Competition concluded at The Fork at Tryon International Equestrian Center on Sunday, April 7, with a victory for Boyd Martin and Christine Turner’s 12-year-old Trakehner gelding (Windfall PG x Thabana), Tsetserleg. The pair raced around the 2.3-mile White Oak cross-country track in ample time, placing them ahead of the 4* group with a final score of 35.0.
Martin and “Thomas” set out on the course in third place, and the question of the weekend was how they would fare through the water jump, the same one that gave them trouble at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 (WEG). “At the World Equestrian Games I got the wrong ride in,” said Martin, “plus there was a lot of other stuff around it to distract the horse and that wasn’t there today, so it was a little bit easier to get him over it today, but still it was a good feeling getting over it and I got a big, big cheer from the crowd. I could distinctively hear the owner shrieking, Christine Turner, who has been a great supporter and I could hear her cheering for her horse, and so I cleared that boat. It was good to get that behind us and come here.”
Martin went on, “Thomas is not so distracted now, and I’ve learned how to ride him a bit differently and a bit better, too. It was good to have a win because we did have such a bit of an awkward start to the year, a bit injured here and there and missing a few shows, and it was good to win one.
Martin now has his sights set on the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event. He stated, “It’s always good to remember that some of the best horses here chose to run a bit slow here this week to prepare for Kentucky, so we still got a little bit of work ahead of us, but he was good and strong in all three phases. In Kentucky, anything can go wrong, it’s a big long track and even a very, very good horse and rider can still have a slip up, so we’ve still got a mission ahead of us.”
Martin’s plan out on cross-country involved speed, and he explained that because of his recent injuries, there hasn’t been much time for the pair to run together. “I missed a bunch of events, so I haven’t really had a chance to blow him out. I didn’t go flat out, but I thought to myself: he needs a good run and a bit of a fitness run, but not to go so fast that you risk an injury. He felt very strong around the whole track and was quite fit. He jumped well, and I think we’re in good shape.”
Second place honors were bestowed upon Swiss rider, Felix Vogg also on his WEG mount, Colero, an 11-year-old Jürgen Vogg owned Westfalen gelding (Captain Fire x Bonita), who earned a collective score of 39.80. Vogg also had a great run on his Advanced mount, Archie Rocks, achieving third place in the division before setting off on the 4* track. He explained, “I had a little pre-ride with Archie, but they are totally completely different horses Archie is really slow and Colero fast. I think we had about had 5 second difference in time.
“Colero just needs a lot more preparation for the jumps. Archie is a bit more used to it, I guess from his former racing career. With Colero, I tried to ride him a little bit different than at WEG. I saw it again, little bit different and then I rode him differently and it worked out pretty well.”
Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp led the pack until the third and final phase, but she and the 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Radolin x Argentina XII) Fernhill By Night, still ended their weekend with a third-place finish, on a score of 40.0.
Halliday-Sharp summarized her cross-country run: “Blackie’ was really, really good. He got a little bit tired towards the end, but it was quite an intense course for him. He probably hasn’t done a course that intense for a while, but I was really pleased with him. He was super all the way through the early parts. He got a little bogged down near where the squirrels were, but he fought for me there, and then he was just feeling like he was running out of push as we neared the end. I chose the easier route through the water, because I thought that was the right decision. He really tried and he’s not a racing snake, so he did the best he could and the horse really fought for me, so I’m pleased with where we ended up."
Doug Payne and Starr Witness fought fast and hard until the very end, coming out with a weekend win in the CCI3*-S division, besting an original line-up of 13 horse-and-rider combinations on a score of 33.20. Payne and the 8-year-old KWPN mare (Chello III x Carmen), owned by Laurie Mc Ree, Doug Payne, and Catherine Winter, piloted around the Captain Mark Phillips track like old-pros, despite the fact that the mare only began eventing 18 months ago.
“Starr Witness, she was on her toes,” said Payne. “She was very, very good. I didn’t want to take such a risk that she gets hurt. I was a hair conservative, but I’m going to press her a little bit more so that she becomes more comfortable with not necessarily, speed and jumps, but galloping better.
The course was very good. It was a tough track, there was a lot to do, and a lot to look at, I think the horses finished stronger, better, and more confident because of it. And there’s certainly going to set a better standard for other things to come this spring.”
Second place finisher Will Faudree and the 12-year-old Holsteiner mare (Contender x HappyGoLucky) owned by Jennifer Mosing and Sterling Silver Stables, Caeleste, also held onto their second place ranking throughout the duration of the event, finishing up on a score of 38.00. Faudree commented on his cross-country ride. “The 3* track rode great,” he said. “I started a bit quieter, I ran her quite quick at Carolina a couple of weeks ago. I started a bit steadier, and she’s very experienced and a lot of fun. It’s been a really good week. All of my horses had good dressage tests. It’s great to get the atmosphere in the main arena, and same with the show jumping. I had two down amongst the six, but they were all educational rails on green horses for the level that they were at.
