org/aftercare-summit/. The cost to participate is $10 per person, which will be collected as a donation and awarded as a 50-50 to a randomly-selected aftercare organization in attendance. Registration will also include access to the live stream of the conference via Zoom so attendees can participate from anywhere in the world.

The Thoroughbred Aftercare Summit takes place from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM in the TCA Covered Arena Lounge on Tuesday, October 11, 2022, one day prior to the start of preliminary competition at the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America. The Thoroughbred Makeover is a retraining competition for horses in their first year of transition from racing. Over 300 horses are expected to attend and compete across ten disciplines, with one Thoroughbred Makeover Champion crowned at the conclusion of a Finale on Saturday, October 15. The full schedule of events and activities can be found at TheRRP.org/attend.

David O’Connor Appointed USEF Chief of Sport

David O’Connor and Giltedge on their way to winning the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event in 2001. Photo used with permission from Shannon Brinkman.

On the heels of announcing Graeme Thom as the new FEI/High Performance Director of Sport Programs, US Equestrian has also announced the appointment of David O’Connor to the newly created position of Chief of Sport beginning October 3, 2022.

O’Connor, a decorated Olympian, is no stranger to US Equestrian, having earned individual gold and team bronze medals in Eventing at the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics and a team silver medal at the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics. Additionally, David served as the USEF President from 2004 to 2012 and currently serves on the FEI Board of Directors. In 2021, he was presented with the USOPC’s General Douglas MacArthur Exemplary Service Award in recognition of his continued service and commitment to equestrian sports within the Olympic and Paralympic movements.

O’Connor’s responsibilities will be primarily strategically focused. He will be responsible for working with the Executive Team regarding overall international and national sport support of the USEF Strategic Plan and its initiatives, sport integrity, education, and equine and human safety and welfare. Additionally, he will provide oversight of the international and national sport operations, ensuring that the Sport Department’s short-term and long-term strategic plans align with USEF’s priorities, and he will focus on strengthening relationships with stakeholder groups such as the USOPC, FEI and USEF’s Recognized Affiliates.

“I very much look forward to the opportunities afforded by this new role within the USEF,” stated O’Connor. “The chance to perform a 365-degree view of equestrian sport from a national and a global perspective and share strategies to ensure safety, welfare, and enjoyment while growing the sport across all breeds and disciplines will be an exciting prospect. My passion has always been horses and promoting equestrian sport both within and outside of our equine community is a very important mission, both personally and for the USEF as a whole.”

“We are pleased to welcome David to USEF to serve in this new role,” said Bill Moroney, USEF CEO. “As a key member of the executive leadership team, David will provide thought leadership, innovative problem-solving, and share diverse ideas to guide strategic actions and important business decisions, drive priorities, and lead change for the organization’s success.”

US Equestrian President Tom O’Mara added, “David’s extensive equestrian and governance experience will be instrumental in the continued implementation of the USEF Strategic Plan and the growth of equestrian sport nationally and internationally.

US Equestrian Announces Appointment of Graeme Thom as Director of FEI/High Performance Sport Programs

Graeme debriefs with James Avery following cross-country at Bicton’s CCI5* in 2021. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

US Equestrian has announced the appointment of Graeme Thom as Director of FEI/High-Performance Sport Programs beginning October 3, 2022. This start date will allow for a smooth and collaborative transition as Will Connell remains with USEF through the 25th of November.

Thom has worked in the financial industry, ridden to the CCI3* level in Eventing, and was shortlisted for the Canadian Eventing Team. He served as chair of the Canadian High-Performance Committee and has served as a Chef d’Equipe for either Canada or New Zealand for the past 15 years at major championships such as the 2007 Pan American Games, 2008 Olympic Games, 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, 2011 Pan American Games, and the 2021 Olympic Games.

Thom’s responsibilities will be primarily sport operations focused. By supervising the activities of the Managing Directors and Directors for each international discipline recognized by the FEI, Thom will be responsible for developing and implementing the Strategic High Performance plan and programs and overall administration of all aspects of sport programming and pathways for those FEI disciplines. Thom will serve as the staff liaison to the USEF International Disciplines Council and the Athlete Advisory Committee. Additionally, he will fill the role of Chef de Mission at the World Equestrian Games, Pan American Games, and Olympic Games and is the primary sport contact to the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and the International Equestrian Federation (FEI).

Photo courtesy of Graeme Thom.

“I am very appreciative of being offered this exciting role,” said Thom. “I have some extremely large shoes to fill with Will’s departure. He is legendary in his role as a Chef de Mission and High-Performance Director. It was a fitting testimonial that he was able to share in the USA successes at the recent World Championships. I will do my best to move up the curve as quickly as possible and hope my ten-plus years as a Chef D’Equipe in Eventing will act as a springboard for continued success in the future across all FEI disciplines. I look forward to meeting the staff and Team personnel very soon and am very eager to join the USEF organization.”

“Graeme’s extensive experience in high-performance sports operations and management coupled with his leadership and organizational skills makes him a great asset to the Federation,” stated Moroney. “I look forward to working with Graeme to strengthen and elevate high-performance equestrian sport in the U.S. across all international disciplines as we look to the future.”

US Equestrian President Tom O’Mara added, “We are excited that Graeme has joined our team and look forward to his leadership and contributions to USEF and equestrian sport.”

Parkfield Breeding is on Top in NEXGEN Six-Year-Old Eventing Final

Sammi Birch and Parkfield Pumpkin take the 2022 NEXGEN Six-Year-Old title. Photo courtesy of First Class Images.

British-based Australian Sammi Birch took top honours in today’s Six-Year-Old Eventing Championship at the Sulby Hall Stud NEXGEN Finals, riding Swindon operation Parkfield Breeding’s Parkfield Pumpkin. The son of Amiro Z, who is registered with Sport Horse Breeding of Great Britain, rose to the top of the leaderboard after an influential cross-country phase deposed first-phase leaders Caroline Martin of the USA and Galwaybay HSH Redfield Connor.

“This is his first big competition,” says Sammi of the expressive gelding, who began eventing this April and has notched up two impressive double clears at the Novice level so far. That experience proved valuable as he tackled this morning’s course, the bogey fence of which was a boat in the water that caused a number of stops throughout the class.

“Today he really impressed me, because it was tough for him – the boat was spooky, but he just kept trying.”

Sammi also took third place in the class with Parkfield Artie Blou, who headed out onto the all-weather cross-country course first of her two rides – and while he was one of the horses to pick up a penalty at the boat, his overall performance particularly impressed judges Les Smith and Frank Ostholt.

“I did stuff my other one up at the boat, and actually, I would have thought that this one would have been the spookier horse, because he’s done less! But both of them have learned a lot and will have come on loads from this. It’s so good for them,” says Sammi, who praised the NEXGEN series for providing an educational stepping-stone for future upper-level horses. “For me, it’s all about producing them for the future, and so I felt that this was the best thing for my young horses. They’re not quite ready for Le Lion d’Angers, and so this is the pathway that I felt would bring them on the best for the future.”

Sammi, who also represents Parkfield Breeding at the top level with Finduss PFB, emphasised the importance of a pipeline – particularly for those prolific breeders who are contributing to the consistent raising of standards in Great Britain.

“It’s great to showcase Parkfield Breeding. They’ve got some lovely young horses, and they’ve been very supportive through to the top levels. They’ve stuck by their five-star horse and done everything right by them, and they really deserve to have these nice six-year-olds in the top three,” says Sammi.

For judges Les Smith and Frank Ostholt, the morning’s 15-strong competition was a chance to spot and reward the talent that could ultimately come forward at the top levels.

“We’re looking for something that we’ll ultimately be seeing going around Badminton or Burghley in a few years’ time,” says Les. “They’ve got to be brave and have that elasticity and a good jump – really, they need to be a general all-rounder with potential.”

Says Frank: “We want to see a horse that’s balanced and on the aids, with a swinging, moving outline and relaxation in the movement. They need to be willing to do the job.”

Of Parkfield Pumpkin, Les says: “It’s very correct, it was very well-produced in the dressage, and it did everything it was asked.”

“The horse looks like it has a very good attitude – he’s positive, he’s genuine, and he’s very correct,” agrees Frank.

Les praised the choice of venue for the Sulby Hall Stud NEXGEN Final, which takes place at West Sussex’s All-England Jumping Course at Hickstead over two arenas and the capacious all-weather cross-country course.

“It’s good education for the horses, and this is an amazing venue for them to come to,” he says. “It’s actually much tougher than cross-country at a one-day event, because there’s a real atmosphere when you drop into this arena and there’s people here watching. They don’t ordinarily get that in a regular competition.”

The Sulby Hall Stud NEXGEN Finals continue today with Four-, Five-, and Six-Year-Old classes for Showjumpers and Four- and Five-Year-Old classes for Dressage horses. Tomorrow will see the return of the Eventers with the Four- and Five-Year-Old Finals.

 

Virginia Tech Helmet Lab: Redefining the Helmet Safety Landscape By Quantifying Concussion Risks

Photo by Shelby Allen.

PAS, VG1, ASTM, SEI, EN1384: these abbreviations represent just a few of the helmet standards tested worldwide. The more certifications, the greater the variety of situations in which a helmet has been tested, so theoretically, the more certifications, the safer the helmet. But that only tells part of the story.

“With the same impact, there can be very different biomechanical responses between helmets. We felt a responsibility that everyone should have this information,” said Dr. Steve Rowson, Virginia Tech Helmet Lab Director.

The Virginia Tech Helmet Lab, based out of Blacksburg, Va., began researching equestrian helmets nearly four years ago. The lab—which has already studied and tested helmets in the sports of football (with which the lab first began its research in 2003), hockey, cycling, soccer and snow sport—is now set to release its first STAR ratings (Summation of Tests for the Analysis of Risk) for equestrian helmets by year’s end.

According to Rowson, certifications and STAR ratings are analogous to comparing pass/fail and letter grades in school: just because one passes doesn’t mean they’ve received an “A.”

