(WELLINGTON, FLORIDA) – February 4, 2017 – Defending champion Boyd Martin, riding Welcome Shadow, clinched a superb victory to secure a historic third consecutive title with a score of 27.9 in the Land Rover Wellington Eventing Showcase held in Week Four of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Fellow U.S. rider Buck Davidson took second place riding his bay mare, Petite Flower, on a score of 30.9, with Doug Payne (USA) climbing four places in the cross-country to finish third riding Vandiver on a score of 34.2.
The glamorous setting of Wellington, Florida (Palm Beach County) attracted equestrian’s most talented eventers who competed under clear blue skies and the Florida sunshine for two days of intense competition all vying for the $100,000 prize money on offer. Sir Mark Todd (NZL) and Great Britain’s William Fox-Pitt were included in the strong line-up but it was USA’s Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous who rose to the top of the leader board at the end of day one following the dressage phase, with an impressive score of 24.9. The overnight standings were incredibly tight with just four penalties separating the top six riders.
Marilyn Little continued her good form in the show jumping phase steering RF Scandalous around the course, set by Richard Jefferies, to a stunning clear round and within the time. But defending champion Boyd Martin made sure to keep the pressure on, producing a flawless round on his grey mare, Welcome Shadow, sitting just 1.4 penalties behind the leader as they entered the final cross-country phase.
The cross-country course, built by world renowned designer Captain Mark Phillips, proved to be challenging, with only two riders going under the optimum time of 3 minutes and 59 seconds. The technical course also included a unique phase with the final jump being placed inside the VIP hospitality tent, much to the delight of the packed spectators.
An unfortunate run-out and fall for Marilyn Little riding her first horse, RF Demeter, resulted in her withdrawal from the competition paving the way for defending champion, Boyd Martin, to move into first place ahead of his final round. The pressure was building as Buck rode under the optimum time keeping his score of 30.9 and closing the gap on the leaders. A small mistake from Alison Springer resulted in a run-out at fence 17 for Arthur and took them out of contention.
This left the door open for Boyd and Welcome Shadow. However, the unforgiving nature of the cross-country phase meant one mistake could see the world-class combination slip down the rankings. In a nail biting finish Boyd held his nerve through the Land Rover Offset obstacle and galloped passed the packed crowds to victory. Finishing just two seconds over the optimum time, the pair received 0.8 of a time penalty and Boyd claimed his unprecedented third consecutive Land Rover Wellington Eventing Showcase title and the $33,000 winner’s prize money.
Boyd commented on his hat-trick of titles: “It was really great to win the Land Rover Eventing Showcase here in Wellington. It is such a privilege to be here and be part of this great event. I have a wonderful horse in Welcome Shadow; we had some of the best riders in the world here and was the toughest competition yet so I am really pleased.”
Helen McDonald, Events and Partnerships Manager, Jaguar Land Rover North America LLC, spoke of this year’s event: “It’s been a great weekend of competition and the riders who came from far and wide did not disappoint! Land Rover is proud to once again support such a wonderful event and we congratulate Boyd Martin and Welcome Shadow on his third straight win at the Land Rover Wellington Eventing Showcase.”
Eight-time Olympian Sir Mark Todd spoke of his first experience at the Land Rover Wellington Eventing Showcase: “It’s great to be here; the facilities are incredible and the location is so unique. It’s an amazing platform for us to showcase the sport of eventing to a new audience and events like this will only help us to grow the sport.”
To learn more about the Winter Equestrian Festival and the Wellington Eventing Showcase, please visit: www.pbiec.com.
Wellington, FL – February 4, 2017 – Boyd Martin (USA) was victorious with Welcome Shadow in the $100,000 Land Rover Wellington Eventing Showcase held on Saturday at Equestrian Village at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Beginning the weekend with a class of 39 entries, Boyd Martin climbed to the top after a clear show jumping round and a great trip on cross-country to finish on 27.30 penalties with Welcome Shadow, a 2005 Thoroughbred mare owned by Gloria Callen, and an overall Showcase win for the third year in a row.
