We’re fully into the fall season now as we look ahead to the remaining major FEI events on the calendar for 2023. A few big events are yet to come, not the least including Morven Park’s CCI4*-L, the MARS Maryland 5 Star, Boekelo’s Nations Cup, the Pan American Games, and Pau’s CCI5* all in October. To that end, we’ll see a strong contingent of competitors at this weekend’s Stable View Oktoberfest, always a key highlight on an eventer’s fall schedule.
Of course, Oktoberfest does not solely fun a 4*-S. In fact this year, Stable View has partnered with the USEA to offer an all-new USEF/USEA Eventing Developing Horse National Championships for 6- and 7-year-olds. This program is intended to bolster the development pipeline and provide a pathway step for horses graduating from Young Event Horse (4- and 5-year-olds) competition, or who may have missed out on those competitions for one reason or another.
“The 6-year-old and 7-year-old Championships are new for 2023 and are the first step in the creation of a USEF Developing Horse Program, which has the ultimate goal of talent identification, cultivation, and guidance for potential team horses, serving as a pipeline for the USEA Young Event Horse Program and Championships,” a press release from the USEA states.
Stable View will also host riders at National levels, with divisions ranging from Beginner Novice through Advanced also running this weekend. That means we’ll see over 400 entries all said and done, and we can’t wait to get this party started! EN’s team of Shelby Allen and Veronica Green-Gott will be your eyes on the ground, also representing Stable View by running press operations.
Here’s a look at what to expect this weekend, whether you’re competing or spectating or following from afar:
Competition begins first thing on Friday with the 4* dressage. For those who will be on site on Thursday, be sure to stop in for a free Yoga and Sound Bath session led by Mark and Rohena Armstrong. Stop by the Stable View Pavilion on the top floor Thursday at 3 p.m. to get all limbered and centered for the weekend ahead.
Intermediate, 3*, and 4* pairs will also show jump on Friday. Also happening Friday at 7 p.m. will be a celebration for course designer Capt. Mark Phillips, who has designed at Stable View since its inception.
Saturday will feature a Classic Car Show by Aiken Horsepower as well as cross country for the top levels, while the other do their dressage and show jumping. There will also be a special edition of Stable View’s famous Graze & Gaze at the Pavilion featuring a mechanical bull from 5-7 p.m.
On Sunday, the National lower levels will finish up their competition, with the upper level and FEI winners crowned on Saturday. To stay up to date with any and all schedule changes and on-site alerts, please subscribe to the event WhatsApp chat here.
26 horses and riders are currently entered in the headlining CCI4*-S division at Stable View Oktoberfest. It’s a varied roster, with several pairs putting the final touches on for the upcoming Pan American Games or their respective 4*-L and 5* destinations this fall. We’ll also see a handful of horses making their early starts at this level to gain experience and mileage alongside Olympic and 5* veterans.
Lucienne Bellissimo will bring forward her two top rides, each aiming for the 4*-L at Morven Park (October 12-15). Both 11, Dyri and Tremanton have each collected a few competitive placings at this level, and while Lucienne’s focus will be on the larger goal of Morven Park, this track will be useful as a set-up and a fine-tune of the gears ahead of the final major stop on her calendar.
Mary Bess Davis has made a remarkable comeback after suffering a neck injury in a fall at Carolina International this spring. After spending just five months out of competition, Mary Bess returned in August and now brings forward her Advanced partner, Imperio Magic, for their first run at the level since finishing 10th at Carolina. No word yet on where Mary Bess is aiming this fall, but she’s coming off a strong Advanced run at The Fork at Tryon and should be coming into this weekend looking to pick up where she left off this spring.
Phillip Dutton is aiming for as many unique 5* runs as possible with the very experienced Z, using Oktoberfest as a prep ahead of Pau at the end of October. Meanwhile, stablemate Azure is aiming for her 5* debut at MARS Maryland 5 Star just before he hops over to France next month. Z has had much success at this venue in the past, winning Oktoberfest’s 4* in 2019 and finishing second in the spring edition in 2021. Azure has some competitive results to her name this year, too, including a win in the 4*-L at Bromont this spring.
