After jogging successfully this morning all 23 remaining Adequan USEA Gold Cup CIC3* horse and rider combinations took their turn in show jumping arena at the Richland Park Horse Trials. Early morning rain gave way to clear skies and the sun remained throughout the CIC3* jumping and for the Advanced riders who followed as well.
The CIC3* and Advanced horses jumped in reverse order of placing based on standings after cross-country. In the CIC3* it took eight horse and rider pairs to get the first double-clear round in the three-star, which was posted by Buck Davidson on Park Trader, who jumped out of order because he also had to ride Carlevo later in the lineup. Five pairs after that Alexandra Knowles and Sound Prospect also jumped clear to move up from 12th to ninth. Joe Meyer on Clip Clop and Boyd Martin on Tsetserleg also had double clears to improve their standings to seventh and sixth, respectively.
Things changed quickly among the top five when Emily Beshear and Silver Night Lady entered the arena sitting in fifth and put in a clear round which, when the jumping was finished, moved them up to third after Davidson and Carlevo had two costly rails moving them down one place to fifth. Deep Purple Eventing's Silver Night Lady is an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare out of the mare Kings Aire by Kings Servant.
Next in the arena was Will Coleman riding Tight Lines, last year’s winning pair; they jumped a lovely, double-clear round to put pressure on the top two, Katie Ruppel with Houdini in second and Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights in the lead. Ruppel and Houdini unfortunately lowered a fence moving down to fourth and elevating Coleman and Tight Lines into second.
All eyes were on the ingate as Rutledge and her 11-year-old homebred Thoroughbred-Clydesdale-cross gelding (BFF Incognito x Covert Operations,) whose barn name is “CR,” entered. They put in a beautiful, flowing clean round to cap off a tremendous weekend for the long-time partners, finishing on their personal-best score. For their efforts they won prize money, an Adequan shirt, a $50 USEA gift certificate, a Nunn Finer tack gift card and a pair of FITS breeches.
“I’m thrilled with today! I am so happy that he is actually starting to come into his own and that he understands his job and does his job, even when I am wrong. There are so many places that I can improve on both of us. That, for me, is exciting, because it means that there is always room for growth and that we can always get better. I couldn’t be happier with how well he jumped. Given how the cross-country was yesterday, it’s always a question as to whether or not you have him fit enough and then when he tried to take off with me again today, I was like, ‘yes, we are definitely fit enough,’” smiled Rutledge. “It was such a good course and such a tough course, so you have to answer all of those questions and to have him answer them so well just makes me so happy.”
Rutledge talked about how the grass course at Richland is always a challenge because of the rolling terrain. “It is so much easier to keep your horse on a normal 12-foot step on flat, groomed soil. And when you have to counteract how the grass feels and how the ground feels and the terrain going up and down and maintaining the balance, it always adds just a little bit more to it. He was loving it! He was feeling good. I feel like the ground was really good this year. And, they set a really good course. It was good across the board!”
Will Coleman and Tight Lines. Allen MacMillan/MacMillan Photography Photo.
Coleman said he loves coming to Richland Park. “The effort that Bob and Kay and Bert, and the course design crew here, put into the course always makes it worth the trip. It’s a long way to come, but like I said, when those guys are watering this course starting in May to make sure that the footing is good, even when they are in a drought like they are now, it’s really hard not to want to reward that effort. I think the new part of the course is great. It’s new ground, so it needs time, but it couldn’t be in better hands to get that right. I think it opens it up. It’s more what we need in this country – open, galloping, big tracks that are going to make our riders and horses think forward and think more positively around big courses, because, that’s what we see at major championships. I think that’s the type of horse trial we need to have to practice on [here in the U.S.A.] And, unfortunately they are getting fewer and fewer.”
“I was thrilled with my horse,” he continued about Tight Lines, a 10-year-old French Thoroughbred gelding (Turgeon x Merindole) owned by the The Conair Syndicate. “We’ve been working really, really hard on his dressage trying to get that more consistent, and I think that this weekend was a step forward in that direction. He’s always been a very game cross-country horse, but he was rideable and really listening to me out there, so I was happy with that. And then he jumped a good show jump round today over a difficult course, so what more could you ask for.”
Though Ruppel dropped two spots to finish fourth overall with Houdini, a 13-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Hot Rock x Nancy's Star,) considering the hard fall she had yesterday from her first ride on cross-country with Foreign Affair, she did an amazing job. She reported by text that she is sore, but much better today than yesterday and that Foreign Affair was not injured at all when she fell off at 11b, the Hanging Log. She shared how she is feeling and how her weekend went with Houdini, “I thought I was going to be sore today, but actually I woke up and was only a 2 out of 5 [in the lameness scoring system.] This was Houdini’s first run back from Kentucky and I’m so pleased with him. He can be cheeky and nervous and sometimes it takes him a few runs to get into the groove again, but he came out swinging this weekend. We had a great dressage in the rain, I left some points on the table, but for his first test back I am thrilled.”
