Breaking Down the Summer/Fall Training Lists

Ah, training list season. That time twice a year when we pour over the new lists and ask questions like “why did this rider make the list?” and “where is Boyd Martin?” and “why isn’t this horse on the list?” and “where is Boyd Martin?!?” Before I delve into my analysis on the USEF 2013 Eventing High Performance Summer Fall Training Lists, I think it’s important to note several key points to remember when breaking down the lists:

Some Criteria to Consider 

1. A horse’s absence from the list goes not mean it’s dead to High Performance. Generally horses are only listed if they are actively competing at the time the lists are released, which means even a minor injury could prevent a name from appearing on the lists. The same philosophy applies to a rider’s name not appearing on a list.

2. Spring competition results factor heavily into the Summer/Fall Training Lists. That means combinations that had stellar showings at key spring events will likely appear on the list, whereas pairs that failed to complete or had subpar showings aren’t likely to get a nod — even if they were a proven and consistent pair last year.

3. David O’Connor knows what he’s doing. When he took over as Coach of the U.S. eventing team, we knew it would be a long road back to the top for a program that has struggled for many years. Even when we can’t see the forest through the trees, we need to trust in David. Additionally, by the time we’re done huffing and puffing about these lists, the Spring Lists will be out anyways.

 No Global Talent Category

Whereas Sinead Halpin and Manoir De Carneville appeared as the sole pair on the Global List in the spring, we now see a total lack of a Global List for the summer/fall. However, as I mentioned above, the lists heavily weigh spring competition results. After discovering a weakened area in one of Tate’s bone scans earlier this year, Sinead wisely decided to give Tate time off. Tate’s most recent CCI was Burghley last year, so his demotion down to the World Class list is merely a nod to the fact that he’s been out of competition. That said, Tate competed at Chatt Hills this past weekend, where he handily won his open intermediate division. While Tate hadn’t yet competed at the time the Summer/Fall Lists were released, the Selection Committee knew the horse was about to break that dry spell.

The World Class List

Having watched each of the pairs on the World Class List in person this spring, I can confidently say that each of these horse and rider combinations deserve to be here. And as a reminder, the World Class lists denote “combinations that currently possess the ability to be competitive anywhere in the world.” All of these pairs will receive Land Rover Training Grants, and we’ll likely see all of them at major competitions across the pond this fall. Here’s a look at why each pair made the World Class List:

Will Coleman and OBOS O’Reilly — While this horse is still very green at the CCI3* level, Will and Obos made the World Class list due to winning the Bromont CCI3* last month. Will made it clear that the horse still has a lot to learn, but I think a fall trip across the pond will go a long way to helping Obos step up his game.

Tiana Coudray and Ringwood Magister — Tiana and Finn have by far had the best spring season of any pair listed in the World Class list. After finishing 17th at Badminton and 10th at Aachen thanks to solid clear cross-country trips, it’s clear Tiana and Finn have come into their own. Expect them to put in another consistent performance at a fall CCI.

Will Faudree and Andromaque — I’m a huge fan of this mare — who isn’t? — and she’s had a fantastic spring campaign, winning the Jersey Fresh CIC3* before heading to France and finishing fourth in the Saumur CCI3*. Will said at Aachen that he’s tired of going to Europe and not winning, and Missie is going to be his ticket to the big W.

Will Faudree and Pawlow — While Will and Ernie had rotten luck at Aachen last month — falling after the last fence on cross country and failing to complete the event — they were sixth at Rolex in April and certainly deserve a spot on the World Class List on the merits of that performance.

Sinead Halpin and Manoir De Carneville — As I said above, Sinead and Tate didn’t compete this spring due to a strategic decision to give the horse time off after a bone scan revealed a weakened area. Sinead’s injuries sustained at Chatt Hills over the weekend — she broke some ribs and her shoulder blade in a fall from On Cue — shouldn’t prevent them from contesting an overseas fall event.

Marilyn Little and RF Demeter — After falling from Demi at Rolex, Marilyn re-routed to Luhmühlen, where this pair finished seventh in a very competitive CCI4* field. Marilyn is based in Europe this summer, and we will definitely be seeing this pair tackle a major fall competition before returning home to the States for the winter.

Clark Montgomery and Universe — While Buzz wasn’t himself at Aachen last weekend — Clark speculated the horse might be fighting a virus — he looked fantastic at Badminton earlier this year, where he finished 27th in his first CCI4*. Clark told me he hopes to tackle Pau this fall should everything be in order with Buzzy’s health.

Kristi Nunnink and R-Star — The sole West Coast pair on the World Class list, Kristi and R-Star finished eighth at Rolex. They’ll be looking to improve on their overseas competition record this fall.

Lynn Symansky and Donner — Lynn and Donner were probably the most talked about pair in the Rolex aftermath, which came as no surprise. A rider with a broken hand pilots a young OTTB to a fifth-place finish in his first CCI4*? That’s the stuff Disney movies are made of, and this pair has big things ahead.

The National List

The National List is comprised of “combinations that are currently competitive in domestic international-level competition and who the USEF Selection Committee feel have the future potential to be competitive anywhere in the world.” The key phrases here are “currently competitive” and “future potential,” and it’s important to keep those in mind when looking at the lists. It’s encouraging to see a lot of younger riders on the National List, which signals that the Selection Committee wholly understands the value of investing in the next generation that will ultimately land Team USA back on the medal podium at major team competitions. Here’s a look at why these pairs made the National List:

Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot — We’d likely be seeing Hannah and William on the World Class list had it not been for an unfortunate stop on cross country at Saumur. This pair placed third in the Jersey Fresh CIC3* in May and has all the pieces they need to deliver on an international stage.

