By the Numbers: The Fork at Tryon CIC3* and WEG Test Event

The Fork is running for the second year at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, North Carolina. This year there is quite the excitement surrounding the event, as the CIC3* is also serving as the eventing test event for the 2018 World Equestrian Games, which come to Tryon in September.

The Fork will offer the final chance for riders to get a feel for Capt. Mark Phillip’s cross country course prior to the WEG itself.

Keep in mind that the FEI dressage scoring has dropped the 1.5 coefficient and is now equivalent to dressage scores at USEF horse trials.

Photo courtesy of Tryon International Equestrian Center

The Field

  • In the last three runnings of The Fork CIC3*, the winner has been in the top two after dressage.
  • Last year, for the first running of The Fork at Tryon, there was not a single issue in the cross country phase for the CIC3* — only time penalties played a factor.

Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Dressage Divas

Percent of pairs expected to score in the 20s: 16.2% (6 of 37)

  • Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border didn’t just set a Carolina International record with their 20.8 two weeks ago. They also laid down the lowest score for a test at Advanced, 3*, or 4* for any North American pair anywhere since the Rio Olympics, and the second lowest score at those levels on this continent in the last five years.
  • Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous haven’t yet been able to hit the jaw-dropping scores that some of the other pairs have, but they’ve made up for it with consistency, scoring above 72% in 8 of their 10 starts at the Advanced, 3* and 4* levels.
  • Doug Payne‘s young ride Getaway has already made quite a splash in only two starts at this level. In his first Advanced at Pine Top, he laid down a 28.0 and nearly replicated it in his first CIC3* at Carolina with a 28.3.
  • Vermiculus came out in 2017 and shocked us by shaving nearly 10 points off his dressage average. He and Lauren Kieffer have scored above 70% (translating to sub-30) in his last four consecutive starts at these levels, including at his first four-star last spring.
  • Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights are another pair who have laid down a monstrous score, putting in a 33.3 (22.2 in the new scoring) at Richland Park last summer. That is the third best score in North America since Rio. This pair can struggle with consistency, scoring below 70% in half of their runs in the last 12 months. When they are on, they are brilliant, averaging nearly 75% when they do score above the 70% mark.
  • Liz Halliday-Sharp has a strong contender in her arsenal with Deniro Z, despite his inexperience. In five starts at the level, not only has he hit sub-30 scores each time, but his scores range only one point apart, from 28.9 to 29.8. Talk about consistency!

Katherine Coleman and Longwood. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Cross-Country Machines

Percent of pairs expected to come within 10 seconds of optimum time: 13.5% (5 of 37)

  • Longwood and Katherine Coleman are one of the fastest pairs in the world right now. In their last six runs at the CIC3* level, they came home clear and inside the time at five of them. At the only venue where they picked up time, Gatcombe Park, they still had the third fastest ride of the day at a venue that is notorious for being almost impossible to make the time.
  • Every time Tim Bourke and Luckaun Quality appear on a live stream, it looks like they are just out for a lope, and every time they put in one of the faster times of the day. This horse’s massive stride helps this pair finish with one of the faster times of the day at nearly ever run, and while Tim hasn’t been pushing to make time at the Advanced/CIC3* level lately, it’s been more than a year since they finished with more than 10 seconds of time penalties.
  • Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me have been supremely consistent at this level, with 18 consecutive clear Advanced and CIC3* cross country runs dating back to 2015. In the past year, they’ve finished 12 seconds or less over optimum time at all but one run, when they took their time over the CIC3* course at Red Hills earlier this spring.
  • It’s been 18 months since we’ve seen Fernhill Cubalawn out and about, and when we last saw him he was firing on all cylinders. He and Phillip Dutton clocked in eight Advanced/CIC3* runs between 2015 and 2016 that averaged only 6.25 seconds over optimum time. This weekend will mark his first start at the level since before the Rio Olympics.

Sara Kozumplik Murphy and Rubens D’Ysieux. Photo by Justin Black/Millstreet Horse Photography.

Show Jumping Powerhouses

Percent of pairs expected to go clear in show jumping: 29.7% (11 of 37)

  • In four rounds at the Advanced and CIC3* levels, Sara Kozumplik Murphy and Rubens D’Ysieux have never had a show jumping penalty. Although they did have one rail at Millstreet CCI3* to mar their otherwise perfect record, they also won the Eventing Prix Invitational and the Devon Eventing Showcase in 2017, cementing their prowess in this phase.
  • Z is no longer one of the greener horses in Phillip Dutton‘s string, and he’s proven his ability to be careful from day one. In 11 Advanced/CIC3* starts, he’s only had a rail on two occasions, both of them coming at the first start of the year in both 2016 and 2017. In his first start this year, he avoided repeating the same mistake, jumping clear at Carolina.
  • Kylie Lyman and Sacramento have enjoyed a strong show jumping record together. They are another pair to have a clean Advanced/CIC3* record for all but one start, and haven’t had a rail in more than two years at this level.
  • Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti have really stepped up their game in this phase since 2017, having now jumped six consecutive clear rounds at Advanced and CIC3* levels.

Sharon White and Cooley On Show. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Jack of All Trades

  • Cooley On Show continues to sit quietly behind the marquee pairs and put in solid performances with Sharon White. At Carolina, this horse broke into the 20s for the first time at the level, demonstrating improvement over his previous form. Despite having a rail, he maintained his show jumping record of never having more than one while putting in a solid but steady performance across the country. Three solid phases netted him a spot just outside the top 10, and he’ll continue to knock on the door this weekend.
  • I’m Sew Ready is another solid performer for Phillip Dutton. The horse may not have a jaw-dropping performance in any one phase, but he can consistently string three solid phases together to get top placings. With a dressage average hovering just under 70%, he’ll have some work to do after day one. A solid cross country record, despite being a tad slower than the fastest pairs, works well with his ability to show jump with no more than one rail in his Advanced/CIC3* starts.
  • Andrew Hoy brought a horse across the pond for the WEG test event, and Basmati will be doing his first CIC3* here. Although he hasn’t run at this level yet, his 2* dressage scores hovered in the mid-to-low 30s. This will be good enough to keep him in striking distance, as the horse has been solid and quick on the cross country phase at the lower levels and has had no more than one rail per show in his entire FEI career.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z. Photo by Jenni Autry.

PREDICTED WINNER: Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z

Keep Your Eye On …

  • Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Cubalawn
  • Sara Kozumplik Murphy and Rubens D’Ysieux
  • Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous
  • Sharon White and Cooley On Show

Potential Spoilers

  • Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border

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