Yesterday’s three-way tie was broken today in the CCI4*-S at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by MARS Equestrian. Tamra Smith, Doug Payne, and Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp were joint leaders on a score of 28.1 in yesterday’s portion of the dressage, but 25 horses completed the CCI4*-S division today, and two pairs bested the three-way tie to take over.
Judges Mark Weissbecker and Helen Brettell saw some lovely tests today, but it wasn’t until Canada's Colleen Loach and Vermont entered the arena in the second to last group, when they gave out a new leading score. “I knew he could do it if he was calm, but sometimes tension gets the best of him,” Loach explained of Peter Barry’s 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Van Helsing x Hauptstutbuch Hollywood) who stands at a very tall 18.2 hands. The pair earned a score of 27.0, besting yesterday’s leading scores by 1.1 points. “Monty was great today. I couldn’t have asked for more today, so I’m thrilled with him.”
Four rides later, Tamra Smith entered the arena on Ruth Bley’s mare, En Vogue (Earl x Laurena). “She was quite scared of the cameras, so I wasn’t sure what she’d do when she got in there,” Smith said of the 16-year-old Hanoverian mare. “But, she’s a professional now, and she knows how to dance. I’m really proud of her,” she exclaimed after scoring a 25.4 to move into the lead. “We have a great partnership and she tried really hard in there.”
“The cross-country is pretty serious but we’re at Kentucky. It looks really challenging really but I think all the horses are up for it,” Smith said of Derek di Grazia’s cross-country course. Smith explained that she entered this competition to be competitive, but she says she has to wait and see how the horses come out of the start box to finalize her game plan. “En Vogue I think is ready to be competitive and go fast. Danito, I won’t know until I get out there – he’s quite green and young and I’ll see how it goes when I go out there. I’m going to go take another look at the course this afternoon, but I’m excited.”
Only two other pairs broke the sub-30 mark. Lynn Symansky and RF Cool Play, the Donner Syndicate's 13-year-old German Sport Horse gelding (Condors Champion x Roxana) scored a 28.7 to slot into seventh. The final ride of the day, Jessica Phoenix and her own 19-year-old Westphalian gelding, Pavarotti (Pavarotti Van De Helle x Fidelia) earned a 29.8 for eighth.
The CCI5*-L dressage will continue today at 12:15 p.m. with Boyd Martin first to enter the arena on the Turner family’s On Cue. Buck Davidson and Katherine O’Brien’s Carlevo will wrap-up the division today when they ride at 5:27 p.m. and then both divisions will tackle Derek di Grazia’s cross-country courses tomorrow.
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At the August USEA Board of Governors meeting, a proposition was brought forth to officially recognize what is commonly referred to as “Starter level” as a USEA division. For many years now, Starter level has been offered as a test at USEA approved events. The decision to recognize the level officially would allow those competing in Starter level divisions to receive recognition on the USEA Leaderboards and to compete at the Starter level at the USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) in the future. The motion was approved to recognize this level, and the USEA staff have been hard at work preparing all of the rules, guidelines, and standards that will go along with this level’s recognition for the 2024 season.
Karma is developing into one of the fastest and most-reliable cross-country horses in the West. The 9-year-old bay Oldenburg mare and James Alliston won their third-straight blue ribbon together at either the four-star or Advanced level in the CCI4*-S at the Twin Rivers Fall International in Paso Robles, California, with the only double-clear cross-country round on Saturday.
Most couples share a kiss and part ways at 8:00 a.m. as they head off to their own work days, but eventing power couple James and Helen Alliston do it all together. We gave our USEA members the opportunity to submit their questions for this West Coast-based couple, and USEA Podcast host Nicole Brown gets them to share all on many topics: eventing in the U.S. versus the U.K., who is the most competitive of the two, dealing with warmer temperatures, why James likes to drive illegally slow, and so much more!
The Plantation Field International CCI4*-S concluded today with the cross-country phase, and the final standings were nearly a matter of “last one standing.” As Tropical Storm Ophelia brought a torrential downpour to the area, a number of riders decided to opt out: of 39 competitors, only six completed, and 17 withdrew before the start of cross-country.