“I was no help to him on cross-country after my fall on my first ride. I basically said to him ‘Houdini, you have to do this for me.’ And, he said, ‘hold my beer, I got this,’ because he’s the best boy. I have been working so hard on my show jumping this year. I’ve gone to Tryon and Lexington to practice and, while it’s still a work in progress, I think I’m coming along and growing as a rider in that arena. I’m a little bummed to have had a pole down today, but he jumped a super round and gave me his all. And, at the end of the day, that’s all anyone can ask of their horse. He got all the treats today,” she shared.
Buck Davidson and Copper Beach. Allen MacMillan/MacMillan Photography Photo.
The Philippa Humphreys Advanced Division Show Jumping
Thirteen rider and horse combinations returned to jump around the grass course in the Advanced division. The only double-clear round of the day was by Canada’s Jessica Phoenix and Dr. Sheldon Cooper who was contesting his first Advanced. They moved up from eighth after cross-country to finish sixth.
Lindsey Beer and her horse El Paso also moved up to fifth from sixth by posting a round with only one rail down when Ashley Kehoe and Kiltealy Toss Up had, who had been in fifth after cross-country, had two rails to drop down three places. The top four horse and rider combinations held their cross-country places and finished in the same order after show jumping: Erin Sylvester riding Spike and Jeanne Sylvester's Mettraise, a 13-year-old Thoroughbred mare (Metfield x Huckster,) in fourth; Boyd Martin and the Long Island T Syndicate's Long Island T (an 11-year-old Oldenburg/Thoroughbred gelding (Ludwig Von Bayern x Haupstsbuch Highlight,) in third; Cornelia Dorr and Louis M, a 12-year-old Rheinland Pfalz-Saar gelding (Lissabon x Angelique M,) in second, and Buck Davidson and Copper Beach (an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse (by Radolin, out of Cloverballen, owned by Sherrie Martin and Carl Segal,) in first.
Davidson had to catch a plane, so was unavailable for comment after his win. He commented yesterday about show jumping, “If I ride them [referring to his four rides this weekend] right, they should jump right. As they say, ‘horses don’t always do what you want them to, but they always do what you tell them to do.’ They are all nice horses. It’s a little bit of a different deal here where we jump on grass in show jumping; I think it is great. When Reggie [Ballynoe Castle RM] used to be here, he always used to jump amazing here. And, it’s great to be able to practice show jumping after you go cross-country, because we don’t really get to do that much anymore. I brought four really nice horses here and they did what I expected them to do and made it really easy [on me.]”
Cornelia Dorr accepting the Philippa Humphreys Award from Peter and Millie Humphreys. Allen MacMillan/MacMillan Photography Photo.
Second place in Advanced, and winner of the Philippa Humphreys Award, Cornelia Dorr, 19, Manchester, Mass., has only had her horse Louis M, for about a year and a half, and has only been riding him herself for about a year. She rides with trainer Sharon White in West Virginia, but White could not be here, so Davidson stepped in to coach her at Richland Park. “He’s the most wonderful, kind animal I probably will ever sit on. He’s done a bunch of CIC3*s in Germany, so he’s my teacher and is showing me the ropes of how the upper levels are supposed to feel. I love him dearly,” she said of “Louis.”
She talked about the weekend with Louis in her first try at Advanced which was also her first trip to Richland Park. “Well, dressage was awesome. He is a beautiful horse, so he made up for my mistakes. I had a late lead change and a break in one of my mediums, but he was fabulous and so we scored a 30, which I was thrilled with. Cross-country was amazing. Unfortunately I had not such an awesome go on my other horse, so I went out there [with Louis] and I was a little bit aggressive and angry and I said, ‘we are going to get this done!’ And we got it done and he was fabulous and galloped great. In the beginning of our time together it was hard to make time on cross-country with him and now I feel like I understand how to make time with him. So, it was great to come in just one second over. Today, show jumping was great. He’s not the easiest show jumper, but he’s such a good jumper and he tried his heart out for me.”
Dorr won $500, a Tiffany bracelet, a leather halter, a horse brass and stock tie in Philippa’s colors for being the highest-placed female rider in the Advanced division. She said that she had never met Philippa Humphreys who the Advanced division is now named for. “I did not know her, but I had followed her [career] and read articles about her. She was a bright face in the eventing world and her family [who were in attendance at Richland and were part of the award presentation] is beautiful,” said Dorr.