Buck Davidson (USA) and Carlevo, a 2007 Holsteiner gelding (Caresino x Levernois) owned by Carlevo LLC, finished second on 30.9 penalties after moving up from 13th place after dressage. Doug Payne rode Vandiver, a 2004 ATA gelding by Windfall x Mystic Replica XX owned by Debi Crowley and Doug and Jessica Payne, to a third place finish with 34.2 penalties.
Commenting on his victory, Martin said, “This year was by far the hardest one to win. It was a much more competitive field; the caliber of horses was the best we’ve seen here. I’ve got to say, the show jumping was bigger and wider, (and) I think the show jumping was even bigger than at Rolex. The cross-country was a real test. I think that it’s been good that they’ve gently built it up like this, but the cross-country was influential this year compared to other years.
“My horse is one of my favorites in training at the moment,” he said of Welcome Shadow, who was originally owner Craig Callen’s fox hunter. “You couldn’t get a horse that tries any harder than Welcome Shadow. I thought she was great in all three phases, and I was proud to win. I will quite happily take the check home.”
The pair has a plan that will lead them up to the Kentucky Rolex Three-Day Event CCI4* within the next few months. “She’ll go home tonight and (we will) give her an easy week and back off her a bit. I don’t think [this event] knocks the horses around too much because it was only a four-minute track,” Martin explained. “It was four-star questions in intermediate height, so it tuned her up a little bit.”
Buck Davidson (USA) and Carlevo jumped a clear stadium course and went on to a clear cross-country round.
“I was really happy with the mare,” said Davidson. “She couldn’t have been better this whole weekend. I was really happy with the dressage, and she tried her heart out in the show jumping, and was as straight as could be today. She is very fast and a fun horse to ride around these kind of events.”
Doug Payne (USA) and Vandiver rose through the standings from eleventh place after dressage to tenth place after show jumping, and came back strong after a flawless cross-country run to land in third place.
Payne said of his experience this year, “This is an incredible competition, and I think it will prove to be valuable for these horses able to come here early in the season. There is more atmosphere here than you are going to see anywhere except for maybe Rolex, domestically. It’s a great preparation because we seldom have the opportunity to have these horses in such an environment. It’s an incredible asset to the sport, and I couldn’t have been more happy with Quinn.
“I was disappointed I had the last jump down (in show jumping), but on cross-country he’s a bit of a dirt bike, and we go out there and cruise,” he continued. “I am learning to trust him more and more, and I’m incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to ride and work with him.”
Equestrian Sport Productions’ CEO Mark Bellissimo highlighted once again the importance of growth within the sport of Eventing and amongst the equine community.
“It takes a great team to pull this off,” he said. “I want to thank Land Rover for stepping up and distinguishing this event. We wanted to create an environment where we could demonstrate the great athleticism of the both the horse and rider in a compact environment which would allow for many new spectators and owners who have never seen Eventing to come and experience this.”
Bellissimo continued, “I think we are at a point now where we have a really good format. Next year we are going to try to push this event and make it something very, very special. We are very excited about this event and the future of Eventing in this country.”
Event Organizer Jim Wolf concluded the conference by discussing his thoughts on the event and its future.
“I think we are on to a really great product here,” he said. “We try to create sports entertainment properties, and I think today was really great sport and was great entertainment. Mark Phillips did a brilliant job on the course. I would especially like to thank Land Rover. They are a great supporter of the sport and of Eventing worldwide, and we are thrilled they are doing this with us. We thank them for their support and making it possible.
“Mark saw Eventing as an underserved audience as he saw dressage as an underserved audience several years ago and put together investors, owners, and supporters to elevate dressage to a whole new level in this country,” Wolf said. “I think we can do that if given a chance for Eventing. We see an audience that has an opportunity to put some money in this sport. This sport isn’t easy and you can’t go collect a big check every weekend like in show jumping, so when we see these riders come out and put it on the line like these guys do, they deserve to be recognized. Nothing says thank you more than a check.”
Helen McDonald, Events and Partnerships Manager for Jaguar Land Rover NA, spoke of the positive partnership that the company has with the Eventing Showcase. Said McDonald, “I just want to say thank you to Mark and Jim. This is an unbelievable event, beautiful facilities, and congratulations to the riders. I look forward to pursuing what’s available next year here.”
