It may have been Father’s Day today, but it was the girls who finished on top at the inaugural Great Meadow International. In the CIC3*, Jennie Brannigan completed her wire-to-wire win with Nina Gardner’s Cambalda, a 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding – adding just eight time penalties to finish in first.
“What a tough thing to design [a cross-country course] for two-star horses that causes problems for four-star horses,” said Jennie. “I think that you couldn’t have asked for a better day of sport really because it wasn’t a dressage show or a show jumping show – it was a proper track and that was great.”
Following last night’s torrential storms there was a lot of concern with the footing, and while no one made time the ground held up well.
“I think the ground was holding, but it would have been holding anywhere.,” continued Jennie. “I think for me personally with my love of race horses to get to ride on this piece of ground it’s really special for me. I think they did the best job they could and my horse isn’t a mudder, so I definitely felt it take it out of him. I am just so happy that everyone was safe, and I definitely applaud Mike [Etherington -Smith]. I didn’t go out there thinking that this was a two-star prep I went out thinking it was a true CIC3*.”
Following a technical elimination for overnight second placed rider, Buck Davidson, Lynn Symansky and the Donner Syndicate’s Donner, a 12-year-old Thoroughbred gelding moved up into red ribbon position. Lynn agreed with Jennie’s assessment of the course: “I expected the course to ride well, and I trust Mike’s courses,” said Lynn. “I thought it was a great run for Donner. The footing was fantastic and he felt great.”
“It was his first outing since Rolex, and it was a little bit of a tough lead up as last week I hurt my back and I actually was unable to ride and really prepare for this week how I would usually work him. I was just planning to try to get through Dressage, but my back was cooperating so I took it day-by-day and he stepped up the plate. I couldn’t be happier with him - he felt fantastic.”
Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights, a 9-year-old Thoroughbred/Clydesdale gelding, put in the fastest round of the day, adding only .8 time penalties, and moved up from eight to third.
The cross-country course was adjusted very slightly for the Pan Am Preparatory Trials during the 30 minute break and while the class started out with a few run outs everyone made it home safely.
Lauren Kieffer and Marie Le Menestrel’s Meadowbrook’s Scarlett, an 8-year-old Thoroughbred mare, jumped an easy clear round with just six time penalties to hold onto her overnight lead and take home the win.
“I am so thrilled to be here, Great Meadow put on a fabulous event,” said Lauren. “We couldn’t have gotten a better place to prepare [for the Pan Am Games]. Everything held up well and the organizers were very smart adjusting the schedule for the storms. I am very proud to be part of Team USA and hopefully we will bring home the Gold.”
In addition to Madowbrook’s Scarlett, Lauren’s alternate horse, Vermiculus, also jumped a clear.
“I am very proud of my horses – Scarlett just skipped around and Vermiculus – I am tickled with him. It was basically his first advanced and he rocked around. I couldn’t be prouder to have these two horses.”
Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous, a 10-year-old Oldenburg mare owned by Raylyn Farms, moved up to finish second while Boyd Martin and Pancho Villa rounded out the top three.
During the awards ceremony the Great Meadow Foundation performed the ground-breaking for the amazing new facilities planned for the new piece of ground on which the Great Meadow International will be held on in the future.