An unseasonably cold and windy day greeted riders on the first day of competition at the Jersey Fresh International Three-Day Event in Allentown, New Jersey. Twenty-nine pairs came forward in the CCI4*-S in front of judges Sue Baxter (GBR), Jo Young (CAN), and Wayne Quarles (USA) to perform their dressage tests, while the CCI3*-S division saw the first 46 pairs trot down centerline for judges Robert Stevenson (USA), Valerie Vizcarrando-Pride (USA), and Janice Conlon (USA). The CCI4*-S division is also a qualifier for the $60,000 Adequan USEA Advanced Final that will take place in August at the USEA American Eventing Championships.
Lauren Kieffer and DA Duras (Numero Uno x Medoc) were one of the last pairs of the day in the CCI4*-S and they pulled out a score of 31.1 to take the lead after the first day of competition. This is the first time out at the level for Debbie Adams and Jacqueline Mars’ 11-year-old KWPN gelding since competing abroad in England in 2017.
“He’s really matured,” Kieffer explained. “He turns 11 this year and in the last few months he’s kind of grown up a lot, which has been nice. He’s always been super talented but very . . . enthusiastic in the past. I’m pretty excited about him.”
“This is his first run in quite a while – he had a bit of time off last year,” she continued. “The course looks great but I probably won’t hammer at it. But, he’s a pretty handy horse anyways, he likes to go quick so I won’t fight with him about it either.”
Lauren Kieffer and DA Duras's winning dressage test, courtesy of David Frechette.
Alexandra Knowles and Princess B (Calvados x Rheabria Z), the second-to-last pair into the arena this afternoon, follow closely behind Kieffer and Duras in second place on a score of 32.7. Nancy Elberty bred and owns the 14-year-old KWPN mare and she competed “Belle” through the Preliminary level before Knowles took the ride over two years ago.
“Her owner is just fantastic – she saw that Belle and I got along well and said, ‘Well, let’s just see where this goes,’” Knowles said. “Nancy and I never went into this with a goal but she has continuously been at the top of her class at every level. The tougher it gets the tougher she gets. I’m really proud of her today because she’s fancy but she’s not that experienced – this is only our second attempt at the level. I’m really excited for the rest of the weekend.”
Rounding out the top three are Boyd Martin and Ray Price, the Ray Price W Syndicate’s 11-year-old Thoroughbred/Warmblood gelding. The pair were first down centerline after the lunch break and laid down a 33.0 to sit in third place going into cross-country on Saturday.
“Ray Price went like a champ,” Martin emphasized. “He’s taken a bit of time to develop – he’s been at this level for a bit over a year now. He’s everything you could wish for in a horse but he’s a little bit sensitive or fragile to ride in the ring. He’s getting more and more confirmed and there’s still a lot of improvement to go but I’m very happy with where he’s at. I’m aiming him for the Bromont Three-Day Event and by then he’ll be solid as a rock!”
Boyd Martin and Luke 140, the Luke 140 Syndicate’s 8-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Landos x Omega VI), currently sit in first place after the first day of dressage competition in the CCI3*-S on a score of 25.5.
Watch Boyd Martin and Luke 140's dressage test, courtesy of David Frechette.
“He’s only a little guy – I’ve been telling everyone he’s 16 hands but really he’s 15.3 and a half,” Boyd laughed. “I was very, very fortunate to find him in the [north] of Germany near Denmark in January and he’d done a two-star last year with a Swedish rider. I got a good group of people behind me to buy the horse and we’ve done one Training and one Preliminary horse trials so this is a big step up. We don’t know each other very well but he’s a good jumper and a great galloper and very smart in the dressage. My plan [on Saturday] is to go very easy and cautious with him. We’re still getting to know each other, and it would be an act of madness if we went out there and tried to win the class.”
Colleen Loach and Vermont, Peter Barry’s 7-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Van Helsing x Hauptstutbuch Hollywood), are hot on Martin and Luke 140’s heels on a score of 27.6, good enough for second place. In contrast to Luke 140, who barely scrapes 16 hands, Loach explained that Vermont stands at nearly 18 hands. “I usually like the smaller ones but I got the ride off Peter Barry and he likes them bigger so that’s what I ended up with!”
“He’s a very emotional horse,” Loach continued, who has produced the horse from the Preliminary level. “I was very pleased that he kept his composure today in the dressage ring. He’s very talented and when I have his focus he’s hard to beat. He has matured quite a bit, but he’s slower to mature than some of the others I have, partially because he’s so big. He’s exciting for down the road.”
If you wanted to sit at the top of the leaderboard in the CCI3*-S today, you had to break into the 20s, and Alexa Gartenberg and Louis M did just that. Gartenberg and her own 14-year-old Rheinlander gelding (Lissabon 29 x Angelique M) scored a 28.4, the third of four scores in the 20s today, to sit in third place overnight.
There are still 10 horses to see in the CCI3*-S and they will lead things off tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. The CCI3*-L will start at 10:00 a.m. in Ring 2 and the CCI4*-L will begin at 10:15 a.m. in Ring 1.
About the $60,000 Adequan USEA Advanced Final
In 2019, in partnership with Adequan, the USEA will host the first $60,000 Adequan USEA Advanced Final at the 2019 USEA American Eventing Championships, sending the Adequan Champion home with a whopping $30,000 personalized check. The other $30,000 will be distributed as purse money through at least eighth place.
The USEA has opened up the AEC Advanced qualifications to provide more opportunities nationwide to qualify to compete in the final. Instead of qualifying for the final at 11 designated Gold Cup events, riders will now have over 30 opportunities to qualify at Advanced level and CCI events.
To qualify for the $60,000 Adequan USEA Advanced Final at the AEC in 2019, competitors will need to complete a minimum of two events without cross-country jump penalties at any USEA Advanced recognized horse trials, a CCI4*-S (2018 CIC3*), a CCI4*-L (2018 CCI3*), a CCI5*-L (2018 CCI4*), or the FEI World Equestrian Games. The qualifying period for the 2019 AEC is from May 28, 2018 through August 19, 2019. Click here to learn more about the $60,000 Adequan USEA Advanced Final.
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.
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It’s the most hotly anticipated few hours of the eventing year - the cross-country from Tokyo 2020. What will Derek di Grazia’s track have in store for the Olympic riders?
We’re nearly there! Olympic mania has taken over the world, and we’re in the final countdown to the Olympic eventing competition in Tokyo, which starts with the first horse inspection on Thursday. Our USA riders are raring to go, but let’s remind ourselves of the history that precedes them. Just how well has the US team done in past Olympics?