The 2016 edition of the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series at Red Hills Horse Trials got underway on Friday with 41 pairs in the CIC3* division and 14 pairs in the Advanced division. Among those competing are past Olympians, 2016 Rio Olympic Games hopefuls and previous winners of the Gold Cup Series event.
Early on during day one of the CIC divisions at Red Hills it looked like the Aussies would take the headlines in Tallahassee today. Australian American’s Phillip Dutton and Boyd Martin took the early Dressage leads in the CIC3* and CIC1* while Clayton Fredericks held the first and second spots in the CIC2*. A strong group of American ladies initially bumped the Aussies out of the top spots in the CIC3* but they wouldn’t go without a fight. Later in the day Phillip Dutton entered the ring riding his well-known partner Fernhill Fugitive taking the lead back nearing the end of the division.
“I think that is about the best he’s gone,” said Dutton. “He’s getting better and better. Timing his warm-up is pretty crucial. You do too much and he drops behind my leg and you don’t do enough and he’s not quite through enough. So we got that pretty right.” He noted the gelding had some time in training recently. “Silva Martin has had him for a couple of weeks and she has done a great job with him. I think that is the reason Boyd [Martin] does so well actually,” he joked.
In the end it was Hannah Sue Burnett riding Harbour Pilot, or “William,” who ruined the sweep for the group of Aussies. Burnett and William received a 40.4 to earn the top spot. William, a 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Jacqueline B. Mars, sustained an injury at the 2014 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. “Burghley was so exciting and then so disappointing when we didn’t get to jog up” said Burnett. After giving him a soft 2015, he seems to be returning this year in top form.
In 2016 Burnett brought William back finishing third in the Open Preliminary at the Ocala Horse Properties Winter I HT and jumping clean in the Open Intermediate at the Rocking Horse Winter I HT before coming to Red Hills. “I’m really really happy with him. It’s so funny to be back at a big event on him after a whole year off” said Burnett. “Having him back in action and having him compete so well is just really cool. He is definitely happy to be here and excited. He’s grown up a lot in the year having some time off.”
Jennifer Brannigan, who took the lunchtime lead, finished in third place aboard Candace Kircher and Tim and Nina Gardner’s Catalina. The 13-year-old Oldenburg mare sits on a 44.4 going into the jumping phases. “I was pretty excited,” stated Brannigan when reflecting on her placing after Dressage. “I wasn’t exactly expecting to be sitting here, but I think in this company to have such a green horse step up to the plate is really exciting.”
Organizers, volunteers and officials worked tirelessly throughout the day to keep the footing pristine for all riders throughout the day. At the lunch break, the crew decided it was in the best interest of the horses and riders to move the entire dressage court 4 meters. The reason for the move was reportedly due to the base having been a bit loose in the corner to the left of judges, but the decision was well respected and appreciated by all competitors.
1: Liz Halliday-Sharp & Fernhill By Night
2: Phillip Dutton & Indian Mill
3: Lauren Kieffer and Veronica
About the Adequan USEA Gold Cup
Qualifying for the 2016 Adequan USEA Gold Cup began last fall with the Richland Park Advanced & CIC3* (MI), Aspen Farms Advanced (WA), Plantation Field Advanced & CIC3* (PA) and the Woodside International Advanced & CIC3* (CA) and features 11 qualifying competitions throughout the United States at the Advanced Horse Trials and CIC3* levels. The final will take place at the Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships, September 1-4 in Tryon, North Carolina. Riders who complete a qualifier earn the chance to vie for $40,000 in prize money and thousands of dollars in prizes in the Adequan Advanced Division and the title of Adequan USEA Gold Cup Champion.
The 2016 Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series is made possible through the support of its many loyal sponsors: Adequan, Standlee Forage, Nunn Finer, Nutrena, Merck, Broadstone Equine Insurance Agency, Pyranha and FITS.