There were no rails in hand heading into the show jumping phase at The Fork, but that didn’t matter to Phillip Dutton, Karen O’Connor, Michael Pollard, and Allison Springer as they all held onto their overnight leads in their respective divisions by jumping clear rounds over the Sally Ike designed show jump course.
In the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Advanced B Division Allison Springer and Arthur, a 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Brandenburg’s Windstar x Kelly), led from wire-to-wire to finish on their dressage score of 22.7 in the extremely competitive class. The pair had quite a few hard rubs in the show jumping arena, but luck was on their side and all of the poles remained resolutely in their cups.
“Three years ago I started working with Katie Prudent,” explained Allison. “And she is the one who has really changed that horse and me. I think he was just written off as a very un-careful horse and would never be careful, and I didn’t want to believe that because he is such a good talent. [Katie] was so helpful with him.”
When asked what goes through her head going into show jumping in the lead, Allison responded, “I really just don’t think about it anymore. You have control over your nerves and what you are thinking, and for me I know it doesn’t help to even think about that sort of stuff. It takes a long time to get to that point as a competitor, but I look forward to competing and I feel happy and relaxed. The most nervous I get is riding babies for the first time on cross-country!”
“I didn’t have perfect confidence in that I was going to have a clear round, but I had perfect confidence in that I knew what I had to do in the warm-up and in the round.”
Allison and Arthur are heading to the Rolex Kentucky CCI4* for the fifth time together, and hope that their long relationship will pay off. “What happens in Kentucky is most important – this was great, but I know what comes next is a whole different thing.”
Advanced B Slideshow. View the complete gallery here.
Advanced A Slideshow. View the complete gallery here.
CIC3* Slideshow. View the complete gallery here.
For her win in the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Division, Allison took home 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.
Sinead Halpin and the 12-year-old Selle Francais gelding, Manoir De Carneville, ended up the runner-ups in the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Division finishing a mere 1.3 penalties behind Allison. The pair are coming off of an extremely successful 2011 season and continued their streak at The Fork.
“I wasn’t very happy actually with the dressage, I just kind of changed from my plan a little bit – he was pretty explosive in the warm-up and took a few people out actually, but then I just went into the ring and didn’t touch him and he just did his thing and got a surprisingly good mark.”
“Cross-country was awesome – he even pulled me twice, and he never pulls. It was actually really cool. I was actually quite fast, I didn’t mean to be so fast.”
“Show jumping was good, he jumped well. I still don’t think it was quite good enough; I need to get better, but we have a bit of time.”
Sinead has a unique situation in that her mom and step-dad, Bernadette and Jim Cogdell, are the hosts of the event. However she doesn’t feel any added pressure because of that. “ Jim’s a great owner of the horse, but they are so busy here. They kind of yip and yell, but no I don’t feel and pressure. I love this event, but I think that all of us are really excited to be here. They do the most that they can for the ground and the course and the rings are great, so it’s a pleasure to be here.”
For her second place finish in the Adequan USEA Gold Cup division, Sinead took home a 7-dose box of Adequan and a $100 Point Two Gift Certificate.
Becky Holder and Courageous Comet made a fabulous comeback after their nearly two-year break to finish in third on a 27.3.
Michael Pollard put his Red Hills show jumping woes behind him and laid down three clear rounds today with his trio of gray horses. Michael rode Schoensgreen Hanni, a nine-year-old German Warmblood mare owned by his wife Nathalie, to a clean round that enabled them to take home the blue in the Advanced A Division.
“Hanni was really, really good today in show jumping,” said Michael. “The horse jumped really well at Red Hills, but I ended up having three rails down so I was really disappointed. Hanni having a really good and confident clear round today was exciting as I wanted to redeem myself a bit. I wasn’t that worried about having rails down as all the jumps seemed to come out of stride, and she was jumping the bigger fences fairly easily.”
“Three clear rounds out of three was kind of exciting. That is definitely the kind of day you want to have – it seems like it happens that way sometimes though. If the first one jumps clear and feels good, just that little bit of confidence helps the others. All in all really well.”
