This headline shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise. As the only rider competing two horses in the CCI5*-L division at the MARS Maryland 5 Star presented by Brown Advisory this year, we knew that Boyd Martin, winner of the inaugural event here in 2021, would be both the first out of the metaphorical gate as well as the rider to close out this year’s action. The question was just which horse would serve which role.
With the drawn order for next week’s event now live, we know that Boyd will ride the Luke 140 Syndicate’s Luke 140 as pathfinder. He’ll then close out the 27 strong field aboard Club Contessa’s Contessa. Both horses made their five-star debuts this spring: Luke 140 at Luhmühlen, where he finished a spectacular fourth place overall, and Contessa at the Kentucky Three-Day Event where she surprised Boyd himself with her maiden run at the level.
We will also see a handful of our international competitors early on in the order, giving spectators plenty of reason to show up for dressage early on Thursday as well as stake out their spot on cross country on Saturday. Austin O’Connor and cross country machine Colorado Blue, who placed third at Badminton this spring, ride second in the order. New Zealand’s Monica Spencer and her little Thoroughbred Artist as well as Piggy March and Brookfield Cavalier Cruise have also been drawn early in the order.
Friday’s dressage session will certainly be exciting with the legendary William Fox-Pitt aboard Grafennacht drawn late in the order as well as FEI world number one Oliver Townend and young horse champion Cooley Rosalent as fourth last down the center line and out of the start box.
Very sadly, we will not see last year’s winner Tim Price return to Maryland to defend his title. His mount Falco recently underwent colic surgery and the veterinary team discovered a non-malignant tumor which they were able to remove. Falco will now enjoy some rest and recovery on an extended off-season holiday and we’ll look forward to seeing the gutsy gelding out and about again next year.
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