We saw something rather unusual at the upper-levels today in the MARS Bromont CCI finale: all thirteen placings in CCI4*-L division remained completely unchanged between yesterday’s cross country and today’s show jumping. A few rails toppled over Marc Donovan’s course and a couple riders picked up a time fault or two, but, for better or for worse, no round was significant enough to shuffle the standings.
Perhaps then it goes without saying (but we’re going to tell you anyway!) that two-phase leaders Phillip Dutton and Azure, an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare (Omar – Cavalier Roselier, by Cavalier Royale), maintained their position atop the leaderboard and went on to win Bromont’s marquee division this weekend.
Produced through the four-star level by Ireland’s Elizabeth Power, Azure came to Phillip’s program only about a year ago through the support of owners Anne, Caroline, and Michael Moran. During that time the horse picked up an injury that required some time off, making Phillip and the mare’s partnership all the more nascent.
Phillip has been training with show jumper Lauren Hough and he’s delighted in the progress that he and the mare have made in this phase. One wouldn’t have been wrong for guessing that this pair might have rail or two based on Azure’s previous FEI results, but another piece of the puzzle fell into place today with and they produced a clear and oh-so nearly inside the time show jumping round. The pair finishes their weekend on a score of 37.2, with a single second of time faults from each of the jumping phases added to their dressage score.
“She jumped beautifully and you know she hasn’t been that easy in the ring,” Phillip said. “We’ve sort of now finessed the warm up and how to prepare her to go in the ring, but it was really rewarding the way she jumped today.”
As for what we can expect out of this partnership later this year, Phillip intends to continue chipping away at the mare’s flatwork to improve her competitiveness, but otherwise thinks she’s ready to continue stepping up.
“We got to do a bit of work on the dressage, she’s a freak cross country, and I was very, very pleased with the way she show jumped,” said Phillip. “So she’s kind of ready for five-star if I can give her a little bit more competitive on the flat.”
While our guess regarding Phillip and Azure having a rail today would have been wrong, we would have bet on Arielle Aharoni and Dutch Times jumping clear today and would have been right! Arielle and the 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Goodtimes – Alino Queen, by Michellino) also make their fair share of appearances in the FEI show jumping ring produced a characteristic clear round which clinched them a second place finish this weekend with a score of 41.3, adding only cross country time faults to the personal best dressage score their earned on Friday.
The only question mark surrounding Arielle and “Dutch’s” performance today was the pressure of heading into the ring in a podium position, but the familiarity of their long-time partnership and training that they’ve done over the years prepared them for the challenge.
“I was so nervous all morning,” Arielle told us, “but I know that horse is amazing. So as soon as I swing my leg over, you know, all the nerves go away and all I gotta do is just sit up there, trust him, and he’s gonna perform. So I’ve got to just keep that going!”
Our third place finishers today, Hannah Sue Hollberg and Capitol H I M should also be rather pleased with their performance in all three phase this weekend. Thrilled after “Chito’s” cross country performance yesterday, she’ll have made another happy call home to her husband, show jumper Mattias Hollberg, to report back on her double clear round this afternoon. They complete the weekend with a score of 42.4.
Hannah told us yesterday that she’d be particularly missing her “secret weapon,” who isn’t present at the event this weekend, during today’s final phase. As it often does though, the work at home and the jumping practice that Mattias encourages paid off in today’s performance. Hannah says Mattias’ insight as a fellow equestrian has been particularly helpful to her own eventing program.
“He is incredible at figuring out like what each horse needs in that moment and going forward and planning how to jump school them toward their big event and stuff,” Hannah said. “It’s It is remarkable.”
Boyd Martin Sweeps Divisions Entered
Simply put, Boyd Martin had one heck of a weekend. He takes home three wins, topping the leaderboard in each division that he had horses entered in. Today’s performances bring his total career victories at Bromont to a grand total of twelve.
2021 Maryland 5-Star winner On Cue announced her re-arrival to the top of the sport with a solid hold on the CCI4*-S from start to finish, ultimately winning on a score 45.8 after knocking the first rail of the treble combination. Taking the win in the division was simply icing on the cake, as Boyd is most happy to have the 17-year-old Anglo-European mare (Cabri d’Elle – On High, by Primitive Rising) back on top form after straining a tendon and missing a season.
“She’s just changed my career with the win at Maryland,” Boyd told us. “I’ve never ridden such a champion cross country horse and she tries her guts out in the show jumping. She just feels brand new after a bit of time off and I think she’s got a fair bit left in the tank.”
Given how well “Cue” has felt throughout the weekend, Boyd seems to be eyeing a trip to Burghley with her this fall. The mare will have a few weeks off at home before gearing up for a return trip to Bromont for the FEI Eventing Nations Cup event scheduled later this summer.
“I think it’s the perfect preparation event for an epic competition like Burghley,” Boyd says.
Honestly Boyd clinching multiple wins across multiple divisions is probably not too big of a shocker most of us eventing fanatics, but he may have surprised himself a little with his win in the CCI3*-L aboard 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding Chiraz (Caydo 3 — Asquetta, Casall). A double clear round across the country yesterday and another over the colored poles today mean the pair win on their dressage score of 29.6.
“He’s a fantastic jumper. I really came here not knowing what to expect from him and to come in and put in a performance like that … I’m absolutely thrilled for the owners and blown away by his performance,” Boyd said.