Chile-bound Sydney Elliott and QC Diamantaire are putting the final touches on their training ahead of their championship team debut at the end of October. The U.S. team’s final outing will be at Loch Moy (MD) at the start of October. Sydney and “Q” certainly know each other like the back of hand and hoof at this point in their partnership and should be looking for a strong run that will inject loads of confidence ahead of their Pan Ams trip.
Savannah “Woodge” Fulton’s Cash Point is in the earlier stages of his Advanced career and is showing much promise as he gains more experience. This will be Cash Point’s fourth start at the Advanced/4* level, most recently finishing sixth in his first 4* at Great Meadow last month. This is a horse Woodge has been excited about and producing since the outset of his career, and this pair is among at the 3*-L Championship at Maryland 5 Star in October to cap off their 2023 season.
Looking for the highest jumping powerhouse in the field? Look no further than Corvett, the fan-favorite partner of Emily Hamel, who this season has moved her base to Aiken, SC. Emily spent time abroad last year, competing at both Badminton and Burghley with her horse of a lifetime. She’s back in the States full-time now and aiming for an incredible sixth CCI5* start with “Barry” at Maryland next month.
Christina Henriksen and JTH Zest are looking to get their mojo flowing this weekend after a somewhat rocky beginning to their season. This is a pair who’s been partnered together for many years, collecting multiple competitive placings in FEI competition but then experiencing some growing pains as they moved into the Advanced rankings. It’s no task for the faint of heart and certainly one for the determined, and Christina will be tackling this weekend seeking a strong finish that gives both her and her British mare a boost for their fall goals.
Another relative newcomer to the Advanced/4* level is Calcourt Valley, partnered with Michelle Koppin. Calcourt Valley has been Michelle’s top horse, becoming her first 4* horse this year with a top-15 finish in their debut at The Fork earlier this month. This second run at the level will be all about experience for this pair.
Also based in Aiken full-time is the always stylish Sarah Kuhn, who brings forward Mr. Cash van de Start for one of his final preps ahead of an exciting 5* debut at MARS Maryland 5 Star. To be honest, my biggest question for Sarah is whether or not she’s begun planning her Maryland jog outfit and what the over-under is that it will include animal print. But also, this is a partnership that’s spent much time preparing for this next step, and while Mr. Cash van de Start can display some exuberance in the first phase, he’s become a consummate competitor for Sarah and should put in a reliable performance this weekend.
Who can relate to the story of the humble off-track Thoroughbred sold for under $1000? Most of us, am I right? That’s the gist of how Leah Lang-Gluscic came to know one AP Prime, who at 18 years young this season seems to be in the, well, prime of life tackling Advanced and Short-format competition as if it were tadpole level. AP was one of the only horses to make the tough optimum time at AEC in Kentucky last month and stands to repeat the feat this weekend. Leah will be looking to be competitive here with her old friend, relishing every moment on cross country in this “enjoy it” era with a once-in-a-lifetime horse.
After trekking overseas to compete at the Nations Cup leg at Strzegom earlier this year, Andrew McConnon now brings the 11-year-old Ferrie’s Cello back out for his fall campaign. This pair was in the top 15 at the USEA Advanced Final at AEC last month and now eyes a long-awaited 5* debut at Maryland. They were initially entered for the Kentucky 5* this spring but a minor setback forced their withdrawal and re-route.
Based at Stable View in the winter months, Brazil’s Nilson Moreira da Silva will bring forward the 8-year-old Irish gelding Elmo for a debut at the 4* level this weekend. Also prepping for the Pan American Games, Nilson’s had a bit of a gap between Advanced horses, having moved on from Rock Phantom (now piloted by Sara Kozumplik) and former rides Magnum’s Martini and Muggle. Elmo now stands to be his next top partner, and though they had a frustrating Technical Elimination in their first Advanced together at Chatt Hills, they’ll be heading into this weekend with a clean slate looking to put some valuable mileage under this young horse’s girth.
