Erin Sylvester and Paddy the Caddy (Azamore x Slamy) put in a double clear round over Marc Donovan’s show jumping course to move into the lead in the CCI4*-S at Plantation Field International in Coatesville, Pennsylvania and sit on their dressage score of 29.5 heading into the final phase of competition tomorrow.
“It felt like he jumped out of his skin,” Sylvester said of Frank McEntee’s 12-year-old Irish Thoroughbred gelding. “He was keen and he was happy to be in the ring.”
Sylvester admitted that she doesn’t do a lot of show jumping schooling between events. “We try to save the jumps on his legs for cross-country schooling so I usually do a few show jumping schools at the beginning of the season to get him going and then once he’s competing he usually doesn’t show jump in between shows,” she explained. “It’s a very special thing just for him – he’s a really careful horse and he loves the challenge in show jumping. I’ll do some cavaletti schooling at home to practice changing his stride length and making him more rideable. Beyond that, I really don’t show jump him at all.”
Sylvester took a tumble with her CCI3*-S mount, Morning Glory SE, and though both horse and rider are okay, Sylvester is considering withdrawing her two CCI4*-S horses, Paddy the Caddy and Campground, from the competition tomorrow. “I’m feeling a bit sore from that and I just want to make sure I feel 100 percent before I’m running them around cross-country.”
If she does end up riding tomorrow, Sylvester said the course looks good and should suit “Paddy.” “It’s got plenty of good questions on it with the leadup in mind for Fair Hill for some horses, Jockey Club for other horses. There’s enough challenge on it without being unfair.”
Caroline Martin and her own and Sherrie Martin’s Danger Mouse, an 11-year-old Warmblood gelding by Kannan, moved up from fourth place to second place on their dressage score of 30.1 after putting in a double clear round. “He’s the one horse you can get on every day and I can just relax a bit,” Martin shared. “I do a lot of sale horses and a lot of young horses and they’re all quite green so it’s nice to have one that knows his job and I don’t even have to think.”
As the first alternate for the team traveling to compete at the FEI Eventing Nations Cup at Boekelo next month, Martin explained that her focus has been on “Mouse’s” fitness. “I’m just making sure he’s extra fit so we’re ready if the team needs me,” Martin said. “If not I might put him on holiday after this show – I’m not really quite sure yet. He’s done five CCI4*-Ls so I’m just kind of keeping him happy and looking for the future for Kentucky or WEG. Knock on wood, he hopefully has a lot of years left.”
“I did a 15-minute warmup and went in the ring – he’s very trained now,” Martin commented on yesterday’s dressage test. “He really knows what he’s doing so it’s mostly keeping him relaxed. He has a lot of suspension in his trot and he’s an overachiever so relaxation is key. I ride him in a jump saddle the first couple of days and just keep him happy. He really knows his job.”
“It’s a great galloping track,” Martin said, looking to tomorrow’s cross-country course. “They really worked hard on the ground which is really nice to see, a venue working this hard. I think it’s a great course for [Mouse] – I’ve got to put a few calls into my coach [Erik Duvander] and see what the team would like me to do, if they’d like me to go fast or run slow. Whatever they want because the horse’s future is to do team competitions so it’s up to them.”
Even with the single rail that dropped Colleen Rutledge and Cover Rights (BFF Incognito x Let’s Get it Right) out of the lead and into third place on a score of 30.3, she said she’s still very pleased with her 13-year-old Thoroughbred/Clydesdale gelding's performance today.
“I came around the turn and instead of using the turn to make sure he was on his hind feet I half-halted one too many times and he dropped behind me and I didn’t have the power to get across the oxer,” Rutledge described. “But, then we fixed it. Really and truly, considering that ring for us can be incredibly spooky, and he got really worried after he slipped coming off of fence 3 . . . I’m actually really pleased with how well he jumped.”
“I really can’t be upset,” she continued. “It’s disappointing to have the rail, but in the scheme of things when he has been so hit or miss, he’s starting to be a lot more consistently a one [rail] or none [kind of horse], rather than a three sometimes, seven sometimes, clean here. We’re getting a lot more consistency in our riding and our connection.”
“It’s a very interesting course,” Rutledge said, reflecting on Mike Etherington-Smith’s cross-country course. “It’ll be interesting to see how hard the time is to get tomorrow because it’s so turny and so twisty and there’s so many places where you can cut a little bit of time or you can lose a lot of time . . . There’s lots of good questions out there and there’s lots of things to look at and it’s always a good open galloping course, so the couple of little loops back on itself, it’ll be interesting to see how that messes with the horses’ minds.”
The first rider of the CCI4*-S will set out on course at 10:00 a.m. Cross-country will run until 11:30 a.m. and then take a two-hour break for brunch and will resume at 1:30 p.m. and continue until its conclusion at 3:00 p.m.
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“What a stunning photo of a stunning individual,” was Chris Ryan’s first remark when assessing this 2-year-old Thoroughbred gelding. “He typifies the refinement the Thoroughbred brings to the table. Look at the fine outlines. Look at the jugular groove and those beautifully light connections."