Allison Springer and Arthur. Photos: ©SusanJStickle.
Wellington, FL – February 5, 2016 – Allison Springer (USA) and her veteran mount Arthur secured an early lead in the dressage phase of the $75,000 Asheville Regional Airport Wellington Eventing Showcase, presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty. Competition will continue with the show jumping phase beginning at 10:30 a.m. in the Global International Ring at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) Saturday morning, February 6, with the cross-country phase starting with the first rider on course at 1 p.m.
Springer and Arthur took the lead with a score of 29.1. Buck Davidson (USA) and Ballynoecastle RM will move into the show jumping phase in second place, receiving a 30.1, while Boyd Martin (USA), winner of last year’s event, sits in third place aboard new mount Blackfoot Mystery with a 30.6.
Allison Springer and Arthur have a storied partnership, as the duo have tested some of the largest CCI 4* events in the world, including the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day CCI4* multiple times, and the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials CCI 4*, where the duo has finished 6th and 21st respectively. Arthur, known to be a generally spooky mount, braved the atmosphere of the Global International Ring on a windy day in Wellington, FL, and Springer was proud of the 17-year-old gelding.
“He feels great,” Springer said. “He’s 17 this year and it’s fun to see him and Reggie, Buck’s horse, here. They really started out together, and it’s been so many years. He feels great and is so happy to be out doing stuff again. He’s jumping really well and I’m hoping that I can stay focused tomorrow and give him a good ride.”
Springer has waited to bring Arthur back into competition after an injury last year sidelined him for majority of the 2015 season. Looking in top form, the combination impressed in their first run of 2016. They are using this event to prepare for their first CCI4* run of 2016 at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event in April.
“He got hurt before Rolex last year and now he feels strong and well. This for me is one of our big preps for Rolex this year. He’ll do this and an easy February getting him fit and we’ll maybe do a run at The Fork,” commented Springer. “This is the perfect event for him because it has the noise and the stadium. I’m really grateful (that) Mark [Bellissimo], Jim [Wolf], and Michael [Stone] have put this together for us. We all can’t thank [them] enough. Arthur is happy to be here.”
“We haven’t had a run since last year’s showcase here,” Springer continued. “This is good practice for my horse. He can be a bit of a spook, but he’s pretty good with the technical stuff. I’ve worked really hard on my show jumping because it’s not Arthur’s strongest phase, but he’s fully capable and it just requires a lot of focus on my part. I’m going to be thinking positive.”
Buck Davidson (USA) and crowd favorite Ballynoecastle RM shot to the top of the standings before Springer’s ride as the third to last pair to go on the first day of competition. The pair, who has represented the United States on numerous occasions, is back in action for the 2016 season.
Davidson commented, “It’s a great experience for all of us to come to a new venue and have some new fans and bring a new kind of excitement to Wellington. As for Reggie, you end up saying the same thing every time. He’s just a professional. I’m disappointed in myself that I missed the one change, but he was perfect as usual and we’re on to focusing on the next day.”
“It’s an awesome course,” Davidson said of tomorrow’s cross-country track. “It’s perfectly laid out and I wish the fairways at my golf course looked as nice as this. We’re all appreciative of that and all of the horses should be able to have a good, quick run. It’s not very long, and the fences are well presented. The ground is perfect, and I think you’ll see a great competition tomorrow.”
With two new mounts entered in the competition for the first time, Boyd Martin (USA) made the most of both rides, piloting Welcome Shadow to a score of 35.9 to sit in 20th place moving into show jumping tomorrow, and rode Blackfoot Mystery to a third place finish after the first phase.
Martin said, “We had a great event last year, but it just feels bigger and better this year. I think the field of riders is actually higher quality than last year. There’s a lot more of the top horses here. I was really happy with my two horses today. I brought a green one named Welcome Shadow that did quite well and my new horse Blackfoot Mystery came in and did a good test. We had a few little mistakes, but I think he’s all class. I’m looking forward to building a partnership with him and bringing him up for Rolex later this spring.”
“It’s the beginning of the season. My fellows haven’t had a run since last year and it’s a big pressure show jumping atmosphere. It’s an enclosed and proper ring. The cross country isn’t too big, but it’s a bit trickier than last year. I think riders will have to be decisive on course.”
Event Director Jim Wolf was on hand to comment on the improvements that have been made to make the 2016 Asheville Regional Airport Wellington Eventing Showcase, presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty, better than ever.
“Last year was a start-up event and we went a bit cautious with the course. We wanted to understand the venue and get the riders comfortable with the format. I’d really like to thank all of the riders and their owners for believing in the event,” he noted. “We were trying to create something a bit different for eventing because it was a showcase, giving us a way to introduce the sport to this community. I used to event and that’s where my heart still lies. I knew that there was a real fan base and owner base for eventing that they hadn’t tapped into yet.”
“All of the owners in equestrian sport are incredibly important and event horses are a special leap of faith because there isn’t great prize money, but that’s something that we’re addressing here and want to change within this sport. We also thought that we could introduce some new owners to the sport and last year we were successful doing that,” he continued. “People have really supported this event, which is great, and we have an incredible group of sponsors behind this. They have really stepped up and these are very long term supporters of eventing like Land Rover, Rolex, Adequan®, Ariat, and then we have Asheville Regional Airport and Wellington Equestrian Realty who are great partners for this new event.”
Competition will be live streamed tomorrow beginning at 10:30 a.m. with show jumping and continue with cross country at 1 p.m. provided by The Chronicle of the Horse. Please visit http://bit.ly/1NTWM6t to watch the competition live.
For more information on the $75,000 Asheville Regional Airport Wellington Eventing Showcase, presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty, please visit www.pbiec.com.