At 18, Veronica may be entering the golden years of her career, but she had no hesitation showing the rest of the competition how it’s done this morning at the $50,000 LiftMaster Grand-Prix Eventing at Bruce’s Field, winning the dressage phase with Lauren Nicholson (née Kieffer) in the irons.
Lauren told EN earlier this spring, that riding Team Rebecca’s spicy KWPN (Pacific x Kimbel, by Ferro) is comfortable and well known, much like “Putting on your favorite old sweatshirt.” For the pair that knows each other backwards and forwards, Lauren knew that full retirement would never be an option for “Troll,” so with no plans to return to the top levels of the sport, they’ve opted to simply enjoy the ride.
The years built into the partnership showed today in the arena, and the pair easily snagged a score of 29.6 — the only sub-30 result in the bunch.
“She was pretty wild actually. She’s very excited to be competing again, and she was very pleased to be the only horse we brought here. She thinks that’s how it’s always supposed to be,” Lauren said. “She feels as good as she ever did. She was pretty tense in there, but she’s such a professional, she makes it look fine even though you feel like you’re sitting on a ticking time bomb.”
Buck Davidson and Carlevo, a 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Eurocommerce Caresino x Ramateulle, by Levernois) owned by Carlevo LLC, follow in second place. Sitting on 30.5 points, they’re within striking distance ahead of this afternoon’s show jumping.
“He’s very trained how. I just try to keep him fresh and keep him enthusiastic about the whole thing. It’s very much like Reggie was in the end; I don’t hassle him too much at home. He knows how to do things,” Buck said.
Boyd Martin and Liz Halliday-Sharp currently split a two-way tie for third place on a score of 30.7.
Double Pan American Games gold medalists Boyd and Tsetserleg, a 12-year-old Trakehner gelding (Windfall x Thabana, by Buddenbrock) owned by Christine Turner, are up against defending champion Liz aboard with Deniro Z, a 12-year-old KWPN (Zapatero VDL x Zonne-Trend, by French Buffet xx) owned by Ocala Horse Properties and The Deniro Syndicate.
Boyd also sits fifth with his second ride, Long Island T, a 14-year-old Oldenburg/Thoroughbred (Ludwig von Bayern x Haupstsbuch Highlight, by Heraldik xx) owned by The Long Island T Syndicate, on a score of 31.1.
Ryan Wood and the American-bred Powell earned sixth place. The 14-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Pablito x Dinara, by Donnerwerth), who is owned by Summit Sporthorses and Ryan, carries 31.9 points into the jumping phases. Phillip Dutton sits seventh and eighth with Z and Fernhill Singapore, respectively. A 12-year-old Zangersheide (Asca X Bellabouche, by Babouche VH Gehucht Z) owned by the Z Partnership, Z scored 32.6. His stablemate, an 11-year-old KWPN (Sinapore x Riedellia, by Animo) owned by Ann Jones, Thomas Tierney and David Vos, sits on 32.7 points.
There’s also a tie for ninth place with Allie Knowles and Liz Halliday-Sharp both on 33.1 points. Allie is paired with Morswood, a 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse owned by Katherine O’Brien, and Liz rides Cooley Quicksilver, a 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse owned by The Monster Partnership.
These guys are enjoying a breather now before the show jumping phase starts at 4 p.m. — please note this is updated from the original time of 4:30 p.m. Stay tuned for more from Aiken.