Caroline Martin added two more champion titles to her winning week, bringing the total to four. She started off winning The Dutta Corp. USEA YEH East Coast Championships in the 4-year-old division on Wednesday and the 5-year-old A division on Thursday. Then she wrapped up a banner trip to the Virginia Horse Trials today with a win in the YEH 5-year-old B division and the USEF CCI2*-L Eventing National Championship.
Martin topped the USEF CCI2*-L Eventing National Championship riding her own QC Diablo Hit. Starting in 7th place after dressage, the pair jumped two faultless rounds to finish on their initial score of 33.8.
“He gets a little nervous in dressage but that’s alright. Cross-country is a blast, it’s the easiest thing for him. In show jumping I’m so proud of him. He jumped his heart out,” Martin said of the 9-year-old Oldenburg gelding. “This is the best thing for him winning this show because this is going to boost his ego so much. He’s such a tricky horse so this is the best outcome for him. I think he’ll be my next Advanced horse.”
Carol Stephens had originally sent Diablo to Martin to sell. Martin broke her shoulder the day he arrived. Her first ride on him was with one working arm and she fell in love. Diablo made it clear early on that he was a one-person horse, and he and Martin bonded.
“He’s such a funny horse. You can’t put any other riders on him. Even if I’m gone he goes lunging. He doesn’t like other people. He’s a one-person horse,” Martin said.
Martin produced Diablo to Preliminary and sold him, but he soon came back when the buyer changed their mind. “I called Carol and said ‘I think it’s meant to be,’” Martin said. “I’ll take the horse back, let me produce him, I’ll own him and keep you updated about how he is. So I own him now and he’s been nothing but a pleasure to ride. I knew he was legit since day one.”
Hannah Sue Burnett and Christa Schmidt’s Carsonstown were leading the way when they entered the ring for the final phase. A single rail dropped them out of the lead, but they still finished CCI2*-L Reserve Champions on a three-phase score of 36.3.
Charlotte Stillfried and Palma D won the USEF CCI2*-L Junior/Young Rider Eventing National Championship on a score of 46.2. Stillfried’s mom, Agnes, picked out the now 8-year-old Westphalian mare in Germany recalling, “They pulled her out of a very small barn and she had an amazing appearance.”
This is both Stillfried and Palma’s first CCI2*-L. They finished fourth in the CCI2*-S in Maryland in July. “It’s been pretty cool to bring her along,” Stillfried said. “I had a lot of help — Skyeler Icke Voss from Morningside and Patrick Tigchelaar is my dressage coach.”
At Virginia, Stillfried and Palma led the CCI2*-L Junior/Young Rider Championship from start to finish. “She’s amazing in the dressage. Show jumping has always been a little bit of a challenge but she’s also the best cross-country horse I’ve ever sat on. We have a pretty strong partnership … [This week] has been nothing short of amazing.”
Finishing second in the USEF CCI2*-L Junior/Young Rider Eventing National Championship were Annabelle Kress and Canny Calypso.
The second half of the Young Event Horse competitors in the 5-year-old division were rescheduled to finish their competition today after deteriorating footing conditions forced an early end to the day on Thursday. The two divisions were pinned separately.
Martin and Redfield Farm's Redfield Galway Blake won the day with a final score of 91.47 in The Dutta Corp. USEA YEH East Coast Championships 5-year-old B division.
“It kind of worked in our favor that he went in the second competition because he was second after dressage. He’s a great cross-country horse,” Martin said. “He’s been beautifully produced and I just recently got the ride on him. I’m lucky to ride such a special guy.”
It wasn’t long ago that Martin struck out on her own, moving from being a top developing rider to a serious working professional. The road hasn’t been easy, but she’s feeling confident in her path. “It’s been up and down the past couple years. I started two years ago with eight advanced horses and I had to sell them to start a business and I started working for Emil Spadone and Paul Hendrix. It was devastating to lose those horses but I’m happy I’m being able to rebuild my string with quality horses.”
Martin has high hopes for Redfield Galway Blake and Redfield King, the winner of the 5-year-old A division and the highest placing 5-year-old between the two groups. She hopes to compete one or both at the World Breeding Championships for 6/7-year-olds at Le Lion and beyond.
“We put a lot of work into these horses,” Martin said. “This really gave me the confidence I needed. Hopefully, we’ll keep producing them and get a few more and get them syndicated and we’ll be knocking on the world championships soon with these young ones.”
That wraps up a big week at VHT International & Horse Trials. With over 600 horses entered and multiple Championship classes, the Virginia Horse Center was buzzing for five full days.
“It’s been a mammoth week with the weather gods throwing a lot at us,” VHT organizer Andy Bowles said. “We did everything we could to provide the best conditions possible and give the riders a good experience. I’d like to thank everyone that competed and all of my team for creating such a successful event even with all the odds stacked against us.”
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.