“It’s been a long ride for me, and a long ride for her,” Jennie Brannigan said after she clinched the win in the CCI4*-L at Rebecca Farm with the 11-year-old Hanoverian mare, Stella Artois. Brannigan suffered injury from a fall this spring, which threw a wrench in her competition schedule, so she wasn’t sure if a CCI4*-L competition was in the cards for her this summer.
“I came out in January after taking a year off of competition, and I was really keen and everything was going great until Carolina [International], and I had two falls in one day, which were traumatic. I broke both sides of my jaw and my teeth,” explained Brannigan. “I ironically came back pretty fast from that, and I had an incredible surgeon, thanks to Beth Lendrum [a member of Stella Artois' syndicate] who lined up the best oral surgeon in North Carolina after my fall. Eventing is such an incredible sport because everyone bands together to do things like that.”
Brannigan has been riding and training more with Boyd Martin recently, which she credited part of her success to, in feeling prepared for the CCI4*-L at Rebecca Farm. “I was really thrilled with how she felt here today,” she said of The Stella Artois Syndicate’s 11-year-old German Hannoveranner mare, Stella Artois. The pair finished the weekend on a 32.9, just 0.4 off of their dressage score. “I’ve had her since she was five and produced her all the way up, so it’s been really special, and she jumped super today, so I couldn’t be more thrilled with her.”
“It’s been a really tough couple of years. I was very emotional after [show jumping] because at one point, I didn’t know if I would ever event again. When you’ve spent your whole life in one career and you start googling what to do next - that’s where it was,” Brannigan said as she teared up. “For a while, all I cared about was winning, and I don’t feel like that anymore. So, in a way, having that year off was a blessing, because it changed my entire perspective,” she explained. “Now, I enjoy coaching. Watching people like Alyssa Phillips and Alexa Lapp and cheering them on for success - I love it.”
She noted that over the last two years, she’s leaned on her close ones, and found a new meaning to true friendship. “The sport’s tough, but we’ve got good people around us, and it makes it possible to keep going.”
It’s a very special weekend for Brannigan to earn a win as the whole Stella Artois Syndicate traveled to Rebecca Farm, and some of them met for the first time at the event.
Overnight leader Lauren Billys had one rail down, to move her down to second place on the Purdy Syndicate LLC’s 17-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, Castle Larchfield Purdy. The pair, however, still earned their MER necessary for the Tokyo Olympics, which was their ultimate goal. James Alliston rounded out the top three with Laura Boyer’s 9-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare, Pandora.
Rembrandt Maintains Lead to Claim the CCI4*-S
After galloping around the CCI4*-S cross-country course with the fastest time yesterday, Sabrina Glaser and Rembrandt sat in a comfortable lead heading into today’s show jumping. “I remember James Atkinson saying that the best rounds seem to be the ones that have a bit of fire in there, and I so when I went into the ring, I thought, okay [we’re] going to go pedal to the metal and it’s either going to work, or not. I had a couple of rails in hand so I thought I’ll try it out,” Glaser explained.
The pair ended up taking one rail down, but still had room for error and they earned the win on a 43.9. “I don’t think we’ll get style marks, but he was jumping well over a lot of them,” Glaser said of the 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding, Rembrandt. “He’s amazing, and he tries his heart out.”
Glaser has had a long partnership with the gelding, as she’s had him since he was three years old. “He’s like a puppy dog, and we have a great partnership. Everything’s always been easy for him, and he’s just that casual guy,” she added. “He came out today feeling really, really good.”
Brannigan claimed second place in the CCI4*-S with Nina Gardner’s 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare, I Bella (Indoctro x Southern Girl). The pair show jumped double clear to conclude the weekend on a 48.6, just 4.7 points behind Glaser. Marc Grandia and Team Rebecca LLC’s 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding, Campari FFF (Camiros x Tanner) rounded out the top three on a 49.3.
Follow the USEA event coverage on social media:
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.