Making the time proved to be the ticket to the top of the leaderboard today at Plantation Field International in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, with only three of the 53 horse-and-rider combinations in the CCI4*-S coming in under optimum time.
Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights (BFF Incognito x Let’s Get It Right) were at the top of the leaderboard after dressage on a 26.3 but dropped back to third place after pulling a single rail in the triple combination. Today, they were fast and clear across Mike Etherington-Smith’s cross-country course to move back up the standings to take home the win on 30.3.
“[He felt] like a rockstar,” Rutledge praised. “For a very long time he did it because I asked him to, now he does it because he loves it. He felt so good today that a trained monkey could have pulled him by his tail and he still would have jumped the things. He 100 percent saved me when I asked him to do things that were completely inappropriate and absolutely ridiculous and he just went, ‘You know what? I get it. This is why you pay me. Nope, we’re going to do it my way.’ As long as you go in the direction I want, everybody’s happy."
As far as making the time, Rutledge explained that the fact that “CR” is so adjustable makes it easier to make the time. “I absolutely landed and said, ‘Go on’” she explained. “He is a deceivingly large-strided horse who will shorten at the drop of a hat. I can have a 24-foot stride and I can have a 4-foot stride, which makes him incredibly quick and easy. Not only that, because I’ve taught him from a very young age that when I say go, it means go.”
Even though this is a win for Rutledge, she explained that Plantation Field was on her calendar as a fitness run prior to Fair Hill. “Yes, I know I was in the hunt and yes, I know this is a win, but it’s actually a fitness run for me,” she said. “I wasn’t going out, ‘Oh my god, I’ve got to make the time to win,’ I was actually going out, ‘I need to see where his fitness level is today’ . . . This is why I come here, because we have hills and terrain to gallop on, they try to make it the best that [they] can. There were enough questions that it kept his interest and that’s been my main thing – I want to see where he is mentally and I want to see where he is physically. I’m super pleased.”
“It's indescribable,” Rutledge said of having her homebred back in top form. “He is one of my children. Not only just to have him back, but have him back and actually going the direction I want him to go and feeling as good as I want him to feel. It’s indescribable, really and truly. There are no words to discuss how absolutely happy I am.”
Will Faudree and Michel 233 (Mighty Magic x First Lady) also went double clear across the country today to move up from ninth place to finish in second place. They are the only pair to finish on their dressage score, a 33.4.
Jennifer Mosing & Sterling Silver Stable acquired the now 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding as a 6-year-old in England. As a 5-year-old, “Mikey” won the Bundeschampionat in Germany, and did nothing for a year before Faudree scooped him up. “He was quite big and gangly but I loved his brain so I got him the end of his 6-year-old year,” Faudree shared. “I did a season of Preliminary and then [moved up to] Intermediate and he did the CCI2* at Fair Hill as a 7-year-old. He was good but he was weak and so I spent his whole 8-year-old year at the Intermediate level, didn’t do a spring three-day, and went back to Fair Hill last fall and he finished third in the CCI2* . . . I often describe him, he’s a bit like riding three men in a horse costume – sometimes they’re not all facing the same direction, but they all get along.”
“All the girls, he’s their favorite,” Faudree described. “He doesn’t really like dogs, but he’s really sweet, really personable. But he’s a little bit of an introvert and he just is a little introverted at times, definitely needs his quiet time. He’s a horse that you can never tell him he’s doing something wrong, you can only ever show him how to do things right and if you tell him off he gets his feelings hurt so quickly. He can be a little emotional but there’s not a malice bone in his body . . . He just is kind of his reserved self, but he has this really special bond with the girls that take care of him. I’m very lucky with the team that I have.”
Faudree and Mikey have spent this year becoming established at the Advanced/four-star level with their eyes on Fair Hill at the end of the year. “It was a personal best in the dressage for him and there’s massive room for improvement and he’s only going to get better. Show jumping – I’ve had clear rounds at this level before but I have to say this, this round he probably jumped the best within himself, if that makes sense. All three of his men in his costume were all going in the right direction . . . And then cross-country my plan was to go quick – Plantation Field did a phenomenal job with the hand they were dealt with the footing. I rode four horses around and not one horse pulled up with stingy feet. They aerated in all the right places so huge thanks to them. It can’t be stressed enough how important that is for the horses.”
Fylicia Barr and her and Shannon Barr’s 11-year-old American Warmblood mare Galloway Sunrise (Duty Officer x Coco Chanel) added 3.2 time penalties to their two-phase score of 34.5 to finish in third place on 37.7.
Barr’s mother found Galloway Sunrise on Craigslist for $500 dollars when the mare was just a baby, and she’s been with Barr ever since. “She’s awesome,” Barr said. “She put in her best dressage test to date and show jumped well. Today I think they did such a good job of making the ground rideable – we were all a little worried coming in about it being concrete and they really did a wonderful job.”
“I thought [the course] went really well for her,” she continued. “She’s experienced at the level now so I wasn’t worried about any of the questions but knew that they were hard enough where I’d have to really ride. I was mostly concerned about giving her a clean, fast ride . . . She’s just a great horse - if she sees the question she’s going to try with everything she has to do a good job.”
Barr, whose business is based just minutes down the road from Plantation Field, loves getting to compete in her backyard. Next, she’s planning to head to nearby Fair Hill for the CCI4*-L next month. “We feel really lucky to have two top-quality events right here,” she said. “I’m excited to see what they’ll do next year at Fair Hill.”
Meghan O’Donoghue and Chase & Darcie Shipka’s 13-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Palm Crescent (Quiet American x Edey’s Village) moved up from equal 10th place after picking up 5.6 time penalties across the country today to finish in fourth place.
Jennie Brannigan and Stella Artois, the Stella Artois Syndicate’s 11-year-old Holsteiner/Thoroughbred mare, maintained their fifth-place position after accruing 10.8 time penalties on cross-country to finish on a score of 41.8. Brannigan also finished two other horses in the top 10 - FE Lifestyle and Twilightslastgleam, both 9-year-old geldings owned by Nina Gardner.
Problems were scattered across the course today, with 13 riders incurring jumping faults. Shanon Baker and Ballingowan Zeal were the only pair that elected to retire, doing so at the brush fences at fence 23 before the final water after incurring 40 penalties earlier on the course. Eight horse-and-rider combinations chose to withdraw before the start of cross-country.
There were four rider falls on course, three of which occurred at the offset houses at fence 16. Caroline Martin and Danger Mouse, Zoe Crawford and K.E.C. Zara, and Boyd Martin and Bonito all fell at fence 16 while Shelby Brost and Crimson fell at fence 17, the trakehner. Both Martins were checked out on site by medics and visited the hospital for further evaluation.
For final results, click here.
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