Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg Take Buckeye Nutrition CCI4*L at MARS Tryon International

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Chris Barnard’s show jumping track was a tricky final test for the Buckeye Nutrition CCI4*L riders at the MARS Tryon International Three-Day Event, and it was Boyd Martin aboard Christine Turner’s Tsetserleg who would emerge as the winner at the conclusion of competition.

Over a track full of related distances that saw 39% of the field jump clear, Boyd used the experience on his two previous rides in the division to navigate a clear round with the 13-year-old Trakehner gelding, who carried his statistical highest probability of a clear round. This pair added 1.6 time penalties on Capt. Mark Phillips’ cross country yesterday and now finish their weekend on a score of 28.1. This is the fourth international win for “Thomas”, who was the USEF National Champion at Kentucky last year as well as the individual and team gold medalist at the 2018 Pan American Games.

“Thomas went in and jumped like a champion,” Boyd said in a press release. “The show jumping has been his weak phase over the years, and we’ve worked pretty hard at it. It’s very satisfying to get a good round out of him under pressure.”

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

It was a heartbreaker for the leader of the first two phases Liz Halliday-Sharp. After an otherwise lovely round, she and Deniro Z lowered the final vertical to drop down into fifth place.

“There’s a lot of pressure coming into the lead, and I suppose I got lucky being in that position a lot this year, which is handy. I felt prepared, I felt the warm-up was right, and (Deniro Z) was jumping out of his skin,” she said. “He hasn’t touched a pole all year, but I’m thrilled with Deniro. He’s an incredible horse, and he felt fresh as if he had done nothing yesterday. He tried his guts out, so it’s heartbreaking, of course for (owners The Deniro Syndicate and Ocala Horse Properties) and myself, but I’m thrilled with my horse. I really think he is every part of world class, world game horse, so we just have to take this one and move on.”

Phillip Dutton and Z. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Phillip Dutton and Z also showed their growing experience together, putting together three strong performances this weekend to take second overall on a final score of 28.8.

Owned by Tom Tierney, Simon Roosevelt, Suzanne Lacy, Annie Jones and Caroline Moran, the 12-year-old Zangersheide gelding was purchased from Portugal’s Duarte Seabra in 2015. Phillip traveled to Portugal to try the rather unassuming bay gelding who was often a little insecure in his skin but “on cross country, he’d jump a house.”

“He tends to get a little wound up in the ring, but we spent a lot of time doing jumper shows and figuring out ways to kind of settle him down,” Phill said. “I thought he was spectacular today.”

Working on relaxation has been key for this horse. Last year at Kentucky, Phillip warmed up in a different, quieter arena prior to cross country. That work and willingness to keep at it paid off this weekend, as Z turned in one of the more rideable and relaxed rounds of his career.

“I’ve been working a lot on keeping Z relaxed and supple so he doesn’t get tense and set against me in the ring and it’s very rewarding because today is about the best round he’s ever jumped,” Phillip wrote on his social media. “It was a pretty grueling day yesterday, what with the conditions and going at the end of the day which always makes it harder to come out that third day and jump as well as he did.”

Woods Baughman celebrates after a clear round with C’est La View 135. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

If you’re looking for a fresh face to peg your sights on for the future, look no further than 24-year-old Woods Baughman, who made it onto the podium with C’est La Vie 135 on a finishing score of 29.1. It’s a partnership that began in 2019, and despite their short time together this pair has already collected some impressive finishes, including a win in the CCI3*L championship at Fair Hill International last fall.

“The horse is amazing,” Woods commented. “He just comes out in all three phases and I can really trust him. I just point him and he never lets me down. Start to finish, he just came out swinging and really hung on to it.”

Woods admitted that he had some nerves this morning (“I skipped breakfast!”), but he put those butterflies to good use in the ring. “I know if I just let (C’est La Vie 135) do his thing, stay out of his way, and keep my position, he’ll pull it out,” he said.

Doug Payne and Vandiver. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Doug Payne’s experience in the show jumping ring paid off in spades today as he turned in three double clear rounds on three very different rides (Vandiver, Quantum Leap, Starr Witness). The highest placed of the three is the veteran Vandiver, owned by Doug and Jess Payne as well as Debi Crowley, who at 16 years young has proven himself a staunch competitor time and time again. This weekend mark’s “Quinn’s” 36th FEI completion, and today’s finishing score of 29.2 was enough for fourth overall. Ever the speedster, Doug will be kicking himself for picking up a second of time yesterday that would eventually keep him off the podium, but it was nonetheless a weekend of success on all counts for the Payne team.

The top finishes of Tsetserleg and Vandiver are also notable on account of their shared sire, Windfall, the Trakehner stallion who reached the top levels with Ingrid Klimke and, later in the U.S., Darren Chiacchia.

Sydney Conley Elliott and QC Diamantaire. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Sydney Conley Elliot and QC Diamantaire are another definitive pair to watch after yet another consistent performance across three phases. Just the fourth pair to end the weekend on their dressage score, this pair will finish in sixth place on a score of 30.6. The 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Carol Stephens has been carefully produced throughout his international career by Sydney, who says the next step may be to aim for a five-star next year, pandemic pending. They also improve on their CCI4*L debut at Fair Hill last year, carving nearly 10 points off of their finishing score this weekend.

