It was well worth the cross-country trip for Tamra Smith as she put herself in optimal position following dressage in the Intermediate Championship at the 2019 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds. Riding Ruth Bley’s En Vogue (Earl x Laurena), a 14-year-old Hanoverian mare, she leads the biggest division of the event on a 26.0. Smith also sits third on another Bley-owned mount, Danito (Dancier x Wie Musik), a 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding on a 28.3.
“She actually was quite good,” said Smith of En Vogue. “I had a few bobbles in the test, but she’s such an incredible mover and correct, that a couple of fours aren’t going to do too much when you are also getting eights. I was really happy with her.”
En Vogue hasn’t been out since she competed at the Twin Rivers Spring Horse Trials in April, where she was entered in the CCI3*-L division. “I’ve been away, and I was supposed to take her to Woodside, but she pulled a shoe and overreached, so I scratched her from there.”
Looking at the course for tomorrow Smith said, “The course looks beautiful. Obviously, it’s great to be on the Lexington track and on the turf, with the rolling hills, it’s beautiful. The designer has done a phenomenal job, it’s a championship course. The questions are difficult but readable and it’ll really test the horses, which is what you want.”
“She’s a really great cross-country horse, and she’s fun to ride on the flat,” continued Smith. “It’s big and technical out there. She can be a bit of a spooky horse, and it’s probably the biggest track that will have seen, she’s a green horse, but I feel like she’s ready to move up from Intermediate to Advanced now, but this will be a true test.”
As for riding two horses for the same owner, Smith said, “Ruth is amazing. She trusts me 100% and I feel like I can really put a plan together for the horses and she’s supportive. They’re both such quality horses that even with mistakes they’re scoring well. Their movement and rideability is so good.”
Sandwiched in between Smith is Boyd Martin and Luke 140 (Landos x Omega VI), the Luke 140 Syndicate’s 8-year-old Holsteiner gelding, who sit 1.4 points behind the leaders on 27.4
Bates Junior/Young Rider Preliminary
Elizabeth Henry and Charlotte La Bouff, her own 11-year-old Oldenburg mare, are carrying forward their momentum from the North American Youth Championships (NAYC) earlier this summer. They scored a 24.6 this morning in the Johnson Arena, 0.3 points better than their NAYC score, to take the early lead in the Bates Junior/Young Rider Open Preliminary division at the AEC.
“It was awesome,” said Henry of her test with Charlotte. “She went in there so happy and so willing to work with me. It was a beautiful test.”
Henry acquired Charlotte two and a half years ago as her “move-up-to-Training” horse. “She had done a few Preliminaries, but not very successfully so she just needed another year at Training and I was moving up so it was the perfect mesh,” Henry elaborated. “We just bonded right when I started riding her and I just love her to death. We have a great bond – I trust her, she trusts me, she puts her best foot forward, I do my best – it’s a great partnership we have.
Four weeks ago, the pair brought home the individual silver medal from the North American Youth Championships at Rebecca Farm, just one of many top finishes from the last two years. “She’s been so happy [since she got back] – she got two weeks break and went right back into work and she felt like she was the queen of the word when she got back,” Henry said.
As for tomorrow’s cross-country, Henry says she can’t wait to get out there with Charlotte to tackle Derek di Grazia’s course. “I feel like Rebecca was more decorated and dressed up, but the questions and the rideability here is a lot tougher,” she said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun. She loves it – it’s probably her best phase, honestly. She loves it and I love it so it’s perfect.”
Magdalena Valenti and Wish I Am, her own 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, are hot on Henry and Charlotte’s heels on a score of 24.8, just 0.2 points behind the leaders. In third place is Leila Saxe and Quasar (Quando Quando x Fanessa), her 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding, on a score of 26.4.
Bates Preliminary Amateur
Katherine Nolan and her own Prince of Power (Prince Joseph x Lady Power) danced their way into the lead this afternoon in the Bates Preliminary Amateur division on a score of 28.2.
“He was fabulous,” Nolan said of the 9-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred. he stayed really focused and supple and soft. We had a plan and we went into the warm-up and we stuck to our plan, which sometimes we don’t do, and he was really good.