“Not all helmets are the same just because they meet a [pass/fail] standard. That’s true for skull damage but not concussions,” Rowson explained.

In December 2020, the United States Equestrian Federation, along with the United States Hunter Jumper Association and United States Eventing Association and with support from horse owner Jacqueline Mars, announced that they had collectively raised more than $425,000 to bring the Helmet Lab’s research to the finish line. In August, the Helmet Lab welcomed stakeholders to Blacksburg for its Equestrian Symposium, where Rowson and Drs. Stefan Duma, Mark Begonia, and Barry Miller provided an update on the operation’s progress as it heads into its critical—and final—Phase 4.

Their testing finished, the Helmet Lab is in the process of calculating and assigning its final STAR Ratings for 26 helmet models, achieved by evaluating 104 helmets in 312 tests, quantifying elements like actual drop height (where a rider is positioned when actually parting ways with a horse), what body parts are impacted when falling, liner and rotational impacts, and surface, among other factors. In total, the lab conducted 26 non-consecutive hours of testing.

“We wanted to bring it down to a reasonable amount of testing. Otherwise, you’ll test forever,” Duma said. “We try to look for a balance between having really good representation and establishing a system where we can ideally test a helmet model in about a day.”

STAR ratings will correlate with real-world injury rates; the lower the STAR value, the better the star rating (one to five stars, with five stars being the highest-rated helmets). Once published, the ratings will allow the public to search helmets by certification type, helmet type, brand, and more to make more informed choices about the helmets they wear and purchase when riding. The ratings also will help educate manufacturers on how to improve the safety of their helmets. All of the research is 100% independent of any funding or influence from helmet manufacturers.

“Everything we do starts in the real world,” Rowson said. “Our primary interest is in quantifying concussion biomechanics through direct and indirect ways of data collection.”

Photo by Shelby Allen.

Four Phases of Research

The Helmet Lab began its research with a video analysis of 100 equestrian falls, all ground impacts. An integral part of this research was quantifying the actual drop height and identifying the impact location of these falls. The group found that one-third of the falls they studied had no head impact. They also found that the “majority of the time” riders incurred “lower energy” falls, as they were able to grab onto a part of the horse at some point in their trajectory to the ground—“free falls” were rare. In fact, 73% of the falls were identified as “medium impact,” and when it came to head impacts, the majority (31%) came at the back of the head.

“A lot of times, you’re not going headfirst into the ground,” Duma asserted. “We needed a lower-impact component.”

The lab’s task was then to build a machine that characterized equestrian falls. Using the VT Helmet Lab Bike Tower and Pendulum Impactor, researchers replicated and manipulated a series of “falls” by adjusting the height of falls and the direction (front, back, side) of impacts. They then compared the peak linear and rotational accelerations of the test rigs, as well as the time traces of the impacts.

“Most [certification] standards only look at linear [impacts],” Duma said. “We look at both [linear and rotational]. As linear and rotational acceleration goes up, the risk of brain injury [also] goes up.”

The next question the lab tackled in the field at the VT Equestrian Center: how much does surface matter? Using their Portable Pendulum and a CLEGG Impactor—which measures surface densities or impact attenuation—the group conducted impact testing on both dirt and sand, considered the “extremes” of hard and soft surfaces. During these tests, researchers also tested football helmets and a “bare,” or no-helmet, scenario to offer real-world comparisons.

“A football helmet is the most advanced designed and optimized helmet. We’ll also evaluate a ‘bare’ or no helmet situation to show what the helmet is [helping with],” Duma explained. “If an equestrian helmet is producing similar numbers to a [highly rated] football helmet, it probably doesn’t need improvement.

“Football is a multiple head-impact sport,” he added. “In equestrian, exposures are very different, and we have much lower numbers.”

Allison Springer was the first five-star rider to don a helmet in the first phase of eventing competition at the top level. Leslie Threlkeld Photo.

Breaking Down the STAR Equation

After comparing surfaces using a variety of impactor faces—and then measuring contact area at different impact locations–the lab had all the data they needed to begin calculating STAR, which is currently in process.

The STAR value is the theoretical number of concussions someone would sustain if their on-field exposure matched the laboratory impacts. It is calculated by multiplying exposure (as a function of impact location and velocity) and concussion risk (as a function of linear and rotational headform acceleration).

Put more simply, each helmet is tested twice under six conditions, with three centric and non-centric impact locations (front, side and rear) and at two impact velocities. The results of the two tests are then averaged and multiplied by the exposure. The resulting number is the STAR Rating. That STAR rating (a number—the lower, the better) is then given a star rating (one to five stars, with five being the best or safest).

Risk function becomes a critical component, because it accentuates riskier impacts. “With helmets that don’t do well, risk function exaggerates that value,” Duma detailed. “If a helmet

does a great job and gets lower accelerations, it’s going to produce a lower [STAR value]. Risk function exaggerates that value to draw out which helmets are doing better than others.”

The Virginia Tech Helmet Lab was to release its ratings in the fall and planned to make the ratings available available as a public service resource on the lab’s website at helmet.beam.vt.edu. Learn more about how this research will affect equestrians by watching this video from the Helmet Lab.

“[STAR Ratings] are meant to be complementary to [existing certification standards],” Begonia said. “We’re here to fill in the gap for concussion risks.”

This press release was distributed by US Equestrian.

IOC President Bach Makes a Visit to FEI World Championships at Pratoni

President Thomas Bach visits the Cross country competition at Pratoni. Photo: FEI / Richard Juilliart

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Dr. Thomas Bach expressed his appreciation for the FEI Eventing World Championships 2022 venue during his visit to the iconic grounds in Pratoni del Vivaro (ITA) on Saturday.

Accompanied by FEI President and IOC member Ingmar De Vos, FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez, Olympic gold medallist and Chair of the FEI Eventing Committee David O’Connor and President of the Italian Equestrian Federation Marco Di Paola, President Bach had the opportunity to tour the venue, take in the cross country competition and meet with some of the sport’s top athletes.

“These are amazing facilities to see and it is a pleasure to experience a real Olympic legacy and sustainability success story,” Bach said. “I’m very impressed by the many measures the FEI has taken to safeguard the wellbeing and the health of the horses, and I am pleased with everything the International Federation is doing to ensure the future of the sport.”

The Rocca di Papa Equestrian Sports Centre, in the heart of the beautiful Parco dei Castelli Romani, was also the cross country venue at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome. The cross country course designed by Event Director Giuseppe della Chiesa for the FEI World Championships, featured fences that were also used during the Olympic Games over 60 years ago.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Dr. Thomas Bach, FEI President and IOC member Ingmar De Vos, and Olympic gold medallist and Chair of the FEI Eventing Committee David O’Connor (FEI / Richard Juilliart)

Eventing has been an Olympic discipline since 1912, and the FEI Eventing World Championships 2022 in Pratoni del Vivaro will provide the first qualifying opportunity for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, with seven team qualifying spots on offer. More than 22,000 spectators were in attendance during cross country day which saw Germany, USA and Great Britain take the team lead going into the Jumping phase of the competition.

“We are very pleased that President Bach could join us here in Pratoni to witness some of best the discipline of Eventing has to offer,” Ingmar De Vos said. “Eventing has grown and evolved over the years, as evidenced by the incredibly high level of sportsmanship at these World Championships.

“What has remained, however, is the close knit nature of the Eventing community and the respect for good horsemanship practices. This truly is a sport where the focus is on ability and expertise, rather than gender. Women have participated alongside men in all the FEI Eventing World Championships since 1966 and I know that the amazing atmosphere here in Pratoni has only encouraged our athletes to give the best of themselves and their horses.”

The FEI Eventing World Championships has also put a spotlight on the intergenerational dynamics of the sport. At 22-years of age, Nadja Minder (SUI), Jarno Verwimp (BEL) and Alina Dibowski (GER) competed against veteran Eventer Andrew Hoy (AUS) who at 65 years, was the oldest competitor in Pratoni. Hoy, who took part in the 1978 World Championships, is already the owner of an impressive portfolio of six Olympic medals and four World Championship medals.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Dr. Thomas Bach and Olympic gold medallist and Chair of the FEI Eventing Committee David O’Connor at the FEI Eventing World Championship 2022 in Pratoni del Vivaro (ITA) (FEI / Richard Juilliart)

While there are 13 former Olympic medalists participating at the FEI World Championships in Pratoni, athletes from Lithuania and Thailand were also present to make their mark in their countries’ first ever appearance in the competition.

“Eventing is a complete test of horse and rider,” David O’Connor explained. “For the human athlete, Eventing puts their relationship with their horse well and truly under a microscope. A rider needs to be able to keep their horse centred and in a strong frame of mind during the Dressage test, and then guide the horse’s natural instincts through the challenges of a cross country course, while maintaining this focus when Jumping.

“It takes a great deal of horsemanship and expertise for the athlete and horse to carry out three completely different tests, and this relationship between the human and equine athlete is not one that is forged overnight. Patience and time is required for this mutual confidence to develop, and the athletes train as intensively as they would for any other sport.”

Catch up on EN’s coverage of the 2022 FEI World Championships for Eventing here.

Piggy Marches On Toward the Top at Blenheim Palace International

Piggy March and Halo. Photo courtesy of Blenheim Palace International.

British rider Piggy March has held on to her pole position in the CCI4*-S for eight- and nine-year-old horses at Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials after show jumping.

Piggy, who won the CCI5* at Burghley two weeks ago, remains on her excellent dressage score of 21.3 going into Sunday’s final cross-country phase with Jayne McGivern’s nine-year-old grey stallion Halo.

She said: “He jumped great today. I was very pleased coming into the whole competition knowing that he is a really cool horse and a great jumper. Despite the big atmosphere here – and jumping that height with that time-pressure – he gave me a super feel and was beautiful to ride. All the poles stayed up, so happy days!

“There is a great vibe here today and it’s sport at its best.

