Competition at the 17th Annual Millbrook Horse Trials kicks off today with dressage for all levels. The Adequan USEA Gold Cup Advanced division will start this afternoon at 1:08 p.m. in Ring 4, with Boyd Martin and Long Island T first in the ring. Half the division will perform their dressage tests this afternoon and the remainder of the division will go tomorrow beginning at 10:20 a.m.
Long-time course designer for the Millbrook Horse Trials, Tremaine Cooper, has put together a fantastic cross-country track for this year’s Adequan USEA Gold Cup Advanced division to sink their teeth into. The 3,450 meter course presents 25 obstacles with 35 total jumping efforts to be completed in an optimum time of 6 minutes, 4 seconds, and this year includes a new combination in a never-before-seen section of the property. “In the past, to get the distance I’ve had to do a loop down the hill [at the end of the course], which isn’t really ideal. [This year] I’ve cut that out and found a bit more distance at the end of the big hay field. I’ve added some distance there and I think the finish is a little friendlier.”
The view of the A and B elements from the C element of the new combination at Fence 11 on the far side of the course. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.
As is always the case at Millbrook, the terrain will play a huge role in this year’s course. “That’s always the big thing with Millbrook is there’s so much terrain here,” remarked Cooper. “Here you try to find lines that don’t involve the hills because it’s very easy to have the terrain be too much of a factor.” Cooper begins planning the courses for the coming year as early as November to have ample time to make adjustments to the terrain. “Sometimes you have a line that you like but the camber isn’t quite right, or the terrain falls one way when you want it to fall another, so you can do some of the earthworks then and get good turf growing through the winter.”
“It always ends up raining at least once during Millbrook,” laughed Cooper when asked about what effect yesterday afternoon’s downpour might have on the footing. “The nice thing is that it’s sort of a sandy, gravelly loam, so it does take a fair amount of rain. That being said, we’ll have plenty of gravel on hand, and I’m sure we’ll be shoveling it if it’s wet. We’ve had years when on Friday it’s absolutely poured, but then Saturday comes and it’s beautiful and absolutely perfect footing. If you have really good grass and good turf then it holds up a lot better when it is raining, and we spend quite a bit of effort mowing and producing as good grass as we possibly can.”
Millbrook has terrain in spades, and it plays a major role in the course design for all levels. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.
At this point in the year, at the start of the fall season, Cooper is looking to see horses that are fit to navigate the terrain and still have enough gas in the tank to get the job done. “There’s enough to do out there, but it’s not overly difficult. I don’t want to discourage them at the beginning of the season. I think the biggest issue that people have is that they underestimate the terrain and how much that takes out of the horse,” he remarked. “Not everyone’s going to make it home with zero penalties but hopefully they’ve all learned something, and whether they’ve done well or not they know more about their horse and their horse is confident and he’s had a good time.”
“Overall, this place, the last three or four years they’ve really stepped up the atmosphere and the sponsor area. Around the water jump is quite cool now,” observed Cooper. “You come up over the hill and there’s just a lot going on there. For the young horses, they get an eyeful but it’s also great for the upper-level horses because it’s not like they’re the only one in the far end of the field. There’s enough going on with the atmosphere that it’s a good schooling experience.”
Cooper also made a point of praising the Organizing Committee for all their incredibly hard work, especially over the last few years, toward making Millbrook Horse Trials a high-quality destination event for competitors.
Riders will tackle Cooper’s cross-country course on Saturday beginning at 11:14 a.m.
About the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series
The 2017 Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series 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.
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