Fair Hill International in Elkton, Md. is an emotional event for Jennie Brannigan. As an up and coming young rider, Brannigan’s superstar partner, Cooper, suffered a freak accident in the CCI3* here in 2009, which ultimately forced Brannigan to euthanize Cooper due to complications from the injury. Years later, and after many more successes, she was able to use funds from Cooper’s insurance policy to purchase her newest shining star, Stella Artois, with help from Beth Battel, who she piloted today to the CCI2* victory.
“This connection to Cooper is pretty special for me. [Stella Artois] is a horse I’ve always believed in and put my money – whatever money I had – where my mouth was. This time of year, and obviously this place is very emotionally for me because of Cooper, and time doesn’t seem to necessarily make that easier. I wasn’t even thinking I was going to come to this event and win,” she said.
“Toddie,” an 8-year-old Thoroughbred/Hanoverian, added nothing to her dressage score this weekend [44.50] to go home with the USEF CCI2* National Championship title. “I can’t wait to tell Boyd [Marin] because he’s love that horse from the start and he’s always like, ‘when are you going to actually win something?’” she laughed. “She is a good jumper, but my last two rounds, at Plantation and at Morven, I thought she jumped so super but she had a pole at both of them. She jumped clear at the AEC, so I thought ‘maybe I’m due a clear one now.’ I know she wants to be a good horse in all three phases. I’m just thrilled. I think it’s a really cool horse and I’m just so excited that she got to go out and have the result that I know has been in there.”
Emily Beshear and Silver Night Lady. USEA/Shelby Allen Photo.
Following suit in second place was Emily Beshear and Deep Purple Eventing’s Silver Night Lady. The pair had a nearly perfect weekend, adding just two time penalties on the cross-country and nothing in the show jumping to leave as reserve champions.
“I’m thrilled mostly for the group that’s behind me, the Deep Purple Eventing group. They’ve really trusted me to make the right decisions with the horses, and this was a horse that we weren’t really sure we could afford to buy, and we had a couple extra people step in and help us. My goal from the beginning was to try to get a two-star qualifier done this year, so coming here and finishing second helps to make everyone realize that it was worth the effort put in. I’m just really excited for her future,” Beshear smiled.
Lauren Kieffer and Landmark’s Monaco also jumped clear today to keep their third-place standing this weekend. Monaco finishes on a score of 45.8. Will Coleman and Boris O’Hara, Dom Schramm and Bolytair B, and Maya Simmons and Archie Rocks all moved up the leaderboard after clear rounds finishing in fourth, fifth and sixth place respectively.
Rails did not prove to be influential this weekend at the top of the leaderboard with the top three remaining the same after cross-country. Of the 34 finishers in the two-star, fifteen had clear show jumping rounds.
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