“My thoughts for tomorrow are to just take every phase as it comes. It is cross-country next and anything can happen at any point. It is a lovely course out there which has been beautifully built and is very inviting for horses at this level. I am excited and interested to know what kind of horse I have got – he is a cool horse, good jumper and lovely galloper. I’m excited to have a go.”

Second-placed Hayden Hankey also show jumped clear on his own and Catherine Witt’s eight-year-old – who won the Working Hunter championship at the Horse of the Year Show in Birmingham as a five-year-old. His score of 24.3 gives him a few penalties in hand over Sarah Bullimore and Evita AP, owned by Sarah’s husband Brett and The Seahorse Syndicate (28.2).

There’s also no change at the top of the CCI4*-L class. Germany’s Malin Hansen-Hotopp added no cross-country penalties to her leading dressage score of 24.6 with Bodil Ipsen’s Carlito’s Quidditch K – but they do not have a fence in hand over Team GB’s Gemma Tattersall and Christopher Stone’s Jalapeno III, second on 26.3.

Malin said: “I think this is a world-class horse and I had a really good ride. He was really excited but also patient and I was able to ride him whatever way I wanted.

“I watched some videos beforehand of how the strides are between the obstacles as he has got a very long canter. Fortunately, it all worked out and it is such a great course here in beautiful surroundings – it gives you such an amazing feeling.

“I am trying to stay cool going into the final day. I said if I made it into the top 10 here it would be wonderful. My horse is a good show jumper, but you never know. I’ll try my best and to finish in the top five would be wonderful. To be the overnight leader for three nights has been wonderful and more than I expected.”

Sarah Bullimore is also in a strong position in this class, lying third on her individual bronze medallist from the 2021 European Championships Corouet on a mark of 27.8.

North American Updates:

  • Grace Taylor and Game Charger collected a clear round with time to sit just outside the top 25, getting their first 4*-L cross country completion
  • Valerie Pride and Favian also jumped a clear round with time and sit on a two-phase score of 46.7
  • Jamie Kellock and Summer Bay jumped clear and steady and sit on a score of 71.2
  • Kimmy Cecere picked up 40 jumping penalties with Landmark’s Monaco
  • Kathryn Robinson and Gillian Beale King each added rails in the 4*-S show jumping ahead of tomorrow’s cross country finale

Blenheim Palace International (Oxfordshire, England): [Website] [Schedule] [Timing & Scoring] [Live Stream]

Piggy March’s Halo is Shining at Blenheim Palace International

Piggy March pilots the 9-year-old stallion Halo, owned by Jayne McGivern, to the 4*-S lead. Photo courtesy of Blenheim Palace International.

While Germany’s Malin Hansen-Hotopp has held on to the lead she established in the feature CCI4*-L class at Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials yesterday with Carlito’s Quidditch K, top British rider Piggy March stormed ahead in the CCI4*-S for eight- and nine-year-old horses with a brilliant performance on Jayne McGivern’s nine-year-old stallion Halo.

Piggy, who won the CCI5* at Burghley two weeks ago, scored 21.3 to give herself a two-mark lead over Hayden Hankey his own and Catherine Witt’s Heads Up.

Piggy said: “It is really exciting. I haven’t had much experience with stallions before, but he’s a really cool little horse – about 16 hands on tiptoes – but he never feels small to ride and I’m sure people would say he probably doesn’t look it. He’s very uphill and has got loads of movement and presence – he’s a much bigger horse in his personality and character.

“I was thrilled to bits with him today. It’s a big thing for these young horses, and it has gone a bit chilly today so the horses are fresh. The flags are flapping and the flowers are moving so there is quite a lot of atmosphere in there. I am chuffed with his brain; how he stayed with me and really showed himself off with loads of presence. He is a really exciting horse for the future.”

Emily King and Imposant are not far behind Hayden and Heads Up on 25.2 for third place.

Saturday is cross-country day at Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials, and Piggy discussed David Evans’ track, saying: “It’s always a very educational course for these young advanced horses. It’s an amazing occasion for them to run through the park and get all the atmosphere for their future. The crowd and the occasion is a big thing for these young horses. There are not many places they will go to that have a Saturday like Blenheim, and this will probably be the first day that they get cheers and crowds around them.

“It’s a great track and I am very interested and excited to see how my horse copes with it. It’s so beautifully built and inviting – a perfect step up to their big time in life. It’s also a fair track and offers some questions that we will have to make sure we do the right thing for.”

The passing of Her Majesty the Queen has been marked by a two-minute silence each day at Blenheim, and Piggy said: “Everyone has been in mourning. The Queen has been amazing and most of us know no different – we feel a bit lost and think, ‘What now?’

“The Queen touched so many people and was a hero to all of us. She was the most amazing woman and for us it’s amazing that she was so involved in our sport. She was such a horse, animal and countryside lover. She would love being here at Blenheim Palace as much as we all do.”

Checking in on the North American riders who did their dressage today:

  • Valerie Pride and Favian scored a 33.1 and are in 25th ahead of cross country in the massive 4*-L division
  • Gillian Beale King and Richard Ames’ Rebeliant scored a 45.5
  • Canada’s Kathryn Robinson and Cloud K scored a 31.7 in the 4*-S

Blenheim Palace International (Oxfordshire, England): [Website] [Schedule] [Timing & Scoring] [Live Stream]

Here’s a look at some social media from Friday at Blenheim:

Two Personal Bests Highlight Blenheim Palace Leaderboards

Germany’s Malin Hansen-Hotopp tops the 4*-L with Carlito’s Quidditch K. Photo courtesy of Blenheim Palace International.

Day one at the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials was full of “firsts” – for the leaders of both the feature CCI4*-L class and the CCI4*-S class for eight- and nine-year-old horses, it was their debut on British soil, and they both posted their personal-best dressage scores.

Germany’s Malin Hansen-Hotopp scored 24.6 aboard Bodil Ipsen’s 10-year-old grey gelding Carlito’s Quidditch K to top the CCI4*-L by more than three marks.

The 44-year-old amateur rider said: “I am really delighted. To be overnight leader at Blenheim is just a dream and I am just so happy.

“I had a problem around six months ago in that he was bucking during the canter, so around two months ago I started cantering him a lot before going into the arena and that has helped him a lot. Today he was just a bit nervous but paying attention.

“We have a new German dressage trainer for eventers and she has helped me so much – I saw the test she rode at the world championships for six-year-olds, and she rode every movement for a 10, which inspired me to do the same. It’s a dream for me to be at Blenheim as I’m not a real professional and have not been in England before. I was a reserve for the FEI World Championships in Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy, this week, but the horse is still young and Blenheim was always my first choice – it’s a great place.”

In second are Britain’s Sarah Bullimore and Corouet, who have re-routed to Blenheim after an early run-out across country at Burghley. The individual bronze medallists at the 2021 European Championships scored 27.8.

Third is another German rider, the vastly experienced Dirk Schrade, with a mark of 29 on Casino 80.

Irish-based American Gillian Beale King is in first place in the CCI4*-S with Richard Ames’ nine-year-old Derena Super Star – another eye-catching grey gelding. The pair scored 27.6 and hold the lead narrowly from Sarah Bullimore, who is in second with the mare Evita AP on 27.8.

Gillian, who mostly show jumped before taking a job riding for Richard and Tanja Ames at their Belline Estate in Co Kilkenny 18 months ago, has an pedigree fit for a Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials run by The Jockey Club, however. Her maternal grandfather Major Jeremy Beale won Burghley in 1965, while her paternal grandfather Hunter King rode steeplechasers in the USA.

Gillian, 30, said: “Derena Super Star is just a wonderful horse and lived up to his name today. We went in there and he just put his best foot forward for me, from step one all the way to the end. It has just been a bit of a process with him and for it to all culminate today in such a fabulous manner was really special. Hard work really does pay off.

“This is the first time I’ve competed in the UK – I moved over to Ireland last April. It’s a bit of a different game over here and I’ve been working really hard. It really does take a village and everyone in my village knows who they are – it takes every one of us to put our all into it. It is not just me and the horse who have to deliver today but the grooms and everyone else. It takes months and months of hard work to be in this position and I’m not taking it lightly.

“Blenheim is just stunning. As an American who has been showjumping for the past decade, Blenheim is something you just dream of, so to actually be here I have to pinch myself – it’s just magical. To be on British soil is very special. I have loads of family in the UK who are coming later in the week to watch, so it will be lovely to see everyone on ‘home’ soil.”

American rider Gillian Beale King sits atop the 4*-S on a personal best with Derena Super Star. Photo courtesy of Blenheim Palace International.

Third behind Gillian and Sarah is Selina Milnes, who scored 28.4 on Cooley Snapchat.

Looking to the other North American riders competing at Blenheim, Kimmy Cecere and Landmark’s Monaco currently sit 14th in the CCI4*-L on a score of 33.8. Grace Taylor with Game Changer are in 18th on a 34.7. Canadian representative Jamie Kellock is also in the 4*-L with Summer Bay and they’ll take a score of 42.4 into cross country on Saturday. We have yet to see Valerie Pride with Favian as well as Gillian Beale King with Rebeliant, both of whom will ride their tests tomorrow. In the 4*-S, Kathryn Robinson will ride for Canada tomorrow aboard Cloud K.

Reflecting on day one, Ian Renton, The Jockey Club’s Managing Director for Cheltenham and the West Region, said: “We had our first year last year and were very much novices coming into it but thought we could bring in our experience of running an event. It’s lovely to be involved with one of the most prestigious three-day events in the country.

“There are so many great synergies between equine events, whether that be eventing or racing and we have seen that over the past 18 months we have been involved. Blenheim Palace is such an iconic location in the UK.

“We have a relaxed and friendly atmosphere and to see the dressage, show jumping and cross country against the backdrop of Blenheim Palace is such a wonderful view. We have some fantastic trade stands, significantly more than in 2021, and for those that enjoy shopping there is something for everyone at every level. With children’s activities such as BMX and plenty of space to walk your dog, there really is something for everyone.

