Jun 09, 2024

Canada Takes the Lead in Both CCI4* Divisions following Cross-Country Saturday at the MARS Bromont CCI

By Michelle Dunn - Edited Press Release
Canada's Waylon Roberts leads the CCI4*-L division following an influential cross-country day at Bromont. Cealy Tetley photos

Bromont, Quebec, Canada—June 8— Everyone knows that eventing is rarely just “a dressage show” and that things are bound to get shaken up come cross-country day.

Things not only got shaken up but frankly turned on their heads following an exciting and influential cross-country day at the MARS Bromont CCI Saturday. Of the six leaders we had at the start of the day, only one has retained their lead heading into the horse inspection and show jumping.

If you guessed world number two ranked eventing rider, America’s Boyd Martin, you'd be right. He still holds the top two placings in the CCI2*-L with Fetiche Des Rouges and Kolbeinn, having added shockingly few penalties to their dressage scores (we’re talking 0.4 time penalties and zero penalties respectively, in a day where just three single rides of nearly 100 came within the time allowed.) Martin's horses are going into show jumping on scores of 21.2 and 21.7.

Canadians Lead in Both CCI4* Divisions

The marquee division— the CCI4*-L— by contrast, had some of the most movement with the elimination of the overnight leader Lucienne Bellissimo (GBR) following a rider fall. In the end, it was Canada’s Waylon Roberts with the 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare OKE Ruby R (Namelus R x B. Termie R 6) who was able to hold his time penalties to just 10.8, to vault up into the lead on a to-date score of 46.0 penalties. America’s Allison Springer with No May Moon (Cartherstown Dazzler x Ebony Moon), Nancy Winter's 10-year-old Connemara cross mare, sits just behind on 46.1 penalties, so Roberts will have to be clean and inside the time in Sunday’s show jumping if he intends to hold Springer to the runner-up spot. Arden Wildasin and her 17-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Sunday Times (Cult Hero x Lackaghbegg Crest) had the fastest round in the class, adding just 10.4 time penalties to climb from 10th overnight to now sit 3rd on 48.1. Needless to say, there’s not a rail between them.

Roberts admitted he had come in looking for an “educational round” for his relatively inexperienced mare that he co-owns with John and Michelle Koppin. He explained that he uses the MARS Bromont CCI not only for the experience but as a bit of a gauge to see where they are in their career path.

“Bromont is an event that I try to put on all my horses' schedules at a certain point of their career,” he said. “I think if you have horses that you're looking to go to Morven Park, Maryland, or Kentucky, Bromont needs to be included in your preparation, if not as a goal. It is truly a world-class cross-country venue.

“I haven't been at four-star long for a few years now, and this was Ruby's first time at this level of competition. So it was hard to know what to expect. I definitely was looking to have a good educational round for her. And her best way of going is forward and covering ground. If she's making time or doing well on the clock, it's not because I'm trying, it's more that that’s where she likes to be. The minute markers here at Bromont are very familiar to me, so I sort of knew where I needed to be, at 2-3-4 minutes. And then I just tried to keep those jumps in front of her and keep jumping. So I was really pleased with how she came along.”

Multiple Pan-Am Medalist for Canada, Karl Slezak and Hot Bobo lead the CCI4*-S division following Saturday's cross-country phase

The movement was not nearly as dramatic in the CCI4*-S, although the overnight leaders Jessica Phoenix and Watson GS were also eliminated following a rider fall. Canadian Karl Slezak with his 2023 Lexington CCI4*-S winning mare Hot Bobo (by Arkansas) was able to add only time faults to their dressage score to move up from overnight second into first, as was America’s Hannah Sue Hollberg with Christa Schmidt's 17-year-old Holsteiner gelding Capitol H I M (Con Air 7 x O-Heraldika), moving from third into second. Arial Grald and the 10-year-old Holsteiner mare Isla de Coco (Cascadello x U-Lotti), owned by Anne Eldridge, now sit in third.

Slezak, who was initially concerned that the 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare, whom he co-owns with Katlyn Hewson, might find the atmosphere at Bromont a bit “much”, is now quite pleased with how she is maturing into a consistent performer.

“In the beginning, every time we took her to cross-country schooling, it was like she'd never seen a cross-country fence. Even still, if she has a long break, it's like she's never seen one. But then she has a few runs, and she just keeps getting better and better. And now it's a very different ride for me. She just cruises around.”

With it being an Olympic year, everyone is waiting to hear who might be named to Canada’s eventing team, and Slezak is no different.

“She's been show jumping well leading up to this,” he remarked. “I'm excited about tomorrow, she should put in a good round. And fingers crossed, the selectors are happy with it.”

Back to Boyd, just for a minute…

Being one of the only riders to add little (or no) time penalties over the course of the day— and on newer/younger horses— we asked Boyd for his thoughts following the afternoon.

Boyd Martin and Fetiche Des Rouges lead the CCI2*-L after cross-country

“You have to go pretty quick to make the time [here at Bromont] and the jumps are big and the terrain's undulating. You get a little bit of an inside look at how much heart they've got, and I really think they learn a lot too. So coming here, I know it's nice to win, but it's more that this sort of run hopefully helps them in the future. So I think today was a great stepping stone for them. it's just a wonderful place to bring a young horse to really see if they've got the ingredients for a big-time horse for the future.”

Arden Wildasin and the 12-year-old Anglo European gelding Billy Beaufort (My O My x Clover Hill) added just 1.6 time penalties to their round to vault up the CCI3*-L leaderboard from 13th into the lead on 35.2 penalties.

Head to EventEntries.com for the full scores from Saturday, and live scoring for Sunday’s show jumping.

With cross-country now behind them, just two tasks remain before the winners are crowned and the ribbons awarded. The final horse inspection will begin at 8:00 a.m. Sunday, where horses will once again be presented to the veterinary and judges panel to ensure everyone is sound and fit to continue in competition; and then the final test of show jumping. Sunday’s rails are very light and fall at the slightest touch of a hoof. And the scores are very close together.

It’s still very much anybody’s game.

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