Caroline Moran presented awards to the grooms of the top three riders, in memory of Bruce Duchossois, to Sergio Reyes, Kathleen Murray, and Courtney Carson.
The 2017 $100,000 Land Rover Wellington Eventing Showcase event was a great success, and Equestrian Sport Productions looks forward to planning for the 2018 event. For more information on the Land Rover Wellington Eventing Showcase, and for a full list of results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.
Phillip Dutton and Mighty Nice (Shannon Brinkman Photo)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Cross-country, the heart of eventing competition, proved to be demanding for the 64 athlete-and-horse combinations who contested Pierre Michelet’s technical course at the Olympic Equestrian Center at Deodoro on Monday. Only three entries finished double-clear, and only 26 crossed the finish without jumping penalties. U.S. veterans Phillip Dutton and Boyd Martin rode brilliantly and stand fifth and sixth, respectively, entering Tuesday’s concluding show jumping phase. Dutton and Martin were the only members of the U.S. team to complete the course, dropping the U.S. from contention in the team competition.
Technical and bold, Michelet’s course was packed with angles, skinnies, and corners, and it radically changed the individual and team standings. Australia now leads the team competition with a score of 150.30, followed by New Zealand in second with 154.80, and France in third with 161.
Riding penultimate in the order, Dutton (West Grove, Pa.) and HND Group’s Mighty Nice set out on course focused on taking the most direct route. They survived a suspenseful bobble at fence 6b, a corner brush, and were able to keep on target and finish with only 3.20 time penalties. Dutton moves forward into tomorrow’s show jumping phase with a score of 46.80.
“That (fence 6b) actually surprised me a bit,” said Dutton. “He must not have quite understood it, and then I held him in and just got it done, and then I was just trying to catch up for time. He jumped beautifully after that. He’s not the fastest horse; he’s not a Thoroughbred, but he fought really hard right to the very end and came home nicely.”
Leading the charge as first out for the U.S. on cross-country was Martin (Cochranville, Pa.) on the Blackfoot Mystery Syndicate LLC’s Blackfoot Mystery. Cruising out of the start box, Martin produced a fast, clean round, and even after taking the alternate route at two obstacles, picked up just 3.20 time penalties. Adding to his dressage score of 47.70, he finished the day with a score of 50.90.
“This was one of the most physical and demanding courses. It was intense,” Martin said. “He [Blackfoot Mystery] is a racehorse from Kentucky, and he kept fighting the whole way home; he tried his heart out for every jump. He has speed and endurance; I’m so pleased with him.” Regarding tomorrow’s show jumping competition, Martin added, “He’s fit and sound. I think I’ll have plenty of horse for tomorrow.”
Second on course for the U.S was Clark Montgomery (Bryan, Texas), piloting Holly and William Becker, Kathryn Kraft, and Jessica Montgomery’s Loughan Glen. Showing signs of a strong ride out of the start box, Montgomery and Loughan Glen experienced a refusal at fence 4, the first water complex, drifting to the left, something which continued to be problematic throughout the course. Montgomery ultimately retired on course at fence 17b, an open corner that caused trouble for many.
First-time Olympian Lauren Kieffer (Middleburg, Va.) with Team Rebecca LLC’s Veronica set out on course looking fit and keen. Their strong ride came to an abrupt end, however, when a hung leg at fence 24, a gate, produced a fall that eliminated them from competition. “It’s certainly not the outcome I wanted,” said Kieffer. “She (Veronica) was being really good and going the direct route. She hit the gate with her right front, and for a second I thought she would save it. My job first and foremost was to get a clean round, and it’s pretty disappointing that I let the team down. She’s fine; she started jigging on the way to the vet box and acting like her normal self.”
Leading the individual standings after the cross-country phase is Australia’s Christopher Burton riding Santano II on his dressage score of 37.60. In second is Michael Jung of Germany with Sam FBW with 40.9 penalties, and Astier Nicolas riding Piaf De B’Neville, representing France, is third on a score of 42.0.
The eventing competition concludes on Tuesday at the Olympic Equestrian Center at Deodoro with show jumping.