“Long Island T was an absolute star this weekend,” said Martin about his third-place partner in the Advanced. “We just purchased him not long ago and we’ve been struggling to get a partnership with him. I finally feel like we are clicking in all three phases. We were really on the same page. He put a really nice [dressage] test. In cross-country, I didn’t try to go for time, but just tried to jump the fences out of stride. The most satisfying thing was the show jumping. My coach Richard Picken has been working really, really hard with me and Long Island T. He’s a very different ride for me and we only had one pole down, so to finish third was a huge satisfaction. And, also to be a place getter in the Philippa Humphreys class . . . I’m really good buddies with Philippa’s husband Peter. His kid Millie and my kid Nox are about the same age. And it’s great coming here every year; I really enjoy seeing Peter every year at Richland. It’s a great reason to have a reunion and enjoy a great event that Philippa used to be a huge part of.”
Martin also commented about how the new part of the cross-country course here at Richland Park, “I thought that the new path on the track was sensational. I really feel like it gives you that CCI three-day event feel. It’s very ‘gallopy.’ I think that in years to come it will get even better once the turf gets deeper. I brought my top horses, Shamwari and Blackfoot Mystery, who are both Olympic horses, for their first run back in some time, just because I knew how hard Richland works in making the footing pristine. That’s why we go to the effort to come all the way out here. It’s, by far, one of America’s premier events and as a professional rider I can’t tell you how much we appreciate event organizers going the extra step to ensure our horses can compete on the best tracks and the best footing.”
Rick Dunkerton hard at work at Richland Park. Allen MacMillan/MacMillan Photography Photo.
Key Personnel at Richland Park Horse Trials
Rick Dunkerton is the Event Secretary for Richland Park and has been in the job for about 10 years. He grew up in New York and moved to Mississippi when he met and married his wife who is from there. They met at Wheaton College in Illinois and have nine children, seven girls and two boys – five who evented. Besides serving as an event secretary and writing computer software, he is also a poultry farmer. He will be the eventing secretary for the 2018 Tryon FEI World Equestrian Games in North Carolina and will work for the 2018 World Games Eventing Coordinator Shelley Page.
“I had a software business and most of my kids were eventing and we saw some things that were kind of crazy [at the events they went to] and so I said, ‘well, let’s write some software for it.’ Kay and Bob [at Richland Park] found me, because Shelley Page was their secretary and she was going to the Olympics, or something, one year and she asked me to fill in for her,” said Dunkerton.
Thankful for great volunteers such as Cathy Covey! Allen MacMillan/MacMillan Photography Photo.
Cathy Covey is the Richland Park Horse Trials Stable Manager; she has been doing the job at Richland for 12 years. In her other life she works for Best Buy. She and Kay [Willmarth] have known each other since they were young; they grew up in Jackson, Mich.. “Her younger sister and I were friends in high school, so I’m basically like family,” said Covey. I live up in Traverse City, and I take a week’s vacation and I come down here and volunteer. It’s awesome! I’ve always liked horses, but I’ve never owned any of my own. Years ago I lived down south in Georgia and I worked as a groom for harness horses.”
She says she really enjoys interacting with the competitors in her job as Stable Manager, “It’s seeing the people that I’ve met since I started, and still gettting to see them once a year and get caught up, and that type of thing. I look forward to seeing them. You get to mingle with Olympians. When I first started, in the first year, I was in awe of that.”
Kay Willmarth, event host and probably the busiest person at the event, summed up how this year’s event had gone so far on Sunday morning. “We are in our 16th year. I think it’s gone really well. The weather’s been good and no horse injuries. We pleased with how well it ran from our point of view, other than the morning “sun delay” on [Saturday] cross-county day [which was due to the sun reflecting off the water jumps]. It was blinding, it was reflecting so much, so better to delay and be safe.”
About the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series
The 2018 Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series features 11 qualifying competitions throughout the United States at the Advanced horse trials and CIC3* levels. The qualifying period begins August 2017 and continues through August 2018 with the final taking place at the 2018 USEA American Eventing Championships at the Colorado Horse Park in Parker, Colorado. Riders who complete a qualifier earn the chance to vie for $40,000 in prize money and thousands of dollars in prizes and the title of Adequan USEA Gold Cup Champion in the Adequan Advanced Division.
The 2018 Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series is made possible through the support of its many loyal sponsors: Adequan, Standlee Forage, Nutrena, Merck Animal Health, and FITS.