0.1 – that is all that separates the top two spots on the MARS Great Meadow International CCI4*-S leaderboard in a world-class field of riders. The top 20 all scored sub-20 with the remaining 48 riders all bunched closely together. Yesterday the Great Meadow CCI4*-S dressage record was broken and today another two riders also came in under the old record.
The 2018 Great Meadow Champions, William Coleman and Off The Record (VDL Arkansas x Drumagoland Bay), the Off The Record Syndicate’s 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse, scored a 21.9 – the gelding’s best ever dressage score by 5 points. Judges Peter Gray and Valerie Vizcarrando rewarded “Timmy’s” test with second place.
“Well he sometimes he doesn’t feel quite as good as he can look, but he came out today and I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a good day or a bad day – he was pretty stiff warming up, but he has always been a horse that savors competition and getting into the arena and he really just delivered a steady test. I was very pleased. My wife and my whole team have been working really hard on this horse and it was nice to see some fruits for all of their labor,” said Coleman of Timmy’s test.
After finishing third at the Tattersalls CCI4*-L in May of 2019, Timmy had the rest of the year off and only had his first run back in July of 2020 – winning a Preliminary at the War Horse Event Series. They followed that run with the Fair Hill CCI3*-S just a few weeks ago, so looking ahead to the rest of the weekend Coleman is planning to take it phase-by-phase.
“Timmy loves to go for it, but we need to take it one day at a time,” Coleman explained. “Tomorrow is show jumping and we will try to jump a clean round, hopefully. He is still building back up to all of the form he was in – or maybe even better than the form he had in 2019. We have the big picture in mind, but we love Great Meadow and we certainly would like to give it a crack.”
Every eventer handled the shutdown of competitions due to the COVID-19 pandemic from the end of March to June differently and for Coleman it had its plusses and minuses.
“On the one hand you do miss the competitions – it helps your training going to competitions and being able to test out what you are working on and seeing how you will perform when the pressure is on, so it has been hard not to have that from a training perspective,” he said. “But on the other hand, it has just been nice to be home with my family and our horses and continue working on ways to get better and focusing on what we can focus on times when you can’t compete. It has been nice, but I am glad to be back out. I think all of us have been hankering for these events to run again.”
Also hot on the heels of the leaders is Kim Severson and her longtime partner Cooley Cross Border who scored a 22.1 for third place. “I think ‘Crossy’ is happy to be out, huh?” said Severson of the Cross Syndicate’s 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Diamond Roller x Whos Diaz). “He's learned a lot in the last year and a half – he's solidified a lot of things, in particular, his flying changes. He finally fixed his once change that I struggled to get. He needs to be a big stronger in his medium trot – that's always been his weakest thing, so we're still working on that.”
Crossy got injured at the 2018 Pau CCI5* and was off for a year. He started back into work last November and was able to fit in one Intermediate run in February before the shut down. He ran again in the Advanced/Intermediate at the Virginia Horse Trials last month as prep for Great Meadow.
“It's the same thing he's been doing all along anyway,” said Severson of Crossy’s time in quarantine. “Just bringing him back all together and getting him going. Honestly, he's had a lot of hacking time and light work. He came back from Chattahoochee [in February] and he basically has just been doing a lot of trotting and some dressage and some jumping here and there. His base should be quite good.”
The CCI4*-S show jumps tomorrow before heading out on cross-country on Sunday afternoon. Of David O’Connor’s course Severson said, “I think the course looks fantastic. It's a relatively straightforward course, but I think that's probably appreciated with what's going on. I know for [Crossy], because he hasn't done a lot, it looks pretty great for him. And of course, the ground is perfect, so we're going to show jump tomorrow, see how that goes and proceed from there.”
The 18th annual Jersey Fresh International (JFI) gets underway this afternoon at the Horse Park of New Jersey in Allentown, N.J. The CCI4*-L is the final selection trial for the Olympic Games in Tokyo later this summer so all eyes will be on the stacked field.
This year’s Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5*-L was on April 21-25 and was the first five-star event to take place in the U.S. since 2019. The entry list had the best riders in the world, previous Kentucky champions, Olympic hopefuls, and horses who have been eventing in the U.S. since they were 4 years old.
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