“I was a little worried about the atmosphere and him leaving all the horses and going down the ramp but he was just like, ‘sure, whatever,’” she continued. “He’s really matured a lot since he was a baby – we’ve come a long way since he was 6 and bucking in the dressage ring. He’s grown up and it’s been really fun to see it happen.”
Nolan bought Prince of Power off the track as a 4-year-old and has spent the last five years slowly producing him up the levels. “He only raced twice – he was so slow, he was last both time. But his race trainers were so great, they brought him back to the barn and put him out in a field with some mares in foal and sold him. They’re really great – it’s nice, I still stay in touch with them.”
Nolan said she’s looking forward to tomorrow’s cross-country. “ It’s beautiful, they’ve done a really lovely job . . . There’s a lot to do and it’s big so hopefully, he’s ready to go and on his game and ready to gallop. I’m excited because there’s lots of galloping, lots of room, and the footing looks great. We’ve come a long way so hopefully, that Thoroughbred will kick in tomorrow and we’ll make time!”
Arden Wildasin sits second and third on Watch Out and Southern Sun, respectively. James Wildasin’s Watch Out, a 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding by Concorde, scored a 28.6 with stablemate Southern Sun (Boherdeal Clover x Birdhill Lady), Sarah Wildasin’s 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, close behind on a 28.8.
Bates Preliminary Rider
Just a few months ago Isabel Holden was sending her boss Leslie Law down the ramp into the Rolex Stadium, but this time it was Holden’s turn to take center stage with her 8-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Rebel Soul (Bernstein x Bronze Abe). The pair scored a 26.1 to lead the Preliminary Rider division.
“Our ride went really well,” said Holden. “I was glad that I did the pre-ride. He was a bit tense yesterday going into the big ring for the first time ever. But today he was nice and relaxed and did his job for me. It was pretty surreal riding in there.”
Holden has brought Rebel up the ranks – she got him as a 4-year-old and he had only raced before until that point. “We gave him a different career and he has excelled in that. He likes to please, and he is very workmanlike,” she explained.
Looking ahead to cross-country tomorrow Holden said, “It looks really fun. Knock on wood he has been a machine these last few shows. Fingers crossed everything goes really well. It looks like a championship course. There are some parts when I walked with Leslie [Law], he was even like ‘oh that was nice of Derek [di Grazia]’ or ‘oh that was brave of Derek.’ The rider has to take a lot of responsibility at certain points, so I am excited to see how it goes.”
Holden and Rebel are just over 3 points ahead of second-placed Carolyn Wehle and Amy Winnen’s Edelmann, a 12-year-old Polish Warmblood gelding (El Bundy x Soja). Julia Spatt and 5o1 Macintosh (Gatsby x Folie a Deux), her 9-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding, are in third place only 0.1 points behind on a 29.6.
Bates Preliminary Horse
Bobby Meyerhoff and his own and The Donavan Group’s Lumumba (Levisonn x Lamara), an 8-year-old Mecklenburg mare, eked into the lead in the Bates Preliminary Horse division with 26.9 – just 0.1 ahead of second-placed Andrew Palmer and Lucinda (Inamorato x Lily of the Valley), Christina Potter’s 12-year-old Trakehner mare.
Lumumba is coming off a win in the Bromont CCI2*-L and carried the form into today. “I gave her a nice break and brought her back to work; this is her first show back. Her test today was good. I’ve been working on some different things, and pushing her a little bit, and it’s really coming together. Her body came back very strong after the break which I was really happy about, and I think just her overall strength is coming along. We’re making it nice and easy for her,” explained Meyerhoff.
Meyerhoff found Lumumba last year in “the middle of nowhere Germany.” She had done some small jumper shows, but Meyerhoff introduced her to eventing. “I’m just producing her very slowly,” he said. “I think she’s going to move up the levels pretty quickly, because of all of the work she’s doing.”
With very little cushion over second Meyerhoff and Lumumba will have to be on their game across the country tomorrow. “I just finished walking the course,” Meyerhoff said. “It looks great, with little twists and turns which is good – it’ll slow people down. It’s a big open field so there are lots of opportunities to gallop. There are some technical questions, so you’ve got to balance and make sure that your horse is listening. Where she’s at, I think it’s just right for her and I can’t wait to run her on it.”
Kristen Bond and her 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare Bea Ready (Haarlem x Izora) round out the top three on a 27.4.
