Gin and Juice and Hawley Bennett-Awad top the leaderboard after dressage at Rebecca Farm.
The dressage phase of the Adequan USEA Gold Cup and PRO Tour Series was completed today at Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Montana, with Gin and Juice performing a personal best for Hawley Bennett-Awad to lay down a score of 47.1. Owned by Linda Paine, Gin and Juice (by Audio out of Qtrpastree) is competing in her last event before flying to Normandy, France on August 14 for the World Equestrian Games.
Matthew Brown of Petaluma, California coaxed a lovely, accurate test out of Super Socks BCF, earning a 47.3 to go into second place. Super Sox BCF, an Irish Thoroughbred, is owned by the Company Blossom Creek Foundation and was purchased out of the Fernhill stables in Ireland.
Jennifer McFall, a student of Hawley’s, also scored a personal best on her horse High Times to round out the top three with a 49.8. High Times is a Holsteiner by the stallion Hunter out of the mare Gerda I.
“I have to give a huge 'thank you' to Robyn Fisher,” said Bennett-Awad of Temecula, California. “Robyn has been helping me and has given me a few new tools to use in the arena. It was important to go out there and try them out as the next time she goes into an arena will be at the World Equestrian Games in Normandy.”
Bennett-Awad was even more pleased for her student, Jenny McFall. “I was a bawling mess,” she said, tearing up. “I love to see my students do well and I was more excited for her when she came out of the ring because she had her best score ever on Billy.”
Matthew Brown couldn’t have been more happy with his horse. “The last couple of dressage tests he has done, he had a couple of explosions. He has been a bit tired the last couple of days and today, riding around the outside of the arena, he suddenly woke up.
"At the last event he woke up and checked out, but this time he was willing to let me guide him through that. That moment was the thing I was most happy about as I think he has a lot of potential and when he lets me in like that, I think he could do anything I wanted him to do. We had a couple of bobbles but he really let me ride him and stepped up and did not let me down at all. I am very happy to be sitting here.” Brown has been riding the horse for 18 months and they are still feeling each other out as they move up the levels. “He just steps up and does his job. In Ireland someone said he was ‘just a good Irish bloke’ and he is.”
Jenny McFall was thrilled with High Times (Billy) who broke the 50 mark today. “He was so professional today. I wasn’t sure we would get in the ring but he really let me ride him and he is wonderful when he does that,” said Jenny.
“Today he made a mistake and sometimes when he does that he wants to have a heart attack because maybe he thinks he let me down, but this time he let me correct him and just let it go. So I was really excited about that. I am so grateful to Hawley who has been so supportive of me and Robyn Fisher and Bea di Grazia who have also helped me and stuck by me.”
All three riders had a lot of respect for the Ian Stark's cross-country course that they will face tomorrow.
“This is an Ian Stark course,” said Bennett-Awad. “I have ridden enough of his courses to know that you need to come out of the [start] box going [forward]. To me, it feels like a four-star course in seven minutes! There are big challenging questions out there. It’s probably going to be different for me than for these guys as I do not want to run fast as we have a big event coming up. But my horse does not go slow, so I am better coming out and getting in a good rhythm and whatever time I get, she gets."
Knowing that this is her final preparation for the World Equestrian Games, Bennett-Awad knows that she has to have a solid, accurate round. "I want to have her straight at the skinny fences and hold her line, as I think we are going to see a lot of turning questions and skinnies. So I don’t know what I am going to get tomorrow. She hasn’t run since Kentucky and we did a jump school yesterday and she was a fire cracker. I may have a dragon on my hands.”
While Bennett-Awad is heading to France, Brown and McFall are hoping for confidence-building rounds that would encourage them to aim their horses for the Fair Hill International CCI3* in October.
All three riders expressed their thanks to Jerome Broussard and his daughter Sarah, who is the organizer of Rebecca Farm. For Bennett-Awad, it is her favorite event and she talks about it wherever she goes, telling foreign riders that they have to come to Kalispell for the best event in the world. Matthew Brown and Jenny McFall spoke of the passion that the Broussard family have for the sport and that it shows in everything they do.
Bennett-Awad summed it up: “We are very, very lucky to have this amazing event…and we all know it.”
Cross-country starts tomorrow at 8:00 am with the CCI2* and runs all day. Barbara Crabo will be the first on course for the Adequan USEA Gold Cup and PRO Tour Series CIC3* division with her own Eveready at 11:15 am.
About the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series
The Adequan USEA Gold Cup kicked off in 2004 with the goal of creating an exciting format of upper-level competition and greater promotion of the sport of eventing. Today, the series consists of 11 qualifying competitions at the Advanced and CIC3* levels which culminate at the Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships, September 25-28 in Tyler, Texas. The $40,000 Adequan Advanced division serves as the Gold Cup Championship division at the AEC, and the winner of the division will be named the 2014 Adequan USEA Gold Cup Champion.
The Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series is made possible through the support of its many sponsors: Adequan; Nunn Finer; SmartPak Equine; Nutrena; Broadstone Equine Insurance Agency, Point Two; Dubarry; and Standlee Hay.
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.