CCI4*L National Champions – Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg

After a thrilling week of competition at the Tryon International Equestrian Center, Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg are your winners of the BUCKEYE Nutrition/USEF CCI4*L Eventing National Championship! 🏆 #USAEventing

Posted by USA Eventing on Sunday, November 15, 2020

Other notable rides today include Lynn Symansky and the 12-year-old RF Cool Play, owned by The Donner Syndicate. This Pan Am pair kept their cool throughout the weekend and in particular turned in a lovely, flowing round around Chris Barnard’s intense track to finish just outside of the top 10 on a score of 36.6.

Andrea Baxter and Indy 500. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

Traveling to the East coast on the wings of the “Big Becky” Rebecca Broussard International Developing Rider Grant, Andrea Baxter and her own Indy 500 nearly finished on their dressage score, just lowering one rail to end their weekend in the top 15 on a career-best 39.4. This is another pair who have experienced the world together, now completing 37 FEI-level events.

Six of the CCI4*L rookies got their first completion today:

  • Woods Baughman and C’est La Vie 135
  • Kaelen Speck – Sweet Rebellion
  • Missy Miller – Quinn
  • Ashlynn Meuchel and Emporium
  • Megan Sykes – Classic’s Mojah

How did the numbers play out today? 18 of the 46 starters jumped a clear round, though one pair – Zoe Crawford and K.E.C. Zara – picked up just one second of time. This clear rating of 39% is a tad higher than our initial prediction of 29.4%, which is always the direction in which we’re pleased to see the statistics trend.

Looking to the CCI4*S division, it’s Jenny Caras and Trendy Fernhill who will take home the blue after finishing the weekend on a score of 47.8. This division ran cross country today to finish off, and all pairs came home with time penalties. This was the first CCI4*S start for the 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Elyse Eisenberg who stepped up the Advanced level for the first time earlier this year.

Liz Halliday-Sharp does take home a win in the CCI2*L aboard Cooley HHS Calmaria, a 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare new to Liz’s international string this year. This pair ends their weekend on their dressage score of 28.3 in an impressive long-format debut.

Liz says the win aboard Cooley HHS Calmaria was “a nice surprise”. She and the mare began their partnership in June, and Liz is confident she’s got a real talent for the future. “She definitely did the best dressage that she’s done, which has been our trickiest phase, and she was so perfect on cross country and exceptional today,” Liz said. “I think there is a lot more to come from her and she’ll be a horse that everyone’s looking up to.”

And finally in the FEI divisions at Tryon, it was Will Coleman and Chin Tonic HS who took home the wire-to-wire win in the CCI3*L on a final score of 25.7. The 8-year-old Holsteiner owned by Hyperion Stud has now collected three FEI wins in five attempts and leaves no question after an impressive CCI3*L debut.

“My horse jumped great,” Will commented. “He still felt pretty fresh after yesterday. He’s a quality horse and he jumped a great round. This is his first three-star long and he’s just an eight-year-old. There’s always a tremendous atmosphere here at Tryon. They get a taste of what the big time will be like. There’s no question that it was a huge experience for him and I think it’ll serve him very well.”

As challenging as remote event coverage can be, we must give a proper shout to the organizing and media team at Tryon International. Our job has been made seamless thanks to the excellent communication, live stream availability, and accurate scheduling, and our hats are off to this team for a job well done. Tryon stepped up to create a new event on a calendar that was decimated due to the coronavirus pandemic, giving the country’s top horses and riders one big event to aim for at the end of the season. It is no small feat to pull off an event of this caliber, and the Tryon team did so exceptionally this weekend.

Leslie Law, who capped off a successful weekend with a top-15 finish in the CCI4*L aboard Voltaire de Tre as well as a third place finish in the CCI3*L (he also completed with two other horses, QC First Class in the CCI4*L and Typically Fernhill in the CCI3*L) aboard Lady Chatterly, had high praise for the team on the ground this weekend.

“I think everybody that’s involved here at Tryon obviously have gone above and beyond first to get it off the floor and get it to happen,” Leslie said. “Probably the bigger challenge was the all the rain when we got here and so much had to be done. And that goes down to the management here at Tryon and the staff and a huge part of it. Andy Bowles and Mark Phillips…I think what they did was incredible. They might not have been able to do it without the hands that are available here but for Mark Philips and Andy Bowles to put something together which looked impossible and pull it off I think hats off to those two and everyone who supported and helped them.”

And last but most certainly not least, a mixed panel of horse industry thought leaders gathered yesterday to discuss the topics of diversity and race within equestrian sport as part of the 2nd Annual Tom Bass Seminar on Diversity in Horse Sports. We strongly encourage you to rewatch the recorded sessions here and learn from the experiences of the individuals speaking. I know I learned a lot from participating, and we at EN are honored to be a part of some important conversations on diversity within our community.

This weekend’s MARS Tryon International coverage has been brought to you in collaboration with Strides for Equality Equestrians (SEE), a new visible allyship and mentorship initiative that just launched this past week. You can learn more about SEE and join to receive your ally pin here.

As we wrap up another thrilling weekend of eventing, the last big event of the very odd 2020 season, we leave you with one more album from the inimitable Shannon Brinkman. Thanks for tuning in. Go Eventing!