Well Hugh Lochore’s new CIC3* cross-country course certainly caused quite a stir, though not for a reason anyone could have really anticipated. The complex in the main arena — two corners at fences 5ab — quickly became the bogey element on course, catching out pair after pair and leaving us with a very different leaderboard at the conclusion. Boyd Martin and Trading Aces stalked overnight leaders Allie Knowles and Last Call all weekend, and they moved past them to clinch the win today by going just a bit faster across the country. Boyd and Oscar finished on a final score of 47.8 after jumping clear with 6.4 time penalties, and it goes without saying that this has to be a very meaningful win with wife Silva cheering him on from the hospital.
Allie and Fergie jumped clear with 10 time penalties to finish in second place on 50.8. Ellen Doughty and Sir Oberon moved from 16th after dressage to finish in third place after jumping clear yesterday and today, picking up 6.8 time penalties for a score of 57.2. Boyd Martin and Sir Donovan moved up from 12th overnight with the fastest cross-country trip of the day to finish on 57.5. Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch stayed in fifth place all weekend, jumping clear today with 12 time penalties for a final score of 61.0. And then the leaderboard takes a big shuffle after that, with the handful of riders who managed clear trips — and made it past fences 5ab at the Arena Complex — rewarded with huge jumps into the top placings.
The Advanced division provided very accurate foreshadowing for the problems we’d ultimately see on the CIC3* course. As you can see in the photo below — which I snapped with my phone just before the three-star horses went out on course — the Arena Complex was heavily shaded, which made it pretty spooky, and horses were misreading the question. Both Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me and Colleen Loach and Freespirit retired here after trouble at 5a in the Advanced division. I ran into Erin Sylvester at the Cordwood Pile at fence 7 when she was doing a last-minute course walk before riding No Boundaries in the CIC3*, and she said she thought the shadows over the corners at 5a were causing visibility issues for the horses.
That turned out to be a very accurate assessment, and the problems carried over for the CIC3*. Even though the combination changed — the CIC3* did an S-turn through here, as opposed to the straight line in Advanced — 5a and b caught out horse after horse. Not only were the corners causing stops, but riders couldn’t seem to get past them at all, and we saw numerous riders retire there. In all, just 16 pairs jumped clear around the course — that’s 39 percent of the horses and riders that set out. Fourteen pairs in all had a stop at either 5a or 5b in the main arena. Katy Groesbeck and Oz the Tin Man were the only pair to have a stop on Stairway to Heaven when Wort refused at 11b. Werner Geven and Vandiver were the only pair to have a stop at the Sawgrass Mill Water Complex; the horse refused the first element there.
Seven riders retired on course. Peter Atkins and HJ Hampton, Erin Sylvester and No Boundaries, Bonner Carpenter and Basco, and Angela Gryzwinski and Novelle all retired after stops at the corners in the main arena. Hallie Coon and Namaste retired somewhere around fence 14. The horse looked pretty sticky through The Shire, and it just didn’t look like their day. Phillip Dutton and Atlas were reportedly off course early on and retired. Four pairs were eliminated after too many stops in the main arena: Jan Byyny and Syd Kent, Caitlin Silliman and Remington XXV, and Katie Frei and Houdini. and Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot received a technical elimination at the Arena Complex when they went on to jump 5b after the jump judge assessed a stop at 5a. Jennie Jarnstrom and Cape Town jumped the wrong element in the main arena and were pulled up at The Shire with a technical elimination.
Boyd Martin and Sir Donovan came closest to making the optimum time of 6 minutes and 30 seconds, coming home with 3.6 time penalties. Bobby Meyerhoff and Utah B win the award for furthest move up the leaderboard, as they were 31st after dressage and finished sixth thanks to jumping clear in both show jumping and cross country. Werner Geven and Vilas County moved from 37th after dressage to finish in seventh on 72.3. Julie Norman and Consensus moved from 33rd to eighth on a score of 73.3. Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda moved from 17th to ninth on 74.3, and Jessica Phoenix and Patras VR round out the top 10 on a score of 77.4. Talk about a wild finale at Red Hills!