The third leg of the 2018 Event Rider Masters Series is under way in Belgium at Concours Complet D’Arville. Frenchman Thomas Carlile and the 10-year-old Anglo Arab stallion Upsilon (Canturo X O’Vive, Fusain Du Defey) are no strangers to the series but are making a big impression at their first stop on the 2018 tour. The pair narrowly took the lead after dressage on 23.3.
“He was his usual self. He’s got that spark that others don’t and he’s on his job,” Thomas said of Upsilon, owned by Ecuries Carlile Complet Eventing and Scea De Beliard. “He’s such a partner. I can really count on him. I try not to let him down.” Thomas wasn’t so bad himself, earning multiple 9s for the rider in the collective marks of his test.
Australia’s Chris Burton and Polystar (Polytraum X Waldbeere, Waldstar) were the leaders at the lunch break but ultimately had to settle for second on a 23.6. “I love the horse,” said Chris of the 13-year-old Westfalen owned by Trisha Rickards. The pair improved their dressage score by more than 10 points from the ERM event at Weisbaden a month ago, where they placed eighth.
This horse is careful and quick and with a much improved initial score will certainly put the pressure on Thomas and Upsilon. Chris said tomorrow’s cross country track is tough but beautifully built and he’s looking forward to having a crack at it.
This place is currently a tie between 2016 ERM Series Champion Oliver Townend (GBR) and Luhmühlen CCI4* winner Jonelle Price (NZL) on 24.7.
Oliver said of Cillnabradden Evo (S Creevagh Ferro X Willow Garden, King Henry), a 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse owned by Sally-Anne Egginton, “He’s getting more and more reliable and his way of going is becoming more and more established every time.”
The second place finisher in the ERM CIC3* at Weisbaden “knows the test quite well now which is a bit of a problem. But I couldn’t be happier really. He’s close enough and hopefully we’ve got two more good bits to come.”
Jonelle’s mount, Cloud Dancer (San Remo X Urelja, Sandro Hit) is aptly named as the Marley and Me Syndicate’s 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood positively floats across the ground. “He’s a talented horse in this phase. He went out there and was really rideable today.”
For a time it looked as though Jonelle and Cloud Dancer would break the ERM dressage record, trending at 19 on the scoreboard. A few bobbles cost them the lead but as Jonelle said, “It just shows the quality of the field when a test I thought was very good wasn’t even in the top 3.”
That’s frustrating enough, but ERM journalist Hannah White-Adventurer recruited Jonelle’s husband and fellow Olympian, Tim Price, to critique her test in person and on camera. Tim kindly pointed out the annoying little mistakes that hurt their score and while Jonelle was a good sport, Tim might pay for his “constructive criticism” later.
Our sole U.S. representative at Arville is Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night (Radolin X Argentina XII, Argentinus). Liz took a tumble in the water complex on her one-star horse earlier that morning. Horse and rider were both fine but she had to rush to the dressage warm-up. A 30.5 put them in 14th place for the day.
“He needed a little more pizazz today,” Liz said of Deborah Halliday’s 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse. “He’s a notoriously lazy horse on the flat but today was extra lazy. I felt like I was working very hard and it definitely affects the scores on the movements because you end up chasing the test rather than being able to really ride the test. I know we can do a lot better.”
As we know, however, all can change in a blink at an ERM event and tomorrow is a new day. “He’s a great jumper so we’re just going to capitalize on that and enjoy it.”
The show jumping tomorrow begins at 10:20 a.m. – 12:25 p.m. CET (4:20 – 6:25 a.m. EST) followed by cross country at cross country at 1:05 – 3:55 p.m. CET (7:05 – 9:55 a.m. EST). You can watch live and for free at www.eventridermasters.tv. Go Eventing.