Schoensgreen Hanni will be heading to the Jersey Fresh CCI3* in May for her next big step along with Jude’s Law while his other pair of horses, Wonderful Will and Icarus, will head to Rolex Kentucky CCI4*.
Danielle Dichting and Tops, and 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse Gelding (Top of the World x Tomgar Diamond) were the only pair in the Advanced A Division to finish on their dressage score. This was rewarded with a second place position in the 25-competitor strong division.
Jonathan Holling and Downtown Harrison moved into the third placed spot after Kate Samuels and Nyls du Terroir had a stop in the center double which dropped them into fourth.
PRO Tour Series CIC3*
Phillip Dutton and Mystery Whisper just completed their fourth event together and they did it in fine style with a win in the CIC3* - their second of the season as the pair won the Red Hills CIC3* not too long ago. However, the final phase of the competition started out a bit rough as Phillip had a bit of trouble with fence two.
“I nearly fell off [at fence two],” said Phillip. “I guess I got there maybe a little bit weak and he kind of looked at the colored jump and he exploded a lot more than I was expecting him to, so I sort of lost my balance. It was a little bit embarrassing, but we regained.”
The rest of the round went off without a hitch and Phillip and Mystery Whisper were able to lead the victory gallop after all. “I don’t think I have ever had a more careful horse in the ring. He just tries at every jump, and that sort of gives you quite a bit of confidence that when you get in the ring that you don’t have to protect the horse and you can think about your time. . . I am not saying that I have done it but his jump is getting better and better.”
As far as looking ahead to this summer’s Olympics, Mystery Whisper seems to be Phillip’s top pick although they still need to qualify which they are going to try and do at the Jersey Fresh CCI3*. “It sort of brings home to me that I haven’t schooled my horses on the flat because this one is in a whole different league to the others in what he can do in the dressage. Certainly in London that would be a huge advantage. I think I would pick Mighty Nice if we were going to Badminton or something like that, but Mystery Whisper seems to be pretty suited to the London Games. There are still another couple of months to go so we will see.”
Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master made a steady climb up the CIC3* leaderboard to end up in the reserve position in the massive class.
“Overall I was thrilled with the weekend. The horse is a great jumper, super careful, and was really good today. I didn’t ride as I planned to ride it, so I came out a bit frustrated. I just got a bit stuck in the turns and weaker in the lines so I just landed and saw the add. Plan B worked well, and he answered that, which was nice.”
Riddle Master and Rebecca will be heading to the CIC3* at Jersey Fresh before aiming at Bromont CCI3*.
Marilyn Little-Meredith plowed through the second fence with RF Demeter – the same one that caused Phillip is scary moment - but despite the dropped rail and moving into third Marilyn was still very positive about her ride and excited to head forward to Rolex.
“I was really pleased all in all with the weekend,” said Marilyn. “It was a bit disappointing to have had the rail, but it is a little bittersweet because her performance was so much better today than at Red Hills where she jumped clear. The score is not indicative of her performance. To ride her around the course today was a completely different horse than at Red Hills. I would take days like today any day of the week over Red Hills because what I saw today was a horse that I am really excited about going forward with - she was careful, she was thinking, she was responsive.”
Karen O’Connor dominated the CIC2* this weekend with her win aboard Joan Goswell’s Mandiba, second place finish with RF Amber Eyes, and her student Marilyn Little-Meredith claiming third with RF Smoke on the Water. This event also marked a full circle for Mandiba as he competed in and won his first Beginner Novice event at The Fork in 2005 and has now returned to competition after his fall at Badminton with a win in the CIC2* seven years later. “He was very comfortable at the two-star level, but I think I am going to keep him there a bit,” said Karen. “If he returens to the three-star or the four-star level that is way off in the distance. That horse does not owe anybody anything – he has done everything that has been asked of him, and he has come back from his injury really well. If it’s his destiny to be really good at this level then I am okay with it.”
“I wish you could have seen him yesterday in the stables,” continued Karen. “He was so chuffed with himself, so proud. When a horse takes a big hit like that they are down in the dumps for a while, so for me it’s all about the horse and what is going to make him feel good about himself. He was very comfortable yesterday and today.”
“The other mare, RF Amber Eyes, she was the bomb. I am so excited about her,” concluded Karen.
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.