Norwood, N.C. - Sinead Halpin and Manoir De Carneville proved to have perfect timing in their win of The Fork International CIC*** and Adequan USEA Gold Cup/PRO Tour Series.
The home-turf favorites finished in a tie with Marilyn Little and RF Demeter after the cross country phase of the competition, both with a score of 49.8, but Halpin hit the optimum time of six minutes and nineteen seconds on the dot, winning the tie breaker and the CIC*** division.
Asked how she managed to hit the time perfectly, Halpin joked about planning and preparation but admitted, “You just go as fast as you can. I was happy that Brian [O’Connor] announced that I was on time; I actually couldn’t remember if I had set my watch 5 or 10 seconds early.”
Halpin and her own Selle Francais gelding, “Tate,” have set themselves up nicely for Rolex Kentucky CCI**** in two weeks.
“Tate came off of the course as good as he ever,” Halpin of Oldwick, N.J. said. “His temperature dropped right down to 101 degrees. I am really happy with his run today.”
Time was not on the side of a majority of the competitors in the Adequan USEA Gold Cup/PRO Tour Series CIC*** division. With the top twenty-three riders within ten points of each other coming into Sunday’s cross-country phase, the leaderboard was tight and riders knew they would have to run and jump fast and clear. Only three out of thirty-seven riders were able to make the time, with Halpin and Little being among those three.
Little and RF Demeter picked up second place, with Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda finishing third. Buck Davidson and Ballynoecastle RM finished fourth on a 51.3 after picking up a bit of time on course. Kim Severson and Fernhill Fearless finished fifth.
Overnight leaders Will Faudree with Pawlow, as well as veteran partners Allison Springer on Arthur fell victim to a difficult course courtesy of designer Tremaine Cooper. Springer, who had requested a few changes to the fence 21 combination earlier in the competition, obviously knew it was going to be difficult. A refusal at the fence dropped them out of the top three.
Likewise, Faudree acquired a refusal at the last element of the large water jump complex. The corner had been set on a steep angle that caught a number of riders off guard earlier in the day. Faudree successfully navigated the element on his earlier rides, but lost his line to jump and just narrowly missed getting inside the flags.
Third-placed rider Jennie Brannigan and Nina Gardner’s Cambalda managed the corner successfully noting that the Thoroughbred gelding “is really excited and looking for the flags.”
How will the Americans Fare at Rolex?
The results of the The Fork International Horse Trials and CIC were especially timely as 57 of the riders entered to compete in the event are also entered at the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** later in the month.
The President of the Ground Jury at The Fork International CIC*** & CIC**, Harry Payne of Great Britain, indicated that he felt the Americans are on track to hold their own against the Europeans, noting that in the last year there have been “notable improvements” in the competitiveness of the Americans.
U.S. Chef d’ Equipe David O’Connor smiled when asked about the chances of the Americans at Rolex, saying that “the track [at The Fork] should set them up well for Rolex. It had some difficult questions, and the big horses looked really good today.”
Marilyn Little agreed. “This was a nice prep course for me,” the winner of the Carolina International CIC*** said. “There was a lot to do, but it was very doable. It was a nice springboard for Badminton or Rolex.”
“They made a big effort with the ground,” Little went on to say. “The horses ran well and were still digging in [at the end of the course]. It looks like they have come out [of this event] really well.”
Mourning the Loss of Conair
In the post-competition press interview both Jennie Brannigan and Marilyn Little expressed their sadness about the untimely death of Will Coleman’s Advanced mount, Conair. The event released the following press release:
“Press Statement from The Fork Horse Trials:
Sun. April 6, 2014
It was it with great sadness that we announce that Conair, ridden by Will Coleman and owned by the Conair Syndicate collapsed and died at The Fork event in Norwood, NC, USA at approximately 9:45 a.m. on the date above. Earlier Will and Conair had a fall on the Advanced cross country course and Conair proceeded to run back towards the barns. He was stopped and then transported to the barn for veterinary evaluation.
After the preliminary veterinary exam was completed, Conair collapsed and died. Cause of death has not yet been determined.
The entire organizing committee and officials extends its heartfelt condolences to Will Coleman and the Conair Syndicate at this difficult time.”
About the Adequan USEA Gold Cup and PRO Tour Series
Qualifying for the 2014 Adequan USEA Gold Cup began last fall with the Plantation Field CIC*** (PA) and the Woodside CIC*** (CA) and features 11 qualifying competitions throughout the United States at the Advanced Horse Trials and CIC3* levels. The final will take place at the Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships September 2014 in Tyler, Texas. Riders who complete a qualifier earn the chance to vie for $40,000 in prize money in the Adequan Advanced Division and the title of Adequan USEA Gold Cup Champion.
The Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series is made possible through the support of its many sponsors:Adequan; Standlee Forage Nunn Finer; SmartPak Equine; Nutrena; Broadstone Equine Insurance Agency, Point Two;Dubarry; and FITS.
The PRO Tour Series consists of 13 premier destination events in the United States and Canada in 2013/2014 featuring the best riders and most entertainment. Riders and Horses are awarded points on the PRO Tour Rider Leader Board and PRO Tour Horse Leader Board. Riders can also earn points on the PRO Tour Series at the Intermediate or two-star level for the Multi Radiance Intermediate Challenge. The 2014 Multi Radiance Challenge Leader Board Champion will win a Multi Radiance MR4 ACTIVET Portable Laser System.
The Professional Riders Organization would like to thank the following sponsors for their support of the 2014 PRO Tour Series: Multi Radiance Medical, The Official Laser Therapy of PRO & Sponsor of the Multi Radiance Medical Intermediate Challenge ; Tex Sutton, the Official US Equine Air Carrier of PRO; Optimum Time, the Official Timing System of the PRO Tour Series; SSG Riding Gloves; Midlantic Ltd.; and Triple Crown Nutrition.