Ocala Jockey Club is hosting a CCI4*-L division for the second year in a row and their faith in the division has grown with entries nearly triple of last year. In fact, the division is the second largest 4*-L field in North America for 2019, behind only the final run of the Fair Hill 4*-L. With the weather sunny and warmer than the rest of the country this time of year, this is an absolutely stunning crown jewel in America’s repertoire of qualifiers for the 5* level.
- This marks only the second running of the long format at this venue but the field this year is more than 2.5 times the size of last year’s, with 32 pairs slated to come down the jog strip, up from 12 last year.
- Good flatwork is historically rewarded in the 4* divisions, both short and long. Of 79 starters in three years, 22.8% of pairs have scored sub-thirty.
- Not only did no one make the time in this division last year, no one even came home inside of 10 seconds of optimum. The fastest pair was Lauren Kieffer on Paramount Importance, who finished ten seconds over; she’s back this year with Landmark’s Monte Carlo, who owns a deserved reputation as one of the fastest long format horses in the U.S.
- No one has yet won a 4* division at OJC without also jumping a clear round on stadium day.
- It’s not often that a pair is profiled without having any starts together at the level, but Phillip Dutton has now had more than a month to get to know Boyd Martin’s mount Long Island T. In three starts at A/4* this year, the gelding hasn’t scored lower than 74% with Boyd Martin; pairing with Phillip for the first time at the level should still result in a score at least breaking into the twenties.
- If it feels like we’ve been talking about Pavarotti’s chops on the flat forever it’s because we have: the gelding has 28 prior A/4* starts with Jessica Phoenix, dating back to 2013. He hasn’t clocked in a score less than 70% at this level in more than two years.
- Lynn Symansky brings forth RF Cool Play, who took a break from the A/4* level this year to focus on the Pan American Games. He returns to the 4* level this weekend, and his average of 30.4 in four starts during 2018 is good enough to be one of the three best 2018/2019 dressage averages in the field.
- Copper Beach has had a bit of a large range over the past two years; his best score in that timeframe of 26.7 rivals some of the best scores of the field but he and Buck Davidson have also scored in the thirties at every FEI they’ve done in that time range.
- Mara dePuy has always been known for her mad skills on the flat, but hasn’t quite gotten Congo Brazzaville C to a consistent twenties score. Despite leading the pack at Fair Hill after the first phase, these two have yet to score in the twenties at two consecutive events despite breaking that mark in 30% of their starts over the last two years.
Cross Country Machines
- Amber Levine is here from the West Coast with her ride Carry On, a horse whose turn of foot has helped net him top two finishes in both of his starts this year. This pair clocked in times that were either the fastest run of the day or inside the optimum time in their last four consecutive clear outings, and finished inside the time at their only 4*-L start together, a completion on their dressage score at Galway Downs in 2016.
- Landmark’s Monte Carlo has completed five clear rounds at the 4*-L level; he’s been inside the time twice and has never finished more than four seconds over optimum time with Lauren Kieffer.
- Erin Sylvester has never been a stranger to speed with any of her 5* horses and Campground, a Thoroughbred with two previous 4*-L completions under his belt, is quick as well. In his last four runs, he’s averaged only 6.5 seconds off the pace.
- Cooley On Show returns to the level with Sharon White after a break following Kentucky this year. This pair has finished inside the time in two of their four completions at 4/5*-L.
- Landmark’s Monaco with Kimmy Cecere and Victor Z with Kate Brown are both horses to keep an eye on in their first 4*-L starts; although each has had some bobbles at the A/4* levels, they’ve each been fast when running clear at the A/4*-S formats.
Show Jumping Powerhouses
- In three 4*-L completions, Congo Brazzaville C and Mara dePuy have had a time penalty or two, but never a rail. In fact, they’ve never had a rail in the seven rounds they’ve jumped when cross country was before stadium.
- Victor Z isn’t just a potentially quick horse in the second phase; he also is a very careful jumper. He and Kate Brown have yet to have a rail in six stadium rounds at the level.
- Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me have three 4*-L completions together and have yet to add any penalties on the final day to their score.
- RF Cool Play jumped clear in his only 4*-L completion; in fact, he and Lynn Symansky have never had a stadium penalty in four career A/4* starts for the Pan American runner-up.
- Sydney Solomon and Early Review CBF are making their first 4*-L career start but after three clear stadium rounds in three A/4* starts, they will be looking forward to stadium day.
PREDICTED WINNER: Lynn Symansky and RF Cool Play
- Buck Davidson and Copper Beach
- Amber Levine and Carry On
- Phillip Dutton and Long Island T
- Sharon White and Cooley On Show