The leaderboard looks much different after cross-country in the Adequan USEA Gold Cup and PRO Tour Series CIC3* division at Plantation Field International, but the top two placed horse and rider combinations held their positions throughout the competition, with Tamie Smith and Mai Baum winning and Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous coming second.
Mike Etherington-Smith’s cross-country course at the Best. Event. Ever in Unionville, Pennsylvania caused more trouble than expected, resulting in a late start for the leaders as the schedule ran in reverse order of go. That gave Smith plenty of time to think about the course, but she stuck to her plan and the 9-year-old German Sport Horse owned by Alexandra and Ellen Ahearn and Eric Markell gave her a great ride, adding only 1.2 time penalties to finish on a 39.4.
“I’m used to having five people in a division at Advanced [on the West Coast]. We don’t even know how the course is riding, we just go out and run,” Smith said. “It was nervewracking actually. I went almost an hour later than I was supposed to go because of all the holds, but I know the horse and I have a great partnership with him.”
Smith was delighted with how “Lexus” handled the terrain and said he felt very fit in this preparatory run before Fair Hill. “He’s a great horse and he’s got a fabulous jump. Cross country is actually his strong suit so I just kept telling myself ‘you’ll ride great and he’s great and you’re going to be fine.’ He was foot-perfect.”
RF Scandalous completed her first CIC3* with Marilyn Little in the irons. The Pan Am gold medalists added four time penalties to their score today to finish second on a 45.1.
“I woke up this morning and I had a great feeling about the day,” Little said. “Although it was her first three-star cross-country course I felt that it was something that she could handle and she handled it exactly as I hoped she would.”
Little was aiming for a qualifying score this weekend and also confirmation that the mare was ready to compete at Boekelo in the Netherlands this October. “She gave me a beautiful ride around out there and answered all the questions before I even realized I was asking them and took me to the jumps the way you would hope an older horse would,” Little said.
"There was enough out there I feel great about going into Boekelo. She came off the course confidently in such a way I feel great about going to Europe with her.”
The standings from the first two phases switched up significantly following Smith and Little. Third placed Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM retired after picking up 20 penalties, as did fourth placed Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border.
Phillip Dutton and Thomas Tierney and Simon Roosevelt's Fernhill Cubalawn, who started the weekend in 15th place, posted the only double-clear round to move up and finish third. After a fast ride at the recent Aachen CICO3*, Phillip felt the 12-year-old Holsteiner has come up to another level in his cross-country. Phillip also won the CIC1*-B division on the retired racehorse Icabad Crane, owned by Herringswell Stables, in his first FEI appearance. In addition, he competed another five horses across the levels.
Dutton, who a member of the Plantation Field executive committee, gave credit to Jamie Hicks for his hard work on the footing. “In five years time this will be like a cushion. He’s fertilizing, he’s putting mushroom compost down, he’s aerating. All that kind of stuff takes a few years to see the benefits of it. Considering how dry it’s been in the last month, there was a real cut in the ground so I think the footing is going to get better and better every year.”
In the CIC2*, 8-year-old Lysander held onto his lead from the start, adding 2.4 time penalties to his dressage score for his first FEI victory. Owner/rider Doug Payne is thrilled with the horse as they look ahead to the Fair Hill CCI2*.
“He started out very strong and confident really throughout the first half. It’s something we’ve been working on quite a bit to ultimately go a bit more for the time and still have him rideable and able to compress. Due to his size he can get away from you pretty quick,” Payne said.
“After the long stretch by the road he got going a bit more and I was able to still get him back and he actually remained very rideable throughout the rest of the course which allowed us to keep moving on.”
Alexander O’Neal held onto second in the two-star with a clear and fast round on Rendezvous with Charly. Caroline Martin and her and Sherrie Martin's Effervescent moved up from fifth to finish third with one of the rare double-clear rounds in the division.
Lillian Heard won the Advanced division with her own LLC Barnaby. Sarah Cousins and Tsunami III moved up from ninth after dressage to finish second, and Boyd Martin was third with Steady Eddie.
Elinor MacPhail and RF Panamera were second behind Dutton and Icabad Crane in the CIC1*-B division. Jan Byyny and Urrem were third. In the CIC1*-A division, Elizabeth Bortuzzo and Omina never let go of their lead after dressage, winning on 43.7. Ryan Wood and Ruby were second, finishing one second under the cross-country optimum time to break the tie with ultimate third place finishers Kelly Prather and D.A. Calimero.
That wraps up another year of the Best. Event. Ever. filled once again with top class competition and fun for the whole family. "It's a truly special event," Little said. "It's an event that raises the sights of the up and coming riders and gives professionals a great gauge of their special future horses coming up."
About the Adequan USEA Gold Cup and PRO Tour Series
Qualifying for the 2015 Adequan USEA Gold Cup began last fall with the Plantation Field CIC3* (PA) and the Woodside 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 2015 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 2015 Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series is made possible through the support of its many loyal sponsors: Adequan, Standlee Forage, Nunn Finer, Nutrena, Broadstone Equine Insurance Agency, Point Two, Dubarry, and FITS.
The PRO Tour Series consists of 13 premier destination events in the United States and Canada, 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.
The Professional Riders Organization would like to thank the following sponsors for their support of the 2015 PRO Tour Series: KER Optimum Time, Tex Sutton, Triple Crown Nutrition, and SSG Riding Gloves.