The upper levels headed out on the cross-country today to tackle Captain Mark Phillips’ course at the Nutrena American Eventing Championships presented by VTO Saddlery, and the standings in the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Final have been shaken up a bit from dressage. In the end it all came down to time penalties which determined the overnight standings. Jacob Fletcher added only 4 time penalties to his dressage score to remain in the lead aboard Atlantic Domino, a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse owned by Company Fletcher Farms. “He was good today! He developed a bit of a left drift a few times, but he’s such an honest horse and a really beautiful jumper. He backed off to a lot of the fences, which allowed me to not pull as much so I shaved off a few seconds there,” Fletcher explains. Looking forward to tomorrow’s show jumping Fletcher comments that if he halfway does his job that Atlantic Domino should jump clear.
Buck Davidson currently sits in second place with Sharon White’s Wundermaske, a 12-year-old Thoroughbred. Davidson added only 2.4 time penalties to his dressage score around Phillips’ twisty course. Davidson describes, “He was very good and maybe a bit wild in the beginning, but he jumped really well. The course wasn’t overly difficult but you really had to twist and turn.” Wundermaske has tendency to want to head towards home while on course, but he didn’t have time to do that today as Davidson left the start box a few seconds late so was rushing to make up time.
Caroline Martin produced the only ride that was inside the time on the Advanced cross-country course with Quantum Solace, a 10-year-old Argentinian Sport Horse who has been her stalwart partner for over five years. “I honestly didn’t look at my watch once, I just let him go at a pace that I thought was appropriate and let him cruise. The jumps came up well and we had to adjust some of the lines, but we were able to stay in a nice rhythm, so I was happy with him,” Martin explains.
Heather Morris still stands at the top of the leader board with Team Express Group LLC’s Charlie Tango, a 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse, in the Merial Intermediate division. The pair will head into show jumping on their dressage score tomorrow. “He was absolutely perfect today. I decided to take the option at the first skinny fence because I didn’t want to risk anything, but he jumped great out there today,” Morris adds. Charlie Tango is a super show jumper so Morris is hopeful she’ll bring home the win.
Tamra Smith moved-up from fourth place to the lead in the Preliminary Horse division on Judith McSwain’s 7-year-old Holsteiner mare, Fleeceworks Royal. Smith explains, “She was super today! She came right out of the box ready to go. She’s very brave and bold and she made a fairly challenging course ride easily for me.” Smith knows that anything can happen tomorrow but is hopeful that her mare will keep all the rails up. She adds, “We’ve been practicing our show-jumping a lot and she’s more than capable of jumping a clear round, so I’m going to warm her up the best I can and hope for the best!”
Tristen Hooks and Learning To Fly, a 15-year-old Holsteiner gelding, have a kept a hold of their lead in the Preliminary Amateur division on a score of 26.9. Hooks had her eye on both of the water complexes today as an area that may have presented a challenge for Learning To Fly. Hooks explains, “He jumped into the first water like a tiger! He didn’t event think twice about it.” Hooks plans to give Learning to Fly lots of TLC tonight along with plenty of walks and ice to hopefully leave all of the rails in the cups tomorrow.
Arden Stephens piloted No More Rocks, an Oldenburg gelding, to a double clear round to hold her lead in the Junior Young Rider Preliminary division. “I didn’t have the most optimal warm-up today due to the hold on course but my horse knows his jobs and was really fantastic on course today,” says Stephens, “I spent a lot of time checking out 10abc because there were so many different lines I could ride. I ended up having to adjust my plan there but my horse was right there with me throughout the entire course.”
In addition to the Intermediate class, Heather Morris is also leading the Professional’s Choice Training Horse division as piloted Team Express Group LLC’s Dutch Warmblood, Get Rowdy, around a tough Training level course to hold the lead in the. “He was great today especially around a course that was pretty difficult for a 5-year-old! There some tricky early questions but he was perfect,” Morris explains.
Ashley Hays and her own Call It Courage remain in the lead in the Professional’s Choice Training Amateur division adding nothing to their score of 23.2. Hays describes, “I’m very happy with him. He was pretty game straight out of the start box. It did take us a few fences to get in a rhythm, but after that he was on it. He was very grown-up out there today, which is what I’ve been working on.” Hays noted that there were many difficult lines, especially angled lines that were spread out throughout the course. Hays continues, “Warming-up I made sure to jump everything on an angle. Before going in the start box I made sure he was on aids and I definitely had to ride him strong in a few places but he was fantastic.”
Georgia Dillard piloted Normandy’s Cole’s Clover to a double clear cross-country round today to hold their lead of a 26.1 in the Professional’s Choice Training Junior division. “She was perfect to everything today. I was thinking about doing the option at 15 so I went faster in the beginning of the course just in case. She was being great so I just went for the straight option over the skinny!” Dillard continues, “Looking forward to tomorrow I hope to give my horse a good ride. It’s so easy to have a rail but if I can slow her down in between the jumps and rebalance I know she’ll be great.”
About the AEC
The Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships, Presented by VTO Saddlery is the annual American championship for every level of the Olympic equestrian sport of Eventing, from Beginner Novice to Advanced. This year the AEC is being held from September 24-27 at the Texas Rose Horse Park in Tyler, Texas.
The USEA would like to thank all the generous sponsors of the 2015 AEC including:
Nutrena, VTO Saddlery, Adequan, Merial, Professional’s Choice, Broadstone,Devoucoux, Priefert, Standlee Hay, Charles Owen, Merck Animal Health, Pyranha Fly and Insect Control, Practical Horseman, DG Stackhouse, Animals to Wear, Fleeceworks, The Chronicle of the Horse, FLAIR, SmartPak, CWD, Brody Robertson Show Jumps, Point Two Air Jackets, Equine Art by Julie, Ovation, Eventing Training Online, Auburn Laboratories, Sunsprite Warmbloods, Back on Track, FITS,The Jockey Club, GumBits, NTEA, Schneiders Tack, Greenwood Farm, Pro View Global Digital Surveillance, The Scoring Chix, C4 Belts, Horse Hydrator, Kastel Denmark, SportsBrainUSA, Nature’s Select, EasyCare Inc, Likit, Noble Outfitters and more!