After a whirlwind day of competition at the Millbrook Horse Trials, Emily Beshear and Olney Uncle Sam (Sonset Seiger x Aerial) emerged victorious, jumping one of the morning’s 11 double clear show jumping rounds and adding just a single cross-country time fault to their dressage score to take home the win in the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Advanced division.
Several days of back-to-back thunderstorms in the Millbrook, N.Y. area left the cross-country footing saturated on Saturday morning, prompting Millbrook’s officials and organizers to reschedule Intermediate and Advanced cross-country for the following day. Sunday’s revised schedule had the Adequan USEA Gold Cup division competitors show jumping beginning at 10:20 a.m. and setting out on cross-country at 12:10 p.m.
Emily Beshear and Olney Uncle Sam. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.
Beshear and Jennifer Ward’s 11-year-old Trakehner gelding quietly stalked the leaders all weekend, slotting into fifth place on the second day of dressage competition with a score of 25.7, jumping double clean in show jumping this morning to move into third, and picking up 0.4 time faults in the final phase to beat out Doug Payne for the top spot on a final score of 26.1. Ward bought Sam from his breeder, Ami Howard, and produced him to the one-star level. Ward, who used to be a working student for Beshear, contacted her about 18 months ago and asked if she would be willing to take over the ride.
“He’s still so new to the level and I every time out it’s either been hit or miss,” said Beshear. “I’ve been trying to figure out how to give him the right ride on cross-country. I came to Millbrook wanting to execute the new plan. He’s been really good in dressage, and I’ve been working really hard on that. In show jumping he’s super reliable. I wasn’t expecting to be super competitive though.”
“He’s a little bit of a quirky horse,” she continued. “He’s very careful. When I moved him up to Advanced I fell into the mode of being defensive because he’s a little careful. If I sit up and prepare a lot then he questions things even more. I had to work through that and decide that instead of sitting up and protecting him I’m going to give him a really positive ride.”
USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.
“I was thrilled that they gave us a bit more room to get galloping in the beginning, especially with [Sam] because he can come out of the box a little too careful,” Beshear said of Cooper’s new Advanced track. “It certainly was a big benefit for all of us that the organizers decided to push cross-country back a day. The footing was great and I thought everything on course was quite fair.”
So, what does Beshear plan on doing next with Sam? “Our goal ultimately is to go to Fair Hill and do the three-star there. We’ll plan on heading to Plantation before then. We’re still debating if he’s the type of horse who when he jumps a big track needs to step back down a level and get confident again. After Great Meadow I ran an Intermediate and he was perfect, so we might run him at Five Points.”
Doug Payne and Getaway. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.
Doug Payne and Getaway, Lisa Wall’s 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Contendro, sat in fourth place following the completion of dressage on 25.4 and also jumped double clear in show jumping to move up into second place, but the pair picked up 1.2 time faults on cross-country to bring their final score for the weekend to 26.6, just 0.5 points behind Beshear and Olney Uncle Sam.
Allison Springer and Lord Willing. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.
Allison Springer and the Lord Willing Syndicate‘s 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding Lord Willing (Lord Z x Lengende IX) were third after dressage on 25.0 and had a single time fault in show jumping, dropping them back to fourth. Despite picking up 8.0 time penalties on cross-country, Springer and “Liam” inched back up the leaderboard to finish the weekend in third place on a final score of 34.0.
“I did not start my watch, I just wanted to get around,” laughed Springer. “He started out a little strong, not in the brave sort of strong way, and then after the first combination [fence 5] every fence he jumped out of stride and then he was just money by the time we got [to the water]. It was exactly the run I needed on him.”
USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.
“The footing was perfect,” Springer observed. “The footing was great for all the horses. I’d rather this than hard ground. Probably my Training level horse on Friday morning was probably the worst, and the Preliminary felt magical. I’d much rather this [kind of footing]; the horses do so much better.”
Springer’s plan with Liam this fall is to continue to build his confidence with their eyes on the CCI3* at Fair Hill International in October. “We go to Chattahoochee Hills next and we’ll do Plantation. Our goal is just to get him ready to be competitive and get him as confident and happy as we can.”
Boyd Martin and Long Island T finished the weekend in fourth place. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.
True to form, just three riders made the time around Tremaine Cooper’s new Advanced track at Millbrook where the time is notoriously difficult to make. Three riders picked up refusals on course, one each for Jorgen Olijslager and Northern Quest Lady’s Man and Laura Welsh and Galactic, and Alexandra MacLeod and Newmarket Jack picked up 40 penalties at the water, 20C and 21B. Lindsay Beer with El Paso and Jenny Caras with Fernhill Full Throttle elected to retire after running into trouble on course.
Sara Kozumplik Murphy with Rubens D’Ysieux, the leaders going into the final phase, fell at fence 18. Rubens walked off the course and Kozumplik Murphy was transported by ambulance off the course. Caroline Martin and Cristano Z fell at fence 4, and Martin was also transported off course by ambulance while Cristano Z walked back to the barn.
Brandon McMechan and Oscar’s Wild moved up from 29th to fifth on their dressage score of 36.1. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.
Murphy’s and Martin’s second rides, Fly Me Courageous and Jump Jet, were both withdrawn from competition, as were Fernhill Wishes, ridden by Karl Slezak; Contestor, ridden by Boyd Martin; Cooley Ice, ridden by Kylie Lyman; and Park Trader, ridden by Buck Davidson.
Michael Nolan withdrew SBT Good Guy prior to this morning’s show jumping. Anna Loschiavo and Prince Renan were eliminated in show jumping and Sara Cousins retired Christopher from the course.
A special thank you is due to the whole team at Millbrook Horse Trials who worked tirelessly all weekend to make sure that competitors had a safe and positive experience despite the weather doing its best to rain on everyone’s parade. Shout out to the tractor crew for pulling trucks and trailers out of the mud all weekend!
About the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series
The 2018 Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series features 11 qualifying competitions throughout the United States at the Advanced horse trials and CIC3* levels. The qualifying period begins August 2017 and continues through August 2018 with the final taking place at the 2018 USEA American Eventing Championships at the Colorado Horse Park in Parker, Colorado, August 29 – September 2, 2018. Riders who complete a qualifier earn the chance to vie for $40,000 in prize money and thousands of dollars in prizes and the title of Adequan USEA Gold Cup Champion in the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Final Advanced Division. Click here to learn more about the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series.
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On Wednesday, March 10, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. Central time, join Eric Dierks for a live stream interview with David O'Connor. David was an alternate for the 1988 Summer Olympics, and riding Wilton Fair, was part of the U.S. team at the 1990 World Equestrian Games, where he placed 35th individually and the team finished fourth.
Billy Jackson was introduced to horses at a young age through his local 4-H program. “One of my mom's close friends was a large animal vet and she really encouraged me to stay with it,” Jackson said. As an adult, he is a Marketing Project Manager, and when he’s not at work, he’s a lower level eventer based at Poplar Place Farm.