This week’s coverage of MARS Great Meadow International is brought to you by Kentucky Performance Products.
It was an exciting day of eventing sport this afternoon at the MARS Great Meadow International. We were blessed with some mild weather and overcast skies just in time for the headliners to come out to tackle David O’Connor’s cross country track. We thought the track might be a fair test for the horses and riders, and some questions certainly shook up the standings enough that we had a new victor emerge: Phillip Dutton and David Vos, Ann Jones, and Tom Tierney’s Fernhill Singapore.
Fernhill Singapore (Singapore – Riedellia, by by Animo) is 12 this year, and Phillip says he’s been one that he’s had to produce carefully. After purchasing Singapore from Julie Richards (originally sourced from Carol Gee at Fernhill Sporthorses) as a four-year-old, Phillip took his time to coax the talent out, and this year he says he’s beginning to feel that work pay off. This weekend, the Irish Sport Horse gelding earned one of his more competitive FEI dressage scores at this level and would go on to add some time in the jumping phases. But after overnight leaders Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous fell at the first water jump today, the door was left open for a speedy clear to take the win.
“You know he’s got plenty of move and plenty of jump,” Phillip said. “But he wouldn’t be the fastest horse that I’ve ever had. So you know, today our conditions were good, I was in a competitive position so I thought now’s the time to really work and try to pull the trigger on him and make him go quick. We’ve got to work on getting him a bit faster but I was impressed with him today.”
Phillip will aim both Fernhill Singapore as well as the Sea of Clouds Partners’ Sea of Clouds (7th – 39.2) at the upcoming Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill in October.
Will Coleman caps off a banner weekend and puts a fresh injection of confidence into his two horses in the CCI4*-S, with the Off the Record Syndicate’s Off the Record (VDL Arkansas – Drumagoland Bay, by ARD Ohio) finishing second on a score of 32.0. This pair added 3.6 seconds of time to their overall score as one of the quicker rounds on a day that saw just two riders make the adjusted time of 6 minutes, 15 seconds.
Will will next head to Aachen as a member of Team USA for the FEI Nations Cup of Eventing, and this weekend’s run should be just the lead-up he was looking for to ensure “Timmy” is in fighting form for his next big test. Will also finishes his second ride, Hyperion Stud’s Chin Tonic HS in fifth position on a score of 35.4, a big success for the 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding.
“I wasn’t super concerned about going for the time,” Will said of his ride on Off the Record. In fact, he said, he actually forgot his watch in the end. “I know he can do the time, but he has only had one run kind of real run since Kentucky and Aachen is pretty frenetic. In the beginning is usually hits you in the face hard. So in the beginning, I just wanted to make sure that he was listening and that he was a little bit more relaxed. He’s pretty aggressive. And I think we did that and he’s a good boy. He just tries really hard, he gives you everything that he has. So, I’ve never want to extinguish that, but I just tried to let him go out there and be himself, but still keep a little bit in the tank for what we got to do.”
Will’s also thrilled with Chin Tonic HS’ (Chin Champ – Wildara, by Quinar) efforts today — this was the first Advanced for the gelding who was purchased by Hyperion Stud as a two-year-old. Will told us earlier this week that he’s taken his time producing Chin Tonic, and that patience has really paid off for him today.
“Vicky Castegran (owner of Hyperion Stud) asked last night what my plan was, and I said ‘I’m not going to go there and protect him the whole way around,” Will explained. “I don’t think we’re going to learn anything about him if we go and do that. I wasn’t going to go and try to find his limit, but I wanted to go out and kind of put a little pressure on and just see how he responded. I mean, even halfway around I couldn’t stop patting him. Every time you ask for a little bit he gave you some more, and so in that respect, I think the horse showed his character, and that’s sort of what was our goal. A double clear wasn’t necessarily going to be what we had to do to accomplish that, but I think he showed me enough to he’s ready for this, and we’ll just keep going from here.”
Finishing third and fourth in the CCI4*-S is Lauren Nicholson with Ms. Jacqueline Mars’ Vermiculus and Landmark’s Monte Carlo, the latter of whom finished bang on the optimum time to be the second horse to make the time. Vermiculus ends his weekend on a score of 32.5 and will next head to Aachen as an individual competitor.
“At this point, they’ve done so much and kind of have nothing to lose with either them. And they both have about you experience under their belt. So, you know, I went out to kind of have a crack at it.”
It’s always special when riders on horses owned by Ms. Jacqueline Mars can come here to compete in The Plains, as Ms. Mars can always be heard cheering from her vantage points around the track. Lauren says this is one of the best things about coming here, especially with Landmark’s Monte Carlo (Formula One – Glamour), who is a Ms. Mars homebred.
“These two horses (Landmark’s Monte Carlo and Kimmy Cecere’s Landmark’s Monaco) are really special to her because they’re homebred,” Lauren said. “They’re her babies and for someone who’s had so many horses do such big things, she likes to get so involved from the ground up. So even kind of the little, little successes as they go up is important to her so. And I can always pick her voice out around course!”
Nation Media’s own Ema Klugman and Bendigo were the second to go this afternoon in the CCI4*-S, and they made excellent quick work of the track to blister home as the only other double clear of the day. This effort would rocket the pair up into sixth place all the way from twenty sixth place. Ema completed her first CCI5*, representing Australia, with Bendigo, who is 19 this year, and will be aiming for the Maryland 5 Star in October — and she’s also headed off to start law school this week.
The course caused some problems throughout, in particular at the final water at fence 18, the MARS Sustainability Bay. An angled drop in followed by a bending line to a narrow arrowhead caught some horses out, prompting them to take the option that was the original CCI3* entrance to the water. Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous both took a pretty hard tumble into the water at fence 15A after “Kitty” lost impulsion coming up to the big log in. Both horse and rider were up and seemed to be ok after taking a swim. Jill Thomas also had a hard fall from OBOS Darko at the table at fence 17, and Elizabeth Bortuzzo fell from Belongs to Tuefer after a refusal at fence 15A. In total, 59% of the CCI4*-s riders who started jumped clear.
Looking to the CCI3*-S, which wrapped up as the first division out on cross country this morning, Caroline Martin held on to her lead aboard Redfield Dexter (Dexter R – Zyreina Weering, by Solitair), an 8-year-old KWPN gelding who picks up his first FEI win today on a final score of 26.2. Caroline has an immense amount of confidence in her string of rising stars, and she credits the opportunity to produce them as they began their eventing careers for her blooming confidence. In fact, she told me in our interview yesterday that she’d go out and win on “Dexter” today — naturally, I didn’t want to be the one who jinxed her so I left that out of print!
“I’ve known them from their first cross country log all the way through, you know, where we are now, so I know they know me inside and out,” she explained. “So it’s definitely a different ballgame.”
“I think this was his fifth or sixth Intermediate, but I took an extra long time going Prelim levels,” Caroline said of “Dexter”. “I’ve put really put a lot basics into him, so going out here walking the course I thought, there’s nothing he can’t do. He has all the talent and he’s got all the scope, all the rideability. So the biggest thing is just being able to navigate it and make sure I explained all the questions properly.”
At the start of her upper-level career, Caroline had the benefit of learning from several experienced horses — but she said she much prefers getting to put her stamp on them early on and form a partnership. She’s been very selective — “a lot of trial and error”, she laughs — about how she plans out her schedule, wanting to go for the win at some events and take it easy at others. It’s a formula that certainly has brought her much success, and she credits her business partners Paul Hendrix and Emil Spadone for helping her find the best of the best, as well as her partner at home Casey McKissock, who Caroline says is absolutely invaluable in terms of any success she has. We talk often of needing a “village” to make this crazy life work, and Caroline definitely seems to have found hers (she also trains with Anne Kursinski and Betsy Steiner at home).
Kurt Martin and Debbie Adams’ D.A. Lifetime (Lingh – Timeless, by Carpalo) finished their weekend in second on a score of 28.2, adding just two seconds of time on the clock this morning. This is the best FEI finish for this 9-year-old Holsteiner mare, who looks to be a real talent for Kurt’s string.
“‘Clarence’ was an absolute star,” Kurt said. “Today was a huge step forward for our partnership.The course was exactly what we needed at this point of the season. I truly can’t thank Debbie and Tony [Adams] enough for this opportunity. Thank you to the organizers of Great Meadow International – they did a super job.”
Third in the CCI3*-S is Buck Davidson with Sami Crandell’s DHI Showman, a 7-year-old Anglo-European gelding by Elvis Ter Putte, who finished their weekend on a score of 29.5. “Elvis” came to Buck a bit by accident after owner Sami Crandell had to undergo back surgery (not riding related) last year. In the interim, Buck took the ride and thinks he’s maybe got a horse to contest the World Young Horse Breeding Championships at Mondial du Lion this fall.
“He’s a bit like a pony, he can sort of drop off the bridle so last year we galloped him with the Advanced horses to get him ready for the one-star,” Buck said. “This year he’s really picked up. You need a horse (for Le Lion) that’s good in all three phases and I didn’t want to go over there with one that wouldn’t be fast enough. So two weeks ago at Millbrook I put the pressure on a bit more and said you’ve really got to get closer to the time, and he made it easily. Same thing here, he got a bit tired and it was a bit heavier, hilly ground for him, but he didn’t drop off the bridle.”
This is actually the horse who connected a hind hoof with Buck’s face last year, rendering him with multiple broken bones, a split jawbone, injured eye socket and more. He’s soundly recovered from that and now it’s a running joke in the Davidson camp — we’re glad to see they’ve formed a strong partnership in the intervening months! But Elvis is still “quite a character”, Buck says — “he can’t go out in the field because he jumps out all the time!” As they say, the best ones are typically the quirkiest, anyway.
It’s been a wonderful weekend in Virginia and I have to say thank you to Kira Topeka, who ran press, organizers Darrin Mollett and Max Corcoran for a smooth and safe weekend for all, and all of the officials, volunteers, vendors, sponsors grooms and everyone else to comes together to pull off these massive events. I can’t wait to come back! Also a big thank you to MARS Equestrian, who truly pulled out all the stops this weekend with an epic VIPet Experience, a ringside lounge, and much more.
If you missed out on any of the action from this weekend, H&C+ generally has replays up within 24 hours, so be sure to sign up so you can watch everything back — I know I will be as soon as I get home!
Thank you as always for following along with us. Go Eventing.