“To commemorate the sad passing of Queen Elizabeth II, we are holding a two-minute silence on each of the four days followed by a rendition of God Save The King. On Saturday and Sunday, Laura Wright will be here to sing God Save The King.

“All the riders are wearing black armbands. We want to recognise we are in national mourning and give everyone in attendance the chance to pay their respects – you couldn’t have heard a pin drop during the silence today and the respect shown to Her Late Majesty has been fantastic.

“It has been described that after the country, the Commonwealth and the people. The Queen’s next great love was racing and horses. The Queen was Patron of The Jockey Club and not only had a love of racing but was unbelievably knowledgeable about racing and breeding. The Royal Studs were active throughout her life and she was devoted to the horse.”

Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials continues tomorrow with the second day of dressage, which starts at 9 a.m. BST.

Blenheim Palace International (Oxfordshire, England): [Website] [Schedule] [Timing & Scoring] [Live Stream]

Take a look at some more social media from Thursday at Blenheim Palace — and don’t forget you can tune in live all weekend long at no cost on the event’s website here!

US Equestrian Announces Inaugural Opportunity Fund Grants to USEF Community Outreach Organizations

Logo via US Equestrian.

US Equestrian is pleased to announce that it has awarded more than $60,000 in USEF Opportunity Fund grants to seven USEF Community Outreach Organizations in the fund’s inaugural year.

The 2022 USEF Opportunity Fund grants will support a range of projects, from expanding programming and purchasing safety equipment to infrastructure improvements and business operations support. Grantees are listed below in alphabetical order:

  • City to SaddleMesa Farm (Rutland, Mass.): City to Saddle will use this grant to replace and upgrade the equipment used by participants, namely helmets, safety stirrup irons, stirrup leathers, and a vaulting surcingle.
  • Cloverleaf Equine Center (Clifton, Va.): Cloverleaf Equine Center has experienced a growing demand for equine-assisted services from recovering service members and military veterans, and this grant will be used to expand their mounted and unmounted programs designed to support these populations.
  • Detroit Horse Power (Detroit, Mich.): This grant will be used to support Detroit Horse Power’s construction of an equestrian center within the Detroit, Mich., city limits to expand their community impact with youth through equine activities and other educational resources.
  • Heartland Therapeutic Riding (Overland Park, Kan.): This grant will be used to support Heartland Therapeutic Riding’s efforts to improve their arena and make it usable year-round, an important feature to a Midwest-based organization that is navigating very hot and very cold weather.
  • HorseSensing (Shelbyville, Ky.): HorseSensing recognized a need to provide housing for military veterans across the country wanting to attend their programming in Kentucky, and this grant will support their efforts to renovate a second home for their female veteran clients.
  • Solid Strides (Pleasant Hill, Ore.): Solid Strides will use this grant to support the costs of hiring a lead instructor who can amplify their impact through the development of camps, lesson programming, and internship opportunities for students who would otherwise be unable to afford participating in equestrian sport.
  • Special Equestrians (Warrington, Pa.): Special Equestrians will use this grant to improve the operational efficiency and better support their clients’ needs by transitioning from paper-based to digital through the purchase of new computers and a customer relationship management software.

Learn more about all of the USEF Community Outreach organizations here.

“We are thrilled to support these incredible community-based organizations. The selection process was very challenging as all the organizations who applied are deserving and have important needs. Our goal is to increase fundraising so we can further support all of their great work in future years. From new helmets to funding software to contributing to a new permanent facility to horse care, every dollar contributed to the Opportunity Fund goes directly to helping these organizations so they can help others find horses and a better quality of life. This was our Opportunity Funds inaugural year and many donated to help us, but as you can see, we weren’t able to fulfill all of the grant requests due to funding limitations, so please, consider donating today,” said Tom O’Mara, President of US Equestrian.

These grants were awarded through a competitive grants request process. One hundred-percent of funds raised for the Opportunity Fund are dedicated to supporting the USEF Community Outreach Program and its recognized USEF Community Outreach Organizations. These organizations can be found across the country and are committed to bringing horses to traditionally under-represented and/or under-served communities, including active military and veterans; low-income individuals; people with disabilities; Black, Indigenous, and people of color; and more. The USEF Opportunity Fund aims to extend the reach and impact of these outstanding organizations to improve access to horses and bring the joy of horse sports to as many people as possible. These grants were made possible by the generous contributions of the USEF Board of Directors, members, partners, and competition organizers. Please consider supporting the Opportunity Fund and make a donation today.

About USEF Community Outreach Organizations 

Recognized USEF Community Outreach Organizations are united by their standards in their mission to provide equine-based learning opportunities and to support the positive impact horses can have within their local communities. These organizations must meet certain standards of horse and human welfare, including USEF Safe Sport requirements and abiding by the USEF Non-Discrimination Policy, as well as offering their services for free or on a sliding scale of fees based on financial need, and more, before being recognized through this program.

Jonelle Price and Classic Moet Claim First-Ever Avebury Trophy

Jonelle Price and Classic Moet deliver the only clear inside the time of the day – despite a significant kit malfunction. Photo by Nico Morgan Media.

Jonelle Price and Classic Moet have become the first winners of the Avebury Trophy at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials after delivering the only clear inside the time of the day — even without a functioning stopwatch. They romped home three seconds inside the 11:20 optimum time, ultimately finishing fourth in the event.

“Jonelle Price’s round on Classic Moet was the only one of the day to be inside the time — but that wasn’t the deciding factor in awarding it to her. She did it more easily than the others, and still had time to add a stride at the final two fences,” says Captain Mark Phillips, who presented Jonelle with the award before the final session of showjumping.

“In terms of conserving the energy of the horse, being one second over the time — as Piggy March was on Vanir Kamira — is a better solution [that being under the time], but Piggy and her mare didn’t look quite as ‘easy’ over the last three fences,” continues Phillips. “I thought the other two outstanding rounds came from Bubby Upton [Cola III] and Tom Jackson [Capels Hollow Drift], because they also made it look easy, and the best cross-country performances are those that do that.”

The Avebury Trophy is a new prize at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. Generously donated by Rosemary and Mark Barlow, owners of three-times Burghley winner Avebury, it was be awarded for the best cross-country round of the day, as judged by Captain Mark Phillips.

Avebury was bred by his rider Andrew Nicholson, whose children gave the grey son of Jumbo his nickname, ‘Buddy’. Avebury started his eventing career with Andrew’s wife Wiggy, but Andrew took over the reins in 2007. In 2009, Andrew and Avebury won the CCI4*-L at Saumur, and took the first of their three consecutive Burghley victories in 2012. As well as those three CCI5* triumphs, the pair had an outstanding record at Barbury Castle, winning the CCI4*-S there four times. They were British Open champions at Gatcombe in 2014. Avebury retired from competition in 2016, and sadly had to be put down due to a malignant tumour in his jaw later that year. He is buried in the garden at the Nicholsons’ home at Westwood Stud in Wiltshire.
Rosemary Barlow, who enjoyed so many great days with Andrew and Avebury, said: “Buddy was at his most brilliant at Burghley, and he and Andrew made the cross-country track here look easy, which it certainly is not. We thought that to present an award to the rider who delivers a cross-country round that makes it ‘look easy’ would be an appropriate way to remember Buddy – and also to pay some tribute to Andrew, who retired from competing at the top level last autumn but who won Burghley five times in total, and who is rightly celebrated as one of the greatest cross-country riders we have ever seen.”

 

Need an English Eventing Fix? Don’t Miss This Weekend’s Cornbury International

Sarie Weaving tackles Cornbury’s scenic course. Photo courtesy of Sarah Farnsworth Photography.

If you’re counting the pennies but would like a great day out in the beautiful Oxfordshire, UK countryside, come to Cornbury House Horse Trials this weekend.

The world’s most famous event riders – including all three Britain’s gold medallists from the Tokyo Olympics – will be competing in the stunning surroundings of Cornbury House, near Charlbury, from 8-11 September.

Tickets cost just £8 for an adult on Thursday, 8 September, and £10 for an adult on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Children under the age of 16 can come for free, and there are no extra parking costs.

Cornbury House Horse Trials is the newest, most exciting international horse trials in the UK, founded by David Howden, who lives at Cornbury House, in 2020. His determination to provide the best possible conditions for horses and riders to perform at their very best has meant that Cornbury House Horse Trials has quickly become one of the most popular venues, attracting huge entries from all the top names in the sport of eventing.

For 2022, these include Zara Tindall, Olympic gold medallists Oliver Townend, Laura Collett and Tom McEwen, the legendary William Fox-Pitt and Pippa Funnell, supermodel Edie Campbell, and British-based foreign stars such as Andrew Nicholson and Tim and Jonelle Price – all winners of the biggest events on the international circuit.

As well as equestrian sport – dressage, showjumping and cross-country – Cornbury House Horse Trials showcases an outstanding selection of food, with all ingredients grown and produced locally. The Argentinian barbecue features Cornbury House’s very own lamb and long horn beef. We have also teamed up with our neighbours at Bruern Farms to serve rare-breed Middle White and Saddleback sausages, as well as wild venison burgers. There is vegan and gluten-free plant-based food from Nutmeg & Thyme, freshly made pizza and crepes from White Horse Box Pizza, indulgent fresh pastries using Bruern heritage flour, and delicious ice cream made with our local dairy’s milk.

The bar will be stocked with our own Cornbury Ale and Bitter, made from heritage barley grown in the Evenlode valley.

“I am so excited to welcome spectators properly to Cornbury House Horse Trials after two years affected by the Covid pandemic,” said David Howden. “Cornbury is a magical place – the event has the backdrop of both the house, and the ancient Wychwood Forest. There’s lots of space to stroll about and to relax, while taking in the action from these amazing horses and riders. If you like horses – or if you just want a lovely day out with friends, family, or on your own – come and join us!”

