Allentown, New Jersey - To say that Morgan Rowsell, Jeff Kibbe, Craig Haynes, Rob Matthews and the rest of the Jersey Fresh International team needed to be on their game on a rainy cross-country day is an understatement! The ground jury of the event, in consultation with the riders, opted to run the CCI3* and CCI2* divisions first thing on Saturday morning. They then ran the CIC3* and CIC2* straight through with no breaks before the footing was completely saturated by an unwelcome nor’easter. Under the guidance of Captain Mark Phillips the crew placed tarps overnight on the takeoffs and landings of most of the pivotal obstacles on all four cross-country courses (CCI3*, CCI2*, CIC3* and CIC2*). They were constantly on the move with heavy equipment. They placed stone dust in soft spots. They raked out the uneven areas and they occasionally paused to watch the fruits of their labor come to fruition. In the end, all could say that it was a safe and exhilarating day of action at the Jersey Fresh International held at the New Jersey Horse Park.
Olympic bronze medalist Phillip Dutton made sure that the first words out of his mouth in the post cross-country press conference were complimentary.
“I really want to congratulate everybody, the organizers and everybody tried really, really hard to make this as good as we can with the conditions that happened. I think it stayed safe for the horses and riders.” said Dutton.
Dutton moved up two places since dressage day and sits in first place in the CCI3* following cross-country aboard the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding Mr. Candyman (Canto x Montara) owned by Ann Jones, Bridget Colman, Caroline Moran and Tom Tierney.
CIC3* leader Marilyn Little, who retained her dressage day dominance aboard the 12-year-old Oldenburg mare RF Scandalous (Carry Gold x Richardia) owned by Jacqueline Mars, Robin Parsky, Phoebe Manders and Michael Manders, was also quick to compliment all of the people that worked so hard to make the cross-country a success despite the downpour.
“Volunteers everywhere trying to do everything they could to make it everything that it was. As safe as it could be” said Little.
The Captain Phillips designed courses were roundly complimented for their flow and friendliness for the horses.
Captain Phillips noted “We made quite a few changes to the course and tried to make it horse friendly, and thank god because when the weather turned we see it sort of needed to be. To be honest it is a good thing they decided to start early because we couldn’t have gone on much longer. The footing was really giving out in a few places and I was stressing a bit with the last few horses.”
Competing in Inclement Weather is a Must for Training American Eventers
In earlier eras of American eventing riders from the United States were often thought of as some of the hardiest competitors in the world. The likes of Bruce Davidson Sr., Lana Dupont Wright, Denny Emerson, Kevin Freeman, Karen O’Connor, Jim Wofford, David O’Connor and many others knew what it was like to face difficult weather such as a New Jersey nor’easter. The USEA recently reflected on “Wilbur Weather,” which was the type of weather that the immortal horse Wilton Fair would thrive under in competition with David O’Connor in the tack. By the sound of it, most of the professionals who found success at Jersey Fresh International feel that they all need a good dose of that toughness in order to bring back American eventing dominance on the international stage.
“It was a bit more challenging as it got wetter and wetter” said Dutton. “Part of becoming better on the cross-country in this country [is that] we have to learn to deal with adverse conditions. I kind of decided to take mine out and see how they go and handle the conditions, and I’m glad I did!”
The CIC2* leader Lauren Kieffer, riding the 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding D.A. Duras (Numero Uno x Medoc) owned by Jacqueline Mars and Debbie Adams, noted that this was an excellent training opportunity for both her and her mount.
“I haven’t ridden him in mud like this before, so it’s good to do that on him. He didn’t seem to care. The nice thing is I wasn’t going too quick. I kind of figured someone else wouldn’t make time. He’s got a big stride and he is an efficient horse so it is kind of nice that he was that quick without trying. I think it was a good last run before we head to Bramham [Horse Trials in the United Kingdom]. We do as riders need to get used to riding in conditions like this. You can only teach people so much about riding cross-country and then you have to go out and do it. I think that’s the only way to do it. For the riders to go out and experience different stuff like that on their own and get it done” said Kieffer.
Like Little and Kieffer, Dorr Holds onto Dressage Lead
Cornelia Dorr and Louis M photo by Stacy Lynne Wendkos.
On day one of dressage in the CCI2* division the USEA recommended that the public get to know Cornelia Dorr quickly. The 19-year-old Massachusetts native continues to prove that the recommendation was well deserved. Cornelia Dorr posted two of the only four double clear rounds of the day on cross-country.
Her clean riding was rewarded not only by retaining the lead aboard her own 12-year-old Rhineland Pfalz-Saar gelding Louis M (Lissabon x Angelique M), but she also closes out the CCI2* cross-country phase standing in third place aboard her own 11-year-old Zweibrucker gelding Sir Patico MH (Sempatico M x Queen’s Lite XX). Dorr noted that having an experienced horse like Louis M as her first ride of the day was an enormous benefit.
“He [Louis M] was fabulous! He is much more used to these conditions than my other horse is. So it was nice to go out on him first and get that confidence in myself about how it was riding. It makes the less experienced one [Sir Patico MH] confident in himself. So I was really happy with it and had a lot of fun” said Dorr.
Follow the exciting conclusion of the Jersey Fresh International tomorrow on www.useventing.com and through the USEA event coverage on social media!
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It’s been 13 years since an American has stood atop the podium at a five-star event, but Boyd Martin broke the dry spell today with the Turner Family’s 15-year-old Anglo European mare On Cue (Cabri D’Elle x On High) as the winners of the first-ever Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill. It was a thrilling down-to-the-wire finish where Martin and On Cue climbed from third to first to take home champion honors with just .01 points between him and second-place finisher and weekend-long leader Oliver Townend.
Following yesterday’s downpour, the temperatures for the final jog this morning were brisk but the CCI5*-L horses remained professional for the last horse inspection leading into show jumping later today. Of the 35 pairs set to move forward with the final phase of competition, only 34 presented to judges Angela Tucker (GBR), Martin Plewa (GER), and Mark Weissbecker after Lisa Marie Fergusson opted not to bring forward her own 15-year-old Welsh/Thoroughbred gelding (Brynarian Brennin x Dream Contessa) Honor Me.
After a jam-packed week, the final day of competition at the Maryland 5 Star is upon us. Riders have shown off their style in the horse inspection, danced their way down the centerline in dressage, and contested some serious obstacles in cross-country up until this point. Now it's time to demonstrate the fitness and accuracy that each horse possesses in the final phase: show jumping.
It was a great day of cross-country riding at the Maryland 5 Star. There were 35 horses who crossed the finish and 11 of those finished double clear. With British, French, New Zealand, Canadian, and American riders coming through the finish flags – it was a true world class competition. The USEA was at the finish to see what the riders thought of the very first Maryland 5 Star cross-country track designed by Ian Stark.