Buck Davidson and Park Trader — Buck and Park Trader were 22nd at Rolex, which was definitely an encouraging showing for the horse’s first CCI4*. Incidentally, I expected to see Mar De Amor on the National List instead of Park Trader. It’s also notable that we’re not seeing Ballynoecastle RM on the list because he’s recovering from a bone bruise on his stifle.

Lauren Kieffer and Veronica — After a three-event winning streak this spring in which Lauren won the Ocala Horse Properties CCI2*, Jersey Fresh CIC2* and CHC International CIC3*, it’s no surprise we’re seeing them on the National List. It’s time for this pair to head across the pond and prove themselves in true international competition.

Marilyn Little and RF Smoke on the Water — We’d likely be seeing Marilyn and Smoke on the World Class List had she not fallen from him at Aachen two weeks ago. But considering they were eighth at Saumur in May, we know this pair has the talent to deliver solid showings.

Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen — The only thing standing between Glen and the World Class list is a strong performance in a CCI. Glen performed brilliantly this past weekend at Barbury, where he finished second in his CIC3* section in a very competitive field. It’s safe to say he’s on track for a very good fall campaign.

Meghan O’Donoghue and Pirate — Meghan and Pirate were another big story line that came out of Rolex, as Meghan piloted the striking black OTTB to a 12th place finish in their first CCI4*. A fall trip to Europe is definitely the next step for this talented pair.

Michael Pollard and Mensa — This pair’s placement on the list says a lot about the Selection Committee’s faith in the quality of this horse and their future potential. Michael and Mensa were sixth in the Jersey Fresh CCI3* and certainly have the talent to win at that level.

Katie Ruppel and Houdini — The Selecting Committee also must have liked how this pair performed at Jersey Fresh, where they finished fifth in the CCI3*. After selling Sir Donovan, Houdini is Katie’s horse for the future.

Caitlin Silliman and Catch A Star — Despite a stop on cross country at Rolex, Caitlin and Hoku rocked their first appearance at a CCI4*, and I still thought they had one of the best trips of the day. Plus, they have an incredible comeback story after Hoku survived a deadly fire at True Prospect Farm. What’s not to love?

Erin Sylvester and Mettraise — This is a very new ride for Erin, as she just bought the Thoroughbred mare from Phillip Dutton last fall, but there’s a lot to like about this pair. They won the Bromont CCI2* last month, and the potential is certainly there.

Sharon White and Wundermaske — Sharon and Patch were seventh in the CCI3* at Jersey Fresh and are already planning to hit Blenheim and Boekelo this fall in Europe. Go Team Orange!

Who Didn’t Make It?

Remember that virtually every horse and rider combination you’re not seeing on the Summer/Fall Lists was left off due to a lack of current competition results and notable performances from a major spring competition. That being said, there are of course some pairs that I expected to see here that aren’t on the list for reasons I can only speculate. Here’s a look at notable names not on the list:

Understandably left off a list:

Phillip Dutton just got the ride on Mr. Medicott, which rules them out from placement on a list because they are not currently competing. Phillip retired Mighty Nice on cross country at Rolex, which I’m assuming is also keeping them off a list. While Ben won the Bromont CIC3*, it was a tiny field, and the horse is still coming back from an injury.

Boyd Martin retired just a few fences from home at Rolex with Trading Aces. While Otis Barbotiere is now back in work, he has not yet completed a major event. Neville Bardos is also still sidelined with a suspensory strain. And Boyd himself has been recovering from surgery to repair torn tendons and ligaments in his ankle. The good news is Boyd will be back in the irons at Fitch’s Corner.

Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda withdrew from Rolex when Ping slipped on concrete in an unfortunate accident the day before their dressage test. They re-reouted across the pond to Luhmühlen but failed to complete when they fell at the first water complex.

Buck Davidson is on the list with Park Trader, but Ballynoecastle RM — who finished fourth at Rolex — is notably left off the list. Again, that’s due to an injury, as Reggie is recovering from a bone bruise on his stifle.

Becky Holder has a fantastic horse for the future in Can’t Fire Me, but she fell on cross country at Rolex, which is likely keeping this pair off the list.

Allison Springer and Arthur are taking a long hiatus following Burghley last year and thus have no competition results from this spring to land them on a list.

Not so understandably left off a list:

Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Fugitive fell on cross country at Jersey Fresh, but the horse re-routed to Bromont and finished seventh in the CCI3*, which seems strong enough to be considered for the National List. Note: Fernhill Eagle is now being ridden by Marc Grandia in Washington state. Thanks to Joanie Morris for the clarification.

Sally Cousins withdrew Tsunami from Rolex after the mare caught a cold on a rough trailer ride to Kentucky, but then placed sixth in the Jersey Fresh CCI3* and third in the Bromont CCI3*. Sue is in top form and heading to Burghley this fall should all go according to plan, so it’s odd not to see her on a list. The mare is 14 now, so perhaps her age is sidelining her.

Colleen Rutledge and Shiraz could complete all of the world’s CCI4* events bareback and blindfolded and still not make a list. Your guess is as good as mine at this point. While dressage isn’t Shiraz’s cup of tea, this is a three-phase sport last time I checked. Luke is 15 this year, so age could also be a factor here.

Covert Rights also could have landed Colleen on a training list. CR, a horse I featured in EN’s Got Talent, has similar spring results as other horses on the National List, as he placed third in the Jersey Fresh CCI2* in a very competitive field. He also just won his first Advanced at the Horse Park of New Jersey last weekend.

Laine Ashker made it clear in a guest blog for EN that she decided in cooperation with the Selection Committee that Anthony Patch, who is 14 this year, would not run at Rolex to save his legs for Pau this fall and a chance at the World Equestrian Games next year. While they only have a prelim run at Surefire on their record this year, it seems like this could have been a good place to make an exception.

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