New to the spring competition schedule is Stable View 4*-S, which tried to put on their inaugural spring show last year only to be an early casualty of the pandemic. With a slate of 52 entries far exceeding their attendance record for the fall show, Stable View’s attraction to the riders headed to the long formats this spring can’t be understated.
Thus far, the venue’s Advanced and CCI4*-S divisions have hardly been a dressage show: in fact only once has the winner of the dressage gone on to win one of these divisions and that was in a sparsely populated Advanced class that was held alongside the show’s first FEI edition. While the winner of these classes have come from the top five dressage tests all but once, they rarely have produced the win thanks to the tricky nature of cross country here. In fact, in order to win this division, you have to put in a speed rating of zero, meaning the pair either needs to make the time or be the fastest round of the day. Five of seven winners here have done it, with a sixth pair winning off only one second of time.
Up until 2019, Phillip Dutton and Boyd Martin dominated this venue, winning every Advanced and 4*-S division until 2020. Phillip returns this weekend with Z, who has won this division twice, while Buck Davidson trots out Carlevo, the horse who broke the streak of ex-Australian winners. Liz Halliday-Sharp, who won last fall, will have a pair of contenders as well but not her Stable View winner Fernhill By Night, who finished second at Carolina International just last weekend.
If you read this and think you’ve read it before, don’t feel surprised because once again we have Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous competing head to head in the first phase with Tamie Smith and EnVogue, two weeks after they met at Red Hills. Unsurprisingly, Marilyn and RF Scandalous are the most likely to lead after day one; they’ve now extended their winning dressage streak to eleven consecutive A/4*/5* starts. With a two-year average of 22.0 penalties, it’s hard to see where anyone will be able to catch them.
Tamie and EnVogue slip into the next slot with an average of 27.7 for the level, having broken 70% in all but the mare’s first start at the 4* level. Despite seven consecutive scores in the twenties, they will have sharper competition this weekend in the form of Buck Davidson and Carlevo, who won last year at this venue in June. Although Carlevo can lack the consistency of the two aforementioned mares, he consistently scores sub-thirty more often than he doesn’t, including clocking in a 25.8 earlier this year at Rocking Horse.
Not to be left out is another previous winner, Z with Phillip Dutton. Phillip did his homework with this horse during the pandemic lockdown and came out swinging, dropping their average in dressage nearly four points between the 2019 and 2020 seasons. The question will be if they can keep up the qualify of work in 2021 without that prolonged period to concentrate on it; a score of 23.4 at Pine Top this winter indicated that he perhaps has only gotten better.
The young horse Trendy Fernhill will be a fresh addition to the leaderboard under Jenny Caras; this horse has won two consecutive outings at the A/4*S level, although this will by far be the most competitive field he has faced thus far. In five starts, he has averaged a 29.8 which would leave him well placed this weekend.
The stadium will leave the top of the leaderboard unchanged, with three of the four top placings unlikely to drop a rail. RF Scandalous often moonlights in the jumper world with Marilyn Little and has had only two rails in 16 of 18 career stadium rounds; the last one occurred in 2018. Z too is a notoriously careful jumper; he and Phillip Dutton have put in 25 clear rounds out of 29 at the A/4*/5* levels.
Buck Davidson and Carlevo are also more likely to jump clear than not; they’ve jumped clear in 9 of 11 A/4* starts in the the last two years. Trendy Fernhill and Jenny Caras have had only one rail in five rounds at the level and have twice won thanks to clear stadium rounds.
Meanwhile, some stalkers after dressage will start making their move up the leaderboard. While Stella Artois can occasionally throw in a top score, she more consistently stalks the leaders after day one and makes up ground in the stadium phase on day two. She and Jennie Brannigan have jumped clear in seven of eight starts in the last two years.
Idaho-based Sara Mittleider and La Paz are another pair to keep an eye out for in the stadium. This pair jumps clear more often than not at the A/4*S level, clocking in only two total rails in six career starts. Another Sara, Sara Kozumplik-Murphy and Rubens d’Ysieux, join the super careful club with six clear rounds in seven stadium starts as a pair; they only incurred their first rail together at this level at the Advanced at Morven Park last fall.
The question as always for RF Scandalous is going to be cross country time and whether she and Marilyn Little have sufficient cushion from their stellar dressage and stadium phases to keep their lead over the remainder of the field. Although this pair made time for the first time at the level two weeks ago, the fact that 36% of the field also made the time was an anomaly not only for the venue but for the level itself. At the 4*-s level, clear and inside the time rates of 30% or higher have only occurred thirteen times worldwide since 2015, so finishing times at the 2021 Red Hills will be an outlier for most horses.
Since Stable View is another venue notoriously tough to make the time at, it is much more likely that this pair will be back to needing some seconds in hand going into the final phase. Luckily, their talent in the first two phases will probably give them some breathing room, but ultimately the question, as always, will be is it enough?
Two-time winners Z and Phillip Dutton will be ready to pounce as one of the fastest pairs in the field. The 2018 WEG pair have accumulated a grand total of only 1 second over optimum time in two runs here at this venue, both of which culminated in a win.
Buck Davidson and Carlevo will be a touch slower, along with Jenny Caras and Trendy Fernhill and Sara Mittleider and La Paz, all of whom will probably rack up around ten seconds worth of time penalties. This will leave the door open for some speedsters to nab a top five spot; Jacob Fletcher with Atlantic Domino are capable of blazingly fast rounds when they want to, and have made the time at two venues difficult to catch the time at. EnVogue could also come roaring back to the top of the leaderboard with Tamie Smith if she returns to typical form; her clear rounds tend to be paired with the fastest pace of the day.
RF Scandalous should be able to make it two in a row this weekend, with enough cushion between her and the other top pairs to give her the time she needs to complete on cross country.
EXTENDING CLEAR JUMPING STREAKS
Z is a great stadium horse but it’s his stablemate Fernhill Singapore who currently owns the longest consecutive streak of clear A/4*-S rounds in this field. Under Phillip Dutton, with one lone catch ride from Boyd Martin, this horse has jumped clear in his last seven at A/4* rounds.
Magnum’s Martini is a strong candidate to move well up the order after the jumping phases; with loads of experience at this level, this horse knows what comes after dressage!
- As a 4-year-old, 2 A.M. won the 2016 East Coast YEH Championships. Under Charlotte Babbitt, he is back on the East coast to contend in the 3*-S.
- Joe Meyer competes former Price ride Kindred Spirit II in the 3*-S division. Under both Tim and Jonelle this horse competed through the 4*-L level.
- Former 5* ride RF Eloquence is back on the East coast with Meg Pellegrini in the 3*-S division.
- Keep an eye out for Cornelius Bo in the 2*-S division. Under owner Alyssa Phillips, he has won his last eight consecutive events from Training level up through Prelim and 2*-S.
- River King has competed up through the Advanced level with four total riders, including current rider Anna Pierce; they will be in the 3*-S division this weekend.
Dressage starts today. While there is sadly not a live stream for Stable View this weekend, we’ll be bringing you media reports from the press team on the ground all weekend.