Boyd Martin and Blackfoot Mystery (Shannon Brinkman Photo)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – The eventing horse inspection officially kicked off equestrian competition at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday. Over the next 14 days, 204 athlete-and-horse combinations in the three equestrian disciplines of eventing, dressage, and show jumping will compete for coveted Team and Individual medals at Rio’s Deodoro Olympic Equestrian Center. The U.S. Olympic Eventing Team of Phillip Dutton and Mighty Nice, Lauren Kieffer and Veronica, Boyd Martin and Blackfoot Mystery, and Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen were deemed fit and ready to compete and will join a total of 65 combinations representing 24 countries. The U.S. Team will be led by U.S. Eventing Coach David O’Connor, the 2000 Olympic Games Individual Gold medalist.
“We are in pretty good spirits and have had a great prep,” said O’Connor. “The horses traveled really well and are relaxed. They have done a great job here in Brazil welcoming us and the horses. We feel good with our two lead-offs tomorrow in Boyd and Clark; both horses look like they’ve really come on and are great. Then we finish strong with Lauren and Phillip on day two. I am actually quite pleased and confident with how the horses have been going.”
The U.S. has drawn 12th in the starting order among the 13 countries participating in team competition. The U.S. riders will compete in the following order.
Dressage Day One, Saturday, August 6:
Leading off for the U.S. will be Martin (Cochranville, Pa.), a 2012 Olympic veteran, and highest-placed U.S. rider at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in 2014 and 2010, and Team Gold medalist at the 2015 Pan American Games. Martin will ride the Blackfoot Mystery Syndicate LLC’s Blackfoot Mystery, a 2004 Thoroughbred gelding. This partnership is only a year old but has already proven its merit with a top-ten finish at the 2015 The Dutta Corp./USEF Three-Star Eventing National Championship. In 2016, Martin and ‘Big Red’ placed sixth at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Land Rover.
Next in the order is Montgomery (Bryan, Texas), a first-time Olympian, who will ride Holly and William Becker, Kathryn Kraft, and Jessica Montgomery’s Loughan Glen, a 2003 Irish Sport Horse gelding. This pair has been based in England for the last three years, gaining significant competitive experience. Montgomery and ‘Glen’ had an impressive 2015, winning the CIC3* at the Belton International, CIC2* at Somerford Park International, and CCI3* at Blenheim Palace International, along with a sixth-place finish at Luhmühlen CCI4*. Most recently, this pair won the 2016 Land Rover Great Meadow International presented by Adequan.
Dressage Day Two, Sunday, August 7:
First into the arena for the U.S. on day two will be Kieffer (Middleburg, Va.), a first-time Olympian, who will ride Team Rebecca LLC’s Veronica, a 2002 KWPN mare. ‘Troll’, as she known in the barn, is a tough, sassy mare that has won the heart of Kieffer in their three-year partnership. This duo helped bring home a Team Bronze medal at the 2015 CICO3* at Aachen. Most recently, they were winners of the 2016 Rolex/USEF CCI4* National Championship at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Land Rover.
Anchoring the U.S. Team will be Dutton (West Grove, Pa.), who is contesting his sixth Olympic Games, having earned Team Gold medals in 2000 and 1996 for his native Australia. He is also a two-time Pan American Games Team Gold medalist for the U.S. and will ride HND Group’s Mighty Nice, a 2004 Irish Sport Horse gelding. Mighty Nice, known as Happy, was imported by Dutton and Bruce Duchossois in 2010. Following Duchossois’ passing in 2014, friends put together the HND Group in order to support Dutton’s goals of competing Happy at the highest levels of the sport. The pair has been consistently demonstrating its athletic prowess, earning the Reserve Championship title at the 2015 The Dutta Corp./USEF Three-Star Eventing Championship and placing fourth at the 2016 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Land Rover.
The eventing competition commences with the dressage phase, August 6-7. The cross-country phase follows on August 8, and the competition concludes on August 9 with show jumping.
Boyd Martin, Phillip Dutton, Lauren Kieffer and Clark Montgomery with Helen McDonald and Deborah Sandford for Land Rover North America and US Chef d’Equipe David O’Connor. (FEI/Stock Image Services)
Lausanne (SUI), 11 July, 2016 – Clark Montgomery (USA) flew back from Britain to his home country to lead a strong American quartet to victory in the fifth leg of the 2016 FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing, held for the first time outside Europe, at the Land Rover Great Meadows International at The Plains, Virginia.
