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The Jersey Fresh CCI3* was a solid 10 minutes long and completing the John Williams designed cross-country course is definitely a feat of which to be proud. Fifteen pairs started today’s course in Allentown, New Jersey and 14 successfully crossed the finish line, 10 with no jump faults and an impressive five finishing inside the time. The top six places remained unchanged with Phillip Dutton and James and Arden Wildasin’s Mystery Whisper leading the charge. The 12-year-old Warmblood Gelding (Richmeed Medallion x Socialite) finished his first CCI3* cross-country course with Phillip in the tack with 1.2 time penalties, but still managed to lengthen his lead over the second place and head into show jumping tomorrow with a rail in hand.
“He was very good,” Phillip said. “My main goal today was to get the cross-country section of the qualification done as far as the Olympics goes, so I just went at a speed which I thought was appropriate for jumping the jumps and keeping him confident. We ended up a bit quicker than I thought I would be, but the course is not roped so there are quite a few areas where you can shave some distance.”
“Everything is a bit new because I haven’t ridden him that long,” continued Phillip. “The longer course was probably the biggest – I wasn’t quite so sure what he would be like on those last few minutes, but he didn’t change at all. Literally I don’t think he had a bad jump around the whole course.”
“I think he is pretty proud of himself; he has a great look in his eye tonight.”
Karen O’Connor had the chance to redeem herself after the mishap at the Rolex Kentucky CCI4* with Team Rebecca LLC’s Veronica. The 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood/Thoroughbred jumped boldly around the course to finish with no jumping penalties and only five seconds over the optimum time.
“I was really, really happy about Veronica today,” said Karen. “I thought she was awesome at the water – both times. It definitely didn’t back her off or lose any confidence when I fell off in the water at Kentucky, so I was thrilled. She was all run today. She is a fighter and loves her job.”
CCI3* Slideshow above or click here for gallery.
CIC3* slideshow or click here for gallery.
CCI2* slideshow or click here for gallery.
CIC2* slideshow or click here for gallery.
Veronica came the closest to catching Mystery Whisper yesterday with her 39.6 dressage score. The two time penalties accrued today give her a 41.6 heading into tomorrow’s show jumping.
Michael Pollard and Jude’s Law were the fastest pair of the day in the CCI3* finishing on 9:40 – 20 seconds under the optimum time.
“Jude’s Law is as good as any horse in the country,” said Michael. “He is lacking experience and I haven’t had a lot of time with him, but if I were looking at a horse to take to the Olympics this would be the horse. Even with a dressage subpar dressage test he was really well placed and he is just a machine cross-country. I think that the partnership is really coming along. I have never done a CCI event with him, so we will see how the show jumping goes tomorrow, but he has been fantastic all season.”
The pair head into show jumping tomorrow sitting 2 points behind Karen O’Connor and Veronica on a 43.6.
Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master Rise to the Top of the CIC3*
After a relatively uneventful morning the CIC3* shook-up the standings with overnight leader Clark Montgomery and Universe picking up 20 penalties at what would prove to be the bogey fence, the skinny brush after the drop, to open the door for a new leader. Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master moved up into first from fourth overnight by crossing the finish line only one second over the optimum time of 6:57.
“He was super,” Rebecca said of the 11-year-old Canadian Sport Horse. “He was quite happy to be out today. All of the tough stuff felt really good actually – I was really happy with his rideabilty at all the combinations and he jumped them really well.”
“He is just so good. He gives you such a good feeling out there and is so smart with his body, so it is a pretty cool feeling for sure.”
Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master have never been in the position of topping the leaderboard heading into show jumping, but they aren’t going to let the pressure get to them tomorrow.
“I don’t honestly think it will be any different than a normal competition. I am just proud of him and proud of where he has come from. Each time he goes out he just gets better and better. It is just cool to have that show on the scoreboard.”