Cross-country gets underway tomorrow with Intermediate with the first horse on the course at 8:30 a.m. followed by the Preliminary divisions. The Equistro Modified/Training and Training divisions then have their turn in the dressage rings.
About the USEA American Eventing Championships
The USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds is the pinnacle of the sport for the national levels. Held annually, the best junior, adult amateur, and professional competitors gather to vie for national championship titles at every level from Beginner Novice to Advanced. This ultimate test of horse and rider draws hundreds of horses and riders from around the country to compete for fabulous prizes, a piece of the substantial prize money, and the chance to be named the National Champion at their respective levels. This year, the AEC will be held August 27 – September 1 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Click here to learn more about the USEA American Eventing Championships.
The USEA would like to thank the following sponsors for their support of the AEC: Presenting Sponsor: Nutrena; Advanced Final Title Sponsor: Adequan; Platinum Level Sponsors: Bates Saddles, Equistro; Gold Level Sponsors: Charles Owen, Standlee Hay, Parker Equine Insurance; Silver Level Sponsors: Mountain Horse; The Jockey Club, Park Equine; Bronze Level Sponsors: Arnall’s Naturals, State Line Tack, Black Petticoat, Devoucoux, Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, Horseware Ireland, LandSafe SmartPak, Dubarry, The Chronicle of the Horse, Stackhouse and Ellis Saddles, Auburn Laboratories, FITS Riding, Ovation, Lanier Sand and Soil, Event Cooling Solutions, Farm House Tack; Contributing Level Sponsors: Ariat, Meanwhile Back on the Farm, L.V. Harkness, Lexmark, GLC Direct, Georgetown Tourism, FarmVet, FLAIR Nasal Strips, Nunn Finer, RevitaVet, Resvantage Equine, CrossCountry App; Prize Level Sponsors: GumBits, Ride Heels Down, C4 Belts, I Love My Horse, Mare Modern Goods, Bluegrass Vibershield, Bluegrass Animal Products, Caracol, Active Interest Media, Astrid’s Oil, Baekgaard, On The Bit Horse Supplies, Luxe EQ, EQ AM Magazine, Jetti Spa, Great British Equinery, Foxden Equine, The Scoring Chix, Pure Form Equine; Competitor’s Party Sponsors:Jacqueline Mars, Kat and Roberto Cuca, United States Hunter Jumper Association, and United States Dressage Federation.
The FEI has announced that the Swiss horse Jet Set, ridden by Robin Godel has had to be euthanized after pulling up extremely lame on the Sea Forest Cross Country Course during Equestrian Eventing at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on August 1, 2021.
In 2002, at the age of 15, I was at my Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Maine while Tremaine Cooper was there building some cross-country jumps. I helped him build a trakehner, not realizing that this day would set the course for my future. A few weeks later he called asking if I could help him at Millbrook Horse Trials. From there I helped Tremaine during most of my school vacations and throughout the summers. After graduating high school I kept at it never looking back. I lived the gypsy lifestyle for about six years going from coast to coast and event to event. In 2013 my wife Kathryn and I settled down in Lexington, Kentucky. These days I spend roughly 60-75 percent of my time on the road preparing events or building private schooling areas. I’ve had the privilege of being involved with some really great events around the states and have cultivated many friendships all over the country. In 2019 I was asked to be a part of Team Evans Olympic cross-country building crew. As I write this I am on my third trip to Tokyo. Here’s a day in Tokyo . . .
The British team cemented their gold medal position at the Tokyo Olympics with three magnificent cross-country performances, all clear inside the time. Added to that, their first rider, Oliver Townend, holds pole position individually after the dressage leader, Germany’s Michael Jung, picked up 11 penalties for triggering a frangible device.
The 2012 and 2016 individual Olympic champion, Germany’s Michael Jung, blazed into first place after dressage at the Tokyo 2020 Games with a superb test on Chipmunk.
Deservedly scoring 21.1 - a record for both rider and his country at an Olympics, according to EquiRatings - it was a joy to watch. From the first extended trot, the pair looked secure, positive, and harmonious. The test was as accurate and as well-delivered as that of long-time leaders Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class (GBR), but with more expression and ease. Jung and the Contendro 13-year-old demonstrated all this specially-written, short Olympic test asks for and each movement flowed into the next.