Tickets for Cornbury House Horse Trials can be purchased in advance via our website (www.cornburyhousehorsetrials.co.uk, which has a full timetable and information about the event), or you can buy tickets on the gate.

The free-to-view livestream will be shown on the event website and social media channels.

 

Maryland 5 Star Welcomes Title and Presenting Sponsors to the Helm

Boyd Martin and On Cue. Photo by Abby Powell.

The Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill is excited to welcome back MARS EQUESTRIAN™ and Brown Advisory and in new positions as the event’s Title and Presenting Sponsors! The event will now be promoted as the “MARS Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill presented by Brown Advisory.” The much anticipated second edition of Maryland’s elite equestrian competition is set to return to the Fair Hill Special Event Zone in Cecil County, MD, October 13-16.

The MARS Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill presented by Brown Advisory is one of only two 5 Star level equestrian events of its kind in the United States and just the seventh worldwide. The event made a spectacular debut last year, welcoming a total of 20,886 spectators and 184 competitors that featured four of the top eight eventers in the world.

In addition to the 5 Star competition (CCI5*-L), the event also features a 3 Star competition (CCI3*-L), which serves as the USEF CCI3*-L Eventing National Championship, and The Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse East Coast Championships presented by Dubarry of Ireland. The four days of eventing competition feature Dressage (Thu-Fri), Cross-Country (Sat) showcasing Ian Stark-designed courses, and Show Jumping (Sun).

“We are thrilled and honored that MARS EQUESTRIAN and Brown Advisory, two global brands with unwavering support of the horse industry, have chosen to increase their involvement with our event,” said Jeff Newman, President & CEO of the Maryland 5 Star Event Committee. “It’s truly a validation of our efforts to showcase world-class eventing, the Maryland Horse Industry, Cecil County, and the state of Maryland to the world on an annual basis!”

The new Title Sponsor of the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill, MARS EQUESTRIAN is one of the biggest and most significant sponsors in equestrian sport. The sponsorship will continue to showcase Mars, Incorporated’s leading brands in horse care, pet care, veterinary services, and confectionery across the grounds at many events. For generations, Mars has celebrated a rich equestrian heritage, and through purposeful partnerships, MARS EQUESTRIAN is committed to the sport and building an enduring legacy. From world-class competitions across all equestrian disciplines to stewarding the power of horses on society and sustainability, MARS EQUESTRIAN is dedicated to improving the lives of horses, pets, and the people who love them.

“MARS EQUESTRIAN has been a supporter of equestrian sports for many years and is proud to become the title sponsor with the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill,” said Geoff Galant, Vice President of MARS EQUESTRIAN. “Sponsoring this event at the highest level exemplifies that we understand horses have a remarkable effect on people, and we want to spread that joy through direct interactions with fans, consumers, and competitors. The Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill provides us a unique opportunity to become a partner with them in the effort to continue to grow this event into a world-class competition.”

As the event’s new Presenting Sponsor, Brown Advisory has also strengthened its partnership with the event and its ties to the Maryland community. Brown Advisory is an independent investment management and strategic advisory firm committed to delivering a combination of first-class performance, strategic advice and the highest level of client service. The firm’s institutional and private clients are based in 50 states and more than 44 countries and territories and are served by over 800 colleagues worldwide, all of whom are equity owners of the firm. They are dedicated to raising the future for and with their clients, colleagues and communities at large.

Mike Hankin, President and CEO of Brown Advisory, said, “Our firm, which was founded in Maryland, has a history of supporting equestrian sport and events that have a positive impact on the community and local businesses. We believe the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill does just that and so we’re pleased to step-up our commitment as the presenting sponsor.”

“Cecil County is proud to serve as the host location of the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill,” said Danielle Hornberger, County Executive. “The event celebrates our equestrian heritage while bringing people to visit our great county and therefore, we thank MARS EQUESTRIAN and Brown Advisory for increasing their support of the event to ensure its success.”

Tickets for the MARS Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill Presented by Brown Advisory – including reserved tailgate spots – are on sale now at Maryland5Star.us/tickets. A variety of single and multi-day ticket packages along with exclusive Club and VIP Hospitality packages, General Admission tickets starting at just $15 and much more are available.

Fans are encouraged to follow the event on social media @maryland5star and sign up to receive the event e-newsletter for all the latest news and information at maryland5star.us/newsletter-sign-up/, including details on this year’s new additions.

Early Insights: Previewing Stable View’s Marquee Oktoberfest Event

Dom Schramm and Bolytair B. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Each early fall, Stable View eagerly hosts its popular “Oktoberfest” event, a staple on the calendar that caters to riders from Beginner Novice up through CCI4*-S. This year, there’s loads on tap for riders and spectators alike to experience! Stable View Oktoberfest is scheduled for September 23-25 in Aiken, SC. You can grab a preview of entries here.

Tailgate on the Turf Returns

Following an enthusiastic turnout last spring, Stable View is once again devoting areas at the perimeter of the Pavilion for spectators to follow all of the action by tailgate on Saturday, September 24th during Oktoberfest. With the comfort and convenience of your own dedicated viewing spot, you can gather with family & friends and cheer riders on, all while picnic’ing course-side.

Choose from one of 50 tailgate locations (map below: 1-43 between dressage and cross country, and 44-50 in front of the Pavilion)

• Order a picnic lunch box (vegetarian or non-vegetarian, menus available soon) or BYO food & beverage

• Enjoy access to Pavilion amenities and Ollie’s Inn Pub

• Mimosa mixers and Stable View swag included

• Arrive as early as 8am, 4* cross country in the afternoon

And introducing … Pavilion Patron passes!

Watch top level riders from the Pavilion’s 360-degree-view balcony in a dedicated high top chair throughout the weekend, overlooking dressage and cross country. On Saturday, Pavilion Patrons also receive a split of Prosecco for mimosas, a Stable View shatterproof cup, and a Stable View ball cap. A charcuterie board will be set up for Patrons inside the Pavilion. Pavilion Patron tickets are $100 per chair (seating is limited). To purchase Tailgate or Pavilion Patron tickets: e-mail [email protected] or call (917) 592-6058.

The Pub will open with a cash bar on Saturday and Sunday from 11am until the last ride, 4pm’ish, and light bites/refreshments will also be sponsored by VTO Saddlery at their tent on Saturday.

Sunday will be FITS Riding Day. The Aiken-based apparel brand will be looking for riders wearing FITS! Participate in a short video to receive a store voucher. FITS is also a major sponsor of prize money for Training level through Advanced.

 

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Prizes on Tap

Throughout the weekend, trot your horse past the Purvida Healthy Horse trailer near Day Parking to show off your grooming skills for a chance to be awarded “Best Groomed.” Daily prizes include all-natural grooming products.

In addition to a booth of gifts galore and custom embroidery samples, The Mane Monogram will be awarding the competitor traveling the furthest to Oktoberfest! Please email Stable View at [email protected] to let them know how far you’re traveling for this event.

Engineered Equine Performance, Aiken’s premier sports conditioning facility will award each the Trainer AND the Competitor with the most horses with an equine Saltwater Treadmill and Combi-Floor package session valued at $80.

Give your horse(s) some TLC after a long haul, or post-ride during the weekend with help from Capall Pulse Therapy, set up on Vendor Row. FEI compliant BEMER/PEMF sessions are available, and try out the PEMF chair for riders! To make an appointment on-site call or text 352-443-2316.

Rider Lounges will be stocked with water, tea, coffee, fruit, yogurt, and dry snacks. Don’t forget to join the Stable View crew for their signature Graze & Gaze on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings from 5pm until 7pm downstairs in the Pavilion.

Also new this year: Need night check assistance while at Oktoberfest? Two young adult riders have launched AMPOM Peace of Mind Horse Care, a licensed and insured service to make sure your horse is safely tucked in at night, helping to minimize colic, dehydration, and casting. $10 for a 2x wellness check and waters (10pm and 2am), $12 to drop provided feed between 5:30am and 6:30am (for those who have early rides or distant commutes!). Cash, check, or Venmo accepted. Contact co-founder Mackenzie VanEffen at 404-268-9866 or [email protected].

 

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Stable View would like to thank all Owners, Riders, Officials, and Guests for their ongoing support and in many cases, advice. This facility has been developed by the Community, for the Community. Therefore, as Stable View grows, it is increasingly serving many people in the area — equestrians and non-equestrians alike.

We look forward to a great Oktoberfest!

Win Big for the Maryland 5 Star: Bid Now on a Custom 4-Star Trailer

Dani Sussman and Jos Bravio. Photo by Abby Powell.

4-Star Trailers, the Official Trailer of the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill, along with Triple C Trailer Sales have generously donated a customized 2023 4-Star (2+1) Gooseneck Horse Trailer to be auctioned for the benefit of the event, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The event’s thrilling second edition returns to the Fair Hill Special Event Zone in Cecil County, MD, October 13-16.

The Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill made a spectacular debut last year, welcoming a total of 20,886 spectators and 184 competitors that featured four of the top eight eventers in the world.

In addition to the 5* competition, the event also features the USEF CCI3*-L Eventing National Championship, and The Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse East Coast Championships Presented by Dubarry of Ireland. The four days of eventing competition feature Dressage (Thu-Fri), Cross-Country (Sat) showcasing Ian Stark-designed courses, and Show Jumping (Sun).

Retailing for just under $59,000, the 2023 (2+1) Gooseneck Trailer is white skin with added slats for extra protection. Features include a fully carpeted 4’ front dress area with three saddle racks and six bridle hooks and fully rubber-lined and padded horse area, including a large 102” box stall and larger Warmblood-sized stalls. Extra roof vents provide more ventilation in the stall, while two 60” easy-lift ramps and extra lights on the interior and exterior allow for easier loading from either the side or the rear.

A customized 2023 4-Star trailer similar to this one is up for grabs this year via an online auction benefitting the Maryland 5 Star.

