Boyd Martin knew he had a talented partner in Commando 3, but with just under a year competing together, Martin hadn’t truly tested the gelding until this weekend at the Morven Park International CCI4*-L.
It can often be an unknown when a rider buys a horse produced by someone else, and top riders like Boyd Martin aren’t immune to that. When he tried Commando 3 late last year, the gelding had competed through his first CCI4*-S with Swedish rider Louise Romeike, and while Martin had high hopes for “Connor,” he knew he wouldn’t really find out what kind horse he was until he tackled a tough CCI4*-L course.
With a strong third place finish in their first CCI4*-L together this spring at Tryon (Mill Spring, North Carolina) and a win in their most recent CCI4*-S outing at the same venue, it might be tempting for Boyd Martin to target a fall five-star with Commando 3, but he says he’s planned for 2023 to be a building year for his newest top talent.
Returning this week for its third year is the CCI4*-L division at the Morven Park International in Leesburg, Virginia. This year the event takes place Thursday, Oct. 12 through Sunday, Oct. 15 and will not only feature the four-star long competition, but will also offer the CCI4*-S, CCI3*-S, CCI2*-S levels, the CCI3*-S and CCI2*-S Young Horse divisions, and national divisions at the Preliminary, Training, and Novice levels.
The three top riders after cross-country yesterday in the Morven Park International CCI4*-L all held on to their placings following show jumping today. Tamie Smith jumped a double-clear round and took the blue with Julianne Guariglia’s 11-year-old Argentine Silla mare Solaguayre California (Casparo x Solaguayre Calandria), finishing on their score of 29.7. Will Coleman, riding Hyperion Stud’s 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding Chin Tonic HS (Chin Champ x Wildera), added 0.4 time penalties to their cross-country score and finished in second place with a 32.6. Mia Farley rounded out the top three on David O’Connor’s 9-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Phelps, jumping a double-clear round to finish on their score of 34.4
Sixteen horses jogged before the ground jury this chilly morning on the last day of the Morven Park International CCI4*-L. All sixteen pairs were accepted. Lillian Heard and Dassett Olympus were held briefly but passed upon re-presentation.
Cross-country day at the Morven Park International saw a shift in the standings in the CCI4*-L as Tamie Smith moved into the lead with Julianne Guariglia’s 11-year-old Argentine Silla mare Solaguayre California (Casparo x Solaguayre Calandria). First on course this morning after finishing dressage in second place yesterday, the pair picked up just .4 time penalties over the three and a half mile track. They stand in first place on a score of 29.7 moving into show jumping tomorrow.
Sharon White and her 10-year-old gelding Claus 63 (Catoo x Tina II) lead the field of 25 after the dressage phase of the CCI4*-L on Thursday morning at Morven Park International. The second pair to canter into the ring, they held their lead on a score of 29 throughout the rest of the morning, riding before judges Wayne Quarles at C, Robert Stevenson at B, and Sue Baxter at H.
After several continuous days of rain, the skies cleared over Leesburg, Virginia today as the Morven Park Fall International CCI4*-L got under way with the first horse inspection. Warm weather, bright sunshine, and fall decorations set the stage for 25 horses to present before the ground jury. All 25 horses passed on first inspection. The ground jury consisted of Wayne Quarles (USA), Robert Stevenson (USA), and Sue Baxter (GBR).
And just like that, it is time for the Morven Park International! The prestigious event will take place Thursday, October 6, and run through Sunday, October 10 in Leesburg, Virginia. This is the event’s second year offering the CCI4*-L division, in addition to their CCI4*-S, CCI3*-S, and CCI2*-S divisions. That’s not all! The historic grounds at Morven Park will also host national divisions at the Novice, Training, and Preliminary levels.