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. Before the event, Quantum Leap received several top honors in EquiRatings’ Maryland 5 Star Stats & Stories, including being named the highest elo-rated horse in this year’s field, and one of the most reliable cross-country jumpers with a 100% clear rate in his last 10 runs. The horse’s performance at the event only improved these statistics when he finished in eighth place overall, logging his fifth top-10 performance at the CCI5*-L level out of six attempts.
“The cool thing is that he’s so genuine and reliable that it makes it that you can really go take a shot at it,” gushed Payne about the now 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding. “It’s not going to turn in your favor every single time, but there’s nothing stopping you from giving it a real shot.”
Quantum Leap was bred in the event’s home state of Maryland by Dr. Elizabeth Callahan of Cool Na Grena Sporthorses and is a prime example of the goal of the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Program. At the age of four, Quantum Leap finished in third place in The Dutta Corp. USEA YEH East Coast Championships with a score of 77.49, and as a 5-year-old, he competed in the YEH East Championships again to finish in seventh. Two years later, he was the 2018 Holekamp/Turner Grant recipient where he and Payne represented the U.S. at the FEI WBFSH Eventing World Breeding 7-year-old Championship in Le Lion d’Angers, France. The pair has gone on to collect many top placings through the levels on their rise to five-star success.
“Especially in eventing, relationship is one of the primary drivers of success,” explained Payne when questioned about how the duo’s long-term partnership impacted their performance last week. “On cross-country, especially as what was seen [at the Maryland 5 Star], it’s never predictable, but when you know each other inside and out for most of his lifetime, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect. Relationship is really key.”
As Payne hinted, the cross-country course at the Maryland 5 Star ended up being the most influential phase of the event, with nine out of the 26 entrants facing elimination or retiring on course. However, Payne trusted in his partnership with Quantum to anticipate how the horse would react to such a test. “He was exceptionally good in a very, very difficult competition,” he explained. “It certainly would have been the biggest, hardest track that he’s seen, and he really stepped up.” The pair added yet another clean cross-country jumping effort to their record, only incurring some time penalties to tack onto their dressage score of 35.9.
In the end, the pair would just add one rail to their score in the final phase, subsequently moving up the leaderboard further to take home eighth place after three grueling days of competition. A true competitor, Payne noted that “there’re always aspects that you wish you could do better. I still need to knock a few more points off on the first day, and I think there’s a couple of exercises I’ll probably set up in the spring that can hopefully help us get a bit more efficient, but we’re splitting hairs really, which is a great thing.” At such a young age, there is no doubt that there’s still plenty of history left to make for Quantum Leap.
The 2017 Dutta. Corp USEA YEH East Coast 5-Year-Old Reserve Champion, Ferrie’s Cello (Chello III VDL x Karelza), also completed his first 5-star at Maryland with fellow debutant at the level, Andrew McConnon, in the tack. The now 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, bred by J. Sneller, finished in 13th place for owner Jeanne Shigo in an event that only saw 54% of the field complete all three phases.
“I was very happy with him in the dressage. He’s a very talented and capable horse, but we’ve had just a bit of tension and excitement in our tests [recently], and I thought he was so relaxed in that phase,” said McConnon as he began to recap the weekend. “I was really pleased with him on the cross-country too. He did everything I asked, and he was actually more relaxed than usual. He’s usually a firecracker in the warm-up!”
Noting the horse’s subdued attitude on Saturday, McConnon chose to give Ferrie’s Cello a more conservative ride on cross-country, electing to take some of the alternate routes, which in turn added time penalties to their score. McConnon emphasized that his first goal is to always have a happy and sound horse coming off an event, and he felt that goal was achieved after completing their first five-star.
“He’s come out of the weekend really well, sound and feeling fresh, which is great. We’ll give him a long vacation, which is much deserved, and then we’ll aim towards Kentucky in the spring," he said. "I think he’s capable of quite a bit, and he’ll be a lot better for having that education this past weekend, and I look forward to the future. He’s definitely a five-star horse!”