“We truly appreciate 4-Star Trailers supporting the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill,” said Jeff Newman, President & CEO of the Maryland 5 Star Event Committee. “Proceeds from the auction will greatly assist our efforts in producing an international event of this magnitude.”

“We are excited to be back for the second edition of the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill and look forward to participating in the continued growth of this amazing event,” said Lee Jones, National Sales Manager of 4-Star Trailers.

Bidding ends TOMORROW, September 8 at 5:00 p.m. EDT, so start bidding today at 4 Star Trailers Auction to own this beautiful 4-Star trailer and ensure the Maryland 5 Star’s continued success! For more information about the auction, contact Kate Robbins at [email protected] or 617-388-0021.

Tickets for the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill – including reserved tailgate spots right next to the dynamic Cross-Country action – are on sale now at Maryland5Star.us/tickets. A variety of single and multi-day ticket packages along with exclusive Club and VIP Hospitality packages, General Admission tickets starting at just $15 and much more are available.

Fans are encouraged to follow the event on social media @maryland5star and/or sign up to receive the event e-newsletter for all the latest news and information maryland5star.us/newsletter-sign-up/, including details on this year’s new additions.

US Equestrian Names Team for FEI Nations Cup Netherlands CCIO4*-L

Graphic via US Equestrian.

US Equestrian is pleased to announce the four combinations selected to represent the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team at the FEI Eventing Nations Cup Netherlands CCIO4*-L hosted in Enschede, Netherlands at the Military Boekelo-Enschede from October 5-9, 2022.

The following combinations have been named to the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team and are listed in alphabetical order:

James Alliston and Nemesis at Rebecca Farm this July. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

James Alliston (San Ramon, Calif.) and Nemesis, a 2014 Canadian Warmblood gelding owned by Alliston Equestrian.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Miks Master C at Rebecca Farm this July. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Liz Halliday-Sharp (Lexington, Ky.) and Miks Master C, a 2012 Swedish Warmblood gelding owned by Ocala Horse Properties & Deborah Palmer.

Boyd Martin and Fedarman B at Bruce’s field this spring. Photo by Christine Quinn Photography.

Boyd Martin (Cochranville, Pa.) and Fedarman B, 2010 KWPN gelding owned by the Annie Goodwin Syndicate

Alyssa Phillips and Oskar at Rebecca Farm this July. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Alyssa Phillips (Fort Worth, Texas) and Oskar, a 2009 Holsteiner gelding owned by Alyssa & Julie Phillips.

The competition will begin on Wednesday, October 5, with the horse inspection and continue through Sunday, October 9. The cross-country course is designed by Adrian Ditcham (GER), while the final jumping phase will be built by Kris van Gelder (NED).

Sally O’Connor Inducted into US Eventing Hall of Fame

Sally O’Connor is honored by family and friends at Great Meadow International. Photo by Erin Gilmore Photography.

This year a new class will be joining the 47 eventing legends currently in the United States Eventing Association (USEA) Eventing Hall of Fame. Induction into the Hall of Fame is the highest honor awarded within the sport of eventing in the United States. Those invited to join the USEA’s Eventing Hall of Fame have truly made a difference in the sport of eventing. Hall of Fame members have included past Association presidents, volunteers, riders, founders, course designers, officials, organizers, horses, horse owners, and coaches.

Typically, a new group is inducted into the Hall of Fame every four years. The USEA is delighted to be welcoming a new Hall of Fame class this year. These members of the eventing community will be honored for their accomplishments, contributions, and lifelong dedication to the sport of eventing with a formal induction ceremony at the Hall of Fame Gala at the 2022 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention taking place this year in Savannah, Georgia from December 7-11.

The USEA’s Eventing Hall of Fame Class of 2022 will be announced throughout the year as inductees are presented with their invitation in person at events meaningful to their contributions. The third inductee of 2022, Sally O’Connor, was surprised yesterday at the MARS Great Meadow International event in The Plains, Virginia with her invitation to attend the induction ceremony.

O’Connor has enjoyed a lifetime of involvement with horses both in eventing and dressage. She had a robust eventing career in the 1960s and 70s as well as competing in the dressage ring for many years, earning numerous championship accolades while studying under the tutelage of classical riders Franz Rockowansky, Nuno Olivera, and Bengt Ljungquist. Sally moved to Draper, Utah to pioneer dressage and eventing in a new In 1973, while accompanied by her sons, O’Connor pioneered a ride across the U.S. covering over 2900 miles riding her own event horse Gungho.

In addition to her riding, O’Connor has spent many years of her life as a FEI judge in both disciplines, an AHSA/USEF “I” dressage judge, and a “R” judge. Her influence on the sport of eventing, however, has been nothing short of impactful. She served as a steward regularly, including as the Chief Eventing Steward at the 2008 World Equestrian Games. Many of the current FEI eventing stewards working today at the highest level of the sport were trained by O’Connor, who has also contributed to the sport by writing up many of the eventing dressage tests utilized in competition throughout the years.

A prolific writer, riders all over the country have been influenced by her written works Practical Eventing and Common Sense Dressage, as well as numerous articles on both dressage and combined training. For 15 years, O’Connor was the voice of the dressage tests that took place during the then Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event and she served as the press liaison during the 2004 Olympics. She has served on the boards of many equestrian institutions including the Potomac Valley Dressage Association, the United States Dressage Association, the United States Pony Club, and was the Vice President of Education for the United States Combined Training Association (now United States Eventing Association). Her sons, David and Brian, have both made their mark on the sport of eventing in their own fashion, no doubt influenced by their mother’s powerful passion for the sport.

Real Rider Cup Returns to Fair Hill in Aid of Off-Track Thoroughbreds

Thoroughbreds get their chance to shine in the next edition of the Real Rider Cup. Photo by Bethany P Photography.

After an enormously successful inaugural run in Lexington in June, which raised over $90,000, the Real Rider Cup is back — and this time, the charity showjumping event is heading to Fair Hill on September 16. Created by Anita Motion, the show is designed to raise vital funds for ex-racehorses rehabilitation, and features an exciting line-up of riders mounted on off-the-track Thoroughbreds.

Riders include former winner Penelope Miller, who has ridden in four previous Real Rider Cups, will ride once again for Team Racing Media, while fundraiser Keira Nygaard, whose parents Erik and Pavla own and operate Thor-Bred Stables, was among the leaders in Kentucky and comes now to Maryland with her eyes on the top prize. Paddock analyst and host for America’s Day at the Races and Saratoga Live, Maggie Wolfendale Morley, returns for her second Real Rider Cup. 1/ST Racing once again maintains a strong presence with Maryland Jockey Club’s marketing & events manager Brittlan Wall and analyst/broadcaster Kali Francois, among others. MidAtlantic Equine Medical Center also steps to support, furnishing a team of its own. And don’t count out the kids: Team Racing Kids is back with a strong lineup, too.

No one does horse racing like Maryland, and some of the state’s best racehorses will be demonstrating their talent in a new career. Two-time winner of the Maryland Million Turf, multiple stakes winner and earner of $434,801 Phlash Phelps will be in attendance with Sabrina Morris. Multiple stakes placed warhorse Grandiflora, winner of $357,334 will also compete with junior rider Jaidyn Shore in the tack. From outside of Maryland, Maggie Morley will be riding multiple stakes winner Ninety One Assault, who earned $440,283.

There’s plenty of time to get involved to show your support: while the roster of riders is closed, title sponsorships are still available for the Maryland event and riders are actively fundraising to meet their pledges. Spectators are encouraged and there is no cost for admission. Come for the thrilling competition and stay for the lively afterparty! Refreshments will be on hand courtesy of Wesley’s and Spring House Spirits with live music by Release. Learn more and donate today at therealridercup.com!

Germany’s Katharina Tietz Finds Success in Strzegom Summer CCI4*-S

CCI4*-S winners Katharina Tietz & Chapeau Claque 49. Photo by Leszek Wójcik.

Meanwhile in Poland, yet another CCI4* event has wrapped up: Strzegom Summer Tour. Katharina Tietz of Germany won the class with the 9-year-old Chapeau Claque 49, and was third as well with Aspen T.

With Chapeau Claque 49 she was eighth after dressage, had one down in the jumping and galloped for the win with a clear cross-country round, only two seconds over the optimum time. She finished third with Aspen T. They were in the 16th position after the first trial and went up nine places after keeping all the jumps up in the second one. She reached the finish of the cross-country with additional penalties for time.

Second place went to Sanne De Jong with Jersey MBF. The Dutch rider was 6th after dressage and only added time faults later on – for two seconds in the jumping and 18 in the cross country.

Libussa Lübbeke and Darcy F placed 4th the CCI4*-S. Photo by Leszek Wójcik.

Almost 300 horses competed at the event, representing 12 countries. The competitors faced four international short-format competitions and three national classes.

In the 3*-S the win belonged to Anna Siemer (GER) with Lillybelle EA, who secured her victory after a clear jumping round. Second place went to Polish rider Wiktoria Knap with Quintus 134, who stayed in this position throughout three trials. Third went to Germany’s Anna Lena Schaaf with Cocolares, going up from the seventh overnight.

The winner of the 2*-S was Germany’s Jan Matthias aboard Ibsen 27. He took the lead after the cross country and went clear on today’s jumping course. Second went to the Netherlands’ Sanne de Jong with Larosaleen W, and third to her compatriot Janneke Boonzaaijer with Mirage.

The 1*-Intro finished with the victory of Willemina Van Der Goes-Petter (NED) with Legende P. Polish rider Kalina Kasak with Primavera was second, and Germany’s Isabella Von Roeder with Bob – third.

CCI4*-S Final Top 10:

Blair Castle: Astier Nicolas Wins CCI4*-S, Caroline Martin Finishes 5th

The Land Rover Blair Castle Horse Trials concluded today, with victors crowned across one- through four-star levels. In the CCI4*-L, Tom McEwen and Luna Mist kept their #1 spot through show jumping for the win, as did overnight CCI4*-L leaders Astier Nicolas and Babylon de Gamma through cross country.

