Tamie Smith Remains in Control of MARS Great Meadow CCI4*-S

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum solidified their roles on Team USA with a double clear round. Photo by Erin Gilmore Photography.

Team USA put their show jumping chops to the test this evening as the sun began to ease its relentless beating on the Virginia hills at MARS Great Meadow International, making for some enjoyable viewing for the gathered spectators. It’s a strong 4*-S division here, but much focus centers on the riders making up the six-strong contingent heading to FEI World Championships for Eventing next month at Pratoni del Vivaro. This weekend is acting as a final observation event for the team, and performances here will be weighted as the selectors make their final nominations of the four team spots and one individual berth.

Rails did fall, though other factors will certainly shape the end performance come Sunday at World Championships: for starters, the show jumping at Pratoni will be held on grass, which isn’t a scene often observed here in the U.S. Despite this, most of the horses selected to rep the U.S. in Italy have recently jumped on grass. There will also be ample opportunity to practice on grass once the team reaches their pre-event training camp in France. Secondly, of course, show jumping will come as the final phase of competition, while the phase is traditionally held ahead of cross country here at Great Meadow.

Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan make a strong case for a coveted team spot with a strong double clear. Photo by Erin Gilmore Photography.

Holding on to her lead and collecting a rare clear round on Chris Barnard’s show jumping track will be California-based Tamie Smith with the Ahearn family and Eric Markell’s Mai Baum (Loredano 2 – Ramira, by Rike), remaining on their initial score of 20.5. As the top 10 will run David O’Connor’s cross country course in reverse order of placing tomorrow, Tamie will be the final rider to see. It’s likely safe to think Tamie may not to gun for the win, however, meaning some time collected could open up the door for another pair to snag the win.

Will Coleman and Chin Tonic HS add nothing to their dressage score to remain well within striking distance, should they choose to pursue the win on Sunday. Photo by Erin Gilmore Photography.

Someone like, perhaps, Will Coleman with Hyperion Stud’s Chin Tonic HS (Chin Champ – Wildera, by Quinar Z), who will also remain on his dressage mark of 21.9 to sit second overnight. Will’s potentially aiming at the Morven 4*-L in October as this horse’s primary fall goal, and told EN he’d make the call on whether he’d make a go for it tomorrow when he’s able to assess the ground. Another pair to potentially threaten the winner’s spot on the podium are Liz Halliday-Sharp with The Monster Partnership’s (Ocala Horse Properties, Renee Lane, Deborah Halliday) Cooley Quicksilver (Womanizer – Kylemore Crystal, by Creggan Diamond), moving up from fifth into third on their starting score of 25.2.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver swiftly collect a clear round. Photo by Erin Gilmore Photography.

Looking to the rest of Team USA, Will Coleman secured a nearly-clear round with one rail down aboard the Off the Record Syndicate’s Off the Record (Arkansas – Drumagoland Bay, by Ard Ohio), remaining in fourth on a 27.9. Ariel Grald also secured a strong clear round inside the time with Annie Eldridge’s Leamore Master Plan (Master Imp – Ardragh Bash), remaining on their initial score of 30.9 and moving from 19th into 13th.

Lauren Nicholson and Vermiculus add three rails to their dressage mark ahead of Sunday’s cross country. Photo by Erin Gilmore Photography.

Reserve combination Phillip Dutton with the Z Partnership’s Z (Asca Z – Bellabouche, by Babouche VH Gehucht Z), lowered one rail to go into Sunday on a two-phase score of 32.6. Boyd Martin and the Turner family’s Tsetserleg as well as Lauren Nicholson and Ms. Jacqueline Mars Vermiculus (Sazeram – Wake Me Gently) lowered three rails to drop down a few placings.

Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg lowered three rails. Photo by Erin Gilmore Photography.

Looking to our Canadian representatives heading to Pratoni, Holly Jacks-Smither and the Candy King Syndicate’s Candy King had three rails down to put them onto a two-phase score of 42.4.

Tomorrow’s cross country track, designed by David O’Connor, promises to be up to its usual Great Meadow standard, will take the 4*-S combinations over a total of 3740 meters with 32 jumping efforts set at 22 numbered questions. The optimum time is 6 minutes, 34 seconds and, as it typical here on Virginia’s rolling hills, features a healthy fitness test and shrewdly thought-out placement of questions according to terrain. You can view the course below or, if the embedded post does not show up, here.

Let’s do a quick look in on the other divisions competing here. Today’s action saw the Preliminary and CCI2*-S winners crowned (to which I was lucky enough to have a front-row seat as I brought my long-suffering boyfriend along for the full volunteering experience today), along with show jumping for the humongous CCI3*-S division this afternoon.

CCI3*-S: Liz Halliday-Sharp and Ocala Horse Properties’ Shanroe Cooley (Dallas VDL – Shanroe Sapphie) retain their lead, adding no penalties in show jumping to their dressage score of 26.1.

CCI2*-S: Alyssa Phillips and Cornelius Bo won here last year (and many times in between) and now pick up another win in the 2*-S, finishing on 27.2, very nearly on an identical score to 2021 (27.5). This is Cornelius Bo’s first outing since he (surprise) won the 3*-L at Ocala in April — are we looking at the next winner of the Maryland 3*-L?

Preliminary A: Hannah Sue Hollberg also picks up a wire-to-wire win with Ms. Jacqueline Mars and Christa Schmidt’s J (Farfan M – Fairway). This is the fourth outing at the level for the seven-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding and his first win.

Preliminary B: Another start-to-finish victor was crowned in the Prelim B division: Erin Kanara piloted Claudia Schultze’s Windchase Lionstar (Brandenburg’s Windstar – Mah). The seven-year-old bred by Phyllis Dawson picks up his second win at the Preliminary level.

Tomorrow we’ll conclude competition with cross country for the 3*-S and 4*-S divisions. The 3*-S will be the first to see at 9 a.m. EST tomorrow, followed by the 4* at 1:27 p.m. EST. Both divisions will be live streamed on Horse & Country here. I’ll be back with a final wrap-up from MARS Great Meadow tomorrow evening. Until then, stay cool and Go Eventing.

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Enjoy a few social snippets from Saturday at Great Meadow:

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