Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous led The Fork CIC3* at Tryon International Equestrian Center from start to finish, adding six cross country time penalties to their dressage score to win on a 47.7 and take home a good piece of the $20,000 prize money. Marilyn said she was pleased with how “Kitty” responded to the questions on the course designed by Capt. Mark Phillips and Tremaine Cooper, and the round gave her a good feeling for the rest of the season.
“She’s 12 years old and she’s only a few years into this sport. Today she gave me the feeling of an old horse out there. She felt very confirmed, very confident at the fences,” Marilyn said of the Oldenburg mare owned by Jacqueline Mars, Robin Parsky, and Phoebe and Michael Manders.
Marilyn said yesterday that this event will dictate how the remainder of the season goes, and with this performance she feels confident the mare is ready for the next level. “I let her go around minute four and she just started flying. I think that spoke well to her fitness for the first run and think Luhmühlen is definitely on the table. She strikes me as a horse that’s really ready for the four-star. I couldn’t have asked for a better feeling from her at the jumps today. This was a great kick off to a good season.”
Doug Payne and Vandiver were one of only three pairs to complete the course without jumping or time penalties and the only pair to finish on their dressage score, 50.8. Doug and the 13-year-old Trakehner gelding partnered in the summer of 2015, but this is only their second clear round without time penalties at the level.
“I’m just trying to be smoother and more efficient with lines taken and with the ride in general,” he said. “I’m very lucky to have such a talented horse because he’s got an exceptional gallop and honestly just cruised around.”
Doug will be taking “Quinn,” owned by Doug, Jessica Payne and his breeder Debi Crowley, to Rolex Kentucky for the second time later this month. The pair finished 22nd at the event last year.
“It’s my first time going back with the same horse and having a second shot at it. I’m far more familiar with him and so I have a little bit better level of confidence. That’s not to say there isn’t a whole lot that still could be improved but I’m really looking forward to it. I can’t wait actually.”
Kim Severson and the Cross Syndicate’s Cooley Cross Border were second heading into cross country but added eight time penalties for a third place finish on 51.7.
“Cross was fantastic. I think a lot of people that know us know our situation has not been always smooth sailing,” Kim said of the 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse. “He got better and better this weekend. I made a large mistake into the water and he didn’t give up. He fought for it the rest of the way around the course, and he was really good in situations where he might not have been in the past.”
After winning the Advanced division at Carolina International last month, Kim said she would see how Cross ran around The Fork before making a decision about competing at Rolex.
“I’m going to see how he comes out of it. He went good today and I know I said if he went well here that was going to be the plan. I guess I just have to solidify that in my head a little bit.”
Caroline Martin jumped clear on all three of her rides in the division: Spring Easy, Danger Mouse and The Apprentice. She was fastest with The Apprentice, with whom she earned her first CIC3* win at Carolina. Today Caroline and her mom Sherrie’s 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse added only 1.6 time penalties to move up from equal ninth to finish fourth on 55.3.
Sara Kozumplik Murphy and Rubens D’Ysieux jumped clear with 5.2 time penalties to finish fifth on 55.8. Sara plans to take the a 12-year-old Selle Français owned by the Rubens D’Ysieux Syndicate to Jersey Fresh in May, followed by Bromont.
Phillip Dutton claimed the next two positions with Fernhill Fugitive and Fernhill Revelation. Showing his mastery of timing, the two Irish Sport Horse geldings finished within one second of the same time on cross country. Fernhill Fugitive, owned by Tom Tierney and Annie Jones, added only 4.8 time penalties to his initial dressage score to finish sixth on 56.3. The Revelation Group’s Fernhill Revelation added 4.4 time penalties to finish seventh on 56.7. John and Kristine Norton’s I’m Sew Ready came in at ninth with 7.6 time penalties to add.
Selena O’Hanlon and John and Judy Rumble’s Foxwood High were eighth after yesterday’s show jumping and held that position with 4.8 penalties to add on cross country. Sharon White and Cooley On Show rounded out the top 10, adding 10 time penalties for a final score of 61.8.
For days we’ve danced on pins and needles to watch the first horses on the cross country course that will in a little more than one year’s time host the sport’s best at the World Equestrian Games. The TIEC team has big plans for the continued development of the White Oak grounds, but the course today was beautifully presented and rode well.
“I think the course was excellent. I loved the undulating terrain. It’s something you don’t get a whole lot of,” Kim said. “The course was very forward-riding and had very few problems. It was hard enough but the horses really seemed to understand the questions.”
There were zero jumping penalties in the CIC3* and as announcer Brian O’Connor said, it’s always a good day when the safety team doesn’t move. Besides Doug Payne and Vandiver, the other two double clear rounds came from Lizzy Jahnke and Princeton and Chelsea Kolman and Dauntless Courage.
We’ll be bringing you much more coverage from The Fork in the coming days, but we have to thank Mark Bellissimo and his team at TIEC, the course designers, and officials for an incredible week.
“Thank you so much to Mark and to the team and to Tryon,” Marilyn said, “and to Jim and Bernadette Cogdell for starting this event so long ago that has so much tradition and has been brought here to such an incredible venue that is special today but even more special knowing where it’s going for the future. It was a real opportunity and pleasure for all of us galloping around there on the future WEG course and knowing that we’re putting the first footprints on what will one day be very hallowed ground.”