This weekend is a little quieter than most on the event front, although Blenheim is running over in England. The only venue running an Advanced or CIC3* over on this continent is Poplar Place Farm, which is running both.
Six of the pairs entered here are also heading to the Nutrena AECs in two weeks time, so there’s a chance we will see a couple withdrawals. I don’t know for sure what these riders have planned, so I’m ranking those who entered. Even without withdrawals, the divisions are both fairly small, so for brevity’s sake I’ve done both divisions in one article.
The Advanced is performing 2014 USEF A-A while the CIC3* runs 2014 FEI 3*-A. No one in the three star division has executed this dressage test yet, so we’ll be using overall averages for all of them. The cross country course designer is Tremaine Cooper and the show jumping course designer is Jan Brodkin.
TOP FIVE: CIC3*
1. Michael Pollard and Mensa G: Michael and Mensa G just won the Richland CIC3* a few weeks ago, and I think we’ll see them do the same here. There is the possibility that Michael will run a bit slower, saving Mensa’s legs for bigger shows, but even Mensa’s slow runs end up quicker than many others. Mensa is not currently entered at the AECs, so ought to be out to complete this weekend.
Michael and Mensa will be first after the dressage, with an average of 47.2 edging them into the lead. Jan Brodkin’s courses run a little slow, and Mensa is no exception to this rule, generally adding a rail and four time penalties when attempting them. While this pair will not be the fastest cross country, their average of only ten penalties will still be quick enough to hold the lead. I think they’ll end up in the mid sixties, just squeaking out the win.
2. Elinor MacPhail and RF Eloquence: Ellie MacPhail and RF Eloquence recently won the Advanced at Chatt Hills, sliding completely under the radar thanks to WEG running the same weekend. Ellie is not heading to the AECs, so she’ll definitely be looking to finish with this horse.
This horse is quite nice on the flat, averaging a 49.4 to nip right at Michael’s heels after dressage. Ellie and RF Eloquence do tend to have a rail and a couple of time penalties on Jan Brodkin courses. However, they average clear cross country rounds with a steady 12.0 time penalties. This pair will end near the mid to fight sixties, barely missing out on first.
3. Kyle Carter and Madison Park: Kyle and Madison Park are another pair who are headed to the AECs in two weeks, but they haven’t had a run since an Intermediate at Chatt Hills since July. I expect they will opt to do the full event this weekend.
Kyle and Madison Park will be in the top five after dressage, putting down a 56.4. They perform better than their average on Jan Brodkin show jump courses, dropping one rail to maintain their position. An average of 12 cross country time penalties on Tremaine Cooper courses will keep them good enough for fourth on a final score in the low seventies.
4. Emily Rusinyak and Reatta HW: Emily and Reatta HW also just competed at Chattahoochee Hills a couple of weeks ago, coming second to RF Eloquence. They are fairly new to the level, and while their overall record is slightly spotty on cross country, they seem to be improving.
Emily and Reatta HW will be mid-pack after dressage, averaging 68.3 penalties in this phase. Reatta HW is not the most careful jumper, averaging three rails and four time penalties on Jan Brodkin courses. They jumped around clear at their only attempt at a Tremaine Cooper course with a mere 3.6 seconds in time, which ought to rocket them up the standings. If this pair does go clear across the country this weekend, they ought to finish on a score in the mid-to-high eighties, just barely ahead of the rest of the pack.
5. Libby Head and Sir Rockstar: Libby and Sir Rockstar had a very uncharacteristic blip on cross country a couple weeks ago at Chatt Hills, and I suspect they’ll run the full test here to make sure all cylinders are firing before trekking to Texas for the AECs. Libby and Sir Rockstar otherwise have an immaculate cross country record, so I expect they’ll rock around well enough here.
Sir Rockstar does tend to score higher on the flat, averaging a 65.6 to put them near the lower end of the pack after the flat. However, just one rail and two time penalties will move them up after the stadium phase over a Jan Brodkin course, and a clear cross country round over Tremaine Cooper’s course with 16.4 time penalties will allow them to bump into fifth place, with a score in the upper eighties.
Becky Holder and Can’t Fire Me: Becky and Can’t Fire Me withdrew from Richland Park after show jumping a few weeks ago, and although they topped an Intermediate division at the beginning of August, they haven’t had a run at this level since Carolina International. With an entry in the Advanced at the Nutrena AECs in two weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Becky running the full event.
Becky and Can’t Fire Me may actually be sitting in third after the dressage, with a score near 34.1. This pair favors Jan Brodkin show jumping courses, so will jump double clear instead of having their usual rail. This ought to give them the lead after this phase. If they do run cross country, they’ll run quick, as they do better than their average on Tremaine Cooper courses, finishing with 5.2 time penalties. They ought to cruise home in the high thirties for total penalties, easily in first place.