Boyd Martin came to Virginia Horse Trials (VHT) International to get himself and his horses back into the swing of competing, and he picked up an international win along the way. Leading from start to finish, Martin and the 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding Luke 140, owned by the Luke 140 Syndicate, won the CCI3*-S on a final score of 35.5.
Starting off with a dressage score of 23.9, they show jumped double clear on Tuesday. They entered today’s cross-country test with plenty of breathing room, allowing for the addition of 11.6 time penalties.
“Luke was brilliant in all three phases. I wanted to set him up for an assault on the second half of the year,” Martin said. “It was fantastic doing all the dressage in the shade of the indoor arenas, and the new jumping ring was brilliant to ride on.”
With the majority of the spring season being canceled due to COVID-19, many competitors are just getting going with their competition season this summer. Martin commented that designer Andy Bowles’ cross-country course was appropriate for horses who haven’t been out in a while, but there were “a couple of combinations that really tested the horses, and it’s a true test of fitness with a big, long gallop up the hill in the middle of the course.”
Having finished up his competition on Wednesday afternoon, Martin was already on his way home to prepare for another outing this weekend. “I love the idea of the midweek eventing, especially for the pro riders looking to get horses out,” Martin said. “I’m slowly getting better from surgery a couple of months ago, and it was great just getting the horses out and seeing my eventing buddies I haven't seen in months.”
Coming second in the CCI3*-S was Joe Meyer and his longtime partner Clip Clop. They added only 2.0 time penalties to their initial score, moving up from 11th after dressage. Benjamin Noonan and Keep Kitty rounded out the top three.
In the CCI*-L division, Andrew McConnon leads the way with D’Luxe Steel followed by Joanie Morris riding Betterthanexpected.
Elizabeth Halliday-Sharp holds the top two spots in the CCI2*-L with Cooley Be Cool and Cooley Seeking Fortune, respectively. Halliday-Sharp also sits second with Marysville Sir Henry in the CCI2*-S, which is led by Candace Elizabeth Bell and Fernhill Philm Star.
VHT’s original date had been postponed due to COVID-19 and this week the event is strictly adhering to necessary protocols, including paperless entries, mandatory face coverings, and social distancing. Martin offered this sentiment: “Everyone is keen to get back to normal life, and everyone is understanding it's a huge privilege to do this sport [right now]. We are grateful to the organizers who have had to jump through many hoops to get events going.”
The competition continues Thursday with all three phases running concurrently at the Virginia Horse Center.
All the major contenders passed the eventing final horse inspection at the Tokyo Olympics and will carry on to contest the show jumping phase in a few hours’ time.
The ground jury (Nick Burton, GBR, Christina Klingspor, SWE, and the U.S.A.’s Jane Hamlin) and vets only failed to accept one horse - Fantastic Frieda, ridden by Poland’s Joanna Pawlak, who had completed the cross-country in 41st place with a refusal and 25.2 time-faults.
The FEI has announced that the Swiss horse Jet Set, ridden by Robin Godel has had to be euthanized after pulling up extremely lame on the Sea Forest Cross Country Course during Equestrian Eventing at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on August 1, 2021.
In 2002, at the age of 15, I was at my Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Maine while Tremaine Cooper was there building some cross-country jumps. I helped him build a trakehner, not realizing that this day would set the course for my future. A few weeks later he called asking if I could help him at Millbrook Horse Trials. From there I helped Tremaine during most of my school vacations and throughout the summers. After graduating high school I kept at it never looking back. I lived the gypsy lifestyle for about six years going from coast to coast and event to event. In 2013 my wife Kathryn and I settled down in Lexington, Kentucky. These days I spend roughly 60-75 percent of my time on the road preparing events or building private schooling areas. I’ve had the privilege of being involved with some really great events around the states and have cultivated many friendships all over the country. In 2019 I was asked to be a part of Team Evans Olympic cross-country building crew. As I write this I am on my third trip to Tokyo. Here’s a day in Tokyo . . .
The British team cemented their gold medal position at the Tokyo Olympics with three magnificent cross-country performances, all clear inside the time. Added to that, their first rider, Oliver Townend, holds pole position individually after the dressage leader, Germany’s Michael Jung, picked up 11 penalties for triggering a frangible device.