Plantation Field has grown bigger and bigger over the years, to the point that the event now hosts only FEI divisions in the hopes of getting all competitors off the waitlist. It’s tough to get into this event if you don’t enter in the first few days after it opens, which bodes well for a healthy eventing community in southeastern Pennsylvania.
This is the first year where the entries won’t be split between the CIC3* and the Advanced divisions, meaning everyone will be going directly head-to-head.
In the last decade, every winner of the CIC3* has been inside the top five after dressage. All but two of the winners were inside the top three following the first phase.
No one has won the CIC3* with penalties in the show jumping phase since Will Coleman and Twizzel, who pulled off the win in 2008 despite adding 5.0 time penalties in their show jumping round.
On average, only 5.7% of the field has made the time on cross country day since Mike Etherington-Smith took over as course designer in 2014.
Phillip Dutton and Mighty Nice. Photo by Jenni Autry.
Mighty Nice is back with Phillip Dutton for the first time since Rio this weekend. We last saw him on quite a roll in the first phase, with a two-year 3*/Advanced dressage average of 42.3 leading up to the Olympics.
Buck Davidson and Carlevo have been bouncing from scores as low as 38.7 up to 48.3 at this level over the past three years, but overall their average is hovering closer to 40.0, currently sitting at 43.5.
Covert Rights and Colleen Rutledge have always been strong on the flat, but they knocked it out of the park at Richland Park CIC3* last month. Their score of 33.3 beat their previous personal best three-star score by 11 points and set a new record at Richland. Typically they average closer to the mid-to-low 40s, but a performance like that shouldn’t be discounted.
Powell has had a bit of a light year, with only three three-star starts so far in 2017 with Ryan Wood. He can always be counted on for a strong dressage performance though, with most of his career scores clustered near his average of 44.5 for the level.
Cambalda and Jennie Brannigan should never be ignored, although they are more likely to stalk the leaders from inside the top five than lead the field after the first phase. In the last two years from 2015 and 2017, they’ve averaged 45.1 for the first phase, but have edged as low as 39.8 previously.
Louis M set all kinds of dressage records with his previous rider, Pia Münker definitely deserves a mention with his current partner, Cornelia Dorr. At Cornelia’s first Advanced at Richland Park, they put in the FEI equivalent of a 45.0, which would be strong enough to contest for a top-five position after the first phase here at Plantation.
Silver Night Lady and Emily Beshear are on the rise, with an average of 41.9 on their last two dressage tests. That’s well below their prior average from 2017 of 52.8, which makes them a potential spoiler to take the lead on day one.
Boyd Martin and Crackerjack. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.
Show Jumping Powerhouses
Crackerjack is one of Boyd Martin’s strongest show jumpers and hasn’t had a rail in the past two calendar years at the Advanced and CIC3* levels. He’s also jumped clear in 13 of 14 Advanced/CIC3* starts with Boyd where show jumping was held prior to cross country.
Congo Brazzaville C jumps like a freak with Mara Depuy in the irons. This pair has yet to have a rail in six starts at these levels, and the only time penalties they’ve obtained came from an extra long loop at Great Meadow when he nearly jumped Mara out of the tack.
Cambalda has a strong show jumping reputation as well. H and Jennie Brannigan have jumped clear rounds in 11 of their last 12 consecutive Advanced and CIC3* starts.
Phillip Dutton’s ride Z is a young horse who has demonstrated his jumping ability by jumping clear in eight of his 10 starts since moving up to Advanced.
Kurt Martin and DeLux Z have really demonstrated that the horse can jump. They put in one of the few clear rounds inside the time at their first CCI4* in 2016 and haven’t looked back. Since then, they’ve had nine consecutive clear rounds, including both Blenheim CCI3* last fall and again at Kentucky CCI4* this spring.
Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.
Cross Country Machines
Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights have come home 10 seconds or less over optimum time in four of their last five CIC3* runs. The last time they had more than 15 seconds worth of time penalties at a CIC3* was way back in 2014.
Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me are averaging only five seconds over the optimum time across 11 CIC3*/Advanced starts in the past two years. They’ve finished inside the time at 50% of their last six consecutive A/CIC3* starts.
Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High only occasionally finished inside the time but they are close to it on a regular basis. In the past two years, they’ve finished with 15 seconds or less of time penalties in nine of 10 starts at these levels.
Although Anna Bella and Kurt Martin racked up more than 30 seconds worth of penalties at her first CIC3* in 2017, she regularly clocked in times that were within 10 seconds of optimum time back in 2015.
Luckaun Quality and Tim Bourke tend to look like they are just loping around, but don’t be deceived. This pair averages only 11 seconds over optimum time at these levels over the past two years.
Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda are regulars, having run here five times. They won the CIC3* in 2010, the Advanced in 2014, and finished in the top five on two other occasions. Although they are averaging 12 seconds over the optimum time over the past two competition years, they have historically averaged only five seconds over the optimum time at Plantation Field.
PREDICTED WINNER: Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda
Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.