Riding the Irish-bred Loughan Glen, the horse he is hoping to partner at the Rio Olympic Games next month, Montgomery finished the clear individual winner and led the US team to a convincing victory over Canada.
“It means a lot to win at Great Meadow this weekend,” Montgomery said after the historic victory. “I have been based in England for a while so to get to come home in the US and compete in front of the home crowd, means a huge amount to me.”
His team mates Boyd Martin, Phillip Dutton and Lauren Kieffer finished sixth, seventh and ninth to set an unbeatable target and secure their country’s first victory in the FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing series.
This was the first time the USA has hosted FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing, with Great Meadows International putting on an excellent event as the series made its debut outside Europe. Mike Etherington-Smith’s Cross Country course rode extremely well, with 27 of the 40 starters finishing clear of jumping faults, but the clock was a deciding factor with just four combinations making the optimum time.
Colleen Loach was best of the second-placed Canadian team, finishing 14th on Qorry Blue D’Argouges. Her three team mates also went clear across the country, but were hampered by their Dressage marks to finish 38.3 adrift of the winning US squad.
Three British riders travelled across the Atlantic to join forces with US-based Briton Justine Dutton to make up a full four-person British team. Jodie Amos and Wise Crack finished best of the visiting British, in third place individually, adding no further penalties to their Dressage score of 49.0.
Ben Way (GBR) riding Willows Tipster finished 26th after finishing only two seconds over the optimum Cross Country time, but Justine Dutton had two refusals out on course and Ros Canter was eliminated for a rider fall.
Despite their mixed fortunes, the British team finished third overall, earning enough points to give them a clear lead over Germany at the halfway mark in the FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing series.
The action returns to Europe this weekend, and the competition is expected to be strong in Aachen (GER) 14-17 July.
Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen (StockImageServices.com)
The Plains, Va. – The Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team made history Sunday, handily capturing the inaugural FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing competition at the Land Rover Great Meadow International presented by Adequan®. Leading from start to finish, the team of Phillip Dutton, Lauren Kieffer, Boyd Martin, and Clark Montgomery had a favorable competition with noteworthy performances in their final stateside preparation event before the Rio Olympic Games, scoring 138.3 penalties. Canada moved up to second with an overall score of 177.6 penalties and Great Britain placed third with 254.3 penalties.
“It was a great weekend at Great Meadow,” said U.S. Eventing Team Coach David O’Connor. “The horses got the runs they needed and there are things to work on in the next couple weeks on the way to Rio, but I am quite confident with how the horses traveled and handled the course today and the competition as a whole.”
Montgomery (Tetbury, England) and Loughan Glen, owned by Jess Montgomery, Kathryn Kraft, and Holly and Bill Becker, were the overnight leaders and did not disappoint the massive crowd at Great Meadow as they led from start to finish. The pair performed the best dressage test of the competition, scoring 36.3 penalties, remained faultless through show jumping, and incurred 1.2 time penalties by going three seconds over the optimum time of 6:36 in the cross-country phase for a combined score of 37.5 penalties.
“It means a lot to win at Great Meadow this weekend,” said Montgomery. “I have been based in England for a while, so to get to come home in the U.S. and compete in front of the home crowd means a huge amount to me.”
Dutton (West Grove, Pa.) was the pathfinder for the team and the competition going first in all three phases. Riding Ann Jones and Thomas Tierney’s Fernhill Fugitive, Dutton had a credible first day scoring 47.2 penalties in dressage and going clear in show jumping. The pair knocked down a flag at the imposing Beverly Equestrian Brush Corners obstacle, but negotiated the remainder of the course without incident, adding only 3.2 time penalties to their two-phase score of 50.4 penalties.
Martin (Cochranville, Pa.) and Gloria Callen’s Welcome Shadow were clear in show jumping to enter the final phase on their dressage score of 48.8 penalties. The pair rode second for the team on the Mike Etherington-Smith-designed cross-country course adding 1.6 time penalties to also finish on 50.4 penalties.
