With 57 entries in The Fork CIC3* this spring, it’s positively jam packed with talent of all shapes and sizes. Some horses are aimed at Rolex, some are aimed at a spring CCI3* in the states, and a few are even hoping to go to Saumur to check out Pierre Michelet’s cross-country course style. The Fork is always a challenging event, as the competition is fierce, and the cross country is notoriously hard. With the new CIC format, cross country is always held last, and the top percentage of riders go in reverse order of standing, creating even more tension when the ribbons come down to seconds on the clock. Let’s check out the horses and riders entered this year.
Peter Atkins & HJ Hampton: Peter and Henny are entered at Rolex, but I heard through the grapevine that since they’ve been accepted at Badminton, that is their true goal for the spring this year. Yay Henny Badminton helmet cam! This pair did Rolex last spring, placed 10th and then took the rest of the year off. They came out kicking in 2014, running a few Intermediate horse trials and winning one. Sadly at their last event in the CIC3* at Red Hills, they fell victim to the trouble at number five, but I trust that won’t be an issue here.
Peter Barry & Kilrodan Abbott: These two need little introduction, as we’ve all grown fond of seeing Eddie gallop casually around the big cross-country courses for some years now. Having been to Rolex quite a few times at this point, Peter and Eddie went to London in 2012 only to be cut short by a fall on course. They’ve got all the experience in the world for this challenge and were just 24th at the Carolina International CIC3*. They are headed to Rolex this spring.
Lisa Barry & F.I.S. Prince Charming: Lisa has been lucky enough to have Hannah Sue Burnett campaigning this great little grey gelding for her this spring, as she has been nursing her sprained and torn knee and ankle from an accident earlier this year. Peanut is a great jumping little horse and always a blast to watch, as his great white tail always flies up behind him with a snap over every jump. Lisa will be thrilled to be back in the tack for this exciting event.
Timothy Bourke & Luckaun Quality: This is one of my favorite pairs to watch on cross country, as this horse was simply made for that. After their great CCI3* debut at Fair Hill this fall, finishing in 8th place, they smoked the cross country at Carolina International, finishing with one of very few double clear rounds there in great style. Tim is a really quality rider, and Obie is an excellent upper-level horse for him to gain experience on, and to top it off they’re heading for Rolex for their CCI4* debut this spring.
Jennie Brannigan & Cambalda: Jennie and Ping have been kicking butt at the Advanced and three-star level for quite some time now, winning numerous events over the years against the best in the country. Last year they encountered some heartbreak at the double corners at Fair Hill CCI3*, but word on the street is that Jennie has been practicing corners nonstop since then, and I feel confident in saying that she will easily be top 10 here this weekend. They are entered at Rolex, hoping to finish their first CCI4* together.
Hannah Sue Burnett & Harbour Pilot: Hannah and William are another pair that have been phenomenally successful at the Advanced and three-star level and really have equal talents in all three phases. They were recently 9th in the CIC3* at Carolina International, and a top-10 finish wouldn’t be out of the question this weekend. After a tumble early on in the cross country at Pau CCI4* in the fall, William is entered at Rolex this spring to complete his first CCI4*.
Kate Chadderton & Collection Pass: Kate has a super little Thoroughbred in Cole, and he’s just a great athlete. A very careful jumper, and usually capable of a decent dressage test, Cole unfortunately ran into some trouble last time out in the Advanced at Carolina International, and as she’s entered at Rolex this spring with him, she’ll be looking for a good confidence building round here at The Fork.
Kate Chadderton & VS McCuan Civil Liberty: I think it might be Kate’s personal mission to build an army of bay Thoroughbred superstars, and this one is no different. A little less experienced at the Advanced level than his stablemate, I hear that she’s aiming this horse at Saumur CCI3* this spring, which makes for a pretty exciting season for Kate! The Fork will be a great challenge for this horse, and I’m sure he’ll rise to it.
Daniel Clasing & Houston: Daniel and Houston made their Rolex debut last year, cantering around it like a hunter course, and they’re entered to do the same again this spring. However, they did not compete for the rest of 2013, and they’ve had a light lead-up to this event this spring. Houston is very reliable on cross country, and I know Dan has been working on the show jumping, but his goal will be the bigger picture in sight of the four-star coming down the pipes.