The final three YEH graduates that were set to tackle the Maryland 5 Star were unfortunately unable to complete the event. Twilightslastgleam (National Anthem x Royal Child), Nina Gardner’s 13-year-old homebred Thoroughbred gelding, was withdrawn on Saturday prior to cross-country following rider Jennie Brannigan’s fall from her CCI3*-L mount, Pascal, in the morning session. Both horse and rider are home and resting comfortably. Sydney Solomon and Early Review C and Arielle Aharoni and Dutch Times retired on the cross-country course.
The USEA congratulates all of the 5-star competitors and the team at the MARS Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill for a successful event!
About the Young Event Horse Program
The Young Event Horse (YEH) Program was first established in 2004 as an eventing talent search. Much like similar programs in Europe, the YEH program was designed to identify young horses aged four and five, that possess the talent and disposition to, with proper training, excel at the uppermost levels of the sport. The ultimate goal of the program is to distinguish horses with the potential to compete at the four- and five-star levels, but many fine horses that excel at the lower levels are also showcased by the program.
The YEH program provides an opportunity for breeders and owners to exhibit the potential of their young horses while encouraging the breeding and development of top event horses for the future. The program rewards horses who are educated and prepared in a correct and progressive manner. At qualifying events, youngsters complete a dressage test and a jumping/galloping/general impression phase. At Championships, young horses are also evaluated on their conformation in addition to the dressage test and jumping/galloping/general impression phase. Click here to learn more about the Young Event Horse Program.
The USEA would like to thank Bates Saddles, SmartPak, Standlee, Parker Equine Insurance, Capital Square, Kerrits, and The Jockey Club for sponsoring the Young Event Horse Program. Additionally, the USEA would like to thank The Dutta Corp., Title Sponsor of the Young Event Horse Championships.
About The Holekamp/Turner Grant
Founded in 2015 by Timothy and Cheryl Holekamp of New Spring Farm and Christine and T.J. Turner of Indian Creek Farm, the Holekamp/Turner Grant provides a USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Championship competitor with the opportunity to represent the United States at the FEI Eventing World Breeding Championships in the 7-year-old CCIYH3*-L Championship at Mondial du Lion in Le Lion d’Angers, France. With the sole purpose of paving a clear pathway for U.S. team horses to progress in the sport of eventing, recipients who are North American-bred will be awarded the full cash grant of $17,500, while imported horses are awarded $8,000. Additionally, The Dutta Corp. offers a prize to the Holekamp/Turner Grant recipient, consisting of a round trip flight from the Eastern United States to Europe.
“Test the best without hurting the rest,” said show jumping course designer Chris Barnard as he and fellow designer Marc Donovan led a lively discussion for nearly 50 participants at the Show Jumping Seminar on the first day of the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention.
This afternoon, USEA President Louise “Lou” Leslie welcomed U.S. Eventing Association (USEA) Board of Governors members, USEA staff, and USEA Annual Meeting & Convention attendees to the first of two Board meetings which will take place during this year’s Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, with the teaser that 2024 is going to be full of initiatives for more opportunities to access the eventing experience, some of which attendees might get first wind of during this year’s gathering. The 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention takes place Dec. 7-10 at the Marriott St. Louis Grand Hotel.
Welcome to the Show Me state and to Area IV USEA members! The 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention kicks of tomorrow and features four full days of educational seminars, committee meetings, and social gatherings all with one aim—to bring the eventing community together to continue to improve upon and celebrate the sport that we all love. This year’s Convention takes place in St. Louis, Missouri, at the Marriott St. Louis Grand in downtown St. Louis from Dec. 7-10, and we have rounded up everything you need to know to make the most of your time in the heartland.
To accompany the 2023 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention, USEA Educational Partner STRIDER has prepared Digital Resources to Maximize Education & Access for the Eventing Community. In keeping with the USEA’s mission to expand the sport of eventing, this webinar outlines ways in which digital tools can be leveraged to increase access and education across equestrian opportunities. As part of STRIDER’s popular Professional Development Webinar Series, this presentation aims to provide a quick overview of best practices and digital tools used across the equestrian industry to boost growth.