On the cross-country, it’s great that all of the FEI levels are able to run on the golf course. It’s amazing turf, and the course was definitely up to standard. I had a young horse doing his second 4* and I just feel like he jumped the WEG minus galloping up the hill. The courses were great and it’s been a really good week.”
Katie Lichten and RF Luminati moved up the ranks from sixth in dressage, and achieved the third-place position overall with a score of 41.10. Lichten noted that the 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Concha x Contender) owned by Harold Lichten had an amazing week overall. “I was happy with my test on Thursday,” she elaborated. “It definitely wasn’t as good as he can do, but it was pretty good. It was consistent and I was happy with him. He show jumped really well yesterday, and that’s always kind of been his strongest phase.
And then on cross-country today, he was just amazing. I thought the course rode really well. I was nervous – it was definitely the biggest course I’ve done with him, and he just handled it really well. So I was super happy with him. If I had to choose a favorite part, it was probably galloping through the water in the beginning, because that’s definitely not something you see on most courses, or at least having that long to go in the water. That was really cool. And I wasn’t sure how he was going to be, because those jumps are quite spooky, but he was really good.”
Adequan® Advanced Division
Clark Montgomery (USA) and the Caribbean Soul Syndicate’s 12-year-old Thoroughbred mare (Cimarron Secret x Ogygian’s Dasire) Caribbean Soul, climbed from tenth place in dressage to an impressive first place finish in the Adequan® Advanced Division, with a final score of 38.20. “The week went super,” exclaimed Montgomery. “She was really good all weekend. To be fair to her, I was packing to go home to Kentucky like crazy just a couple days before we got here, and didn’t get to do my normal preparation for the dressage. She wasn’t misbehaved at all, she just didn’t have a very clean test, with a couple little mistakes. We didn’t score as low as we’ve been scoring, but like I said I was still really happy with her because she didn’t misbehave.”
Montgomery continued, “in show jumping she was great – she was really, really good. And then in cross-country she was absolutely phenomenal. I couldn’t ask for her to be better. I mean, her gallop is just the coolest thing I’ve ever felt, for sure. It’s just so easy. And honestly, I wasn’t going to go quick on her today, and she just loves it. It’s just the speed she operates out of, and so I just let her kind of cruise around, and she came in that fast. It was wonderful.
I thought the course was super. I thought it was definitely tough enough and big enough and I thought it was going to be the biggest track she had jumped to date, so I was excited to see how she handled it, and I like [Capt. Mark Phillips'] courses a lot. They remind me a lot of the tracks you jump in England, with the bolder, forward distances and bigger fences. And the setting down there on the old golf course is just absolutely beautiful around the lake.”
Boyd Martin also capped off a successful weekend with the Long Island T Syndicate’s 13-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Ludwig Von Bayer x Haupstsbuch Highlight), Long Island T, finishing up in second place, scoring 45.70.
Of his third mount of the day, Martin said: “He’s a strong, feisty, wild man! He still jumped really well, but he's definitely a little bit too keen. He gave me a good ride. I think he'll be better suited for Kentucky because it's a longer and more flowing course where you can get him to fall asleep a little bit more between fences. He's very strong in the dressage and show jumping, and he's very game on cross-country, just gets really strong and a little bit out of control.”
Third place in the Advanced Division was awarded to Felix Vogg (SUI) and his own Archie Rocks, an eleven-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Le Monde x Unbridled Diva), after riding to a 48.70. Vogg noted that: “With Archie, there is still a lot of work to do. We don’t know each other that well, and this was only the second cross-country that we’ve done together. Considering that, he did pretty well!”
For a complete list of results from The Fork at Tryon International Equestrian Center, click here.
It’s the turn of the world’s best eventing athletes to stand under the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games spotlight over the next few days as all but one of the horses presented at this morning’s horse inspection at Baji Koen Equestrian Park were confirmed for action by the Ground Jury.
And they're off! Eventing kicks off today in Tokyo (Thursday, July 29 – 7:30 p.m. ET), with the first of three Olympic dressage sessions. Competitors from 29 nations will go head to head, vying for a spot on the coveted Olympic podium.
There were a few last-minute dramas at the first horse inspection for the Tokyo Olympics which took place in the main equestrian park at Baji Koen Equestrian Centre at 9:30 a.m. JST today.