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Becky Holder started and finished on top in the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series CIC3* at Richland Park in Kalamazoo, Michigan riding Tom Holder and Phil and Melissa Town’s 13-year-old grey Thoroughbred gelding Can’t Fire Me. They scored a 36.3 in dressage, added 4 time penalties on cross-country, and pulled one rail in show jumping to win a slew of prizes and a sparkling tiara! After dressage, Becky was third on Tom Holder’s experienced campaigner Courageous Comet, who at 16 years of age added just 1.6 time faults on cross-country. One rail down in show jumping tied the pair up with Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM, but Comet was one small second closer to the optimum time on cross-country, winning the tiebreaker and finishing second behind Can’t Fire Me. Becky now sits atop the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Leaderboard with Can't Fire Me and is third with Courageous Comet. The Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships, presented by Bit of Britain, and the Twin Rivers Advanced Horse Trials are the final Gold Cup series events this year.
After a disappointing result at Bromont this summer, Becky is thrilled with her success at Richland. “[At Bromont], for some reason just one thing after another seemed to be not in our favor that weekend,” Becky said. “I went home and not completely back to the drawing board, but I regrouped and took a really hard look at what I have been doing through the whole spring with both horse because with both of them I have gotten it right in each of the phases at different points.”
Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series CIC3* Show Jumping
The show jumping course was extremely challenging. Competitors have gotten used to jumping on flat ground with manufactured footing, but at Richland Park, horses and riders have to stay balanced on a sloped landscape while jumping Marc Donovan’s cleverly placed fences and one crucial alternate line. “I love Marc Donovan’s courses,” Becky said. “I got an opportunity to ride them a lot during the spring. He builds a beautiful course. He makes us decide with alternate routes.”
Although Can’t Fire Me (Teddy) and Comet had similar results in the final phase, Becky said they are not comparable show jumpers. Comet relishes the atmosphere while Teddy can get a bit worked up. “Can’t Fire Me is a very good show jumper. He gets very excited about the atmosphere and a little hyperactive. He sometimes makes mistakes because of that,” Becky said. “But he can really crack his back and get up in the air, so he is a fun horse to show jump.”
Comet, on the other hand, delights in horse shows with big atmospheres. “A one rail round is an awesome round for him. He has had very few clears in his life. So for him to bring that at the eleventh hour was great.”
Can’t Fire Me will head to the Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships, presented by Bit of Britain, in a couple weeks and potentially Rolex next spring. However, Becky plans to retire Comet, her friend and longtime partner, from upper level competition after the AEC. Richland Park was a wonderful place to top off an incredibly successful career for this crowd favorite. “This was Comet’s last FEI competition, so I am especially emotional about that,” Becky said. “He won the Gold Cup in 2007. It would be great if he was in the top places with that this time around. He is such a lovely horse; he has been such a wonderful partner through these years, and he is certainly brought me a long way. He won the first three-star here so how fun for his career to come full circle again.”
Comet will not retire to the pasture, however. Becky plans to “play around with dressage” at the Prix St. George level, and she said her husband, Tom, has had a date with an entry at Otter Creek in Area IV for many years. “Comet has got a lot left to offer. He has done everything and does not owe me anything.”
Boyd and Crackerjack Stick Tight to the CIC2* Win
The top three positions in the CIC2* were unchanged after show jumping. Boyd Martin and the late Colin Davidson’s 9-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, Crackerjack, maintained their first place position throughout the competition, adding just 0.4 time penalties on cross-country to their overall score. Jessica Phoenix and Vanessa Fenwick’s 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Erodium had moved up from sixth to second after cross-country, and an elated Jessica crossed the finish line with a double-clear show jumping round to maintain that position. Seventeen-year-old Caroline Martin was one of two riders in the division of 34 starters to finish on their dressage score, and she was rewarded with a third place finish on her 7-year-old Argentine Sport Horse gelding Quantum Solace.
|Richland Park CIC2* Show Jumping|
Leslie Threlkeld/USEA Photos
World Class Dedication
Surrounded by farmland and in the midst of a drought, Richland Park’s competition grounds was an oasis of lush green grass and forgiving footing thanks to the hard work and dedication of owners Bob and Kay Willmarth. “Bob and Kay, wow. I cannot say enough about the footing out there. It is testimony that all the three-star horses look so well this morning, including some of the older campaigners. That is unheard of when you look around the fields at the cornfields and with the drought,” Becky said. “It is amazing the cross-country course had any give at all. They did an amazing job.”
During the awards ceremony, the top finishing competitors took a moment to thank Bob and Kay for their contribution to the sport of eventing. The incoming United States Eventing Team Coach, David O’Connor, spoke as well: “On behalf of all of us, we owe a debt of gratitude to Bob and Kay for everything they have done to prepare for this weekend. I think it really does prove that when you put that effort in to produce an event of this caliber, everybody shows up. You have people here from all over the country and from multiple countries. I really do want to thank them for everything they do. It has been a fabulous weekend. It really is the platform for producing not only our national horses but our international horses preparing for the World Championships and Olympics Games to come. We really do take our hats off to you. “
In addition to providing a fantastic venue for eventers, the competition is a charity fundraiser. The parking proceeds are donated to the Cheff Therapeutic Riding Center in Augusta, Michigan. More than $11,000 was raised last year, and this year is on target to break the record. Technical Delegate Roger Haller said to Bob and Kay: “Congratulations! It has been financially successful as a fundraiser, and it has been fantastic as a competitive event.”
View complete results at this link.
About The Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series
Now in its ninth year, the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series is an exciting format of competition and entertainment for U.S. Eventing, encompassing seven of the top eventing competitions from around the U.S. where the best of the best vie for prize money, trophies, and the title of Gold Cup Champion.
Winners of each of the seven Gold Cup events across the country take home a trailer-load of prizes for their achievements. Winners receive an Adequan USEA Gold Cup Trophy, $500 in prize money, 7-dose box of Adequan, $200 Point Two Gift Certificate, and $500 worth of Nunn Finer Products. Second place finishers also take home a 7-dose box of Adequan and a $100 Point Two Gift Certificate.
The overall Adequan USEA Gold Cup winner will receive a hefty check for $20,000, an official Gold Cup Champion Jacket, and a huge trophy at the USEA Annual Meeting & Convention. The Reserve Champion receives $1,500 worth of Nunn Finer Products and a Gold Cup Reserve Champion Jacket.
Interesting in sponsoring the Gold Cup? Contact Leslie Mintz.