If you build it, they will come. Carolina International has embraced this philosophy wholeheartedly, and it has paid off. Going into only their second year of running the CIC3*, the organizers have truly established this as an event that cannot be missed. The timing doesn’t hurt either, as the big guns who don’t need seasoning use this as their first event to gear up for Rolex, while the first-timers have gotten a couple early season Advanced events under their belt and feel ready to test the waters at the FEI level.
For the CIC3*, the dressage test will be 2015 FEI 3*-B, and it will be the first time that any of the riders will perform this test, since Red Hills used the A test. The cross country course designer is Hugh Lochore, and the show jumping course designer is Marc Donovan.
1. Marilyn Little and RF Demeter: Marilyn and Demeter didn’t have a great go two weeks ago, but while Red Hills may not historically be this pair’s best event, Carolina decidedly is. Last year they finished on their dressage score to take home the win, and if they can replicate their performance, they’ll do the same this year.
Marilyn and Demeter average a 49.6 on the flat, which will be good enough for top 15 after dressage. They’ve jumped double clear over their only Marc Donovan course, which was at last year’s event, and have not had a rail in the past two years when show jumping is held before cross country.
This pair has an average of only 11 seconds over optimum time, with a double clear at Carolina in 2014. If they can conquer Hugh Lochore’s 2015 course with no time penalties, they will sneak into the win with a score just under 50.
2. Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM: Buck and Reggie were second last year here to none other than Marilyn and Demeter. I’m thinking there will be a repeat of the top two placings, with Reggie’s consistent performance bringing him up to the top of the field.
Reggie’s dressage average of 47.5 will put them just inside the top 10 after dressage. As one of the few horses in the field that averages double clear show jumping rounds, he will inch up the rankings. Buck does tend to run Reggie slightly slower over Hugh Lochore’s courses, but an average of 3.6 time penalties will still be enough to snag them second place with a score just over 50.
3. Maya Black and Doesn’t Play Fair: Maya and Doesn’t Play Fair are another pair who performed well here last year, flexing their muscles for the first time and winning a huge Advanced division. This year they return in the CIC3*, and with more experience under their belt, they should be able to sneak into third in a star-studded field.
With an average of 47.7, Maya and Doesn’t Play Fair will sit just outside the top 10 initially. Doesn’t Play Fair does average one rail over Marc Donovan’s course, but should maintain a good placing. They usually average several time penalties across the country, but if they can replicate last year’s double clear round over Hugh Lochore’s course, they will breathe down Buck’s neck with a score less than a point behind.
4. Will Faudree and Andromaque: Andromaque hasn’t run at this level since The Fork last year, but she’s so experienced that she is unlikely to miss a beat. Will has been very competitive with this mare, and it’s likely that they will pop into the top four this weekend.
Will and Andromaque average 46.7 on the flat, which will put them just inside of the top five. Andromaque is another who averages double clear in the show jumping and has jumped clear over Marc Donovan courses before. These two average 6.8 time penalties over Hugh Lochore courses, which will drop them down to fifth, only a couple of points behind Maya.
5. Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch: Everyone’s favorite OTTB is taking a crack at the FEI levels again this weekend in his preparation for Rolex. This pair’s incredible consistency should earn them a top placing when the dust has settled.
A dressage average of 45.3 will allow this pair a top four ranking after the flat. Another horse who averages double clear in show jumping regardless of course designer, Anthony Patch will maintain or improve his placing after the second phase. An average of 10 time penalties over Hugh Lochore’s courses is a bit slower than their typical average and would knock them down to fifth on a score in the mid-50s.
6. Michael Pollard and Ballingowan Pizazz: Michael Pollard is fully loaded right now, with five talented horses running Advanced or CIC3*. Ballingowan Pizazz is one of his most promising rides and recently had a good run at Pine Top after a prolonged break from last May’s Jersey Fresh.