Kieffer (Middleburg, Va.) and Marie Le Menestrel’s Meadowbrook’s Scarlett contributed to the winning team score having just one rail down in show jumping and incurring a mere .4 time faults in cross-country for a final score of 55 penalties.
Individually, Americans placed four out of the top five. Marilyn Little and RF Demeter, owned by Jacqueline Mars, Raylyn Farms and Patrick and Eileen Witte, moved up from fourth after day one to place second. Holly Payne Caravella and Santino, owned by Beth Groblewski, were fourth with 50 penalties and Hannah Sue Burnett rode Under Suspection, owned by Mary Ann Ghadban, from 16th place to fifth overall scoring 50.2 penalties. Jodie Amos and Wise Crack of Great Britain were third on 49 penalties.
Lexington, Ky. – The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) is pleased to announce the recipients of Land Rover/USEF eventing competition grants for the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Land Rover CCI4* and the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials CCI4*.
The following athlete has received a grant for Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Land Rover CCI4* taking place April 28 – May 1 in Lexington, Ky.:
Tiana Coudray will ride Jatial, Inc’s Ringwood Magister, a 2001 Irish Sport Horse gelding.
Wellington, FL – February 6, 2016 – Boyd Martin (USA) piloted new mount Blackfoot Mystery to victory in the $75,000 Asheville Regional Airport Wellington Eventing Showcase, presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty, held at The Stadium at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center and produced by Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP). Martin bested a class of 35 entries with a final score of 30.60. Colleen Rutledge (USA) and Covert Rights finished in second place with a 31.00, while Daniel Jocelyn (NZL) rode catch-ride Devil Munchkin to third with a score of 32.30.
The 2016 event proved to be the most successful yet, as a large crowd of spectators and fans packed the Global Pavilion and lined the fences of the polo and derby fields used to host cross-country competition. Martin and Blackfoot Mystery, owned by the Blackfoot Mystery Syndicate, jumped to an early lead after going clear in the show jumping phase around the difficult track set by Richard Jeffrey. They then continued fault-free on cross country to earn a double clear effort. The cross country track was designed by Captain Mark Phillips and was built by Eric Bull of ETB Equine Construction.
“This year was a much more competitive field, and it was definitely of a higher standard. The course was a bit tougher, and it was harder to win this year than last year. By saying that, I knew this horse I had, Blackfoot Mystery, had a good chance,” said Martin. “We’ve just purchased him thanks to a group of supporters and this is the first time a few of the owners have come to see him. [There are] not many better ways to impress our owners than to bring them to Wellington in this beautiful marquee and have this horse win. I was very pleased on all levels.”
Blackfoot Mystery, a 2004 Thoroughbred gelding (Out of Place x True Mystery), has come into his own with the experienced Martin. The pair was only one of eight clear efforts (no jumping or time faults) in the stadium round, which has been an aspect of training Martin has focused on since acquiring the talented gelding in July.
“At the moment it looks very promising and this horse has a great future,” said Martin. “The ding in this horse when we bought him was his show jumping and I’ve been working very closely with an English show jumping trainer named Richard Pickett. He’s gone well above the call of duty and has been studying the horse’s videos and making trips to Pennsylvania and Aiken, SC to help us. We changed his canter around a bit, just a few little things, but I think we started to see more improvement in the show jumping. He’s careful, but we’re working on getting that blend between confidence and carefulness too in the ring. I’d like to keep on this path. The horse has a wonderful jump, and it’s more about keeping him in the right balance.”
The event, which saw four different nations represented, offered new owners and fans the opportunity to experience the third equestrian Olympic discipline at PBIEC. Martin, who thrives in pressure situations, rose to the occasion once again and found himself crossing the finish with a double clear round in hand, ultimately securing his second victory.
Martin said, “I’ve got a lot of respect for (ESP CEO) Mark Bellissimo, and I think we’ve got a similar personality. His ideas are out of this world, which I love. Wellington is a place for the Olympic disciplines, except for eventers, until this (competition), and I think he’s got the sport we love in front of a lot more people.”
