It was Woods Baughman‘s day out on Captain Mark Phillips’ CCI4*-L Championship track here at Tryon International in Mill Spring, Nc. Despite a nearly 10-minute hold on course while he was midway around, he regrouped to stop the clock over 20 seconds inside the time with C’est La Vie 135 (Contendro I – Anette) to remain on his dressage mark of 29.4 and take over the lead as we look ahead to tomorrow’s show jumping finale.
Sent out ahead of Woods and “Contrendro” were Madeline Scott and Crosby’s Gold, who would eventually retire after trouble at the big ditch wall on the far loop of the course. After their issue, the course was held for fence repairs. When Woods was pulled up shortly after the Bumble Bee fence at 13, he said he wasn’t exactly sure of his time after resetting his watch. “So to the hill, I decided not to take any chances,” Woods said. “And I just dropped the reins and let him run.”
“Fantastic,” is the word Woods uses to describe the round at the end of the day. This pair finished third in the 4*-L here at Tryon last year, but Woods subsequently struggled with rideability and confidence — both his and his horse’s — through the early parts of this season. The trouble started at Carolina, where the two parted company at the last combination on course.
After a course that proved to be very difficult this morning at Tryon International Equestrian Center & Resort, Woods Baughman and C’est La Vie 135 have taken over the 🔝 of the leaderboard at the The Dutta Corporation #USAEventing CCI4* National Championship, producing the only double-clear of the day 💪
Posted by USA Eventing on Saturday, November 13, 2021
Then at Kentucky in the 4*-S, Woods fell again, this time breaking his L1 and L2 vertebrae and rendering himself out of commission — and losing his qualifications due to the consecutive falls to add insult to injury — for several weeks. He attempted a trip to Montana for the 4*-L at Rebecca Farm, but came to grief there as he realized the amount of strength he’d lost from the injury. At that point, with counseling from coach Sharon White, Woods decided to go all the way back to the drawing board, dropping back to Preliminary to get the wind back in the sails.
“We brought him back and went slow at pretty much every three-star in the area that we could get to,” Woods explained. “We just did a lot of really, really slow, practice runs, and I finally thought, ‘I think I have it.’ So at Morven I put the foot down to make sure he could still go fast.” Up to that point, Woods wasn’t sure where he’d end up to cap off the season. He says time spent with his other top horse, Hopak de Greenbay Z — “a total saint”, as Woods describes him — helped him get his riding confidence back this summer. “My gray horse really helped me this summer, and so I was able to then help [C’est La Vie] get his back,” he reflected. “We helped each other.”
Now, Woods looks ahead to show jumping and says his focus is keeping C’est La Vie relaxed so he doesn’t tighten and have a rail behind. “He’s a pretty solid show jumper,” he explained. “So that always helps you feel a little bit more comfortable. And the real plan is just to help him stay relaxed and easygoing into tomorrow. He can get pretty uptight pretty fast, and then he stops his back and can have one behind. It’s just keeping him relaxed through the night and happy in the morning, and we’ll give it our best shot tomorrow.”
He will have one rail in hand ahead of second-placed Will Coleman with Hyperion Stud and Vicky Castegren’s Chin Tonic HS (Chin Champ – Wildera, by Quinar), who added 19 seconds of time on the 9-year-old’s first attempt at a 4*-L as the first to go out this morning. This is one Will’s had in his program since he was two, so the process of producing him tactful has been rewarding, to say the least.
“It’s his third Advanced and he’s just nine and I thought he was great,” Will said. “He just seemed very comfortable and genuine, and I think he’s going to continue to develop. It was good to get that four-long under his belt. He showed a lot of class, and both Vicky and I are thrilled with him.”
Will and “Chin” will go onto a score of 33.6 for second place overnight.
Third time’s a charm, indeed, for Sharon White and her own Claus 63, who finally get their first 4*-L cross country completion after two previous attempts this year at Jersey Fresh and Morven Park. Sharon describes Claus as very confident (“he has a lot of faith in himself!”), and that can sometimes lull a rider into a somewhat false sense of confidence.
“I just needed to understand that he is young,” Sharon said of the 9-year-old son of Catoo, whom she sourced via Germany’s Dirk Schrade. “He was so wonderful at Morven. The only thing I had to do was try not to go so fast. So I was a little bit careful just to take care of business where I needed to. I had a lot of horse left and he could’ve gone faster. He is still young — even though none of it is hard for him — he doesn’t ever question anything and I have total faith in him.”
Sharon accumulated 15 seconds of time to put her on a two-phase score of 35.9, holding the third place position ahead of tomorrow.
The day was a mixed bag of results in the 4*-L, with Woods the only rider to make the optimum time of 10 minutes on the nose. 14 of the original 21 starters completed the course for a 67% completion rate; nine of those 14 finished free of jumping penalties. Two horses fell: Holly Payne Caravella and CharmKing fell at the ditch wall at 17, and Brandon McMechan and Oscar’s Wild fell at fence 5. No injuries to horses or riders have been reported at this time. The ditch and wall did prove to be problematic for more than a few pairs, and Holly Payne Caravella posted the following on her social media:
Phillip Dutton moved up to take the lead in the CCI4*-S with the Z Partnership’s Z, back from his post-Tokyo break, remaining on his dressage score of 29.2 ahead of tomorrow’s cross country finale.
