Repeating their 2021 win at The Fork, Doug Payne (USA) and Vandiver climbed from seventh to top of the pack in the, producing the fastest cross-country round of the day in the CCI4*-S Division to clinch the win on a score of 30.8. Meanwhile, Phillip Dutton (USA) and Z, the 14-year-old Zangersheide gelding (ASCA x Babouche VH Gehucht Z) owned by Evie Dutton, Ann Jones, Suzanne Lacy, Caroline Moran, Thomas Tierney, and David and Patricia Vos, added just 2.8 points to their previous score of 28 to also achieve a score of 30.8. With Payne’s more optimum time across the Captain Mark Phillips (GBR) course design, he won the tie-breaker. Will Coleman (USA) and Off the Record, the 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse Gelding (VDL Arkansas x Ard Ohio) owned by Off The Record Syndicate, claimed third place honors on a score of 31.2 to round out the podium.
Payne and the 18-year-old Trakhener gelding (Windfall 2 x Mystic Replica XX) owned by Debi Crowley, Doug and Jessica Payne, are longtime partners, knowing each other “inside and out,” Payne shared. Using the weekend as a prep for spring competitions and as a fitness test, “the conditions were just about perfect,” he raved. “The ground was awesome, big course and everything. It was the perfect opportunity to move along a bit and use [the run] not only to sharpen up a bit, but use it as a fitness round as well. He was excellent.”
Piloting numerous international and national level horses throughout the weekend, Payne complemented the venue for the education opportunities offered to his young jumpers in particular. “I think it’s obviously a wonderful venue. And I think it’s super helpful, especially for the young horses to be able to jump in the stadium on that Thursday. And you know, we just always look forward to coming back.”
The only CCI3*-S Division duo to post a double clear round, Morgan Batton (USA) and I’m Sew Ready jumped from eighth place to the win on a score of 33.2. Liz Halliday-Sharp and Shanroe Cooley kept their reserve placing, adding 3.6 time faults for a total score of 34.4 with the 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Dallas VDL x Unknown) owned by Ocala Horse Properties, while Samantha Tinney (USA) achieved third place with her own Glenbrook Cooley, the 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare (Cassidee x Prospect Pride), on a score of 40.8.
Batton and her own 18-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Lupicor x Elcaro) had a foot-perfect day on the cross-country course set by Captain Mark Phillips, and she was “truly surprised” by the win, she revealed. “The course was so awesome. The footing is always perfect here at Tryon! I was really able to get galloping and going. It rode so well. The jumps were beautifully appointed and it was tons of fun. He jumped [from eighth] into first, which was truly a surprise for me.”
Batton and “Jackson” have been clicking in the dressage ring lately, she shared, but had positive experiences across all three phases, she reflected. “It was a fabulous weekend. I was really happy with my horse in all three phases. I felt like he put in a good dressage test. Our partnership is coming together in that phase,” Batton elaborated.
“He’s a super show jumper, so he’s always really good at holding up his end of the bargain. He was super sharp on Saturday, and really on top of it today.”
Payne was highly complimentary of Batton for her job well done. “I have to say, to have Morgan win was super special. She’s been a friend and client of ours for a while and she does a great job with him. I mean, clearly! She’s a super competitor, and she really wants to succeed. And it’s exciting to see her coming up the levels.”
With a wire-to-wire win, Doug Payne (USA) and Fenix Rouge Du Claux ended their weekend on a score of 29.9 for the win in CCI2*-S competition. Their nearest competitors were Caitlin Romeo (USA) and Fernhill B Good, her own 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Ramiro B x Lord de Luxe), posting a score of 40.2 for reserve. In third, Victoria Hain (USA) and her own Bounce Pass, the 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding of unknown breeding, jumped clear with 6.4 time faults to finish on a score of 50.3.
Payne and the 7-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Chef Rouge x Fleuron de Dun) owned by Anna Antrobius have been working together this winter for a little tune-up, with The Fork as his final challenge before returning to Antrobius. “Her goal in sending him to us was for this competition to be the primary focus, and so I’m excited to be able to bring home the win for her with him,” Payne reported. “He’s a very talented horse and I think a horse that will be great for her going forward.”
Contesting her first CCI1*-S, Marissa Griffin and Conguistador, her own 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Van Gough x Haarlem), finished on a score of 28.7 for the win after a double-clear cross-country round. Sandra Holden (USA) and Evil Munchkin, her own 19-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Clearway x Caretino), notched reserve on a score of 33.6, while third went to Ashton Benefiel (USA) riding Kingston Van Meerzicht, the 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Harley VDL x Indoctro) owned by Ashton Brooke Benefiel, to a final tally of 35.5.
There were surprisingly few shakeups to the top of the leaderboards Friday at the MARS Bromont CCI, but the incredibly close scores leave no margin for error heading into Saturday’s exciting cross-country phase across all five levels.
Tomorrow, the first of five regional clinics for the USEA Emerging Athletes U21 (EA21) Program kicks off in the central region of the country in Benton, Louisiana, at Holly Hill Farm. Throughout the summer, the remaining clinics on the East and West Coast will follow. At each clinic, 12 hand-selected riders will participate in a two-day clinic led by USEA Eventing Coaches Program (ECP) coaches. The purpose of the EA21 program is to create a pipeline for potential team riders by identifying and developing young talent, improving horsemanship and riding skills, and training and improving skills and consistency. The intention is to provide young athletes with access to an added level of horsemanship and riding skills to further their training and skill development with greater consistency.
After the first day of competition, Canadian Olympian Colleen Loach and her horse FE Golden Eye lead an international field in the CCI4*-L division of the MARS Bromont CCI.