Leesburg, Va.—Oct. 15—Boyd Martin knew he had a talented partner in Commando 3, but with just under a year competing together, Martin hadn’t truly tested the gelding until this weekend at the Morven Park International CCI4*-L.
Yankee Creek Ranch’s 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Connor 48 x R-Adelgunde) scored a 26.2 in dressage on Friday and tackled Derek di Grazia’s tough cross-country course yesterday with grit and determination and just a handful of time penalties.
This afternoon, he pinged over Chris Barnard’s show jumping course double-clear to finish on a final score of 29.4, more than 10 points ahead of Caroline Pamukcu and her young talent King’s Especiale (39.8).
“It just sort of confirms my belief that he's just so strong in all phases,” said Martin of his win. “He’s unbelievably elegant on the flat, he gallops like a racehorse cross-country, and he’s sharp and careful and scopey for the show jumping, and he trots up good. It’s very hard to find all those elements and characteristics. It's a needle in a haystack, so I just really feel a privilege to ride him. He's an easy ride. He could be a little bit sharp when he's fresh, but once he settles down, he's not a complicated horse. I pushed him along a bit yesterday, and he felt fresh as a daisy and pranced out of the stable this morning and came out and show jumped very well.”
Martin has a strong string of five-star horses in his barn in Cochranville, Pennsylvania, but he thinks after this weekend, “Connor” could make his debut at the level next year.
With the 2024 Paris Olympics as a goal, Martin’s not sure where Connor will be aimed yet, but he believes the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event could be a possibility.
“I think he could win a five-star,” he said. “I’m very fortunate to have a couple of horses that I think would be a chance at the Olympics next year, and the Olympics is a four-star. My preference would be to run him at Kentucky in the five-star, but I'm not even going to think about it at the moment. Next year we'll sort of come up with a bit of a game plan for each horse and talk to the powers that be of what they think would suit each animal. I'm just so excited about the future. I think this is the beginning of a long reign with Commando, and if he hangs in there, I think he could be one of those horses of a lifetime.”
Pamukcu had a stellar weekend with her two 8-year-olds, finishing second with Redfield King HX’s Group’s Dutch Warmblood gelding King’s Especiale (Connect x Cha Cha Cha Special) and third with her own, Sherrie Martin, and Andy and Mollie Hoff’s Anglo European mare She’s The One (Jaguar Mail x One To Watch).
The pair swapped places after cross-country, with “King” jumping clear with .4 time penalties, and “Gemma” dropping three rails and adding 2.8 time penalties.
“I love Chris Barnard; he is like the best human ever,” she said. “I love his designing. I love how if you ride positive, it always promotes positive riding and rewards it.
She’s had King since he was a 5-year-old and said being able to bring him through the levels has made all the difference.
“He’s got the blood, he’s obviously got the movement,” she said. “He’s gonna win something big one day.
“She’s The One, our relationship is new, and we’ve only had her a few months, and she gets a little bit blood in the ring, and I’m just trying to figure her out in the ring—she was just losing relaxation, but it’s going to be there,” she continued. “She has more heart than anyone else. She fights and gives you everything she has.”
Pamukcu's hoping both horses will get a chance to do another European tour next year to solidify their results before their five-star debuts.
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United States Eventing Association (USEA) members at the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention were in for a treat on Friday as the U.S. Eventing Team was on hand to discuss their accomplishments this year at the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile.
“Test the best without hurting the rest,” said show jumping course designer Chris Barnard as he and fellow designer Marc Donovan led a lively discussion for nearly 50 participants at the Show Jumping Seminar on the first day of the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention.
This afternoon, USEA President Louise “Lou” Leslie welcomed U.S. Eventing Association (USEA) Board of Governors members, USEA staff, and USEA Annual Meeting & Convention attendees to the first of two Board meetings which will take place during this year’s Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, with the teaser that 2024 is going to be full of initiatives for more opportunities to access the eventing experience, some of which attendees might get first wind of during this year’s gathering. The 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention takes place Dec. 7-10 at the Marriott St. Louis Grand Hotel.
Welcome to the Show Me state and to Area IV USEA members! The 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention kicks of tomorrow and features four full days of educational seminars, committee meetings, and social gatherings all with one aim—to bring the eventing community together to continue to improve upon and celebrate the sport that we all love. This year’s Convention takes place in St. Louis, Missouri, at the Marriott St. Louis Grand in downtown St. Louis from Dec. 7-10, and we have rounded up everything you need to know to make the most of your time in the heartland.