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Fri, 2013-03-08 21:25

Marilyn Little Makes Her Mark on Adequan USEA Gold Cup & PRO Tour Series at Red Hills Horse Trials

Authored By: Leslie Mintz
Marilyn Little and RF Smoke on the Water lead the Adequan USEA Gold Cup & PRO Tour CIC3* heading into tomorrow's cross-country phase.

The FEI now recommends that CICs run Show Jumping before Cross-Country in order to greater distinguish a CIC from a CCI. Red Hills Horse Trials in Tallahassee, Florida adapted the new format this year so both dressage and show jumping were held today for the Adequan USEA Gold Cup & PRO Tour CIC3* as well as the CIC2*.

With two horses in both the CIC3* and CIC2*, the condensed schedule made for a very busy day for Marilyn Little, but that didn’t stop her from earning the top two spots in the CIC3* and fifth and sixth in the CIC2*.

“It is busy,” said Marilyn. “But the heart of eventing is the cross-country phase, so that should be the finale. How exciting to get to come back in reverse order and have the crowds see the sport at its best. The horses are fresh and ready rather than seeing them on Sunday not jumping their best. It exhibits the horses very well, and I think it provides a format that the crowd can really get the most out of the event. I am glad that they have adopted the format because it has been in place in Europe for a while, and if we are going to compete on that playing field then absolutely it has to follow here as well.”

After dressage concluded around 2:30 this afternoon, Marilyn sat in a tie for 3rd with Phoebe and Ray Manders’ RF Smoke on the Water, an 8-year-old Wurttemburger gelding (Samos x Rapaula), on a 44.7. When the two pairs ahead of Marilyn, Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda and Phillip Dutton and Mighty Nice, both dropped rails, Marilyn and ‘Smoke’ were boosted into the top position with their clean show jump round. Marilyn then added another clear round to RF Demeter’s 45 to clinch the second place spot as well.  

“This is Smoke on the Water’s first outing,” said Marilyn. “He had a very big year last year, and since he finished second at Fair Hill he has just been in the paddock hanging out and only got shoes on a little more than a month ago.”

“Since this was first outing, I didn’t know what to expect. I thought he might be quite fresh, which he was before dressage, but he put in a pretty  nice test – not his best – but pretty nice. He is only 8-years-old so it is constantly developing. I am really excited about what is coming for the spring.”

“It could have gone either way today – it’s always a risk coming to an FEI event that is as important as Red Hills is not at the top of your game, but I really trust the horse so I am glad I wasn’t wrong so far.”

Only .3 points behind her stablemate, RF Demeter, an 11-year-old Oldenburg mare (Rubin-Royal x Patricia) owned by Raylan Farms and Team Demeter sat in fifth after the dressage and was guided to a clear show jumping round by Marilyn.  

“She is a great dressage horse, but she is an unusual ride for me,” said Marilyn. “I am a newer dressage rider so learning to ride her well has been a big challenge.”

“Rolex was a bit of a wake-up call for me as far as the show jumping with her,” explained Marilyn about their three rails down at the 2012 Rolex Kentucky CCI4*. “I hadn’t been aware of the history she had had with  [previous rider] Raf [Kooremans] in terms of the show jumping, so there has been a serious plan in place with that mare in terms of her show jumping to develop that.”

“Fair Hill went well so I was looking for a good round from her today on the grass. The grass always throws a wrench into the works; you can have a good show jumper and they are used to the grass and the terrain, but how often do they see that mixed with the show jumps so it really adds a bit. I was really thrilled with her performance today.”

If all goes well out on the cross-country tomorrow Marilyn is planning on heading to the Fork CIC3*, but then the rest of her spring plans are still up in the air until she leaves for the Netherlands in mid-April with 12+ horses. “This is only my second full year in eventing,” said Marilyn. “So I don’t know what the possibilities are in terms of developing a young horse to the higher levels. So I defer to David O’Connor for what he thinks is best for my spring goals.”

Jennie Brannigan and Nina Gardner’s Cambalda currently sit in third on a 46.4 while her boss Phillip Dutton is hot on her heels with a 47 for fourth place with Bruce Duchossois’ Mighty Nice. Jan Byyny rounds out the top five with Inmidair.

All divisions have their chance on the cross-country course tomorrow with the CIC3* beginning at 11:05.

The Red Hills CIC3* is the first event of the year for the Adequan USEA Gold Cup & PRO Tour Series.

The Adequan USEA Gold Cup features 11 qualifying competitions throughout the United States at the Advanced Horse Trials and CIC3* levels with the final at the Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships September 26-29 in Tyler, Texas. Riders who complete a qualifier earn the chance to vie for $40,000 in prize money in the Adequan Advanced Division and the title of 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 EquineNutrena; Broadstone Equine Insurance Agency, Point Two; and FITS.

The PRO Tour Series consists of 13 premier destination events in the United States and Canada in 2013 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 2013 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 2013 PRO Tour Series: Martin Collins USA, The Official Footing of PRO;  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; SSG Riding Gloves; Finish Line Horse Products; Midlantic Ltd.; and Mythic Landing Events. 

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