While it may have seemed like déjà vu with Boyd Martin standing on the top of the podium once again at the $75,000 Wellington Eventing Showcase, he thought that the 2016 event was a whole new ballgame.
“This year was a much more competitive field,” said Martin. “It was a higher standard, the course was tougher and it was harder to win this year than last year, but saying that I knew that this horse, Blackfoot Mystery, had a good chance.”
In addition to taking home the $22,500 as winning rider, Martin also secured a $10,000 bonus for winning the event two years in a row – a scheme that was thought up by himself and granted by Mark Bellissimo. During the press conference, Bellissimo claimed that Martin wouldn’t be invited back next year to try and win a three-year bonus, but Martin disagreed. “I will be coming back to this event for the next 30 years – even if I have a donkey to ride. Wellington is place for all the Olympic sports and [Bellissimo] has made this happen.”
Rails in the show jumping this morning and time on cross-country proved to shake up the leaderboard, and it wasn’t until Jennie Brannigan and Aspire R, the 15th pair on course, crossed the finish flags that making the time was deemed possible.
“When I bought the horse in July, the ding in him was the show jumping,” explained Martin. “I have been working very closely with an English show jumping trainer, Richard Picken, and he has gone well beyond the call of duty. Richard has been studying videos of the horse and making trips up to Pennsylvania and Aiken and probably turning away plenty of business to help me.” Martin’s work on the show jumping paid off with a clean round moving him and the 12-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, Blackfoot Mystery (Out of Place x True Mystery), up to the lead which they maintained on cross-country by putting the pedal to the metal.
“We had to go flat out today because the time was quite tough and if you wanted to win you had to go for it,” said Martin. “My goal would be to do Rolex on him, so I will probably tone it down in the next few weeks and do an event slow and easy and then tone it up again closer to Rolex.”
Colleen Rutledge and her own Covert Rights, a 10-year-old Thoroughbred cross (BFF Incognito x Let’s Get it Right) made a steady climb up the leaderboard to finish in second place – adding nothing to her dressage score of 31.0.
“The cross-country course was fabulous today,” said Rutledge. “I am so thrilled with how C.R. went out and ran. The amount that he has grown up from Rolex last year is just leaps and bounds. He is just a completely different horse.”
New Zealander and Olympic veteran, Daniel Jocelyn made his journey from the U.K. well worth his time as he took home $9,750 for finishing third aboard Sable Giesler’s Devil Munchkin. The pair moved up the standings from 13th after dressage to finish in the third spot by adding nothing to the dressage score of 32.3.
“Thanks to Sable [Giesler] and Jessica [Bortner-Harris] for lending the horses,” said Jocelyn. That was a big call, and they obviously have done a good job with the ground work because the horses felt fantastic out there. It is just a fantastic facility here. I have enjoyed the three days of being here – seeing my buddies, going down the road and watching Sharn [Wordley] jump in the Grand Prix. It is just an unbelievable experience and something I will definitely be taking back home and telling everyone about.”
In addition to the money awarded to the riders, the winning owners also got a special bonus check that they could choose to donate to the charity of their choice. In addition, checks were handed out to all of the winning grooms.
Complete scores can be found here: http://www.evententries.com/livescoring/123456.html
About the Wellington Eventing Showcase
The 2016 Asheville Regional Airport Wellington Eventing Showcase, presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty, was held on February 5-6 at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). Twenty-two top Eventing riders from four countries competed in this three-phase competition for $75,000 in prize money. More information available here.