The 2017 Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series kicked off today at the Red Hills International Horse Trials in Tallahassee, Florida.
This marks the first of 11 Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series events in 2017, which culminate at the Final in September at the Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships. The Gold Cup Champion receives one of the highest payouts in the sport of eventing in the United States. For the last two years, both the Advanced Division and the CIC3* Division (if both are offered) at all Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series events act as qualifying divisions for the Final in September.
The Adequan USEA Gold Cup divisions started out today with 29 pairs in the CIC3* and 16 pairs in the Advanced division. Amongst those competing were past Olympians, Gold Cup Series Champions and Team USA riders.
Hannah Sue Burnett took an early lead in today’s CIC3* division aboard Mary Ann Ghadban’s Holsteiner, Under Suspection. Burnett maintained the lead on the 13-year-old mare for the majority of the day on a 50.5, until Courtney Cooper stormed into the arena aboard her and Neal Camens’ gelding, Who’s A Star, earning the new leading score of a 46.3. Cooper and the Thoroughbred/Irish Sport Horse by Aberjack and out of Heavenly Star, were then immediately knocked out of top contention when Burnett answered back on Harbour Pilot (aka William) with a 44.1.
“I actually rode William twice this morning. I usually ride him once, but he was quite anxious and hot,” Burnett stated. “There’s a lot of atmosphere here at Red Hills, and it took him a while to relax. He was well behaved in the arena and he knows his job, but he was tense and I couldn’t push on him like I usually can – I was really just going through the test movements. Hopefully I can work him more and will be more relaxed at the upcoming events.”
Harbour Pilot is no rookie to the level, boasting an impressive competition record around the world. The 14-year-old gelding by Cruising and out of Shannon is owned by Jacqueline B Mars and has competed multiple times internationally and through the CCI4* level with Burnett in the irons.
Jessica Phoenix was last in the arena with Don Good’s lovely grey horse, Bentleys Best, scoring a 47.6 to take the third place position heading into tomorrow.
“Last year he (Bentleys Best) was green at this level, and this year he came out with a lot more muscle,” Phoenix explained. “He now has the ability to hold himself in his own balance, which is a huge improvement this year. It’s really great to get him out at this venue because he loves atmosphere. He almost does better with more atmosphere, which I don’t think I’ve ever felt before in my life, so it’s pretty exciting.”
Tomorrow, the Advanced and CIC3* divisions will tackle Mike Etherington-Smith’s cross-country course(s), and the CIC3* will also complete Chris Barnard’s show jumping course, which the Advanced division will not take on until Sunday.
Phoenix praised the Red Hills staff, volunteers, and organizer Jane Barron on the caliber of the event, and Burnett chimed in that the footing keeps improving every year. Phoenix stated that, “this is a very important venue for us to bring our horses to. The atmosphere is really good practice, and it lets you know as a rider what you’ll have later on in the season in your horse. It’s a great preparation for more, and and this venue is really important to our sport.”
Selena O'Hanlon and Foxwood High - leaders of the Advanced division. StockImageServices.com Photo.
In the Advanced division, Selena O’Hanlon is leading the pack on a 30.2 with John and Judy Rumble’s Foxwood High. Dominic Schramm stands in second with his own Bolytair B on a 32.7, with Whitney Mahloch following close behind on a 32.9 with her Thoroughbred gelding, Military Mind.
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About the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series
The 2017 Adequan USEA Gold Cup Championship features 11 qualifying competitions throughout the United States at the Advanced Horse Trials and CIC3* levels. Qualifying began last fall and continues through August with the final will take place at the USEA American Eventing Championships, August 30 – September 3 at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, North Carolina. Riders who complete a qualifier earn the chance to vie for $40,000 in prize money and thousands of dollars in prizes in the Adequan Advanced Division and the title of Adequan USEA Gold Cup Champion.
The 2017 Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series is made possible through the support of its many loyal sponsors: Adequan, Standlee Forage, Nutrena, Merck Animal Health, Broadstone Equine Insurance Agency and FITS.