Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous. Photos: ©SusanStickle.
Wellington, FL – February 3, 2017 – Marilyn Little (USA) and RF Scandalous established an early lead in the dressage phase of the 2017 $100,000 Land Rover Wellington Eventing Showcase on Friday at Equestrian Village at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC).
Little and RF Scandalous, a 2005 Oldenburg mare (Carry Gold x Richardia x Lario) owned by J. Mars, R. Parsky, P. Manders, & M. Manders, took the lead after the dressage phase with 24.9 penalties. Ryan Wood (AUS) and Powell, a 2006 Oldenburg gelding (Pablito x Dinara x Donnerwerth) owned by Summit Sporthorses LTD, Inc. & Ryan Wood, will continue on to the show jumping phase in second place on 26.1 penalties, while last year’s event winner Boyd Martin (USA) and Welcome Shadow, a 2005 Thoroughbred x mare owned by Gloria Callen sit in third place with 26.5 penalties.
“We are using this time to work on her (RF Scandalous) dressage and her show jumping. She’s actually in her fourth week of competition already this year,” said Little of the mare she rode to individual and team gold medals at the 2015 Pan American Games. “She’s been competing at [the Winter Equestrian Festival] and has been doing lots of dressage. I was happy that today went well.”
She continued, “Today I wasn’t entirely sure if the result would be positive or negative. Sometimes it’s one step forward, two steps back. I was worried because I’ve been trying to add more spark and add more control to the changes, that she could be a bit fresh today and maybe we would see that in the ring. I was pleasantly surprised with her demeanor; she was very business-like and was as lovely to ride as she always is.”
Wood credited his recent dressage training with Silva Martin for his second-place standing.
“I’ve had a lot of help from Boyd’s wife on the dressage. It gets a little tough at the dinner table when I end up beating him,” joked Wood.
Regarding his thoughts on the cross-country course, Wood said, “This is a challenging course, and it’ll be my horse’s first start for the year. We’ve got some great schooling places around us in Aiken so they’ve been able to get out a few times. It’s going to be challenging. [Course designer Capt.] Mark [Phillips] has made some changes, and accuracy is going to be a factor.”
Boyd Martin has won the Wellington Eventing Showcase two years in a row and could make it a three-peat victory if his rides go as planned. “Mark Phillips has really beefed the course up here, and it is considerably trickier than it has been in the last few years. The time should be a fair bit harder to make, so I think that if you want to win a prize here you’re really going to have to take a chance and go for broke,” said Martin.
Welcome Shadow has been competing at the Advanced level for two years and was a reserve horse for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. “I feel like we are just starting to get some of our best work,” Martin said. “She’s (Welcome Shadow) a wonderful mover and a real pleaser and a trier. Tomorrow will be a big test. It’s our first event for the year.”
Currently sitting in fourth place on 27.1 penalties, Hannah Sue Burnett (USA) commented on her start to the season with mount Harbour Pilot. “Instead of butting heads, we are teaming up. I’m excited to ride both of my horses here. They are both very, very, very bold so that’s a huge advantage for me.”
Equestrian Sport Productions’ CEO Mark Bellissimo concluded the day’s press conference by discussing possible expansions for the sport of Eventing in Wellington. “We are very happy to have this event in its third year. It is an opportunity for us to expose a much broader audience to Eventing, and we are very excited for the future,” said Bellissimo.
Competition continues on Saturday, February 4, at 10:30 a.m. with show jumping and continues with cross country at 1 p.m. For more information on the $100,000 Land Rover Wellington Eventing Showcase, please visit www.pbiec.com.