The last time that Allison Springer’s Arthur ran a full event was at the 2015 Wellington Eventing Showcase exactly a year ago. The experienced Irish Sport Horse (Brandenburg’s Windstar x Kelly) has returned to the second annual Showcase to prep for his seventh attempt at the Rolex Kentucky CCI4* and started strong by scoring a 29.1 for the lead.
“He feels great,” said Springer. "He is so happy to be out doing something again. He got hurt before Kentucky last year and he feels really strong and well now. This was the perfect thing to get him in the atmosphere – have all the noise and everything. Arthur is happy to be here.”
“He is 17 this year and it is kind of fun to see Reggie, Buck [Davidson]’s horse and Arthur [on the top of the scoreboard] as they really started out together,” continued Springer. “It has been so many years they have been kicking along together. Those are two tough horses.”
While Arthur was the only horse to score in the 20s the rest of the leaderboard is tightly packed with three pairs on a 30 and eight on a 31.
Buck Davidson and Carl and Cassandra Segal’s 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, BallynoeCastle RM were one of the last pairs in the ring and laid down a 30.1 for second.
“It is a great experience for all of us to come to a new venue and have some new fans", said Davidson. “Reggie he is such a professional. He was coughing a lot in the warm-up, but he sucks it up and holds it in for the test. I am little disappointed with myself that I missed one of the changes, but he was perfect as usual so on to the next day!”
Rounding out the top three is last year’s winner Boyd Martin, this year riding Blackfoot Mystery, a 12-year-old Thoroughbred gelding owned by the Blackfoot Mystery Syndicate. Martin and the OTTB, who he partnered with last summer, scored a 30.6.
“My new horse Blackfoot Mystery came in and did a good test,” said Martin. “There were a couple of little mistakes, but I think he is all class and I am looking forward to building a partnership and aiming for Rolex at the end of the season.”
With the top 15 riders all within a rail of each other, the Showcase will be far from a dressage competition. Show jumping will be run in reverse order of go tomorrow morning starting at 10:30 a.m.
“I was hoping for a much bigger lead in the dressage,” said Springer. “He has been jumping well, but let’s hope I can stay focused and give him a good ride and nobody puts any statues or anything exciting in the ring. I have worked really hard on my show jumping, it isn’t Arthur’s strongest phases, but he is capable and he jumped here well last year so I am going to think positive and hope for the best.”
The final phase of cross-country was already on the minds of the top three riders. Starting at 1:00 p.m. tomorrow it will also be run in reverse order of standing following both the dressage and show jumping. The course runs a bit different this year including running up a ramp through the VIP tent and then dropping off a down bank into the main arena. Springer explained that she will definitely be utilizing some “scrumping and technical wing flapping” to get Arthur through the question, but Davidson and Martin didn’t seem too concerned about it as it is at the end of the course.
Martin said, “the cross-country isn’t that big, but it is a bit trickier this year. There is a ditch/hedge five strides to a blind turn that is the toughest question on the course. Cross-country will be a bit more decisive this year.”
Davidson praised the ground and is hoping to improve on BallynoeCastle RM’s 2015 finish of 10th place with a good go in the two phases tomorrow. “I wish the fairways at my golf course were as nice as this ground here – all the horses will be able to have a nice quick run,” said Davidson. “Hopefully we will see a great competition tomorrow and I will move up a place!”
Complete scores can be found here: http://www.evententries.com/livescoring/123456.html
Tune in to the live feeds tomorrow here:
About the Wellington Eventing Showcase
The 2016 Asheville Regional Airport Wellington Eventing Showcase, presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty, will be held on February 5-6 at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). Twenty-two top Eventing riders from four countries will compete in this three-phase competition for $75,000 in prize money. More information available here.