With the announcement that Morven Park would hold a CCI4*-L next year to replace the Fair Hill CCI4*-L, this year event suddenly seems like a preview for next fall. The venue has put in massive improvements in the last two years, starting with two massive arena complexes with brand new footing for dressage to be held simultaneously with show jumping.
It may seem like a monumental task to hold horse trial levels from Beginner Novice through Advanced alongside of FEI levels CCI2*/3*/4*-S, a new CCI4*-L division, and CCI2*-L for 6 year olds and CCI3*-L for 7 year olds, but Morven is aiming to do just that next year.
Let’s have a look at this week’s CCI4*-S competition:
- Morven tends to be an event that gets either too much rain or not enough. This year, with drought gripping the east coast, the ground will likely be firm. No matter the ground condition, only two pairs have made the time in the last five years.
- The dressage leader has gone on to win the division in three of the last five years, with the winner coming from 4th position on the other two occasions.
- Copper Beach and Buck Davidson own the lowest A/4* average in the field over the 2018/19 seasons, hovering at 30.4 penalties. They’ve broken the 70% mark four times at horse trials in that time period, most recently at the Essex Advanced horse trials, but haven’t been able to translate that mark to the 4* level since Plantation Field back in 2017.
- Covert Rights and Colleen Rutledge slot in just behind with an average of 30.7 in that same time period, but the pair has clearly gotten their groove back this season, with rapidly dropping scores in their last three outings. These two lopped off 1.6 points from Millbrook to Great Meadow and then knocked off another 1.6 points at Plantation Field, flirting with the 75% mark to lead the field.
- Phillip Dutton can never be discounted and with Fernhill Revelation back in the mix after an extended vacation, he’s liable to be found near the top of the leaderboard as well. Although they haven’t quite hit the 70% mark in two starts this year, these two clocked in a strong 27.1 on the international stage at Tattersalls back in 2017.
Show Jumping Powerhouses
- Phillip‘s other mount, Fernhill Singapore, has the top stadium resume in the field, with only one rail down in nine stadium rounds … including one where he was catch ridden by Boyd Martin.
- Allie Knowles has carefully cultivated the career of Ms. Poppins, who has been practically perfect in every way in stadium, dropping only one rail in five A/4*-S rounds thus far.
- Fernhill Revelation has also been strong after pairing with Phillip Dutton, jumping clear in three of four rounds at A/4*-S with him as a rider.
- Covert Rights has also gotten his groove back across the country after a rough patch in 2018 and early 2019. In three runs this fall season, he and Colleen Rutledge were inside the time in two of them, at Millbrook and Plantation, while they finished only five seconds behind the fastest time at Great Meadow in late August.
- Both Nicole Aden with Truckee Bash and Jane Papke with Norman have put in swift rounds in one clear round at the level. Firm ground this weekend could play a part in the time; it will be easier for pairs to run faster than their average if they choose to push the pace, while others may choose to take their time to preserve their horse’s legs.
PREDICTED WINNER: Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights
Keep Your Eye On …
- Allie Knowles and Princess B/Ms. Poppins
- Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Revelation/Fernhill Singapore
- Buck Davidson and Copper Beach