Jun 22, 2024

Team USA Complete Final Cross-Country Runs Before Paris

Will Coleman and Off The Record. USEA/Emily Daily photos

Aiken, S.C.—June 22—Eventing fans cheered on the Paris-bound Team USA riders as the mandatory outing wrapped up today with the cross-country phase at Stable View Horse Trials. The team riders and alternates competed in the Advanced division, using Capt. Mark Phillips’ course as a final run before heading to the Olympics next month.

The course offered plenty of challenges, with four water complexes, several accuracy combinations, and enough sloping terrain to give the horses an opportunity for a long gallop. Yesterday, most of the riders mentioned that they planned to give their horses a smooth, confidence-building run, though perhaps not go for time. Each accomplished their goals of clear jumping rounds with only time faults, except for traveling reserve Liz Halliday. Last of the day, she parted ways with Cooley Nutcracker at the first water complex, but was none the worse for wear.

No one in the division made the time allowed, but team alternates James Allison and Karma were the fastest of the day and took home top honors, finishing on a score of 36.1, picking up just 0.8 time faults. See the full results here.

Will Coleman finished as runner-up with his team horse, Off the Record, with just 2.4 penalties on the clock. He also took home third with his reserve horse, Diabolo, who picked up 9.2 time faults.

“Well, I stayed on in all three phases which is always the number-one goal,” he joked, signing autographs—with his daughter Charlie by his side—for fans who gathered for a Team USA send-off celebration on the steps of the venue’s picturesque pavilion at the close of the event. He said he felt like both horses were well-prepared for the future after using this event as a good schooling opportunity.

Boyd Martin and Fedarman B.

Fellow team member Boyd Martin was delighted with his two horses’ performance. His reserve Commando 3 finished in fourth, while Fedarman B (“Bruno”) took sixth. “Bruno was flying—he’s ready to rumble. And Commando’s primed up, too, if I need him," he said.

Martin also bases out of Stable View during the winter months and many of Bruno’s owners live locally. “Bruno’s such a fan favorite here in Aiken,” said Martin. “Having him here at Stable View as his last run for the Olympics is a surreal moment. He’s in fighting form, and he gave me a great run this weekend—I think we’re in business.”

The final team member to compete was Caroline Pamukcu on HSH Blake, who finished with planned time faults. “Blake has been under pressure for a little over a year now,” she said after her round. “Last year, his second Advanced was Strzegom Nations Cup [Poland], then we did one run and went to the Pan Ams [Santiago, Chile], and then this year we’ve been fighting for our spot. So, it’s actually really nice to just go around quietly and take a breath. That’s the cool thing about him. He’s such an amazing horse—he can go somewhere and win or he can come here and just have a nice round. He’s beyond special.”

Pamukcu was quick to thank the venue’s team for hosting the outing. “I want to give a huge shoutout to Stable View. They really went above and beyond with everything,” she said, adding that she was also grateful to the U.S. Equestrian Federation for the opportunity to represent the U.S. at Paris.

Caroline Pamukcu and HSH Blake.

First alternate Sydney Elliott and her longtime partner QC Diamantaire took fifth after accruing a dozen time faults. Besides the first-placed Alliston, the other team alternates all had impressive runs: Jennie Brannigan and FE Lifestyle and Liz Halliday with her two reserve horses, Mike Master C and Shanroe Cooley.

“It’s a huge relief to have this weekend in the bag,” said Chef d’Equipe Bobby Costello. “Everybody went out there and gave it their all. The horses are looking in excellent shape.

“Honestly, we cannot thank Stable View enough,” he added. “They put on an amazing event this weekend. The conditions were so challenging on the cross-country this weekend because it’s been so crazy dry. But the footing was perfect today; it was absolutely beautiful, so all thanks to them.”

Many of the Team USA owners were on-site to cheer on their horses, including Rich Booth—he and his wife, Roxanne Booth, are part of both syndicates for Coleman’s Off the Record and Diabolo. The pair, along with their daughters, are headed to Paris this summer to support the team. “Believe it or not, I’m 64 years old and I’ve never been to Paris,” Rich said with a laugh. “What a way to go for the first time! I’m excited to see Versailles and root for Team USA.”

“This is one of the greatest thrills of my lifetime,” he continued. “Team USA is something that you want to be part of as a kid when you’re growing up. Obviously, we’re part of a great team with two horses, Off the Record and Diabolo. I couldn’t be happier to be here with my wife [Roxanne] enjoying this.”

He admitted that the mandatory outing experience made him emotional. “You’re grateful for this,” he said. “There’s lots of joy, there’s lots of anticipation and nerves. Even though it’s like a tune-up, you still get nervous. I couldn’t be happier for how Will and the two horses did. It’s just been a great weekend.”

Several of the grooms and other members of the riders’ home teams shared the same mentality. “I’m really looking forward to going to the Olympics with an amazing group of people and horses and Team USA’s support,” said English-born Chloe Teahan, Pamukcu’s groom who cares for HSH Blake. “I’m so grateful to have been welcomed with open arms to U.S. eventing. I’m looking forward to getting there safely and watching ‘Princess’ Blake compete on the biggest stage.”

With the mandatory outing under their belts, the team is officially one step closer to Paris. After this weekend, all the other athletes will head back to their home bases to continue training for a few more weeks, with the exception of Halliday who will be competing in the team event at Aachen CCIO4*-S in Germany, along with Alliston, Brannigan, and Alyssa Phillips. The Olympic team members will then reconvene around the weekend of July 13-14 for a final gallop in Pennsylvania. “Everybody will be galloping up the same hill, and we’ll do one last check to make sure everybody’s fit and ready to go,” said Costello. “Dr. [Susan] Johns will give everyone another evaluation and any kind of treatments that need to happen before they fly out.”

The team is slated to fly out of JFK Airport in New York on July 16 and will be flying to Liege, Belgium. They will then transport to their training camp location in Vittel, France, and will remain there until they move into the Olympic venue on the July 24. They will leave the venue on the evening of July 29 after individual and team medals.

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