Sydney Conley Elliot & Cisko A: Sydney and Cisko hail all the way from Louisiana, and they’ll be making their CIC3* debut together. This will be the horse’s second Advanced competition, having moved up at Rocking Horse a few weeks ago and jumping around well. The Fork is known for being a challenging and imposing course, and it will be bigger than anything this horse has seen, so she’ll be looking for a nice clean round.
Buck Davidson & The Apprentice: Buck is taking it easy this weekend with only four horses in this division. Dirk is his first ride, and this horse has plenty of experience at this level. After an unfortunate elimination at Saumur CCI3* last spring, they went across the country to Galway CCI3* in the fall and finished 8th there. As with any of Buck’s horses, I expect him to go clean cross country and finish somewhere up in the top 20. He is on the list for Rolex, but as previously mentioned, Buck has to choose three out of the five he has entered to compete.
Buck Davidson & Petite Flower: If you want to know who Jenni has a crush on, it’s this horse. And rightfully so, as she’s an incredible little athlete. She was the 2013 Galway Downs CCI3* winner and can be very competitive on the flat and over jumps. She does have a spot of trouble occasionally with corners on cross country, so if Buck can get her around the cross country, he’ll be golden. She is also entered at Rolex.
Buck Davidson & Ballynoe Castle RM: Reggie is always a fan favorite, and it’s great to see him back in action. He easily scored a second place in the competitive Carolina International CIC3* a few weeks ago and looked to be really enjoying his time in the public. Buck adores this horse, and he’s entered at Rolex again this spring, as well as Badminton. We would all love to see him pop around in Kentucky and improve upon his 2013 result of 4th place.
Buck Davidson & Park Trader: Kobe is the final horse for Buck to ride in this division. After traveling across the pond to compete at Burghley last year, Buck unfortunately fell off on cross country, but then re-routed immediately to Fair Hill CCI3* and was rewarded with a second-place finish there. He managed one of very few double clear show jumping rounds a few weeks ago at Carolina International and finished 18th. Kobe is a great jumper and could very well be up in the mix this weekend.
Phillip Dutton & Fernhill Fugitive: Jack was 7th at Bromont CCI3* last spring and was 15th at Richland CIC3* later that summer. Unfortunately, they were one of the pairs caught out at the tricky combination at fence 5 at Red Hills, but they did go on to complete the course in good style. They rebounded to place 10th at Carolina International with one of the rare double clear stadium rounds.
Phillip Dutton & Shamwari 4: With Boyd Martin sidelined with a broken leg, Phillip is also riding his horses at The Fork so they don’t miss out on their final prep run for the big spring four-stars. Shamwari 4 is entered at both Rolex and Badminton, and The Fork is his first three-star since coming to the States this winter. Shammie was fifth in the Advanced at Red Hills and 17th in the Advanced at Carolina International.
Phillip Dutton and Sir Donovan: This horse is another of Boyd’s WEG hopefuls, and he’s entered at Rolex later this month. Don has done very well with Boyd since he took over the ride from new owner Peter Barry, and the horse most recently finished fourth over a difficult course at the Red Hills CIC3*. He can be a bit tricky to ride, but we’re sure it’s nothing Big Phil can’t handle.
Will Faudree & Pawlow: Will and Ernie had a good run at Rolex last year, finishing in 6th place. They traveled to Aachen only to have a fall just after the final fence due to some missing front shoes, but that can’t keep them down. They are coming off a win in the CIC2* at Pine Top last month and have been looking really smooth in the jumping phases so far this spring. They had a nice dressage test a few weeks ago at Carolina International, but then withdrew before the jumping phases, so hopefully they will do all three here this weekend. Ernie is entered at Rolex and Badminton.
Will Faudree & DHI Colour Candy: Andy has recently come back to the Advanced level, having taken a step back in 2013 to get stronger at the Intermediate level. They were rewarded with an 8th place at Fair Hill CCI2*, and most recently finished 22nd after a good showing at the Carolina International CIC3*. This event will be a good challenge for this nice young horse, and I expect him to do well.
Will Faudree & Andromaque: Missy is always a crowd favorite; as a gritty little Thoroughbred mare who always gets the job done, it’s hard not to like her. She was 5th last spring at Saumur CCI3*, and then had a quiet fall. She’s had a similarly calm spring campaign, recently placing 11th in the Intermediate at Carolina International. She’s entered to run her second Rolex after placing 16th in her debut in 2012.
