What a difference a day makes! After several days of rain, weather conditions improved immensely for the first day of competition at the 2019 Mars Essex Horse Trials Country Weekend and the crowd responded. Thousands turned out Saturday to watch top horses and riders compete at historic Moorland Farm.
Two-time U.S. Olympic veteran Boyd Martin led throughout to win the Preliminary Essex Division riding the syndicate owned 8-year-old Holsteiner gelding Luke 140 (Landos x Omega VI). The Cochranville, Pennsylvania resident scored 22.9 in dressage, added 3.2 time faults in the cross-country phase and had a single rail in show jumping to finish with a score of 30.1 penalties.
"It was a real honor and privilege to compete here at the MARS Essex Horse Trials," said Martin. "The conditions were tough, but this is an outdoor sport and the organizers put on a sensational show. I am very, very pleased to win the Preliminary Essex Division and I'm thrilled to be here."
Cornelia Dorr and Daytona Beach 8 moved up from seventh to second. After incurring only four time penalties in cross-country, the pair jumped clean in show jumping to finish with a score of 31.1. Olympic veteran Will Coleman and Steam Engine steamed their way into third, moving up from 11th by going clean cross-country and having just a single rail down in show jumping for a final score of 33.80.
Immediately after the Preliminary Essex, Coleman took the lead in the Advanced Division riding the Four Star Eventing Group's 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse, Obos O'Reilly (OBOS Quality x Omard Clover Queen). The pair scored 31.7 in dressage and added four jumping faults in show jumping for an overnight score of 35.70. Jennie Brannigan and I Bella stand in second place with 37.30 "I had a great day," said Coleman. "My horse is an old soldier. He's been a very dear horse in our program so we're happy that he's in the lead. I think the real winners today are the people here at Essex. The effort that was put in, the atmosphere and really everything about the event deserves all the praise. This is my first time competing here and I am thrilled to be here."
The Mars Essex Horse Trials Country Weekend culminates on Sunday with the cross-country phase of the Advanced Division, the remaining Training divisions, and the Novice Divisions. Also featured is the spectacular Classic Car show with the MARS No. 18 M&M'S® Toyota car. The Mars Candy Hunt will take place in the afternoon as well as other family-friendly activities. The Essex Market will be open offering a wide range of shopping from saddles and riding boots to jewelry, fresh farm-to-table food from local markets and specialties from artisan vendors.
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About the MARS Essex Horse Trials For three decades, the famed Essex Horse Trials was a major highlight on the equestrian calendar, attracting top American and international competitors as well as thousands of fans who enjoyed its social aspects as well. The event was originally conceived in 1968 by the Haller Family at Hoopstick Farm. Proceeds from the event benefit the Greater Newark LifeCamp in nearby Pottersville, which provides an enriching summer day camp experience for approximately 300 Newark-area youths for six weeks during July and August. Moorland Farm, a picturesque 230-acre property, provides the breathtaking setting for the event's current edition. It is the home of the annual Far Hills Race Meeting, a nationally prestigious steeplechase race meeting held each October. Mars, Inc., the original sponsor of the Essex Horse Trials, returned in 2017 and continues as the event's title sponsor. Presenting sponsors include Open Road Auto Group, Peapack-Gladstone Bank, RWJ Barnabas Health, Running 'S' Equine Veterinary Services, and AIG. For additional information, please visit www.essexhorsetrials.org.
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