William Fox-Pit and Cool Mountain WIN ROLEX

Check out the USEA photo gallery for more photos from Josh and Leslie.
1. William and Cool Mountain +0 42.8
2. Phillip and Woodburn +0 47.7
3. Becky and Courageous Comet +4 49.2
4. Boyd and Neville Bardos +0 51.8
5. Steph and Port Authority +0 52.0
6. Phillip and The Foreman +8 56.0
7. Karen O’Connor and Mandiba +8 56.5 
(1) William Fox-Pitt had a rail in hand when he started his show jump round but he didn’t need it.  Cool Mountain jumped big and listened to William the entire way around for a double-clear.  William adds an [8th] career four-star win (5 Burghley, Badminton, Luhmuhlen, Rolex) to his trophy case.  I don’t mean to take away from Cool Mountain–he’s a 4* champion now–but he was far from the most talented horse in the field.  Cool Mountain jumped well today and he clearly gives his best effort to William every time, but neither the horse’s canter nor his jump are textbook.  All the more credit should be given to William for navigating this horse to the win.  As ‘lec’ commented, Cool Mountain probably isn’t one of William’s top three horses.  William’s wikipedia
(2) Phillip and Woodburn delivered a fantastic double-clear round to move from 4th to 2nd.  Show jumping has been Woodburn’s weakest phase, but Phillip switched him back to a bit after using a hackamore at The Fork, and the new headgear worked beautifully.  Woodburn was calm throughout the entire round, which is the key for this horse.  The icelandic volcano gods smiled favorably on Woodburn by redirecting him to Rolex.  Phillip finished second at Rolex…again, and I bet he was really happy to be answering questions about that at the press conference.
(3) Courageous Comet and Becky Holder had an excellent Rolex, finishing in 3rd place.  Comet felt his way around the entire show jumping course, but only pulled one rail.  Comet belongs in the top 3 of four-stars and it’s good to see him there.
(4) The show jumping struggles continued for Kim and Tipperary Liadhnan.  “Paddy” stopped at  fence #4, a stone wall decorated vertical.  It just seemed like Paddy saw something he didn’t like about the jump and wasn’t going to give it a try.  After the stop, Paddy jumped the next few great but fell apart through the final line and pulled the last three rails.  Kim has had so many great performances at Rolex over the years, but today was not her day.  
(5) As I wrote during the live blog, Boyd finished the weekend with 13.2 jumping penalties combined on 3 horses.  Two of them (Rock on Rose and Remington) were first time 4* horses, and they finished next to each other in 11th and 12th place.  Neville finished a super weekend in 4th on a double clear and made a great case for himself to make the WEG squad.  
(6) We have written about how Steph Rhode-Bosch and Port Authority have been owning the jumping phases of competitions all spring.  They did the same at Rolex and Steph and Port Authority finished their first 4* on their dressage score and in 5th place.  I’m not sure if that’s a record finish for a first time pair at Rolex but I’m guessing that it is.  Steph never flinched under the pressure all weekend; she didn’t even look nervous when I saw her back in the barns.  Steph has moved up the levels with Port Authority and their partnership is their greatest strength.  This is a young pair to put on a team.  They delivered under pressure this weekend, and we have a great chance to see them riding for Canada this fall.
(7) Speaking of Canadians, Canada finished 4 riders in the top 10.  The US finished 5 riders in the top 10, and of course Great Britain had the other.  David has made a point of investing in Canada’s young talent and three of Canada’s top 4 finishers were first time 4* horses.  Also, consider that Jessica Phoenix didn’t even ride this weekend due to recent childbirth, and she rides two of Canada’s best horses.  I fully expect David to win as many gold medals coaching as he did riding.  Welcome to the big time team Canada; let’s see how you do with the pressure of some expectations at the WEGs.  Thanks to PlayerHater for asking me to write about this topic.
(8) The Foreman disappointed me by pulling 2 rails.  Phillip is really comfortable with “Chip” but after that show jumping and the hold this morning at the jog, I don’t see this horse factoring too much into WEG selections unless a couple of Phillip’s other horses run into issues.  Phillip finished two horses in the top 10 of a four-star…again.
(9) I give Karen and Mandiba an A- for the weekend.  They had 2 rails and dropped one place to 7th in the show jumping but they got the job done yesterday, making it two straight big three-days with clean XC rounds.  For a bit of perspective, if Mandiba hadn’t lost his shoe yesterday, I’m sure they would have made the time on XC which would have put them into 4th for the weekend.
(10) Several of the riders were complaining about a camera on the jump standard of fence 11.  Allison explained to me that it was an automatic camera with a loud shutter sound that went off repeatedly as the horses were about a stride away from the fence.  When Allison simulated the volume of the shutter sound for me it was about as loud as a talking voice.  Several of the horses, including Arthur, visibly shied at the fence and pulled the rail.  Apparently there were some discussions about turning the camera off, but it was still running for Selena and Colombo and they pulled the rail as well.
(11) I’ve been griping all weekend about Kyle Carter not putting together a solid three phases at a big event.  Just to spite me, Kyle put together three solid phases this weekend and finished in 13th.  But there’s no excuse for Madison Park to score higher than a 55 in dressage.
(12) Two North Carolina horses, Ernie and Stewie, had excellent 4* debuts.  These horses will bring Will and Holly back into the spotlight of US eventing over the next few years.  I can’t say enough about how well Stewie handled the environment considering how feisty he has been in the past.  Way to step your game up Stewie!
(13) The California crew had a disappointing weekend.  Hawley Bennet-Awad who rides for Canada but trains in California had a good weekend and finished in 9th aboard the powerful and talented “Ginny.”  But, I just scanned the final placings, and someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Debbie Rosen and The Alchemyst were the only other pair that trains primarily in California to finish the event.
(14) There were 7 double-clears in the show jumping (Cool Mountain, Woodburn, Neville Bardos, Port Authority, Anthone Patch, Titanium, and The Alchemyst).  This made the Richard Jeffery’s course ride considerably harder than ’07 and ’09 but easier than ’08.   
(15) Other than William, the other non-Canadian international competitors underperformed at Rolex.  Stanislas de Zuchowicz (FRA), Jonathan Paget (NZL), and Capt. Geoff Curran (IRL) all flew a long way to finish outside the top 25.  But, they did all finish.
(16) In general, I want to give the weather a lot of credit for holding up this weekend.  It rained at night, and it’s raining now, but the rain held for almost the entire time horses were competing.
(17) While this has nothing to do with show jumping, word is that Phillip’s now infamous phone call was to Evie to ask Jan if he should keep going on Waterfront since the horse was giving him a tough time around the course.
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