Michael is known for his dressage skills, and an average score of 47.8 with Ballingowan Pizazz will place them in the top 15 initially. Yet another good jumper, Ballingowan Pizazz averages double clear performances over Marc Donovan’s courses. This pair averages 8 time penalties across Hugh Lochore’s cross country courses, which could put them in sixth with a score just over mid-50.
7. Allison Springer and Arthur: Another pair who are already listed for Rolex, Allison and Arthur have a very long history at this level. Arthur hasn’t been out since the Wellington Eventing Showcase, so these two will probably be looking for a solid round as they begin their four-star prep.
This pair certainly shine bright in the dressage ring, and an average of 43.4 penalties should help them snag the lead after the first phase. Arthur is a bit inconsistent in the show jumping, and an average of two rails and 1 time penalty over Marc Donovan courses will drop him down a bit. Running a clear round while matching their average of 8.4 time penalties over Hugh Lochore’s courses should help them maintain a position in seventh, with a score just over 60.
8. Phillip Dutton and Seams Ready: Phillip paired up with this horse last fall when Kristin Bond took a hiatus to give birth to her first child. They’ve been solidifying their partnership this spring and should put in a solid, competitive performance at Carolina.
Seams Ready is a hell of a mover and averages a 51.5 on the flat. He does tend to have one rail down over Marc Donovan’s courses. While the horse hasn’t seen a Hugh Lochore course yet, he averages only 7.2 penalties across the country. A score in the low 60s should help him sneak into eighth.
9. Phillip Dutton and I’m Sew Ready: Phillip picked up the ride on I’m Sew Ready at the same time as his stablemate, Seams Ready. The two horses have very similar records, which should help Phillip finish on nearly identical scores for the weekend.
A tiny bit more consistent on the flat than his stablemate, I’m Sew Ready averages a flat score of 49.5 penalties. In his one attempt at a Marc Donovan show jumping course, I’m Sew Ready picked up one rail and one time penalty. Phillip is just a touch slower on this horse, averaging 8.4 time penalties across the country. They’ll drop less than half a point behind Seams Ready for ninth place.
10. Marilyn Little and RF Quarterman: After finishing fourth at Red Hills in his first full run at the level, I wouldn’t put it past RF Quarterman to sneak into the top 10 here at Carolina. His two recorded dressage tests are a bit far apart, so he could place even higher if his dressage lives up to his Red Hills score.
Currently, RF Quarterman’s dressage average sits at 51.6, quite a bit higher than the 47 they put in at Red Hills. He finished double clear over his only show jumping round so far and ran across the country with only 12.4 time penalties. If Marilyn presses him, he’s likely to move up in the rankings. If not, he’ll end up with a score in the mid-60s for 10th.
THE DARK HORSE
Buck Davidson and Copper Beech: Copper Beech is another horse who seems to have trouble at Red Hills and only Red Hills. Last year, Buck ran him slow but clear at Carolina after having a blip at Red Hills, but showed good turn of foot the rest of the year. After another blip at Red Hills two weeks ago, Buck may choose to take it slow again. If he presses the gas pedal though, Copper Beech should easily crack the top 10.
Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night: Fernhill By Night is another who ought to be up at the top after dressage and is likely to toss a double clear show jumping round in as well. His record across the country had been almost completely free of issues since last July, but he was caught out recently by a set of angled tables at Red Hills. Liz will be out to prove he’s ready for Rolex, and in doing so, could find herself high in the standings at the end of the weekend.
Lauren Kieffer and Meadowbrook’s Scarlett: Lauren Kieffer is on fire lately, and just because I call her a sleeper here doesn’t mean she isn’t going to knock it out of the park on this mare. Meadowbrook’s Scarlett ran her first Advanced at Rocking Horse and finished in first, adding only 1.2 time penalties to her dressage score of 28.2. While Lauren may not be out for a win in the horse’s first CIC3*, there’s a chance she could snag a blue anyways.