Cross-country in the CCI4*-L at Morven Park proved to be a true test causing major shifts on the leaderboard that would leave 11 pairs out of contention. Fortunately, all horses and riders are resting safely back at the barns and will be ready to fight another day. Time was also a definite factor on Derek di Grazia’s course with only one pair, Caitlin Silliman and Ally KGO, putting in a double clear round which would launch them from 20th to third place. At the end of the day, adding just four-time penalties to their initial dressage score of 29.8, it was Phillip Dutton and Caroline Moran’s Quasi Cool (Quo Vados I x B-Estelle) who would slide into first with a score of 33.8.
“It was a tough course, but this is the standard of a CCI4*-L around the world,” shared Dutton after he and Quasi Cool jumped clear. “It’s not a case of trying to soften it up and making it to where only a small amount of people have issues around the course. This is the standard and I think we all have to raise ourselves and our horses up to this standard. That might mean taking a bit more time with each horse or rider to get there, but I think they’ve set a standard here.”
Dutton and Quasi Cool have only been partnered together for two years and his team has worked to help the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding acclimated to his new climate after coming to the U.S. from Germany. On his decision to give the CCI4*-L at Morven a go, Dutton said with a laugh, “To be totally frank, this horse is pretty green and with this being the first CCI4*-L that Morven had, I thought it would be a bit soft. I knew that Derek builds a fair course, so I just decided I would see what kind of horse I had. It was a challenge, but he handled it all pretty well.”
Overnight leaders Buck Davidson and Rolo 7 LLC’s 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse Cooley Candyman were nimble across di Grazia’s challenging track, crossing the finish line adding just 5.2-time penalties to their dressage score. They now sit in second just one point behind Dutton on a 34.8. Davidson’s second mount, his own 10-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Sorocaima (Rock Hard Ten x Sankobasi) also had a huge move-up following the second phase leaping from a tie for 20th with Silliman to fourth on a score of 39.0.
Silliman and Ally KGO, the syndicate-owned 10-year-old Trakehner mare (Hirtentanz 2 x Annabel Lee) sit in third with a score of 37.8.
Five pairs retired on course after running into problems with run-outs and refusals. The corner question near the mansion proved influential for both a rider fall and retirements, but trouble was scattered throughout the course with falls at both water complexes as well as at fence 21. The iconic leaf pit caused Holly Payne Caravella's weekend to come to an end.
Only 13 of the original field of 24 will jog before the judges in the second horse inspection at 8:00 a.m. prior to contesting Chris Barnard’s show jumping track at 10:30 a.m.
Fresh off his victory at Aachen, Will Coleman has added another feather to his cap with a win in the Morven Park CCI4*-S. He went wire-to-wire with Chin Tonic HS, Hyperion Stud’s 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Chin Champ x Wildera), in the horse’s second CCI4*-S appearance.
Just 10 of the 17 starters crossed the finish flags and no one managed to make the optimum time on the Derek di Grazia-designed course. Coleman and Chin Tonic were the second-fastest of the division with 7.6 added.
Maya Black and Laurie Cameron’s Miks Master C, a 9-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (Mighty Magic x Qui Luma CBF) had the fastest round of the day to finish in second after moving up from sixth overnight.
Lillian Heard and Dassett Olympus, her own 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Lancelot x Cushlamochree) rounded out the top three with 12.4 time penalties added.
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Tomorrow, the first of five regional clinics for the USEA Emerging Athletes U21 (EA21) Program kicks off in the central region of the country in Benton, Louisiana, at Holly Hill Farm. Throughout the summer, the remaining clinics on the East and West Coast will follow. At each clinic, 12 hand-selected riders will participate in a two-day clinic led by USEA Eventing Coaches Program (ECP) coaches. The purpose of the EA21 program is to create a pipeline for potential team riders by identifying and developing young talent, improving horsemanship and riding skills, and training and improving skills and consistency. The intention is to provide young athletes with access to an added level of horsemanship and riding skills to further their training and skill development with greater consistency.
After the first day of competition, Canadian Olympian Colleen Loach and her horse FE Golden Eye lead an international field in the CCI4*-L division of the MARS Bromont CCI.
Stone Gate Farm Horse Trials, located in Hanoverton, Ohio, announced they would cancel their fall horse trials, which were scheduled for Sept. 23-24.
Morgan Rowsell had just wrapped up organizing a successful Essex H.T. in Far Hills, New Jersey, on June 4, but as he turned his attention to his next show two weeks later, he was faced with challenges presented by the effects that wildfires from Canada are now having on equestrian sports in the Northeast. “The very next day, the smoke came in,” he said. “It looks like a warm, humid, hazy day, but it’s not humid, it’s not warm, it’s actually quite cool. There’s no air. There’s very little breeze. There’s a northeast wind coming out of Canada that is bringing all the Novia Scotia and Quebec smoke to us, and it smells like smoke.”