We saw 44 more pairs come forward today in the jam-packed CCI4*-S at the 2020 MARS Great Meadow International in The Plains, Virginia, but none could unseat overnight leaders Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous. One pair — Will Coleman and Off The Record — came dangerously close, just one tenth of a point behind for second place.
Riding for the Off The Record Syndicate, Will and “Timmy,” an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse (VDL Arkansas x Drumagoland Bay, by Ard Ohio), are no strangers to this venue, having won the CCIO3* here in 2018. Today, they landed a 21.9, beating their previous personal best (31.1 in 2018) by nearly 10 points.
“I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a good day or a bad day – he was pretty stiff warming up, but he has always been a horse that savors competition and getting into the arena and he really just delivered a steady test,” Will said. “I was very pleased. My wife and my whole team have been working really hard on this horse and it was nice to see some fruits for all of their labor.”
Will Coleman Equestrian and Off The Record posted the best 4*-S Dressage Test of yesterday afternoon at the Great Meadow…
What goes through the mind of someone who has tasted victory in The Plains before? Take it one phase at a time.
“Timmy loves to go for it, but we need to take it one day at a time. Tomorrow is show jumping and we will try to jump a clean round, hopefully,” he said. “He hasn’t been out very much. He was off for the back half of last year and he has only had the one run this year because of all of the COVID stuff. He is still building back up to all of the form he was in – or maybe even better than the form he had in 2019. We have the big picture in mind, but we love Great Meadow and we certainly would like to give it a crack.”
Four-star winners in their own right, Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border are keeping the pressure on the top two. The Cross Syndicate’s 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Diamond Roller x Whos Diaz, by Osilvis) secured a score of 22.1.
“I think Crossy is happy to be out, huh? he’s learned a lot in the last year and a half. he’s solidified a lot of things, in particular, his flying changes. We finally fixed his one change that I struggle to get. He needs to be a big stronger in his medium trot — that’s always been his weakest thing, so we’re still working on that.”
An injury at Pau in 2018 sidelined Crossy for over a year, but now Kim says the pieces are falling back into place. “It’s the same thing he’s been doing all along anyway, just bringing him back all together and getting him going,” she said. “Honestly he’s had a lot of hacking time and light work. He came back from [Chattahoochee Hills in February] and he basically has just been doing a lot of trotting, some dressage and some jumping here and there.”
Liz Halliday-Sharp and Deniro Z, a 14-year-old KWPN (Zapatero x Zonne-Trend, by French Buffett xx) owned by Ocala Horse Properties, are in a favorable fourth place position on a score of 24.2.
Jennie Brannigan and Stella Artois, a 12-year-old Holsteiner/Thoroughbred mare owned by her namesake syndicate, secured a personal best today — a 25.2 — for fifth place.
Lauren Nicholson and her World Equestrian Games partner Vermiculus are in sixth place. Jacqueline Mars’ 13-year-old Anglo Ariabian (Sazeram x Wake Me Gently) carry 25.6 points into the jumping phases.
Woods Baughman and his own C’est La Vie 135, an 11-year-old Hanoverian, are seventh on a dressage result of 25.8. This budding pair has had 10 long months to reflect on their mega 2019 season, which ended with a CCI3*-L at Fair Hill, and now it’s game faces on for the last two phases this weekend.
Of the 68 starters in this division, 20 (29%) limboed under that sub-30 barrier, and those scores at the top are especially tight. Only one rail separates the top seven, so the pressure’s on for perfect performances over the colored poles tomorrow.
The judging panel of Peter Gray (CAN) and Valerie Vizcarrando (USA) held more than a few differences of opinion on this group. Eleven of the 68 pairs (16%) had variances of more than 5 percentage points. Both judges also disagreed specifically on the division leader, with the judge at E pegging Off The Record, while the judge at B scored Cooley Cross Border more favorably. The differentials ultimately averaged to edge Marilyn Little in front by an nose.
Tune in with us to watch it all. Coverage for this division will start on the Horse & Country live stream at 3:22 pm eastern.
Will’s good fortune continued into the CCI3*-S where he leads the division with Hyuperon Stud’s Chin Tonic. This pair won the CCI2*-S here last year, so a repeat of that in the next division up would be especially sweet. They’re on a 23.9 for the moment ahead of the jumping phases.
The CCI3*-S show jumps tomorrow at 12:20 pm eastern.