Jun 11, 2023

Dutton Takes the CCI4*-L, Martin Scores a Hat Trick at MARS Bromont

Phillip Dutton and Azure. Cealy Tetley photos

Bromont, Quebec, Canada—June 11America’s Phillip Dutton currently sits at no. 12 in the world on the FEI Eventing World Rankings list, is a veteran of seven Olympic Games and FEI World Equestrian Games (each), and is pretty darn happy that (good friend) and fellow Olympian Boyd Martin didn’t have a horse in the CCI4*-L at this year’s MARS Bromont CCI.

Dutton topped the weekend’s marquee event, the CCI4*-L with Azure, owned by Anne, Caroline, and Michael Moran. Together for about a year, the pair admittedly still have work to do on their dressage phase (placed 15th after dressage, they rocketed up into first after a clean cross-country round on Saturday adding just 0.4 penalties for time.) They left the poles in the cups today over the Marc Donovan-designed stadium jumping course, adding another 0.4 penalties for exceeding the time allowed, to finish at the top of the leaderboard on a final score of 37.2.

“It was really rewarding the way [Azure] jumped today,” said Dutton after the awards. “We’re still getting to know each other and have been working closely with Lauren Hough trying to get her to slow down, finesse the warm-up and get in the ring. She’s just an excitable horse—she enjoys life, but in a very enthusiastic way. She’s almost ready for a five-star if I can get her a little bit more competitive on the flat.”

Dutton also finished second to Martin in the CCI2*-L with Fernhill Shutterfly, as well as second in the CCI4*-S to Martin with his Tokyo Olympic horse Z.

“This was Z’s first run back since [competing in the CCI5*-L] Kentucky in April,” said Dutton of his long-time partner. “I know it’s a long way to come to give him an ‘easy run,’ but we love it up here, and it’s a great education. It’s the perfect prep for Aachen [where they have been named to the U.S. Eventing team for the CCIO4*-S].”

Arielle Aharoni and Dutch Times.

Finishing second to Dutton in the CCI4*-L was Arielle Aharoni with Dutch Times. A veteran of the MARS Bromont Rising program in 2019, they jumped double-clear, having added only time to their dressage score on Saturday’s cross-country phase. They finished on an overall score of 41.3. Remarkably, the overall standings from first through 13th did not change at all from where they were following the cross-country phase.

Going into the ring second to last, Aharoni had to wait all day through all of the other divisions and nearly the entire CCI4*-L for her turn—a position she’d not been in before.

“I was so nervous all morning,” Aharoni admitted. “Our first couple of days were a little rough with the cooler weather. ‘Dutch’ was feeling pretty fresh. I was thrilled with our personal best in dressage, and then I walked the cross-country course a gazillion times trying to figure out the best way around. In the end I went with my original plan, and it all worked out. Today, as soon as I got on, all the nerves went away. I trust him. As long as I can just get out of his way he’ll do his job."

Rounding out the top three was Hannah Sue Hollberg with Capitol HIM who also jumped double-clear to finish a point behind Aharoni on a final score of 42.4.

Sara Schulman and Cooley Chromatic.

MARS Bromont Rising participant Sara Schulman was one of just a handful of riders to finish on a sub-30 final score this weekend (29.6), with her horse Cooley Chromatic in the CCIU252*-L.

This was the division that saw the most movement in final placings as a result of stadium rounds. Most notably, overnight leaders Noah Stanlaske and DHI Showman pulled two rails to relinquish the win and settle for third (37.2), and to her credit, Emeline Gilbert and EWSZ Mozart jumped a lovely double-clean to move up from fourth into second (34.1).

“It has been really nice to have all three phases come together,” said Schulman at the end of the weekend. “I didn’t know how [Cooley Chromatic] would handle it all, especially show jumping in a ring with a bunch of spectators, but I can tell he’s grown up from the four-year-old I started with and he’s a total professional now.”

As one of the participants in the MARS Bromont Rising grant and education program, administered by the USEA Foundation, Schulman benefitted from workshops and coaching throughout the week from some of the top names in the sport. Cross-country course designer Derek Di Grazia, FEI 5* judge Cara Whitham, FEI veterinarian Dr. Yves Rossier, and German Olympian Bettina Hoy all generously gave their time to provide seminars, coaching, and knowledge to this first group of young riders. The second group will apply and be chosen in advance of the Galway Downs International CCI (Temecula, California) in November of this year.

