All eyes may have turned to Lexington, but we still have one more Advanced and CIC3* to run before Rolex. At this point, riders can no longer obtain any qualifications for Rolex, so we will not be seeing any horses aimed at Kentucky, except for those in the combined tests.
Fair Hill in the spring is usually run by those aimed at Jersey Fresh or Bromont, or perhaps are attempting their first CIC3*. With most of the big names out of the picture, it’s nice to see some fresh faces topping the leaderboards.
The Advanced is performing 2014 USEF A-B while the CIC3* runs 2015 FEI 3*-B. The cross country course designer is Derek di Grazia and the show jumping course designer is Trish Gilbert.
TOP FIVE: CIC3*
1. Matt Brown and Happenstance: Matt and his trio of Advanced horses have made the trek out from California in order to contest Jersey Fresh. Happenstance is the most inexperienced at this level, having just moved up this winter at Twin Rivers. However, he has already finished fourth at his first CIC3* at Galway Downs last month, and may pick up his first win here.
Happenstance averages a 47.9 on the flat thus far, although he has yet to attempt this particular dressage test. Happenstance pulled only one rail in both of his outings at this level. He has been extremely quick across the country out in California, averaging only two seconds over optimum time. Derek di Grazia’s course over the Fair Hill terrain may increase that average, but if Matt can replicate his previous results, he should take home the blue with a score in the low fifties.
2. Matt Brown and BCF Belicoso: BCF Belicoso doesn’t have much more experience than Happenstance, and it all comes from last spring. After sitting out the fall, Matt has brought Belicoso back up to form this spring, winning a Preliminary and placing second at a CIC2*. This weekend will be his return to the 3* level.
BCF Belicoso hasn’t seen this test, but averages a 50.2 at this level. He does average one rail in the show jumping, although this will be the first time he jumps a Trish Gilbert course. Matt has taken this horse over one of Derek’s West Coast courses, finishing clear only ten seconds over optimum time. If he can repeat that effort, BCF Belicoso should help Matt go one-two with a score in the high fifties.
3. Kurt Martin and DeLux Z: Kurt Martin won this event last year with his then new-to-the-level horse Anna Bella. He’s back with another green Advanced horse, DeLux Z, who will be running his second CIC3* this weekend. DeLux Z had a blip at the Fork last time out, but will be looking to regain his previous form here.
This horse averages a 54.7 in dressage, although he did perform a little better on this test at the Fork. DeLux Z hasn’t seen any of Trish’s courses yet, but tends towards clear rounds with one time penalty. At Pine Top, he came home clear over Derek’s course with only 5.2 time penalties. If he does the same here, Kurt will end up third, with a score just over sixty.
4. Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF: Matt didn’t bring any slouches with him when he came east, and this is the most experienced of his trio. Already qualified for a CCI4*, Matt erred on the side of caution and is planning on another CCI3* this season.
Super Socks BCF averages a 51 on the flat, and will be performing this test for the first time. This horse does tend to have a rail and one time penalty, which will drop him down a bit. He averages 8.4 time penalties across Derek’s courses, which will secure Matt his fourth place on a score in the mid-sixties.
5. Boyd Martin and Shamwari 4: Shamwari 4 is back on the scene folks! Whether or not he’ll compete the entire weekend is anyone’s guess and Boyd is the only one with the answer. Shamwari hasn’t run cross country since the WEG, so it’s very possible we will see the big W after one or two phases.
Shamwari’s excellent flatwork, with an overall average of 43.8, should easily put them in the lead after the dressage. The gelding show jumped here last year with Phillip Dutton in the irons, racking up two rails over Trish Gilbert’s course. If Boyd does run him across the country, a sedate pace racking up 13.2 time penalties over Derek’s course will drop them down to fifth with a score in the mid-sixties.
TOP THREE: ADVANCED
1. Ryan Wood and McLovin: McLovin has really been consistent since moving up to Advanced at Pine Top earlier this year. He already has a qualifying CIC3* from Carolina under his belt. This weekend will be Ryan’s chance to take home this gelding’s first win.
McLovin averages a 37.2 on this dressage test, which will be good enough for the top two this weekend. His show jumping is the least consistent of his three phases, but overall averages one rail to match his Fork performance. In February, he tackled Derek’s Pine Top course with only 9.2 time penalties. Ryan will end up with the win on this gelding on a score just over fifty.
2. Sally Cousins and Abecca GS: Abecca GS is extremely new to this level, having just stepped up to Advanced at The Fork. Having said that, if the mare puts in the same solid performance this weekend, it will be good enough for second.
At The Fork, Abecca GS scored a 35.6 on this same dressage test, which will be good enough for the lead. Two rails down would mean a slight drop in the rankings after the second phase. Two weeks ago they secured a clear round across the country with 10.4 time penalties. Matching that would put them in second, with a final score in the mid fifties.
3. Ryan Wood and Frankie: Ryan has three horses in a division of ten, so it’s no surprise he’s projected to take two of the top three spots. Frankie’s experience is a bit spotty, with his first Advanced run in early 2014, then another successful Advanced at Carolina before Ryan withdrew him after show jumping at The Fork.
Frankie averages a 38.2 on this dressage test which is the only one he’s ever performed. This horse has jumped clear in the show jumping in two of his three rounds, although he does average two time penalties overall. While Ryan has yet run him over any of Derek’s courses, the horse averages 16.4 time penalties in his two trips across the country. If he does the same here, Ryan will take third with a score just over mid-fifty.