With just a few horses to go in The Fork CIC3*, Sinead Halpin and Marilyn Little were tied for the provisional lead on 49.8 after double clear trips over Tremaine Cooper’s course. Will Faudree and Pawlow and Allison Springer and Arthur, who were sitting first and second overnight, were on course at the same time as the final pairs to go in the division. Then, within seconds of each other, both Will and Allison had runouts — Will and Ernie at the second water complex and Allison and Arthur at the angled hedge at the mound complex. Since Sinead and Tate were bang on the optimum time of 6:19, they won, with Marilyn and Demi in second place.
Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda, Buck Davidson and Balleynoe Castle RM, and Kim Severson and Fernhill Fearless round out the top five. Michael Pollard and Ballingowan Pizazz add another good CIC3* finish to their spring record in sixth place. Sydney Conley Elliott and Cisko A had a cracking good round and looked fantastic at the mound complex where I saw them, jumping clear with only 2.8 time penalties to move from 22nd to seventh place. Marilyn and RF Smoke on the Water were the only other pair to make the time, which moved them from 26th all the way up to eighth place. Erin Sylvester and No Boundaries also had a very quick trip with just 1.6 time penalties to finish in ninth place. Jessica Phoenix and Patras VR round out the top 10 on a score of 59.3.
The course rode fairly smoothly overall, with problems mainly cropping up at the big corner at 4b, the second water complex and the angled brush at the mound complex. Buck Davidson and Petite Flower had runouts at all three of those trouble spots, unfortunately leading to elimination, which is a huge bummer considering she was aiming for Rolex. Katy Groesbeck and Oz the Tin Man had two stops at 4b before continuing on to complete. Holly Payne and Santino, Peter Atkins and HJ Hampton, Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot all had trouble at the second water complex. Allison also had a runout at the angled brush with Copycat Chloe, and Alex Green and Fernhill Cubalawn had a very scary moment there when the horse slammed on the brakes hard and slipped. Alex was shaken up but OK.
The overcast day matches the somber mood here at The Fork. While I’m thrilled that many of the horses heading to Rolex got in the good prep run they needed, I’m devastated for Will Coleman and his team at the tragic loss of Conair. As a journalist, I know I’m supposed to be objective, but like everyone who loves this sport, I have favorites, and Joey was one of mine. I saw Will and Joey at fence 16 this morning just before the accident, which is where I snapped this photo. That’s the way I’ll always remember him — galloping along on a brisk spring morning, keen and so very happy to be doing his job. Stay tuned for much more from The Fork.