In his preview of the new Fork cross-country course, Tremaine Cooper said that he and co-course designer, Capt. Mark Phillips wanted to create a track that would provide a positive final run before the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event in a few weeks. The duo definitely accomplished their goal as all 17 horses who started on the CIC3* track at the Tryon International Equestrian Center came home with clean jumping rounds. Three riders even crossed through the finish line with no time penalties to add to their scores.
Overnight leaders, Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous, completed the course in 6 minutes and 40 seconds – 15 seconds over the optimum time – but they had the time penalties in hand and galloped home as the winners of the Adequan USEA Gold Cup CIC3*.
“It was really a great opportunity and a pleasure for all of us to be galloping around on the future [World Equestrian Games] course, knowing we’re putting footprints on what will one day be very hallowed ground,” said Little.
“[RF Scandalous] is 12 years old, but she’s only a few years into this sport,” said Little of Jacqueline Mars, Robin Parsky and Phoebe and Michael Mander’s Oldenburg mare (Carry Gold x Richardia). “Today she gave me the feeling of an old horse out there. She felt very confirmed, very confident at the fences. It was her first run of the year, but I let her go around at minute four, and she just started flying. I think that spoke well to her fitness for the first run, and I think Luhmühlen [CCI4*] is definitely on the table. She strikes me as a horse that’s ready for a four-star. I couldn’t have asked for a better feeling from her at the jumps today. This was a great kick-off to a good season.”
Doug Payne and Vandiver. Leslie Mintz/USEA Photo.
Doug Payne and Vandiver were one of only three pairs to make the time on the course. Payne and his own, Jessica Payne and Debi Crowley’s 13-year-old Trakehner gelding (Windfall x Visions of Grandeur) moved up from fourth to second and were the only three-star competitors to finish on their dressage score.
“I’m just trying to be smoother and smoother and more efficient with the lines taken and with the ride in general,” said Payne of his ability to make the time. “I’m very, very lucky to have such a talented horse because he’s got an exceptional gallop. I honestly just cruised around.”
In addition to his second placed finish in the CIC3*, Payne also rode two of his pure show jumpers at the Tryon Spring Horse Show III that was being held concurrently –winning the $15,000 Jumper Classic aboard a failed eventer this morning.
Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
Kim Severson added 8 time penalties to her overnight total to drop from second to third place aboard Cooley Cross Border, a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Diamond Roller x Whos Diaz) owned by the Cross Syndicate.
“’Cross was fantastic,” said Severson following her round. “As most know it has not always been smooth sailing [with him], but I think the last couple of years it’s been continuing to go the right way. He got better and better this weekend. I made a big mistake going into the water, and he fought for it the rest of the way around the course. He was good in situations where I didn’t give him the best ride. I’m thrilled with him.”
When speaking about the cross-country course itself, Little said. “It was beautifully designed, very forward riding, it kept the theme the whole way and allowed you to keep the rhythm. That’s one of the things going into Rolex as a final run, you want enough of a challenge, but you want them going there beating their chest at the end of this month in Kentucky.”
Severson agreed with Little’s assessment of the course design “I think the course was excellent. I thought the undulating terrain was really good, it’s something you don’t get a lot of quite like that. The course was very forward riding, and there were very few problems. It was hard enough, and the horses seemed to understand the questions. There wasn’t anything tricky.”
Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of Tryon Equestrian Partners, looked forward to the future of the Fork at Tryon and the facility itself.
“I think the competition was great today. . . This is new ground for us literally and figuratively,” said Bellissimo. “I do think the course you saw today—that’s one third of our footprint. That’s six holes of the 18-hole golf course. There’s a lot more property that you didn’t see yet. This will be 18 holes of golf course converted into what I think will be one of the most spectacular cross-country properties in the world.”
Although there was some concern going into the cross-country course about the numerous bridges required to cross the streams and gullies, when asked about them after her round, Little said they were fine and joked “I don’t think any of us jumped off them so that was good!” Bellissimo also confirmed that the bridges will be grassed over by the AEC and they are going to look into the bouncing to remove that “fear-factor feature.”
Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
Top of Advanced Leaderboards Remain Unchanged
Liz Halliday-Sharp came into this weekend with one goal in mind: to keep Fernhill by Night’s mojo feeling great ahead of Rolex. Winning the Advanced-A division start to finish was just icing on the cake for “Blackie,” a 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Radolin x Argentina XII) owned by Deborah Halliday.
“Blackie felt great today. He felt as good as I could have wanted him to,” said Halliday-Sharp of her cross-country ride. “I just tried to think ahead to Rolex and just let him gallop on and not get in his way too much.”
The Advanced cross-country course was slightly different than the three-star and no one made the time in either of the divisions. “I thought it was a very fair course; it rode as we walked it which was good,” continued Halliday-Sharp. “I felt like I went quick enough without going mad. I wanted to be under 10 time faults so he could have a good gallop. He felt really fit and confident in himself which is what we were here to do.”
Will Coleman moved up to second with the fastest round of the Advanced – crossing the finish line just 6 seconds over optimum time with the Four Star Eventing Group’s Obos O’Reilly, a 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (OBOS Quality x Ornard Clover Queen). Third went to Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti, a 14-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Don Good.
Jessica Phoenix and Bentley's Best. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
Phoenix had four Advanced horses entered between the two divisions and she was first out of the box this morning to christen the cross-country course with A Little Romance (just like she did at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games). Unfortunately Phoenix’s day didn’t start as planned as she took a tumble from A Little Romance at fence 15, a log pile table. Phoenix quickly bounced back and went on to win the Advanced-B division with Don Good’s 10-year-old Trakenher (Hauptstutbuch Baronesse XIII x Eichendorff), Bentley’s Best.
“Honestly Bentley’s Best had one of his best weekends ever,” said Phoenix. “I was so proud of everything he did. In all three phases he felt really confident – really playful in his jump like he felt like it was getting pretty easy at this level, which is really exciting. From the start flags to the finish rode really well for us. It isn’t often that you can say that, but I was just really proud of everything he did out there. It was just a blast, just really fun. This has got to be one of the toughest sports in the world and to have all three phases come together in one weekend is pretty remarkable.”
It was a one-two finish for Trakehners as Boyd Martin moved up into second place aboard Christine Turner’s Tsetserleg (Windfall x Thabana) – adding only 3.6 time penalties. Jordan Linstedt maintained her third-place position with Revitavet Capato, a 14-year-old Hanoverian (Contendro x Annabelle) owned by Barbara and Gary Linstedt.
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, N.C. 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.