While the third annual MARS Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill proved to be quite the test for even some of the most seasoned horses and riders, Doug Payne’s Quantum Leap (Quite Capitol x Report To Sloopy) proved yet again that he was up for the challenge.
This year's MARS Maryland 5 Star was full of excitement from start-to-finish. Between the Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse East Coast Championships, the USEF CCI3*-L National Championship, and the five-star competition, eventing fans got to witness the sheer talent of these amazing event horses and their riders for four days straight. Check out some of our favorite images from throughout the long weekend in the gallery below.
It was a start to finish win in the 2023 USEF CCI3*-L National Championship for Caroline Pamukcu and HSH Connor (Connor 48 x Galwaybay Merstona), a 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Pamukcu, Sherrie Martin, and Luann McElduff. The pair had a fault-free weekend to finish on their dressage score of 25.4.
When Ireland’s Austin O’Connor earned a third-place podium finish at Badminton (England) this year with Colorado Blue, he jokingly said, “It won’t be long before there’s an Irish winner, and I hope you’re looking at him.”
In the USEF Eventing CCI3*-L National Championship, Caroline Pamukcu (Miami Beach, Fla.) and HSH Connor, a 2016 Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Pamukcu, Sherrie Martin, and Luann McElduff, continue to hold the lead after cross-country. The pair finished well under the optimum time to stay on their dressage score of 25.4, and are one step closer to securing the 2023 USEF CCI3*-L National Championship. Pamukcu, who has been riding in numerous divisions this week, also piloted HSH Tolan King, a 2015 Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Pamukcu, Sherrie Martin, and Derek Strine, to a clear cross-country round to stay in third on a 29.0.
The final horse inspection at the MARS Maryland 5 Star brought the final field for show jumping down from 16 to 14 this morning. Great Britain’s Piggy March withdrew Chloe and John Perry and Alison Swinburn’s 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Brookfield Cavalier Cruise (Cavalier Carnival x Ryans Cruise) in the hold box. The 16-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Campground (Forest Camp x Kneel), ridden by Erin Kanara and owned by Marnie Kelley, was not accepted by Ground Jury members Judy Hancock (GBR), Andrew Bennie (NZL), and Robert Stevenson (USA) upon reinspection.
When a cross-country course has riders like Piggy March, William Fox-Pitt, and world no. 1 Oliver Townend wondering if it’s a 5 ½ star, you know it’ll be an exciting day. Ian Stark upped the ante in his third year designing the MARS Maryland 5 Star track, hoping to slow riders down and challenge them even more. Sixteen of 25 riders to start completed.
It’s not deja vu—the 5-year-old Zangersheide gelding Shmick (Luigi d'Eclipse x Winter Lady), owned by Anne Hennessey, has claimed another Young Event Horse Championship title. Last year’s Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse 4-year-old East Coast Champion returned to this year’s finale at Fair Hill and amazed the judges for a second time to add the title of 5-year-old champion to his growing resume.
After finishing second and third in the previous editions of the MARS Maryland 5 Star, world no. 1 Oliver Townend is back to try to take the win, and he’s off to a good start with Cooley Rosalent. The pair snuck past Thursday’s leaders Piggy March and Brookfield Cavalier Cruise (24.2) to take the lead on 23.1 today.
The main arena at the MARS Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill opened Thursday morning with dressage tests for the USEF CCI3*-L Eventing National Championship. Olympian Lauren Nicholson (The Plains, Virginia) currently leads the division after producing a score of 30.6 aboard Landmark’s Jungle Gold, an 8-year-old Holsteiner-Irish Sport Horse gelding (Diarado x Jungle Tale) owned and bred by Ms. Jaqueline Mars.
Caroline Pamukcu is no stranger to the winner’s circle in the Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) East Coast Championships, having won the 4- and 5-year-old Championships in 2020 and the 4-year-old Championships in 2021. She and her 2020 5-year-old champion, HSH Blake, are heading out to the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile, later this week. But before loading up and flying out, Pamukcu guided her and Sherrie Martin's 4-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding HSH Afterglow (Hype x Ringwood Genius), bred by Peter Leonard, to the win in the 2023 Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse East Coast 4-Year-Old Championships.