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Wed, 2017-03-22 15:51

Jennie Brannigan Steals the Show on Day One of the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Qualifier at Carolina International

Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda. USEA/Shelby Allen Photo.

It has been a blustery start to the $65,000 Cloud 11/Gavilan North Carolina International CIC & Horse Trials as wind whipped around the dressage arenas today, giving the first Adequan USEA Gold Cup CIC3* competitors an extra challenge on the flat. Ladies landed the top three spots after day one with Jennie Brannigan in first (41.50), Hannah Sue Burnett in second (43.10) and Caroline Martin in third (44.30).

“Just the eleven,” Jennie Brannigan quipped after improving her most recent three-star score by an eleven-point margin today with Nina Gardner’s Cambalda (Balda Beau x Cathy’s Lady). After taking over a year off due to injury, “Ping” and Brannigan visibly got their groove back today earning the 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse’s second best CIC3* score to date from judges Christina Klingspor (SWE) and Robert Stevenson (USA).

“At [The Wellington Eventing Showcase] he was alright, but I knew he felt a bit rusty and then at Red Hills he warmed up great and then was really tense in that ring. It was probably one of the most tense tests I’ve had on him,” Brannigan said of their 52.1 penalty points picked up on the flat two weeks ago.

“Coming here, I’ll be real honest, I was like, ‘this feels huge.’ I know obviously it’s in there, but I was maybe surprised. I swear every time I come out of the ring I never know how I’ve done,” she laughed.

Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot. USEA/Shelby Allen Photo. 

Fresh off a win at the Red Hills, Hannah Sue Burnett and Jacqueline Mars’ Harbour Pilot (Cruising x Shannon) bested their score from two weeks ago, posting a 43.10 on today’s leaderboard. “I felt like it was a little bit improved from Red Hills,” Burnett remarked. “I need to get him more through in the back. He’s just a bit tense in the back and it’s showing up in the walk. He has a fantastic walk and I haven’t been able to show that off in the last couple tests.”

She added that the 14-year-old “William” feels more competitive than ever this season. “He’s kind of funny this year. Last year he was asleep, like all the way until Rolex, but this year he’s really intense. Even in his stall, he’s just ready to go. He’s really into it this year. He’s really serious. I think after his year off and bringing it back he didn’t believe me, but now he’s really into it and excited,” she explained.

Caroline Martin and The Apprentice. USEA/Shelby Allen Photo. 

The Apprentice is a CIC3* veteran with 11 starts at the level in the last five years, but now he’s competing under a new rider, Caroline Martin. Caroline, daughter of “Dirk’s” owner, Sherri Martin, took the ride over from her longtime coach Buck Davidson earlier this winter after retiring her own eventing partner Quantum Solace, she shared today.

The partnership is still growing, but seems to be off to a great start after the 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Casado x Funny Girl) nailed a 44.30 on the flat. “I came out and was like, ‘was that good enough?’ You know when you’re so focused you know what to do, but you don’t know how it overall looked,” Caroline recalled.

The pair come to this event after only two starts together, a Preliminary at the Ocala Winter II HT and the CIC2* at Red Hills, so Caroline said she plans to get to know Dirk better this weekend.  “Buck did a really good job producing him. He’s so well trained. He knows his job, so I just kind of sit there and try to look pretty,” she said in a nod to her experienced partner.

Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Fugitive. USEA/Shelby Allen Photo. 

Katie Ruppel’s Thoroughbred Houdini (Hot Rock x Nancy’s Star) finished the day in fourth place on a 44.40 with Clayton Fredericks in the irons. Phillip Dutton and Buck Davidson followed in fifth and sixth with Fernhill Fugitive and Copper Beech, respectively. The wind factored into performances today, as many horses were unsettled by the never-ending gusts, and as temperatures are slated to be even lower tomorrow, the rest of the pack may face similar conditions.

As the leading ladies commented on today’s rides and their successes, the press tent was filled with an empowering vibe this afternoon. “The women in this country are really starting to step up and not just step aside for the men which is exciting,” second-placed Burnett articulated, and Brannigan added, “I think we’re lucky that we’ve grown up in a sport where men and women are treated equally, but for how many men ride, there are quite a few that are very good. I feel like it’s our responsibility to prove that you can be a woman and you can ride really fierce and go for it.”

The CIC3* starts back up tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. with Phillip Dutton first in the ring on I’m Sew Ready. Don’t forget to tune into the live stream and join the conversation on social media with the hashtag #CICIC. 

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About the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series

The 2017 Adequan USEA Gold Cup Championship features 11 qualifying competitions throughout the United States at the Advanced Horse Trials and CIC3* levels. Qualifying began last fall and continues through August with the final taking place at the USEA American Eventing Championships, August 30 – September 3 at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, North Carolina. Riders who complete a qualifier earn the chance to vie for $40,000 in prize money and thousands of dollars in prizes in the Adequan Advanced Division and the title of Adequan USEA Gold Cup Champion.

The 2017 Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series is made possible through the support of its many loyal sponsors: Adequan, Standlee Forage, Nutrena, Merck Animal Health, Broadstone Equine Insurance Agency and FITS.

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