“Without the MARS Bromont Rising grant I wouldn’t have been able to come up here and compete,” Schulman explained. “I was very lucky because my home trainer Jan Byyny was able to be here, and she and Bettina would bounce ideas back and forth. Jan was able to give Bettina an idea of the things we’ve been working on, and Bettina was able to work with that and not change our program completely but rather add in those minor details that might help depending on the specific course.”

Boyd Martin and Asti's Charming.

Looking at Martin’s FEI biography, you might guess he likes to do things in threes. He’s been to three Olympic games, as well as three FEI World Equestrian Games. And today in Bromont he scored a perfect hat-trick, taking top honors in the CCI2*-L, CCI3*-L, and CCI4*-S divisions and earning his 10th, 11th and 12th wins at Bromont to boot.

The top three placings in each of these divisions remained entirely unchanged from where they were Saturday. Martin took the win in the CCI2*-L with Asti’s Charming owned by Catie Boone, on a score of 23.0; and in the CCI3*-L with Chiraz owned by Sandra Holden on a score of 29.6; and in the CCI4*-S with On Cue owned by Martin, Christine, Tommie and Thomas Turner on a score of 45.8.

Boyd Martin and Chiraz.

In the CCI2*-L and CCI3*-L divisions, each of the top three riders jumped double clean on Sunday to retain their placings. In the CCI4*-S, it meant Martin had enough of a lead going in that even with one rail down to add 4 jumping penalties to his score, he was able to easily absorb those penalties into his lead and still finish on top.

“Charm put in a heroic effort [in the two-star] today,” Martin remarked following the first division. “He came from the show jumping world so I had a tiny bit of confidence leading into today just because he’s done a fair bit of show jumping. He doesn’t want to touch the rails. Yesterday didn’t take anything out of him, and I was very pleased for the win.

“Chiraz showed signs of greenness this weekend but we got through it, and I’m guessing he’ll grow and learn from this. I’m very proud of the group I brought, they really toughed it out this week and have proven themselves.

“On Cue has a heart of gold," he continued. "She’s got to be one of the most all-time favorite horses I have ever competed. She’s had a year of recuperating from an injury, and she feels rejuvenated and happy. I’ve never ridden such a champion cross-country horse. She’s turned into a horse of a lifetime.”

Martin plans to return to the FEI Eventing Nations Cup in August at Bromont with On Cue before heading overseas to compete at the Burghley CCI5*-L (England) in the fall.

“She will have a couple of weeks off now, and then we’ll gear up for Burghley. I’ll use Bromont as a preparation event in August, I just think it’s the perfect preparation event for an epic competition like Burghley," he said.

Boyd Martin and On Cue.

“I think [the MARS Bromont CCI] is one of the greatest contests in North America," Martin added. "The town itself is great with the location and the restaurants. The competition itself has this beautiful ring and unbelievable cross-country course. It’s a real challenge, and we are so grateful for [organizer] Sue Ockendon and a huge thank you to the Mrs. Mars and the MARS corporation for sponsoring such a champion event.”

Runners up in the CCI2*-L and CCI4*-S were Dutton, with Fernhill Shutterfly and Z respectively. In the CCI3*-L, U25 and MARS Bromont Rising participant Maya Clarkson finished second with Maks Mojo C.

When asked to sum up the experience at the MARS Bromont CCI as a rider who can go anywhere in the world to compete, yet chooses to come to Bromont, Dutton was succinct in his evaluation.

“It’s a great show, and it’s rider-friendly. It’s a beautiful town. You’re not going to bring every horse here because it’s difficult. It’s a championship course, and I hope it stays like that. The work Sue Ockendon does—it’s incredible for Canada but also for eventing. She’s kept this event going through thick and thin. And she puts the emphasis on the right things, making sure the cross-country course is built well and safe and strong for the horse’s education. I just can’t say enough good things about it.”

For complete scores visit EventEntries and follow us on social media at @bromontcci.

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