Brilliant sunny skies and warm temperatures today welcomed competitors to the opening day of The Fork Horse Trials and CIC3* in Norwood, North Carolina. This destination event is a favorite prep for top riders aiming for a spring three-day, and also serves as part of the $20,000 Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series (the Advanced) as well as the PRO Tour Series (the CIC3*). The $20,000 Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series incorporates seven top level events across the U.S. where horses and riders compete for cash, prizes, and points towards the year-end purse.
Heather Morris had a fantastic ride in the Advanced division to earn a 28.3 aboard The Team Express Syndicate’s Slate River (Riverman—Etoile). Morris, of Lewisville, Texas, was pleased with her ride aboard the 13-year-old gelding. “He was good,” she said. “There were obviously some things that need improving, but overall he was good. He was listening, but he was a little tired from our ride this morning, so I needed to adjust some things.”
Heather thinks that the rolling Advanced cross-country course looks challenging, but a great type of course for her horse. “Mark Phillips’ courses are always big and forward-riding,” she commented. “[Slate River] likes these types of courses. There are a lot of tables and things out there, so it’s going to suit him well.”
Tiana Coudray is competing two horses this weekend—Ringwood Magister and Master Hill, both sired by Master Imp. After posting a 29.3 this afternoon, she’s currently tied for second aboard Ringwood Magister in the Advanced. “I’ve been busy. My horses have been really fresh! So, I’ve been doing a lot of riding trying to get them settled down,” she said with a laugh.
This is Tiana’s first time at The Fork Farm, and she admitted she was enamored with the world-class facility and southern hospitality. “It’s amazing,” she said. “Everything is just really nicely done, and every person has just been so nice.”
Ringwood Magister, or ‘Finian,’ has always wowed the crowds with his eye-catching grey dapples, and flamboyant movement, and though the test wasn’t his all-time best, Tiana was still pleased with his performance. “He got more and more settled as the test went along, so by the time we got to the canterwork, it was starting to get really good,” she said. “All his changes were good and his extended canter was very good, so I’m happy with that.
Though Tiana was hesitant to talk about the “Big Event at the End of April,” she did add that a spring four-star was in her plans. “If Ringwood Magister goes well here this weekend, then he’s aimed at Kentucky.”
Coudray made the trip out from California with fellow west-coaster Kristi Nunnink. “We’ve come out together quite a few times to Fair Hill and Jersey Fresh, so we’ve spent a lot of time together on the road,” Coudray said. “It’s been really fun because we’re basing out of Will Faudree’s farm.”
Allison Springer and her longtime partner Arthur, fresh off their win at the Red Hills CIC3*, also had a lovely test, and are currently tied for second with Tiana and Ringwood Magister.
In the CIC3*, which is part of the PRO Tour Series, the experienced Phillip Dutton and Susie Beale’s Isabella II had a fantastic and energetic test to take the lead with 51.3. Canadian Jessica Phoenix and Exponential are close behind with a 51.6, while west-coaster Kelly Prather and Ballinakill Glory round out the top three with a 51.9.
The second day of dressage for the CIC3* and Advanced riders will begin bright and early tomorrow morning at 8:30AM. For more information on The Fork, check out their website: http://forkstables.com/horsetrials.html
Since the Advanced class is serving as the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series division, the winner will receive a Gold Cup trophy, $500 in prize money, 7-dose box of Adequan, a three-month supply of SUCCEED, and a pair of Nunn Finer American Style open front boots. The second placed finisher will receive: a 7-dose box of Adequan and a pair of Nunn Finer American Style open front boots. Top finishers in this division also earn valuable points towards the year-end purse.
The CIC3* is the designated division for the PRO Tour Series. To learn more about PRO, check out their site: www.professionalriders.org