Apr 05, 2024

Martin and Commando 3 Start the Season Off Strong at Stable View CCI4*-S

By Lindsay Berreth - USEA Staff
Boyd Martin and Commando 3. USEA/Lindsay Berreth photos

Aiken, S.C.—April 5—Boyd Martin has big aspirations for Commando 3 this year, including a trip to the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event for the ultra-competitive CCI4*-S, and he’s off to a strong start this weekend at the Stable View CCI4*-S, leading the division after dressage and show jumping.

Martin paired up with “Connor,” an 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Connor 48 x R-Adelgunde) owned by Yankee Creek Ranch, LLC, last year, and they had strong finishes at the four-star level, including a win in the Morven Park CCI4*-L (Leesburg, Virginia) in October.

Connor got a little wound up during the dressage at his last outing at the $100,000 Conceal Grand Prix Eventing Showcase (Aiken, South Carolina) in March, but today he put in an impressive test to score a 25.7 to lead the 44-horse field. Martin's also in sixth place with the Annie Goodwin Syndicate’s 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Fedarman B (Eurocommerce Washington x Paulien B) after scoring a 31.3 in dressage and jumping clear in the show jumping.

“I’ve been working hard with [wife Silva Martin] and a little bit with Bettina Hoy. They’re still not quite where we want to be, but they’re improving at a good rate, so I think by Kentucky they should both do sizzling tests,” he said. “[Connor’s] come on a lot. He’s matured a lot. He’s a seasoned animal now, and I think the biggest thing is making sure I keep the roundness and the softness over his topline. He’s such an extravagant mover and an amazing athlete, that even if he goes badly he looks awesome, which is a huge attribute to have. I’m still looking for improvement in the test, but he’s nearly there.”

Boyd Martin and Commando 3 topped the dressage.

Boyd called Bruce’s Field “a disaster” after pouring rain caused spectators to open their umbrella’s right before his test with Connor, but he wasn’t too worried.

“It was early in the season, and he was a bit fresh, but it was kind of good that he wasn’t perfect there,” he said. “It gave me a kick up the bum, and we worked pretty hard on his thoroughness and making sure we get his attention when there’s distractions around the ring.”

Boyd also spent some time 10 days ago at the World Equestrian Center in Ohio jumping his horses around some 1.30-meter jumper classes.

“[Connor’s] got plenty of jump and plenty of scope. He’s just one of those horses that come along that seems to have quality and ability and extravagance moreso than the others, so it’s a pleasure to ride him,” he said.

His coach, Olympic show jumper Peter Wylde, was in attendance for warm up today. “Peters’ up on his toes when I’m riding Bruno and Conner because I really have to make a bad mistake for them to have a rail down. It makes his job pretty easy, but I’ve got plenty of other average jumpers at home, so I get my money’s worth out of Peter!” he said with a laugh.

A clear show jumping round kept Boyd Martin and Commando 3 on top of the Stable View CCI4*-S.

Heading into tomorrow’s cross-country, designed by Helen West, who’s taking over from longtime designer Captain Mark Phillips, Boyd says he’ll jump his two horses around with an eye on the Kentucky CC4I*-S.

“The course looks challenging. Hats off to Helen West. I really commend her,” he said. “She’s really tried to mimic some of the questions we’ll be faced with at Kentucky. There’s lots of brush fences and a big, serious jump into water. It’s tough, and it’s going to be a very exciting day.

“I really want to have Connor and Bruno in alignment for the Olympics,” he continued. “I just feel like thrashing them around a five-star and then thinking they’re going to be full of energy and happiness six weeks later—I’ve gone to the Olympics a few times and felt like my horse wasn’t his best at the Olympics—I sort of used him up pretty hard trying to get on the team. I feel like both of them had wonderful results last year with Bruno at Luhmühlen [Germany] and Pau [France] and Connor at Morven Park and Tryon, so I’m hoping the selectors still remember that!”

Will Coleman and Chin Tonic HS.

Any time Will Coleman and Chin Tonic HS circle the ring, the crowds gather. Hyperion Stud LLC’s 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Chin Champ x Wildera) has the gaits and presence to make it in the pure dressage ring, and he’s always at or near the top of the leaderboard after the first phase.

Coming off a win in the Conceal Grand Prix Eventing Showcase, “Chin” put in a solid test, marred by a couple of mistakes, to score a 26.5 for a second-place tie with Liz Halliday and Cooley Quicksilver.

“We had a lot of silly mistakes which sometimes just happens,” said Coleman. “We just kind of had an off day, and that’s OK. We’re headed to Kentucky [CCI4*-S] in a few weeks, and maybe it’s a good thing we had tested. He warmed up exceptionally well, and I went into the ring, and I as extremely confident. Maybe I was too confident—who knows. All of a sudden, we had silly mistakes like picking up canter a couple of times and doing a weird rein back. That’s horses and that’s sport.”

Coleman, who’s nursing a painful pulled groin muscle this week (“I’m coping fine.”) is also sitting in fifth (31.2) with the Diabolo Group’s 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding Diabolo (Diarado x Roulett M), a new ride last year for him.

“I was really happy with him,” he said. “That horse really feels like he’s starting to get it. He did two excellent flying changes. He still at times feels like he’s trying too hard, and he lost his balance in a couple of places, but overall I’m thrilled with him. He’s a really nice horse. I’m looking forward to where he might be able to get to in a few months.”

Both Chin and Diabolo jumped clear over Chris Barnard’s show jumping course. “I thought [Chin] jumped OK,” he said. “The course was not overly impressive, so I don’t think he jumped amazing, but I thought he did some good things. The big thing is just continuing to be consistent.”

Liz Halliday and Cooley Quicksilver.

Halliday brought last year’s Stable View CCI4*-S winner Cooley Quicksilver for his final run before the CCI4*-S at Kentucky, and he also put in a clear jumping round.

“Monster” is a 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Womanizer x Kylemore Crystal) owned by the Monster Partnership.

“He’s a good boy,” she said. “He’s pretty professional now. I was pleased with his test. There were a couple of little goofy Monster moments, but for the most part he was good. The good bits now are really good, which is really exciting, and he jumped really well today. It was a good course. You had to keep going for the time, which was important. It was tough enough. I think Chris builds a really super course these days. He just keeps getting better.”

Halliday is never one to hang around on cross-country, and she’ll be moving along tomorrow on Monster. She’s also got the younger Shanroe Cooley and Cooley Nutcracker, who’s aiming for his first CCI5*-L at Kentucky, in the division.

“I always like this event before they go to Kentucky,” she said. “[Cooley Quicksilver] just needed another run after Carolina [International] for fitness as much as anything else. I think it’s a good track. A little different than we’ve had before. It should be a good crack. I never run Monster slowly because it doesn’t suit him, so I’ll have a crack on him. The others I’ll ride them quick enough but sensibly.”

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