The U.S. sole representative Caroline Martin had two horses in the CCI4*-S. She collected 8.4 time penalties on today’s cross country to move another spot up into fifth with Islandwood Captain Jack, while Redfield Champion was eliminated cross country.

View complete final scores here.

Four-star (S)

The four-star short-format concluded today with the influential cross-country phase. France’s Astier Nicolas and Babylon de Gamma retained their overnight lead to win the Scottish Open Champion title, one they also won here in 2019, finishing as runners-up last year. The pair sped around the cross-country track which proved challenging for many in the fastest time of the day, seven seconds inside the optimum time, to complete on 27.2.

“He’s just too good,” Astier said of the 11-year-old. “With many horses you use softer bits as they get older but with him I have to go harder – he’s just a rocket. I am amazed by his fitness as he has only had one other run this year due to having had hoof surgery but he has fought his way back and wants to be here. He’s a Blair expert!”

When asked about his thoughts on the cross-country course, Astier commented: “I think it was more difficult than previously but that may be my memory. The courses here can look easy when you first walk them because, if the fences were on the flat they wouldn’t be too technically difficult, but when you factor in the terrain, which I think is some of the most challenging in the world, they become much more difficult. I love coming here – everyone is very friendly, the landscape is beautiful and the ground is second to none.”

Oliver Townend finished second with Sir John Peace’s As Is, a relatively recent acquisition to his string having been produced by Oliver’s great friend and New Zealand Olympian, Andrew Nicholson. Second out on course, the pair made light work of it and were the only other combination not to incur time or jumping penalties. They completed on their dressage score of 30.2. “He’s top class, he gallops, he jumps, what else can I say?” said Oliver.

Tom McEwen and Mrs Alison Swinburn and John and Chloe Perry’s Brookfield Quality dropped a place and finished third on 34.6 after picking up 6.4 time penalties. Tom, however, was still delighted with the horse whom he has recently taken on from Piggy March who also rides for the Brookfield Stud: “Coming here with him was a fact finding mission really,” admitted Tom.

“Riding a horse who has been ridden by one of the best in the world is a bit nerve wracking to be honest and we’re still getting to know each other. He’s a heck of a character and has a big jump which I’ve had to get used to but I can’t fault the way he’s gone.”

Cross-country pathfinders Wills Oakden and DHI By Design finished fourth on 40.0. The USA’s Caroline Martin, who is currently based with Pippa Funnell, was fifth with Islandwood Captain Jack on 42.9 ahead of Pippa herself with Maybach on 44.0 in sixth. 

Four-star (L)

As was the case in the three-star long, Tom McEwen was in the enviable position of having two show jumps in hand at the top of the leaderboard going into today’s final phase.

Riding Martin Belsham’s mare Luna Mist, he added just .4 of a time fault to take the title on a total score of 32.3. The pair only began their partnership at the start of this season and this was their first outing at this level: “You never know what you’ll have at the end of a three-day event,” said Tom, “and although this was a small class it was a proper test and she’s proved to me that she’s a 5* mare. She made both jumping phases feel easy, particularly today’s show jumping track which was up to height.”

The only fault-free show jumping round of the day, from Oliver Townend and another mare, Paul Ridgeon’s Cooley Rosalent, meant they retained second place. The eight-year-old’s performance also proved to her jockey that she was all that he had thought she was and more: “She’s never felt so good or so spectacular,” said Oliver. “She’s had a great experience over proper 4* tracks and she’s done nothing that tells me she isn’t a 5* horse.” He added that she may well be aimed at Maryland 5* towards the end of the season.

Nini French and her own Time For Harry were third on 54.8 and Louise Harwood with her own Native Spirit Fourth.

Three-star

After today’s final show jumping phase, Tom McEwen posted another good result for owners Mrs Alison Swinburn, John and Chloe Perry when he retained his overnight lead with their nine-year-old gelding Brookfields Cavalier Cruise. The pair had two show jumps in hand but needed neither and completed on their dressage score of 22.9:

“He’s always been up there after dressage and show jumping at one-day events but has never really been allowed to have his day as we’ve been saving him a big occasion. It’s great that he’s had it today,” said Tom. “This is actually his first long format event and he really stepped up – for a big boy he’s really well-balanced.”

Behind the pair there was just one fence between the next six-placed riders and the leaderboard was shuffled in what was an exciting final phase.

Sam Ecroyd and his mother’s home-bread Withington climbed a place from third to eventual second after they jumped clear and Max Warburton and Deerpairc Revelry (who had been second after cross-country) rolled a pole and dropped to seventh:

“We came here to get our 4* long-format qualification,” said Sam, “and luckily I’ve always had good rounds here. Withington has been produced very slowly as he’s found it quite tricky to learn how to control his power and agility – he’ll have a good break now and hopefully we’ll have a proper season at 4* level next year.”

Perthshire-based Wills Oakden added to the bounty of rosettes he has collected over the course of the event finishing third with his wife Stephanie’s Cooley Pot of Gold on their dressage score of 39.1: “It’s been a brilliant weekend all round,” he admitted. “I came here knowing I had horses capable of getting into the top 10 in their respective sections and I’m glad it all worked out here as it doesn’t always!”

New Zealand’s Caroline Powell and CBI Aldo rose from ninth to fourth following their clear showjumping round, while Katie Magee and Nelson De La Pomme climbed from 10th to fifth after they also went clear. 

Two-star

The top of the leaderboard changed after every phase during this year’s two-star competition. Dressage leaders Caroline Powell and Tik Top lost their advantage when collecting 5.6 cross-country time penalties, opening the door to dressage runners-up Lucinda Atkinson and Twice Proved.

However, a lowered pole in the showjumping plummeted the pair to eventual fifth, so influential was the final day on the results.

The eventual winners, Wills Oakden and his wife Stephanie’s Keep It Cooley, had been just 0.1 of a penalty behind Lucinda and made no such mistake, jumping an immaculate clear round to take the title.

“This season he’s won two intermediates and was runner up in the three-star short-format at Alnwick Ford. The idea was to bring him here to be as competitive as we could be; he’s a horse we absolutely believe in, and love to bits. I’m very proud of him – he’s a serious machine and has been super all week.

“It’s the first time we’ve had a win here. We had one on Friday in a small class and Steph said, ‘that’s the Blair-duck done, they might start coming now’. Finally we have actually done it.”

Also benefiting from clear rounds were Nina De Haas from the Netherlands, riding JVK Mr Maguire, and Harrison Colling on Trevi Fountain who finished second and third respectively.

One-star section F

Section F concluded this morning with competitors running across country. The final top three all jumped clear inside the time and completed on their respective dressage scores. 

Heading the leaderboard on 28.3 was 18-year-old Maia Fleming from East Lothian with the 18hh Candyman Leanorth who was previously competed up to 3* level by Toots Bartlett:

“It felt like a breeze to be honest,” said Maia. “He made it feel so easy and riding here was a really good experience – it’s a massive atmosphere.”

Maia will now concentrate on horses and target Young Riders classes with Candyman Leanorth next season.

At the other end of the size scale, a 14.1hh pony, Stonehavens Cloud, ridden by Elizabeth Jelfs finished second on 31.5 with Emma Wake and Chrissi third on 33.2. 

CCI4*-L Final Top 10:

CCI4*-S Final Top 10:

CCI3*-L Final Top 10: 

Land Rover Blair Castle International H.T. (Pitlochry, UK): [Website] [Schedule] [Timing & Scoring]

New Blair Castle 4* Leaders Take Aim at Final Phase; Caroline Martin in 4*-S Top 10

Saturday was cross country day for Land Rover Blair Castle Horse Trials CCI4*-L competitors and show jumping day for CCI4*-S competitors, and both scoreboards saw a shakeup — details below! Your new leaders heading into Sunday: Tom McEwen and Luna Mist in the CCI4*-L and Astier Nicolas and Babylon de Gamma in the CCI4*-S.

Caroline Martin is the sole U.S. competitor in this year’s edition of the iconic Scottish event. Her two CCI4*-S mounts switched hierarchy on the leaderboard after today’s show jumping; Redfield Champion, who was 9th after dressage, had eight jumping and 2.4 time faults to fall to 17th place, while Islandwood Captain Jack moved from 14th to 9th thanks to a clear round with 1.2 time faults.

Four-star (L)

An activated mim clip at fence 15 (a safety device on some cross-country fences to help prevent falls which result in 11 penalties if activated by horses) by dressage leaders Oliver Townend and Cooley Rosalent handed the lead in the four-star long format to Oliver’s Tokyo Olympics team-mate Tom McEwen and Martin Belsham’s Luna Mist after today’s cross-country phase.

Tom and Luna Mist completed with two time penalties giving them a total score of 31.9 and a healthy two show jumps in hand over Oliver with Cooley Rosalent and the rest of the field going into tomorrow’s final show jumping phase:

“She’s a proper little fighter and came home full of running as she’s very fit,” said Tom. “She was a bit feisty and didn’t really settle until the eight-minute mark which made life more tricky than it needed to be in a couple of places but she was amazing. It was a proper four-star track with lots of people, atmosphere and hills – for me riding here is no different to riding at Bramham or Badminton.”

No-one made the optimum time but Oliver and Cooley Rosalent came closest, finishing just three seconds over time for 1.2 penalties:

“The optimum time was as it should be,” said Oliver. “It’s supposed to be hard to get at this level as when horses go up to five-star they need to run for an extra minute. The great thing about Blair is that you leave knowing what type of horse you’ve got if they get close to the time.”

He was delighted with the eight-year-old Cooley Rosalent whom he described as “a dream”. “She more than ticked all the boxes today” he added, “She’s a natural athlete who wants to do the job – I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Piggy March’s sister, Nini French, finally fulfilled the objective she has had since 2018 with Time For Harry of competing in the four-star-long at Blair Castle and finished the day in third place on 48.4 to boot:

“I’m so kamikaze,” she laughed. “Every year I try to get here I pick up silly injuries but I’ve finally made it! Time For Harry is my only horse and I really wanted to come here as he enjoys the softer ground and I felt the undulating course would suit us as neither of us are the fastest but we like to get stuck in and attack. It’s a really fun place and a great atmosphere too.”