Another 8-year-old features next on our roster — it’s a true weekend for the pipeline, eh? — in Alex O’Neal‘s Redtail Penumbra. This will be this pair’s second Advanced competition together, having finished second in the Advanced at Chatt Hills earlier this month most recently. They also debuted at the 4* level earlier this summer at Ocala, finishing 13th with some green moments in the jumping phases. A fun fact: Redtail Penumbra is a product of Alex and Ellie O’Neal’s breeding program — a true reward to produce a homebred to this level (and hopefully beyond!).
Doug Payne is next up, bringing forward three strong options in seasoned campaigner Quantum Leap, the gutsy stallion Quiberon, and the not-so-feral-anymore Camarillo. This is a very different set of horses with three unique styles of going, but I’m sure Doug wouldn’t have it any other way as he seems to like keeping things exciting (I’m not sure why else anyone would choose to fly teeny tiny airplanes for fun). I know Quantum Leap is aiming for the Maryland 5 Star — no word yet on the fall plans for Quiberon and Camarillo, but Doug can typically be counted on to be competitive at these Short formats and will be looking to test the gears on all of his horses ahead of their fall destination events.
This weekend marks the third Advanced/4* start for Canada’s Waylon Roberts and OKE Ruby R, who is 10 this year. While they would sadly incur a Compulsory Retirement in their first 4* at The Fork earlier this month, they’ve otherwise had a pretty steady climb to this level, finishing in the top 10 at Bromont’s CCI3*-L this spring. Show jumping would be the phase Waylon would, on paper at least, want to tighten up — but in this early stage when a horse is still getting her bearings at this more technical level, experience and positive outings are what matters the most.
Pour me a Hot Bobo, the #supermare is back and feeling spicy! Canada’s Karl Slezak has been tapped for the Pan American Games squad next month — ever important as Canada still seeks Olympic qualification for 2024 — with Lexington 4*-S winner Hot Bobo. This event will then serve as a prep to ensure everything is in working order ahead of their big trip to the Southern Hemisphere. Should they decide to go fast(ish) on cross country Saturday, this pair could be a big threat to take the prize here at Oktoberfest.
Melanie Smith and Shakedown Street have several competitions at this level under their belts now, most recently completing the Lexington 4*-S this spring. This pair has won at this venue in the past, taking the Advanced win at Stable View’s Summer H.T. last June. This will be this pair’s toughest competition since Kentucky, but that 4* is notoriously tricky and has hence been nicknamed a “5*-Short” in jest, making it an excellent preparation for those hoping to continue on or eventually step up to the 5* level.
Allison Springer has spent some time building up a strong string of top horses in the wake of the retirement of the beloved Arthur, and this year she’s got Business Ben back in action as well as the cheeky Vandyke stepping up to Advanced and 4* competition. This first 4* back for Business Ben will likely be more of a feel it out run as the 13-year-old gelding gears back up at the top levels after sitting out the 2022 season. Allison’s brought him sensibly back, most recently running the 3*-S at Great Meadow in August. Vandyke is enjoying his first full season at this level, collecting multiple top-15 placings as he aims for his first 4*-L at Morven Park next month.
Briggs Surratt begins to round out the 4*-S roster with the tiny-but-mighty Corture (who, fun fact, was actually bred by Elisa Wallace). This weekend marks the third 4*-S start for Couture; most recently, she was 15th at The Fork at Tryon. As with many of their counterparts this week, Briggs and Corture will likely be prioritizing experience gained over competitiveness as they look to confirm themselves at this top level of sport.
Elisa Wallace is our final competitor this weekend, bringing forward Renkum Corsair, who won the 3*-L National Championship at Maryland 5 Star in 2022. The pair got their fall preps underway at The Fork last weekend, finishing ninth in the 4*-S. Renkum Corsair is still relatively new to this level, but he stands to be competitive if that’s Elisa’s goal for the weekend. We don’t yet see him on any 4*-L entries for this fall, so Elisa will either be aiming the gelding for the final 4*-L at TerraNova in November or will use this week to make her final decision on a fall designation.
There is no live stream of competition this weekend, so you’ll want to keep an eye right here on EN for all the latest starting Friday. Stay tuned for much, much more coming your way from Aiken. Go Eventing!