Ruy Fonseca & Tom Bombadill Too: Yet another pair heading to Rolex, they’ve only got one U.S. event under their belt after moving here recently to train in Florida. Ruy and Tom are incredibly experienced, having represented Brazil in both the 2010 WEGs and the 2012 Olympic Games. They posted an excellent dressage score and two clean jumping rounds at Red Hills a few weeks ago in the CIC2*, finishing in fourth place. I think this pair might just be the dark horse of the competition at The Fork.
Katie Frei & Houdini: This pair had a great spring and summer campaign in 2013, placing 5th at the Jersey Fresh CCI3* and second at Rebecca Farms in the CIC3*, but seem to have lost a little bit of their mojo since that time. They retired on course at Fair Hill CCI3* and ran into trouble again at Red Hills. Katie fell on course at their last outing at Poplar Place, so I’m crossing my fingers that their bad luck spell is over. This is a lovely talented horse, and he’s entered at Rolex, so she’ll need a good confidence building round to take him to his first CCI4*.
Abbie Golden & Arundel: As the Eventing Nation gods would have it, fellow writer Abbie Golden and I were stabled next to one another at the Carolina International a few weeks ago, and it gave me a chance to fall in love with her adorable horse Spencer. Abbie is aiming at a CCI3* this spring before she goes off to UVA Law school and gets smarter than all the rest of us, and The Fork will be a great prep for that goal.
Sinead Halpin & Manoir de Carneville: A few weeks ago at the Carolina International, there were mutterings in the stables, “Who is that horse bucking nonstop on the end of his poor groom’s lead shank?” In response to your questions, it was Tate, who is clearly feeling better than ever. He certainly looks a lot more fired up than we are used to seeing from this horse, and I certainly hope he can get his antics under control before jogs at Rolex. I expect a top-10 finish from this pair.
Lillian Heard & Share Option: Whitey is a consistently amazing jumper, and if you ever wanted to know what an Advanced course looks like when a hunter jumps around, look no further than this pair. They’ve had plenty of experience at the Advanced and three-star level, and were recently 5th in the Advanced at Carolina International. They are heading to their first CCI4* this spring at Rolex.
Becky Holder & Can’t Fire Me: Becky and Teddy had a fall late in the course at Rolex 2013 and since then have been taking it easy. They won the CIC3* at Poplar Place in the fall and were recently 19th at the Carolina International CIC3* a few weeks ago. They have potential to do very well here, but I think we have yet to see the full power of this grey Thoroughbred. They are entered at Rolex to prove me right and hopefully take the stage.
Jon Holling & Downtown Harrison: Unfortunately for us, Jon did not win the Carolina International on this horse, because there were many mutterings in the stables hoping for a repeat of his victory streak at Bromont in 2012. No, we will never let him live that down, and yes, we are hoping he wins something again just so we can document it one more time. Aside from that, this is a really lovely horse who posted a rare double clear show jumping a few weeks ago at CHP and finished the weekend in 13th place after solid performances in all three phases.
Jon Holling & Zatopek B: This is a really lovely type horse, and he’s had a solid year of competition at the Advanced level, finishing 2013 with an 11th place at Fair Hill CCI3*. As you can see from the picture above, there isn’t a need to worry about his jumping ability, and I think Jon’s done a wonderful job bringing him along slowly and quietly. He’s got a lot of confidence in this horse, and they’re entered at Rolex in a few weeks.
Kevin Keane & Fernhill Flutter: As our resident veterinarian slash competitor, Kevin and his gelding may or may not have started the Fernhill craze that is currently part of our sport. They were victims of the Red Hills cross country course, garnering a stop on course but continuing on to finish just fine. They’ve been competing at the Advanced level for quite a few years now and have plenty of experience to perform well here this weekend, and are entered at Rolex for their CCI4* debut in a few weeks.
Kimberly Kojima & High Time: This pair is relatively inexperienced at this level, having only moved up to Advanced at Pine Top earlier this spring. They were at the Carolina International CIC3*, but ran into quite a bit of trouble on cross country, and were eliminated with multiple stops on course. This horse is a lovely big type and clearly athletic, but Kim’s going to want to sit up and kick to get around this challenging course.
Momo Laframboise & Dejavu: This horse just moved up to Advanced this spring, and this will be her first attempt at this level of competition, but she’s coming off a nice easy finish at the Carolina International in the national division, so I expect this will be a nice step up. Momo knows the horse well and will be able to get her around safely.
Stay tuned tomorrow for Part 2 of our preview!