Ireland’s Susie Berry and Kilcandra Capitol lie fourth on 50.1 after jumping clear and picking up 13.6 time penalties:

“He was class,” Susie beamed. “This is his first four-star long-format and he was a bit inexperienced in places, but he was very quick with his legs when he got into trouble and kept trying for me – that’s all I could ask for really.”

Tomorrow’s show jumping starts at 4.15pm local time.

Four-star (S)

Blair specialists Astier Nicolas and Babylon de Gamma have moved up into the top spot after today’s show jumping phase. The 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding was runner up here last year and winner in 2019.

The pair jumped a clear round, adding 1.2 time penalties to their dressage score and have a one penalty advantage over Tom McEwen on Brookfield Quality.

“It’s the first serious class of the year for this horse, who has come back from surgery. He’s been really electric this week with all the atmosphere which is pretty big in the main arena; there were lots of nerves to manage, especially in the dressage.”

Looking forward to tomorrow’s cross-country, Astier added: “The course is what I expected – big, bold and testing, but the horse is a great jumper and very good with these hills. He loves it here and the ground is perfectly suited for him. Fingers crossed.”

Three-star

As in the three-star long-format, Tom McEwen goes into tomorrow’s show jumping with the luxury of two fences in hand over the chasing field. A clear round inside the time with Alison Swinburn and John and Chloe Perry’s Brookfield Cavalier Cruise means he sits 8.1 penalties clear of nearest rivals Max Warburton and the Paske Syndicate’s Deerpairc Revelry.

“I had a lovely ride to be honest,” said a relaxed Tom after his round. “We’ve been waiting for good ground all season so this was the first time I’ve asked him to open up which I did on the flat as he was finding it all super easy. It’s a proper three-star track out there which is what we want as riders as that’s what sets you up for the future.”

Max and Deerpairc Revelry also came home clear inside the time to elevate them from ninth after dressage to second place on a score of 31.0. Third placed Sam Ecroyd and his mother Penelope’s 11-year-old Withington completed on the same score but Max and Deerpairc Revelry finished closer to the optimum time, hence their higher placing:

“The course rode a lot twistier than I thought it would, to be honest,” said Sam, who picked up 2.4 time penalties with Withington. “That adds to the endurance the horses need but I thought the fences were all really fair.”

Two time penalties for Jo Rimmer and Mrs Merrill Halstead and Mrs Nikki Axon Chilli’s Midnight Star elevated them to fourth place on 31.1 while a clear round inside the time saw Wills Oakden and Cooley Pot of Gold rise to fifth.

Two-star

It was all change at the top after today’s cross-country. The optimum time of 8 mins 53” proved challenging to achieve but those who did manage it were rewarded with escalations up the leaderboard. That said, with less than four penalties, equating to one show jump, between the top eight, we’re in for an action packed final day tomorrow. The two-star showjumping starts at 10.45am.

Lucinda Atkinson and Pippa Reynold’s Twice Proved moved up from second after dressage to first after cross-country when they added nothing to their first phase score of 28.2. Wills Oakden and Keep It Cooley sit a hair’s breadth behind in second on 28.3. Nine out of the top 10 after cross-country all went clear inside the time on what was deemed by riders as a stiff but fair course over perfect ground.

Twice Proved is just six-years-old and is competing in her first long format event having posted some good results at Novice and CCI2*-S this season:

“She found the course tiring but she kept jumping for me,” said a delighted Lucinda after her round. “She was a bit inexperienced at some of the combinations but there’s a lot to jump out there for a six-year-old. I’m so pleased with her.”

Wills Oakden and Keep It Cooley, a seven-year-old gelding owned by Wills’ wife Stephanie, set the standard early in the morning with their classy round:

“I don’t think it’s easy out there,” he commented, “but he’s a horse we have a lot of belief in and what will be will be tomorrow – I’m pleased to be in such a good position.”

Italy’s Vittoria Panizzon with Dido Darling’s Irish Jig III moved into third on 29.2 with Caroline Powell and Nicholas and Fiona Lambert’s Legally Grey fourth on 29.9. Caroline had led after dressage with Jo West’s Tik Tok and were out early on cross-country. The pair jumped clear but picked up 5.6 time penalties to drop to 8th.

One-star

Competitors from both sections completed their show jumping today. Those in section E also ran across country with Amelia England with her Dutch-bred mare Eluna taking the win. They completed on 30.6 having added just 1.6 cross-country time penalties to a dressage score of 29.

“I’m really happy,” said Amelia. “I only got her a month or two ago when I was in the middle of doing my A levels so we’re still getting to know each other. I’ve never ridden in an atmosphere like this before – it was so lovely to hear people cheering me on when I was going across country.”

Amelia now plans to take a gap year to concentrate on eventing and hopefully contest for Young Riders next before before heading off to university to study for a BSc in Biological Science.

Second place went to Hannah Pearce with her own Valdoctro. They completed on their dressage score of 31.2 on the horse’s first FEI competition. Both horse and rider have only competed up to BE100 previously.

“That was amazing and so much fun,” enthused Hannah who is based in Dorset with Jo Rimmer.

“The atmosphere around the show jumping ring was incredible and something I’d never experienced before. Valdoctro was fantastic across country and everything went according to plan other than me forgetting to press start on my stopwatch!”

Competitors in section F go across country tomorrow from 8am local time. Maia Fleming and Candyman Leanorth will start the day as leaders on 28.3, with Ireland’s Alex O’Hare and Greylands Diamond Girl second on 29.7 and Megan Bainbridge and Silver Fox third on 29.8.

CCI4*-L Top 10 After Cross Country:

CCI4*-S Top 10 After Show Jumping:

CCI3*-L Top 10 After Cross Country:

CCI2*-L Top 10 After Cross Country:

 

Land Rover Blair Castle International H.T. (Pitlochry, UK): [Website] [Schedule] [Timing & Scoring]

Oliver Townend Holds Double 4* Dressage Lead at Blair Castle

Oliver Townend & Ballaghmor Class, shown here in April 2022, lead CCI4*-S dressage. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Leading margins were squeezed and occasionally overturned today in Scotland at the Land Rover Blair Castle International Horse Trials. Oliver Townend has the dressage lead in both the CCI4*-S and CCI4*-L. Representing the U.S. in the short format is Caroline Martin, who is 9th with Redfield Champion and 14th with Islandwood Captain Jack. Saturday is cross country day for long-format competitors (beginning at around 3 p.m. local time), followed by show jumping on Sunday; short-format competitors show jump tomorrow and take on the cross country track on Sunday.

Four-star

The four-star long format was completed yesterday, so #1 Oliver Townend and #2 Tom McEwen retain their considerable advantage over the field. Oliver shared his thoughts about the leader, Cooley Rosalent: “She’s only eight and I’ve been in love with her since she was four-years-old. She will be a beautiful five-star horse in time. This weekend is a speed bump, and hopefully a learning curve. She’s got a wonderful brain and so much talent.”

Overnight short-format leaders Oliver Townend and Tregilder now sit in fifth place, but Oliver still tops the table, now partnering his Olympic gold medallist, Ballaghmor Class.

Before Ballaghmor Class entered the arena, first to move ahead of Tregilder was Pippa Funnell riding Maybach (27.6). Her lead was short-lived, France’s Astier Nicolas taking the top spot with Babylon de Gamma (26.0) while next up was China’s Alex Hua Tian and his long-term partner Don Geniro who slotted in between Astier and Pippa.

Ballaghmor Class performed a smooth, accurate test to finish the day at the top of affairs with a mark of 25.0.

“He was very good,” said Oliver after his test. “He’s not tuned up at all at the minute, he’s just going through the motions. We always like to build him up to the big occasion and I’d say there are another six marks to come off. One phase at a time, but I think I will run him across country on Sunday. We are still four weeks away from the Worlds, and if it was Burghley four weeks away I wouldn’t think twice about running.

“Blair is an exceptional prep run ahead of Pratoni (the World Championships venue), second to none with the ground and terrain here.”

Illustrating how busy Oliver has been this weekend – he has brought nine horses – in just the four-star short-format he lies in first, fifth, sixth, eighth and ninth.

Three-star

No change at the very top of this section, but Tom McEwen and Brookfield Cavalier Cruise’s leading margin has been reduced. Coral Hardman and Impuls V have slipped between Tom and Sam Ecroyd, 3.6 penalties behind Tom.

Similarly, Storm Straker and Fever Pitch separate Sam’s two rides, Withington (28.6) and Chapel House (29.1). Jo Rimmer and Chilli’s Midnight Star complete the top six ahead of tomorrow’s cross country phase, which is due to start at 11.30am.

Two-star

Caroline Powell has also retained her overnight lead, but again with a narrower cushion. Tik Tok lies on 26.5, Lucinda Atkinson and Twice Proved are on 28.2 with Wills Oakden and Keep It Cooley breathing down their necks on 28.3. Another 0.1 behind Wills is, you guessed it, Oliver Townend, this time riding Dolmen Debenture. Cross country starts at 8am.

One-star

In Section E, Amelia England came close to holding on to the top spot, but Max Warburton narrowly slipped ahead, riding Morningstar Van Altrido to a score of 28.8, 0.2 of a penalty ahead.

Maia Fleming still leads Section F, despite Georgina Pettit matching her score on Ballyerk Black Beauty.

Blair is never a dressage competition so the leaderboards could look very different by tomorrow evening!

Land Rover Blair Castle International H.T. (Pitlochry, UK): [Website] [Schedule] [Timing & Scoring]

CCI4*-L Top 10 After Dressage:

CCI4*-S Top 10 After Dressage: