Red Hills International is underway in Tallahassee, Florida! No spectators are permitted and there is no live stream, but you can keep an eye on EN for all the latest. Red Hills continues with show jumping on Saturday followed by cross country on Sunday. Here is your Friday dressage recap.
Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous, a 16-year-old Oldenburg mare (Carry Gold x Richardia) owned by Jacqueline Mars and Phoebe and Michael Manders, owned the 4*-S sandbox at Red Hills on Friday. The pair scored a 22.4, putting them ahead of second-positioned Tamie Smith who scored 26.6 with En Vogue. In third is Lauren Nicholson with Landmark’s Monte Carlo on 30.0, rounding out a nearly eight-point spread across the top three in the 29-horse field judged by Peter Gray and Jane Hamlin.
“I am so excited for the weekend and so appreciative of the chance to be here with ‘Kitty’ — especially given all that is happening in the world right now!,” Marilyn says. “I cannot be anything other than thrilled with her today. Although the score didn’t necessarily reflect it, she gave me one of the best feelings in the test that she ever has — any mistakes were mine. It’s hard to imagine but even at her age she feels better and better with each competition.”
Red Hills has been a charmed venue for Marilyn and Kitty in the past. They won the four-star here in 2018 and the three-star in 2015, and EN’s “By the Numbers” has the pair earmarked for another victory here this year.
“Last season was disappointing for so many reasons, but ups and downs are part of sports, horses, and life. We have been so lucky to enjoy so many wonderful moments together over the years. I believe there are a few more big ones coming, but perseverance seems to be an interesting combination of ‘getting back in the saddle’ and ‘waiting your turn.’ Like a great sportswoman, Kitty shows up and doesn’t let a disappointment keep her down, she just tries harder the next time. It’s wonderful to feel her step out this season better than she has ever felt, ready to take on whatever comes next. We’re enjoying every minute of it.”
Tamra Smith and Solaguayre California, a 10-year-old Argentine Sport Horse/Holsteiner mare (Casparo x Solaguayre Calandria, by Casall) owned by David and Julianne Guariglia, scored an incredible 20.1 in the CCI3*-S dressage to lead the division heading into jumping.
This pair won the CCI3*-S at Woodside and were 2nd in the CCI3*-S at Twin Rivers last fall, but their Red Hills test was a personal best score. “California was amazing!” Tamie says. “Not certain I could have had any better of a test. She’s so much stronger now and feeling very obedient.”
Tamie thinks the mare will handle east coast terrain well. “She’s an animal on cross country,” she says.
In second is Leslie Law with Lady Chatterly on a score of 25.5. Kurt Martin and D.A. Lifetime scored a 25.8 to sit third in the 37-horse field.
Jennie Brannigan leads the Advanced division on 30.2 with FE Lifestyle, an 11-y/o DSP gelding (Leo von Faelz x Berina A, by Brandenburger) owned by Nina and Tim Gardner.
“He’s leading — something I don’t think I’ve ever been able to say!,” Jennie says. “He’s always been really talented, he won the dressage at the AECs in the Intermediate. He’s going through some trials and tribulations with the flat — Erik really helped me crack down during Covid last year. He sat on him and has really helped turn that horse around. He’s really a lovely horse with a ton of ability. I was really happy with how he went at his 4* debut at Tryon. He’s one of the nicest cross country horses I’ve ever ridden, he’s naturally built for that and finds cross country quite, knock on wood, natural. So we plan to take him to Kentucky.”
Jennie is also fourth on Twilightslastgleam. “He’s a little Thoroughbred that Tim and Nina bred and went to the track and never actually ran. He also has a lot of physical things that he overcomes in order to do his job. I always get a bit of a chuckle when he does quite well on the flat, to have him sitting right behind Alyssa’s and Liz’s horses — good job little Thoroughbred! Erik just encourages me to keep ticking away and having someone like that believe in you and put in a lot of time is extremely helpful.”
And she’s sixth on Stella Artois. “We tried a double bridle today for the first time, and even with a loop in the curb rein I don’t think she liked it. The quality of the work was quite good but I felt she was a little fussy. James Burtwell has also helped me so much with my flatwork and we just wanted to give it a try.
“Stella has done five 4*s and she was very good at Tryon and will go to Kentucky along with FE Lifestyle. Cambalda was such a great 4* horse but 5* was a bit beyond his scope. These horses really feel like their strengths are in the long format.
“This is the first outing of the year for FE Lifestyle and Stella. I had talked to Erik and we weren’t going to run much going into Kentucky. So I’m pleased that for the first time out they were good. I don’t run the FEI here because I don’t want to be tempted to run fast on cross country if they go well on the flat. When I’m in FEI I want to go for the rockets and that’s not what this weekend is about.
“I’m just really pleased for the Gardners to have such a nice set of horses moving up to the top now. They’ve been incredible supporters of mine and of the sport.”
More sights and sounds from Red Hills:
CCI4*-S Top 10 After Dressage:
CCI3*-S Top 10 After Dressage:
CCI2*-S Top 10 After Dressage:
Advanced After Dressage: