By the Numbers: Great Meadow CIC3*

Michael Pollard and Cyrano. Photo by Jenni Autry. Michael Pollard and Cyrano. Photo by Jenni Autry.

This weekend is the inaugural CIC3* at the Land Rover Great Meadow International and they have pulled out all the stops to make a big bang. With hopes of becoming the American leg for the FEI Nations Cup, the organizers have bent over backwards to create a world class event at a top notch venue. With the loss of Maui Jim in 2010, the summer calendar has had a bit of a vacuum and the addition of Great Meadow helps to fill that hole.

Many of the horses competing here are returning to the scene for the first time since their spring CCI, which was Rolex for some and Jersey Fresh for others. With the Pan American alternates largely choosing to contest the three star instead of the Pan Ams division, the CIC3* is turning out to be quite competitive indeed. There may be some surprising pairs who drop out of the top five due to conservative cross country runs this weekend, and ultimately this field is too star-studded to mention every prominent pair.

The dressage test will be 2015 FEI 3*-A. The cross country course designer is Mike Etherington-Smith and the show jumping course designer is Richard Jeffrey.


1. Michael Pollard and Cyrano Z: These two haven’t had the most consistent spring, but their mistakes have been few and far between. With a strong likelihood of performing extremely well in all three phases, a win in this division isn’t out of reach for these two, as long as they bring their A game on cross country.

Cyrano Z hasn’t performed the A test yet, but he averages a slick 45.8 for the level, which will probably put him in the top three after dressage, if not on top. Fun fact: Michael has yet to have a rail on this horse, and they have jumped double clear all season, including over a Richard Jeffrey course at the Wellington Showcase. Expect that trend to continue here. This pair haven’t tackled a Mike E-S course yet, but average only four seconds over the time when running clear at this level. A final score just over the mid-forties will sneak them into the win this weekend.

Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda. Photo courtesy of Rare Air Photography

Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda. Photo courtesy of Rare Air Photography

2. Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda: Jennie is sitting on top of arguably the best CIC3* horse in the country, with top three placings in ten of their thirteen CIC3* runs. They’ve never had a stop at this type of show and, excepting Red Hills, have always jumped double clear when show jumping was held before cross country.

Jennie and Cambalda have done this dressage test once at Red Hills, scoring a couple points higher than their average with a 49.2. Although they had a rail and a time penalty over Richard Jeffrey’s course at Rolex, they jumped a double clear at the Wellington Showcase, and their overall tendency in the phase is to go double clear. In their only recent run over a Mike E-S course, these two completed double clear at Plantation Field last fall. Jennie and Cambalda should finish on their dressage score to take second place.

3. Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM: Fresh off a win at Jersey Fresh, the durable Ballynoe Castle RM will be giving the top two a run for their money this weekend. Easily the most experienced horse in the field, Ballynoe Castle RM completed his first CIC3* at Red Hills in 2008, finishing fifth in a rather notorious year.

Buck and this horse recently trumped their typical average by nearly four points while performing this test at Jersey Fresh, scoring a 41.6 to lead wire to wire. Although a very good jumper, these two do average one rail when attempting Richard Jeffrey courses. This pair did average 7.6 time penalties in their one recent Mike E-S course last fall at Plantation. A similar effort here will drop them to third, with a score in the low fifties.

Michael Pollard and Ballingowan Pizazz. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Michael Pollard and Ballingowan Pizazz. Photo by Jenni Autry.

4. Michael Pollard and Ballingowan Pizazz: Michael is poised to have a good weekend, as he has also brought his stellar horse Ballingowan Pizazz out to play. While this horse has had his fair share of bad luck the past couple of years, he could be in a good position to dominate in the coming months.

Ballingowan Pizazz performed this test just once this season, scoring a 46.5 just last month at Jersey Fresh. While he hasn’t recently jumped over any of Richard’s courses recently, he is very careful, with a tendency to jump double clear. Overall, Michael and this horse tend to run clear with eight time penalties across the country, although this will be the first time they see a Mike Etherington-Smith course. Still, they should finished solidly with a score in the mid-fifties.

5. Kurt Martin and DeLux Z: Kurt just moved DeLux Z up to the level this spring, and despite a small road bump mid-season, they most recently proved their mettle by placing third of twenty-one in the Jersey Fresh CIC3*. DeLux Z is turning into an exciting prospect, a bright spot for Kurt after having to withdraw the talented Anna Bella from Bramham.

DeLux Z is another horse who recently did this dressage test at Jersey, laying down a very solid 50.7 to stalk the leaders. Although he hasn’t jumped a Jeffrey course yet, he is currently leaning towards a double clear average in the show jumping. Across the country, this pair averages only 6.4 time penalties, which will move them up the ranks. Kurt and DeLux Z should round out the top five with a score in the high-fifties.

Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights. Photo courtesy of Rare Air Photography

Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights. Photo courtesy of Rare Air Photography.


Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights: Let’s all be honest here. Colleen and Covert Rights are rising to power, and they are coming like a freight train. While we all knew the horse had the ability to score well on the flat, I think many of us were still blind-sided by the lovely, fluid, steady test that this pair matter-of-factly threw down in Kentucky. What a great time to step up.

This horse is teetering on the edge (or frankly, already well past it) of scoring 4-5 points below his current average of 49.4 at the level. He’s a solid show jumper, although perhaps not quite as careful as others in this field of fabulous jumpers. And he’s solid and fairly swift on cross country, although he did have a single blip on his only run across a Mike Etherington-Smith course last fall at Plantation. That blip was well-isolated to last fall’s campaign, and it’s pretty unlikely to rear its head again here.

All the numbers are off the table right now for this horse. If he plays his cards like he did at Kentucky, he will be right in the mix at the top.

Buck Davidson and Petite Flower. Photo courtesy of Rare Air Photography.

Buck Davidson and Petite Flower. Photo courtesy of Rare Air Photography.


Buck Davidson and Petite Flower:  Buck has made me a believer in this little mare this spring. Her numbers overall on the cross country have greatly fluctuated as her consistency has waxed and waned. She’s always competitive on the flat and can be relied on to jump a double clear round weekend after weekend after weekend, but it’s no secret that Buck has struggled to bring that consistency to the third and most important phase.

All spring I doubted. I doubted after Rocking Horse, because that venue is generally considered a move-up. I doubted after Red Hills when Buck chose to run her in the Advanced instead of the CIC3*, which almost perfectly demarcates her success rate. I doubted after Carolina when the course ran surprisingly soft.

Then I watched Buck run her at Rolex. Now I believe.

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Jenni Autry.


Tamie Smith and Mai Baum:  Usually my sleeper picks denote a horse that may not win this weekend but should be watched for the future. Not this one. This pick has the ability to run away with the whole thing.

It’s difficult to truly compare the numbers of Mai Baum to those in the rest of the field because he has only run one West Coast Advanced. West Coast shows generally have a much lower cross country time penalty average than shows in the east. The terrain and turf in California is vastly different than that of Virginia, and it is often more difficult for the horses to match the pace they ran at in California.

Having said all that, Mai Baum could still snatch the victory out from under Cyrano Z’s nose. Tamie and this horse scored an astonishing 22.8 in their only Advanced start, which equates to a 34.2 in FEI terms. They show jump with no more than a rail, if not double clear. And they came home in their one Advanced at Copper Meadows only seven seconds over optimum time, and followed it up with three seconds of time at the CIC2* at The Fork and a double clear at Jersey Fresh CCI2*.

Tamie and Mai Baum are here to make a statement this weekend, and might walk home with the cash instead.