By the Numbers: Millbrook Advanced

Millbrook has been the kick-off to the fall season for many years now. It serves as a first run for those headed to the later CCI3* and 4*, both overseas and in the States, while others use it as a final run before their Burghley or Millstreet appearances. As the only Advanced or 3* on the East Coast in this time frame, Millbrook draws quite a large field every year and serves as one of the few chances to see most of the top horses go head to head before they split off to the various options offered in the fall.

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An aerial view of cross country day at Millbrook. Photo by Daniel Cohen © Undara Productions.

The Event

  • The cross-country at Millbrook generally has a high completion rate (averaging 91.62% over the past three years) but only a low percentage of completions (5.31%) make the time. As a result, the placings are often shuffled going into the final day.
  • Having said that, the winner has been inside the top three after dressage in the last three runnings of this event. They have been within 2 points of the leader each year.
  • Of 146 pairs who have started since 2014, only four have finished on their dressage score. All four of those accomplished that in 2016, and all four placed inside the top ten.

Buck Davidson and Carlevo. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Dressage Divas

  • Carlevo and Buck Davidson have the only dressage average in the field to dip into the thirties, making them the favorites to hold the lead after phase one. They’ve scored sub-forty (or the FEI equivalent) in 70% of their Advanced and 3* starts, with their worst score being a 31.5 (in USEF scoring).
  • Carlevo’s stablemate Copper Beach is hot on his heels. Over the past two years, Copper Beach has averaged a 30.0 at these levels. In his last 3* start prior to Rolex, he put in a personal best of a 38.7 at Chattahoochee Hills CIC3*, which equates to a 25.8 in USEF terms.
  • Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Revelation have had only four starts together but they’ve clearly meshed, averaging 30.2. However, their score has dropped with each successive test, and they most lately clocked in the FEI equivalent of a 27.1 at the Tattersalls CCI3*.
  • In only three starts together at this level, Rubens D’Ysieux and Sara Kozumplik-Murphy have shown plenty of promise in the first phase, averaging a 31.4.
  • Donner and Lynn Symansky have been extraordinarily consistent at this level since 2012. Since 2013, they’ve clocked in 18 starts at the Advanced and CIC3* levels, all under 35.0 and 5 in the sub-thirty range.

Doug Payne and Vandiver. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Cross Country Machines

  • Doug Payne and Vandiver have quietly become one of the faster pairs on the circuit since their first four-star run together in 2016. In their seven runs at this level since then, they’ve finished no more than sixteen seconds over the optimum time, averaged only five seconds over the optimum, and finished inside the time on three occasions. One of those clear and inside the time runs came at Millbrook last year.
  • Matt Brown turned heads at Rolex with his clear round inside the time this spring on Super Socks BCF, but he’s got another quick horse in his arsenal as well. BCF Belicoso is returning to the level with a previous average of only twelve seconds over optimum when running clear at Advanced and CIC3* events.
  • Luckaun Quality and Tim Bourke may not look like they are moving very quickly, but they routinely make the time while looking like they are just having a lope around. Luckaun Quality also averages only twelve seconds over optimum at this level over the past two years.
  • Boyd Martin and Steady Eddie tend to pick a pace and stick with it, whether it’s intended to take it a little easy or make the time. This pair has made the time in 40% of their runs over their last ten shows at this level.
  • Lynn Symansky and Donner really turned the speed up in their last two CIC3* runs, clocking in only four and three seconds over optimum respectively. With a run at Burghley next up on their agenda, Lynn will be picking the pace she thinks best to get the most out of him at the next event.


Sara Murphy and Rubens D’Ysieux. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

Show Jumping Powerhouses

  • If you haven’t yet seen Congo Brazzaville C jump, you are seriously missing out. This young ride of Mara DePuy’s has some incredible springs in his legs, and is five for five at leaving all the rails in the cups at this level.
  • Rubens D’Ysieux and Sara Kozumplik-Murphy have been foot perfect in the three stadium rounds they’ve done together at the 3* level, and tossed in wins at both the Eventing Prix Invitational and the Devon Arena Eventing class this spring to boot.
  • Vandiver and Doug Payne cannot be ignored in this phase either, with an 86% clear stadium rate at this level. They haven’t had a rail in competition since AEC last fall.
  • Phillip Dutton’s ride Z has been quite strong in the final phase, clocking in clear rounds in all his starts at this level except for his first start of each year. Meanwhile, stablemate Mr. Candyman is coming into Millbrook on a six-show streak for clear stadium rounds inside the time.

Lynn Symansky and Donner. Photo by Jenni Autry.

PREDICTED WINNER: Lynn Symansky and Donner

Potential Spoilers:

  • Doug Payne and Vandiver are coming off a broken collarbone for Doug, but if he’s fighting fit, they’ll have an excellent shot at the top position.

Keep Your Eye On:

  • Matt Brown and BCF Belicoso
  • Buck Davidson and Copper Beach
  • Phillip Dutton and anything he rides
  • Sara Kozumplik-Murphy and Rubens D’Ysieux
  • Boyd Martin and Steady Eddie
  • Kurt Martin and DeLux Z