Less than a rail behind Rebecca are Will Faudree and Jennifer Mosing’s Pawlow who rose three places in the standings after laying down a double clear round. Will had a tough start to his day when he fell from his other CIC3* entry, DHI Colour Candy at the final fence, but was able to cross the finish line safely with Pawlow.
“Pawlow jumped really, really well,” said Will. “I have had him for a long time, and I have been able to do a lot of fun things with him. I was really happy with him, he was looking for the jumps, quick off my leg, and I was really pleased with him.”
"I thought it was a really good course, and John Williams has done a really good job trying to figure out how to use every bit of terrain out of this property. When we walked it we all got a little bit dizzy, like where are we going? But it actually rode really nice."
Running at Jersey was a last minute decision for Sinead Halpin and Manoir de Carneville, but it proved to be a good one as “Tate” ate up the cross-country and a double clear round landed them in third.
“I went to Rolex and was like ‘Oh no I am not good enough’” “I was planning on going to the Fork and then giving him some downtime before heading to Bromont, but I took him to Kentucky to do the dressage test ride and took him to Fair Hill to do a combined test and I nearly died in the dressage warm-up because he was so fit.”
“He loves his job and he loves it more every time he goes out. During his Advanced and even Intermediate career he just did his job and jumped what was in front of him, but now he really looks for the fences and gets excited.”
Boyd Martin and Crackerjack Ace the CCI2*
Boyd Martin rode the late Colin Davidson’s nine-year-old Thoroughbred Crackerjack (Aberjack x Satan’s Slave) to a fast, clean round across the country to maintain their overnight lead in the 19 horse strong CCI2*.
“He is a good boy, Crackerjack,” said Boyd. “He had a rocky start to the season when I fell off of him at Southern Pines. He is a bit of a wild man and if he can relax a bit I think he could be a really good horse, but on a longer course like today where he can take a breath and not go so fast I can keep a lid on him.
“I thought the two-star track was pretty good,” continued Boyd. “The ground was phenomenal. [John Williams] has a difficult piece of land here which makes it hard to make to get a good flowing course.”
Hot on Boyd’s heels are siblings Holly and Doug Payne who sit in second and third on their respective mounts, Beth Growblewski’s Santino and Larry and Amelia Ross’ Crown Talisman. The Paynes are both New Jersey natives and their supporters took over nearly half of the tailgating spots at the Jersey Shore Water Complex.
“It is good to have the support of everyone here,” said Holly. “But I felt a little extra pressure when they all started yelling and cheering before I even jumped into the ‘A’ element of the water. We have so many supporters at home, but we don’t have a lot of local events so it is good for people to get to see us go in person.”
“Santino used to be very ADD, he used to just weave on cross-country and I would have to smack him to get him to gallop in a straight line. I wasn’t really sure how he would handle the crowds, but he was great and seemed to thrive off it.”
Holly and Doug both put in double clear rounds and moved up one spot on the leaderboard when the overnight second placed pair, Phillip Dutton and Indie, took a swim in the Jersey Shore when Indie stumbled on the landing of the drop into the water.
Mandiba Masters the CIC2*
In addition to her second placed CCI3* position, Karen is also leading the CIC2* as well as lying in third. Mandiba added 5.2 time penalties to his dressage score of 42.2, but had enough in hand to maintain the top spot. William Coleman and Zipp finished with six time penalties for second while Karen slotted into third with RF Amber Eyes.
“I am having such a blast with Mandiba,” said Karen. “He is the coolest two-star horse on the planet. The reality is that Mandiba was such a successful young horse and when four years ago when Teddy [O’Connor] was killed he had to step-up. He was the last man standing in quarantine and got the call to go to Hong Kong – we weren’t ready and there was some collateral damage done to the horse.”
“I don’t know where the future is with him, but I know right now he is having a heck of a good time and is pounding his chest with pride.”
The veterinary inspection kicks off the final day at 8:30 a.m. followed by the two-star divisions show jumping at 10:30 a.m. The day will conclude with the three-star divisions show jumping beginning at 1:30 p.m.