Will Coleman and Off The Record clinched a surprise win by a slim 0.1-penalty margin at the Brook Ledge Great Meadow International, presented by Adequan, as one of only five pairs that caught the time on Mike Etherington-Smith’s cross country course here in The Plains, Virginia.
The beefy track absolutely turned the leaderboard upside down, with only 16 of 40 combinations delivering clear rounds to give us a 45% clear jumping rate. When Will left the start box with just eight horses to go, he found himself with the opportunity to take the lead if he could beat the clock. That’s exactly what he did, moving up from 11th after show jumping to ultimately win on a final score of 35.1.
“I think he’s genuinely a horse that runs better when he goes out and has a crack at it,” Will said. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t paying a little bit of attention to the scores, and when I saw that maybe there was an opening, it was a bit easier to just go let him run. He likes to go like that.”
Great Meadow marked the third start at Advanced level for Off the Record, a 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse (VDL Arkansas X Drumagoland Bay, by Ard Ohio) owned by the Off the Record Syndicate, and he continues to show himself as a serious horse for the future. “Timmy” won his Advanced debut at Carolina International in March, finished second in his first CIC3* at Fair Hill in April and clinched his first CIC3* win today. He has finished no lower than fifth in his last seven international runs.
Our top 10 after show jumping saw a major shake-up on cross country, with only two of those pairs managing to finish the competition inside the top 10. Eighteen of the 40 starters faulted at fence 9AB, the Beverly Equestrian Brush Corners in the main arena, including overnight leaders Ben Hobday and Shadow Man. The corners did not have an alternate route and required riders to accurately navigate the direct line on two strides.
“I thought the course was fabulous,” Will said. “I think it had enough for an older horse, and it was a lot for a greener horse, but they finished with a good taste in their mouth, even if they had a little bit of a problem. There was plenty of time to get them confident again. It’s really all you can ask for. You can’t ask for easy, because that doesn’t do you any good. I think it was just about right for what we want for this time of year.”
Britain’s Georgie Spence and Halltown Harley were the second pair to leave the startbox and made the course look deceptively easy considering the chaos that later ensued, storming around inside the time to move up from 11th after show jumping to hold the lead for most of the day.
Only the winners managed to best their final score, and Georgie and “Harley,” a 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Harlequin du Carel X Cummer Beauty, by Clover Hill) she owns with Suzanne Doggett, finished second on 35.2 to lead the British team to victory in the Nations Cup. They were the only pair in the competition to finish on their dressage score.
“I was lucky that I went out early,” Georgie said. “I know my horse well and I trust him 100 percent, and he was good to me. I think sometimes you can overanalyze how people are riding things and how they should jump it and how you should jump it. Sometimes to go out early is a benefit.”
Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti, a 16-year-old Westphalian (Pavarotti Van de Helle X Fidelia, by Foxiland), sat in fourth overnight and added 5.2 time penalties on cross country to finish third on 36.7. Canada finished second in the Nations Cup, with Jessica riding Bogue Sound on the team instead after a last-minute substitution.
She successfully navigated the tricky corner combination in the main arena on both of her horses, moving up from 41st after show jumping to finish 12th with Bogue Sound, an 11-year-old Thoroughbred (Crafty Shaw X Carolina Blue, by Victory Gallop) owned by Amara Hoppner.
“(Riding Bogue Sound on the team) gave Pavarotti a little bit more leeway as to how he ran and how fast we ran him,” Jessie said. “It was awesome to leave the start box on Bogue Sound and really have a crack at it for the team. He really stepped up to the plate and feels like a big-time horse. I’m excited for him that he got this experience, and I’m excited for him that we could just go out and cruise.”
Will Coleman finished a second horse in the top five in Soupcon de Brunet, a 12-year-old Anglo Arabian (Zandor Z X Bikadine, by Nouredine du Lirac) owned by the Conair Syndicate who jumped clear with 4.0 time penalties to move up one spot on the leaderboard and finish fourth on 37.0.
Phillip Dutton and Kevin Keane’s Sportsfield Candy, an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse by Condios, led the way for the U.S. Nations Cup team, jumping clear with 1.6 time penalties to move up from 22nd after show jumping and complete in fifth place on 39.6.
Caroline Martin and Islandwood Captain Jack, a 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Jack of Diamonds X Suir Touch, by Touchdown), jumped clear with 2.8 time penalties to leap up the leaderboard from 32nd after show jumping to finish sixth on 44.6.
Waylon Roberts and Michelle and John Koppin’s Lancaster, an 11-year-old Canadian Sport Horse by Yavari, jumped clear with 8.4 time penalties to move from 16th after show jumping up to finish seventh on 44.7.
Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me, a 12-year-old Welsh Sport Horse ( Brynarian Brenin X Dream Contessa), delivered the best result for Canadian Nations Cup team, storming around inside the time to rocket up from 38th after show jumping and finish eighth on a final score of 45.9.
Leslie Law had not ridden on a British team since 2005 and delivered a clutch performance for the Brits with Tre’ Book’s Voltaire De Tre. The 9-year-old Selle Francais (Gentleman IV X Jasmina du Fresne, by Socrate de Chivre) jumped clear with 8.8 time penalties to finish ninth on 46.4.
Sydney Conley Elliott and Cisko A delivered the second best result for the U.S. Nations Cup team, jumping a cracking clear inside the time to move from 40th after show jumping up to finish 10th on 50.5.
Click here to view final scores. Great Britain won the Nations Cup on 138.5 points, with Georgie Spence and Leslie Law delivering delivering clear rounds today. Canada finished second on 148.7 points, with Lisa Marie Fergusson, Jessica Phoenix and Waylon Roberts delivering clear rounds for the team.
After winning the Nations Cup here at Great Meadow for the past two years, the U.S. settled for a third place finish. Phillip Dutton and Sydney Conley Elliott delivered fast and clear rounds for the team, but Caroline Martin and Buck Davidson both picked up jumping penalties at the corner combination in the main arena.
Twenty-five of the 40 total starters completed the course to give us a 63% cross country completion rate. We saw one rider fall and two horse falls. Clayton Fredericks fell from Luksor at 5C, the triple brush at the O’Connor Equestrian Coffin. Will Faudree and Michel 233 fell at fence 11B, the second brush in the Adequan Water Complex. Woodge Fulton and Captain Jack fell at the corner at fence 13, and she was transported by ambulance to Fauquier Health Hospital for observation. No major injuries have been reported at this time.
Click here to catch up on all of EN’s coverage from #GMI2018. Thank you for following along with us this weekend. Go Eventing.