The Advanced division at Morven Park is actually bigger and stronger than the CIC3*. I’m not entirely sure why that is, but it may be a sign that more of the pairs in the Advanced are planning on a quiet prep for Fair Hill, or even thinking of doing the combined test, while those in the CIC3* might be chasing one final qualifier they need for Fair Hill.
The Advanced is performing 2014 USEF Test A-B. Tremaine Cooper is designing both the cross country and the show jumping courses.
1. Lauren Kieffer and Veronica: Lauren and Veronica aren’t aimed at Fair Hill; they’re aimed at Pau, which means Morven is perfectly timed for a final prep. I think Lauren will be tightening the screws here, looking to tune up before a trip overseas.
Lauren and Veronica should be in the top two, if not the top, after the flat with an average of 30.1 on this test. Veronica most commonly leaves all the rails up in stadium, although she hasn’t jumped a Tremaine Cooper course yet. In addition, these two are quicker over Tremaine’s cross country courses than their usual average time, adding just 9.6 time penalties. This should give them the easy win with the only score in the 30s.
2. Ellie MacPhail and RF Eloquence: Ellie and RF Eloquence have won two in a row down south, but the fields have been very small. This will be their first taste this year of stiffer competition, and while I don’t think their win streak will continue, they’ll probably still be successful.
These two average a 33.2 on this dressage test, which will put them in the top four after the flat. They have no Tremaine Cooper show jumping experience, but more often than not jump clear with an average of only 2 time penalties. Most of their cross country experience does come over Tremaine’s courses, where they average 12.8 time penalties. They ought to finish in second with a score in the high 40s, with at least a rail’s worth of room in front of third.
3. Kevin Keane and Fernhill Flutter: Everyone’s favorite vet is often lost in the shuffle, but I think this weekend will give him a chance to earn his highest placing yet at this level.
Kevin and Fernhill Flutter haven’t performed this test recently, but average a solid 36.8 overall on the flat. Another who hasn’t attempted Tremaine’s stadium designs, they still average only one rail, usually with no time penalties. Finally, they are much quicker across Tremaine’s cross country than their typical speed, coming home with an average of 12.4 time penalties on his courses. Kevin and Fernhill Flutter will squeak into third with a score in the 53 range.
4. Lauren Kieffer and Lucky Devil: Lauren has three mounts in this division, and this is her second most experienced one. Since Lucky Devil hasn’t run at Advanced since Richland, Morven will be an event to make sure all cylinders are firing before Fair Hill.
Lauren and Lucky Devil slightly favor this test, with their average of 37.3 slightly better than their typical score. An average of only one rail and one time penalty in show jumping should hold over to their first time jumping a Tremaine Cooper stadium course. This horse hasn’t yet completed a Tremaine Cooper cross country course, but averages only 12 time penalties in general.
These two ought to end up with a score near 54, just behind Kevin but barely ahead of fifth.
5. Boyd Martin and Crackerjack: Of Boyd’s five CIC3* horses from Plantation Field, Crackerjack has been the most lightly competed this season. The only shows at this level he’s done in 2014 include the Horse Park of New Jersey and Plantation Field. While he was quite solid at both events, he’s probably entered in this division to give him one more under his belt before Fair Hill.
Crackerjack averages a 37.7 when performing this test, good enough for middle of the pack. He has only ever had one rail at this level, so a double clear in stadium will move him up the ranks. Boyd and Crackerjack average 16.8 time penalties on Tremaine Cooper’s courses, which will leave them hot on Lauren’s heels with a score also in the 54 range.
THE DARK HORSE
Allie Sacksen and Sparrow’s Nio: Allie and Sparrow’s Nio score in the low 40s on the flat usually, but a very quick cross country helps them make up ground in the rankings. Unfortunately, they’ve been denied higher placings because of some trouble in the stadium round.
However, Allie brought Sparrow’s Nio to this event last year for the Advanced and jumped Tremaine’s stadium course with just one rail and one time. If they can replicate that effort in the show jumping, they could challenge Kevin for third place.
Kelly Prather and Blackfoot Mystery: Kelly and Blackfoot Mystery have proved they already have the dressage chops to compete at Advanced, leading a huge division after the first phase at Plantation Field CIC3*.
In only four cross country rounds at this level, they’ve had two clear rounds and two with a single stop, which could certainly improve with more experience. When they go clear, they also go very quickly, showing potential to have double clears in this phase.
While they haven’t had a clear show jumping round at this level yet, all of their rounds have only had one or two rails. Eventually, this pair has the potential to finish on a great dressage score. Look for them to gain consistency through next year.