“I’m really pleased with him,” Phillip said. “It’s his first run back since Tokyo ,and it’s actually first time off the farm since Tokyo, so I wasn’t quite sure how it was going to be but he’s pretty relaxed yesterday and I just sort of opted for a quiet, easy test. And then I thought he show jumped well today, so very pleased for him. He’s such a special horse, so it was good to be have him with me. Tokyo was in early August and so I just felt it was a good thing for him to get back into proper work. And it’s also good for me to have in my training to have some sort of goals that are not too far off. I think it’s been a good good exercise to bring it here to finish the year off.”
Dan Kreitl will be the leader of the CCI3*-L, turning in a clear round inside the time with Kay Dixon’s Carmango (Chirivell – Taramanga, by Templer GL xx) to remain on his dressage mark of 27.5. It was a banner day all around for Team Kreitl — and believes it or not, this is Dan’s very first Long format weekend, as he primarily has competed his horses at national levels for the good majority of their partnerships — as he also finished inside the time with his second ride, Horales, also owned by Kay Dixon, to rocket up from 20th into eighth overnight.
“They’re both really good horses,” Dan said. “Sometimes we kind of pick and choose events where we’re going to run them hard and [along with my coach, Sharon White, decided] this was a good training event for them, regardless of placing but to see how they hold up over the longer track. Today I expected them both to go clean like they did, so I was really happy with how I went.”
Dan is one of those riders who somehow manages to juggle some very heavy loads while also finding competitive success — all with a general sense of aplomb and positivity that would never betray the weight on his shoulders. Dan, who hails originally from Indiana, has shuffled back and forth between his home base and Sharon White’s Last Frontier Farm in West Virginia through the summer. In the meantime, his time at home is spent caring for his wife, Alyssa, who is currently undergoing chemotherapy as she battles stage 4 pseudomyxoma peritonei, and his two children. For Dan, the horses have always been his thing to go and do, and he credits his incredible family and support system at home for allowing him to still enjoy the sport.
“It’s definitely one of those curveballs thrown at us in life that we didn’t anticipate or were planning for,” Dan explained. “So we’ve just been figuring this out on the fly honestly, because my wife was perfectly healthy. Then they found out she had stage four cancer and then had our baby born prematurely.” Dan credits Sharon and her team for the impeccable care and training put on his horses — “really, it was a training boost for us!” he chuckled — and while the horses have since returned to Indiana, he’s quick to reflect with gratitude on that help received from Sharon and the ongoing opportunity to clear his head at the barn.
“To still do this has been hugely helpful,” he continued. “The stress of life and not knowing how it’s going to turn out and all that has been a lot tougher this year than ever before. So the horses have been as helpful to me as I’ve been to them.”
Keeping his lead in the CCI2*-L will be Tik Maynard with the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood Galileo (San Remo – Aronia, by Rousseau), turning in a clear round inside the time today to remain on his dressage score of 21.4. Galileo came from a dressage background and was originally purchased by Tik’s father, Rick. Then with the Covid-19 pandemic hit and Rick was stuck in Canada, the ride fell to Tik.
“He’s always been capable of getting these scores,” Tik said of Galileo’s highly competitive dressage mark. “It’s just a matter of me being good enough to ride them. So I’ve been working a lot on dressage and lately I’ve been working with Karen O’Connor the past year and a half, who’s been really helpful for me figuring out how to ride him.”
Looking to the CCI1*-L, Chloe Johnson sits atop the division to hold her dressage lead aboard Chilli Morning daughter, Chilli Bean. This pair added no penalties to their starting score of 26.3. This is a newer partnership that just began this year — Chilli Bean was bred by Joe Meyer’s mother, Gay Meyer, and was campaigned by Joe before Chloe took over the ride. But they seem to have taken to each other quite well — they’ve finished outside the top 10 just twice in 11 events together. Now, they hold court in a big 1* division and will look to defend their lead in tomorrow’s show jumping finale.
“Some things just really clicked between me and ‘Chilli’ in the last month,” Chloe said. “I came out of that ring [yesterday] knowing that was the best test we had put down, I think ever probably. Cross country today was absolutely perfect. She was super brave to everything, didn’t hesitate. She came off feeling like she wanted to run it completely again. She was just absolutely amazing.”
The Adequan/USEF Youth Team Challenge also wrapped up its cross country phase: In the CCI1*-L, the scramble team representing Areas 3, 7, and 5 (Camryn Chung, Crockett Miller, Ava Holmes, Chloe Johnson) will now take the lead on a two-day team score of 98.7. Area 2 (Jackson Dillard, Mia Braundel, Maddie Hale, Kiera Kenny) will keep the lead in the CCI2*-L after earning a team score of 99.4. And in the CCI3*-L, the team representing Areas 2, 3, and 8 (Alex Baugh, Elizabeth Bortuzzo, Ben Noonan, Sarah Bowman) will keep the lead on a score of 115.1.
Tomorrow’s conclusion begins at 8 a.m. with the final horse inspection. We’ll then kick off show jumping with the CCI3*-L at 9:30 a.m., followed by the CCI4*-L at 11:00 a.m., CCI4*-S show jumping at 12:00 p.m., CCI2*-L show jumping at 12:30 p.m. and CCI1*-L show jumping at 3:30 p.m. You can follow the action live on USEF Network here, and I’ll be back tomorrow with one final report. Until then, Go Eventing!
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