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Sun, 2016-04-24 15:37

Phoenix and Hamblin Take the Top Spots at Chattahoochee Hills

Jessica Phoenix and Bentley's Best (l) and Abby Hamblin and Silver Flash (r). USEA/Shelby Allen Photos.

Hugh Lochore’s cross-country course proved to be a tricky track today at the CHC International at Chattahoochee Hills. The CIC3* and Advanced divisions were part of the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series, which will cumulate to a finale this September at the American Eventing Championships (AEC).

Jessica Phoenix (CAN) and Bentley’s Best (Hirtentanz x Hauptstutbuch Baronesse XIII) held their lead wire to wire this weekend to win the CIC3* division. Don Good’s 9-year-old Trakehner gelding scored a 45.40 in the dressage phase, his best three-star score of his career so far. The pair then had one rail, but maintained their lead going into the cross-country.

 “It was amazing. It was so great to get out there. The footing was beautiful. I thought the course was designed really well and he did a great job out there today,” Phoenix said of their cross-country round. The gelding is green at the level, and Phoenix commented yesterday that she planned to make this trip very educational. “He never feels un-confident, he just feels like sometimes things surprise him, so it was great to get him out there and pick up all the flags and draw me to them which was awesome.”

Jessica Phoenix and Bentley's Best. 

One of the harder questions on the course was on the second water. Riders faces an airy log drop to a corner in the water [11 ab] followed by another corner out of the water [12]. Phoenix was the only one of the three riders who used the opportunity to circle between the two corners, making sure Bentley fully understood the question. “The two corners out, those are the types of things he doesn’t always picks up really quickly, so I was really happy with the way he jumped in and found that corner and took me to it. I did circle between the corners and I’m really glad I stuck with my plan there.” The pair jetted along the remainder of the course, adding 17.20 time penalties to finish on a 66.60 for the blue ribbon.

Phoenix also used the Advanced Combined Test this weekend to prepare the rest of her string for the CCI4* at Rolex Kentucky. Pairs in the Combined Test performed FEI Four-Star Test B, and show jumped a 1.25-meter course. This group had the opportunity to ride in front of Andrew Bennie, who will go on to judge Rolex and then the Olympic Games later this summer. Phoenix had three in this division, A Little Romance, Abbey GS and Pavarotti, who won the class. “It was a real treat to be able to come and run through the Rolex test three times in a row and get really comfortable with it in the ring, and seeing where you can gain more marks and where the horses need a little bit of time,” she said. 

April Simmonds and Quebec NZPH. 

April Simmonds (CAN) finished in second place in the three-star division with Quebec NZPH (Frisbee Kerellec x Dimond Girl). The 13-year-old Warmblood gelding is owned by Simmonds and Faydon Enterprises. This pair had a 53.00 in the dressage and two rails in the show jumping, which Simmonds attributed to “rider error.”

They added only 6.80 time penalties to their score after the cross-country. “He was awesome. I think it was a harder course than expected, but he’s so on it all the time,” Simmonds explained. In addition to the second water [11 ab, 12], she added that the new bank complex [15 abcd] also required serious riding. This complex featured a log drop which followed a downhill slope across a road, then a bank bounce, followed by a one stride to a brush fence. “If you jumped too quiet [up the bank] the one would have been too long,” Simmonds explained. “I was almost too quiet, but he was really good.”

Now adding another confident CIC, Simmonds and “Rex” next will head for their first CCI3* at Jersey Fresh International. “I feel quite confident going into it. Just some little show jumping things to tweak, and we’ll be good,” she said. Simmonds also said she praised Rex after their great weekend with one of his favorite treats, Twizzlers.

Werner Geven and Vilas County. USEA/Shelby Allen Photo. 

Werner Geven (NED) rounded out the three-star pack aboard Carden Burdette's Vilas County (Jump Start x Brave Hearted). The 12-year-old Thoroughbred gelding scored a 55.60 in the dressage, and had five rails in the show jumping. This pair had a super go around Hugh Lochore’s course today, which included a nearly seamless ride thorough the second water. They had 10.80 time penalties to finish on a score of 86.40.

Abby Hamblin and Silver Flash. USEA/Shelby Allen Photo. 

The Advanced division fared the worst across this track today, with our winners, Abby Hamblin and Silver Flash (Enough Approval x Fabulous Frolic) being the only finishers. Lochore’s cross-country took full advantage of the terrain to ask serious questions of this group, but Hamblin and “Brighton” kept on for the pair’s first blue ribbon. Brighton is a 13-year-old Off-The-Track-Thoroughbred who Hamblin produced herself.

They had a 46.60 after dressage, which put them in fifth place. “He’s build to run not dance,” she joked about their test. “He was very respectful and obedient. He’s still green to the level.” This pair the move up to Advanced just over a year ago, and did their first CIC3* here last summer. Hamblin has been working diligently to finish her last semester at the University of West Georgia this semester, so showing has taken a back seat this spring. “I’ve not had the time to put into him because I’ve been trying to finish my college education, so I wanted to get him out at the Advanced level before the spring ended,” she explained. “hasn’t run cross-country in a month or two, so he was really happy to be out there again. I tried to take my time. He would’ve gladly made time for me. It was tough course,” she said. Hamblin and Brighton did have two stops on course, one at the last element of the bank complex [15 d] and the other at the combination in the arena [19 b]. “[They were] tiny mistakes. I could’ve been more accurate on showing him where he needed to be, but he’s a good boy. He does his job. He takes good care of me,” Hamblin explained.

Chattahoochee Hills is Hamblin’s hometown event, so that combined with her upcoming graduation next weekend, made this win extra special. She plans to take the summer to polish their work, before a hopeful trip to the Fair Hill International CCI3* this fall. 

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About the Adequan USEA Gold Cup

Qualifying for the 2016 Adequan USEA Gold Cup Championship began last fall with the Richland Park Advanced & CIC3* (MI), Aspen Farms Advanced (WA), Plantation Field Advanced & CIC3* (PA) and the Woodside International Advanced & CIC3* (CA) and features 11 qualifying competitions throughout the United States at the Advanced Horse Trials and CIC3* levels. The final will take place at the Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships, September 1-4 in Tryon, 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 2016 Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series is made possible through the support of its many loyal sponsors: Adequan, Standlee Forage, Nunn Finer, Nutrena, Merck, Broadstone Equine Insurance Agency, and FITS.

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