Chiraz, owned by Sandra Holden, was previously campaigned to the CCI3*-L level by Mikki Kuchta before becoming Boyd’s ride. Their first competition together was just four months ago at Pine Top Horse Trials this February and their win today marks their second FEI victory together already — they won the CCI3*-S at the Fair Hill International April Horse Trials.
Finally for Boyd, he and Asti’s Charming held off Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Shutterfly all weekend — both finished on their dressage scores of 23.0 and 24.9 respectively, making for a wire-to-wire win for Boyd and “Charm” in the CCI2*-L.
Charm, a ten-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Asti’s Amsterdam – Atlantis C, by Landjonker), just began eventing just over a year ago, completing his first event under Boyd’s assistant rider Diego Farje in the Novice at Sporting Days Farm last February.
“Charm put it in a heroic effort,” Boyd said. “Since he came from the showjumping world, I had a tiny bit of confidence leading into today. Yesterday didn’t take anything out of him and I was very pleased for the win.”
Charm proved he can hold his own over three days and three phases. The gelding is owned and was produced as a show jumper by Catie Boone of Sterling Equestrian, who originally sent the horse to Boyd because of his spookiness, hoping that some cross country schooling with Boyd would build his bravery and get him a little more forward thinking in the show jumping ring. Catie and Alex Boone have been long-time supporter’s of Boyd’s and have owned pieces of several of Boyd’s top mounts including Blackfoot Mystery, Pancho Villa, Luke 140 and also Barney Rubble, who placed fifth in this division.
“I quickly rang Catie up and said, ‘I think this horse could actually be an eventer, can I keep it for a bit longer?’” Boyd recalled, “and she sort of said, ‘see how far you can go with him.’”
Bromont Rising Stars Shine Brightly
Maya Clarkson earned special honors as the highest-placed MARS Bromont Rising participant in the CCI3*-L, in which she finished second overall with Maks Mojo C on her dressage score of 32.5.
Maya and “Maks'” partnership is a relatively young one. She’s owned and ridden the 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Mighty Magic — Winter Morning, by Ramiro’s Bube) who was bred by Laurie Cameron and previously produced through the 3*-S level by Maya Black, for about a year after purchasing the gelding at the behest of her long-time coach Shannon Lilley. This was both horse and rider’s first 3*-L and therefore Maya wasn’t too sure what to expect, but was ready for the challenge and was rewarded thusly.
“I wasn’t sure you know, it’s a really big atmosphere in that arena, so I was really excited for the opportunity to jump in that kind of atmosphere,” said Maya. “He went in and was all business and it was like he didn’t even run yesterday. He was just amazing. He jumped incredible the whole way around.”
Maya is normally coached by a tag-team of Shannon Lilley and Lauren Nicholson, so adding Bromont Rising guest coach Bettina Hoy into the mix made for a “power trio” this weekend.
“It was my first year doing [the Bromont Rising program]. It was incredible. I’m so appreciative that I got to be a part of the program,” Maya said. “I feel like my success this weekend is extremely contributed to the program and in all that we did like the classroom sessions, I learned so much every single time and was able to apply all that to every single ride this weekend. I really appreciate the opportunity to be a part of it.”
MARS Bromont Rising grant recipient Sara Schulman and her own Cooley Chromatic take the win in the U25 CCI2*-L division, reclaiming the top of the leaderboard which they had originally held after dressage. Their lead had slipped away yesterday after collecting a handful of time faults across country, but fallen rails from the cross country leader and a double clear effort from Sara see her come out on top at the end of the weekend.
“It’s been really nice to have all three phases come together,” said Sara. “I think we’ve had a solid three phases the whole weekend, which has just been a great experience.”
Now seven years old, the Oldenburg stallion (Thorgal — Castrade) has grown up quite a bit since she purchased him as a youngster from Cooley Farm.
“This is the biggest atmosphere he’s been in, and he’s a very spooky horse. So I didn’t necessarily know how he would handle it, especially showjumping in the ring with a bunch of spectators,” Sara told us. “But I can tell he’s grown up from the four-year-old I started with, and he’s a total professional now.”
Sara was delighted to have been awarded one of the ten MARS Bromont Rising grants, which provided both financial and educational assistance to recipients.
“That was an awesome surprise,” Sara said on being named one of the recipients. “Because I probably wouldn’t have been able to come up here with all the financial costs it takes to compete, let alone travel up here. And then the entry fees, everything that goes into it. So that was super helpful in me even being able to come up here at all as a competitor.”
In addition to the help of her long-time coach Jan Byyny, Sara also benefitted from coaching and lectures from Bettina Hoy and Cara Whitham.
“It was awesome because both [Jan and Bettina] were pretty much always with me. So they sort of bounced ideas back and forth. And Jan was able to give her a bit more of an understanding of our background and the issues and particular things we’re working on so Bettina was able to work with that and not really change our program hugely, but add in those minor details that you think might help depending on how the course looks or how certain lines are.”
Thanks for joining us for a big weekend of coverage over the course of both Bromont (and Brahmam!) Stay tuned for another big week coming up as Luhmühlen kicks off on Wednesday. In the meantime, go eventing. Or go driving home from Canada — that’s what I’m about to do.