Colleen Rutledge and her impressive home-bred Covert Rights made another bold statement early in the season, adding this top finish to their list of accolades over the past two years. The 2006 Thoroughbred cross gelding (Black Fox Farm Incognito x Let’s Get It Right) has amassed two FEI CCI 4* finishes to its resume over the past two years and looks primed to take the international limelight again, as the duo are headed to the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day CCI 4*.
“The cross-country course was fabulous today,” said Rutledge. “I was so proud of the way that CR went out and ran. The amount that he’s grown up since Rolex last year is just leaps and bounds. He’s a completely different horse. This was just fantastic to run on and the course was great. It asked some very good questions and for me, this was my horse’s first run of the year. It was a fantastic start, and I’m just thrilled with everything. I’ve had a great time and a great run.”
The relationship Rutledge has forged with Covert Rights, known as “CR” in the barn, is strong, and the pair made easy work of both the stadium and cross country courses this afternoon. The talk of the event was the gallop through the Global Pavilion VIP tent, which dropped riders into the sand ring on the other side for their final fence before the finish line. Questions about the obstacle prompted Rutledge to comment on the mentality and partnership between horse and rider.
“I’ve had my horse since he was a baby and I know him inside and out. When I asked him to go through the tent he didn’t question it. I mean really and truly, that looks like a huge deal and it was amazing to ride, but these horses jump ‘key holes’ and stuff along these lines. I think our horses were relatively prepared for it, but it really is about the mind of the horse,” Rutledge described. “It’s great to have a horse that’s a phenomenal mover and a horse that is a phenomenal jumper, but if you have a horse with a great mind you can make up abilities there.”
Daniel Jocelyn was one of two non-U.S. based riders representing the nation of New Zealand who made the trip to PBIEC to test the waters of the event. Tim Price also made the journey to Wellington to ride in the showcase. Both Jocelyn and Price currently reside in the U.K. and were paired with two catch rides for the event. Jocelyn made the most of his time aboard Devil Munchkin a 2008 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Casiro I x Rhona), owned by Sable Giesler. Jocelyn had sat on the gelding just one time before entering the dressage ring on Friday afternoon. They added nothing to their original score of 32.30 for third place.
Jocelyn said, “Firstly, thank you to Sable [Giesler] and Jessica [Bortner-Harris] for lending the horses to me for this weekend. I’m very happy to have had the ride on these horses, and they’ve obviously done a good job on the groundwork because they felt fantastic.”
While the notion of catch riding may be intimidating to most, especially at the Advanced level, Jocelyn took the opportunity in stride, noting that he actually enjoys catch riding and felt prepared on both mounts. He also rode Win the War, owned by Jessica Bortner-Harris, to 21st place.
“This is a fantastic facility, and I’ve enjoyed the three days I’ve been here. It’s an unbelievable experience and something certainly I’ll be taking home and telling everyone about. It’s a great time,” he continued.
Representatives from Asheville Regional Airport and Wellington Equestrian Realty were on hand to discuss their involvement with the event and continued support for eventing and all disciplines of equestrian sport.
“This was such a pleasure to sponsor. It’s an interesting thing to have an airport in western North Carolina sponsor an event in this beautiful area. We are on the periphery of this amazing event that everyone has provided today,” said Tina Kinsey of Asheville Regional Airport. “There is a sister corporation, the Tryon International Equestrian Center, and Asheville Regional Airport is the gateway to that equestrian center. To be here on this gorgeous course with amazing riders, it’s just been a true pleasure.”
Matt Varney of Wellington Equestrian Realty also spoke to the importance of broadening the fan base for the sport of eventing, as the realty company is heavily involved with the sport in Ocala, FL, the home base for many eventing athletes during winter months.
“We’ve had a long relationship with eventing through our sister company, Ocala Horse Properties, started by Chris and Rob Desino. Craig Martin and I have been in Wellington for a number of years now. This is a chance for people to come here and experience what we see every week basically for four months,” said Varney. “What’s so cool [is that] these riders [and horses] are unbelievable athletes. It’s amazing to watch. Any chance that we get to help bring more people to the state of Florida during the winter months, whether that be Ocala or here, is our main goal. We know eventers go back and forth, and we want to see as many shows here as possible for you guys.”
The mastermind behind much of the operation, Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of Tryon Equestrian Partners and Wellington Equestrian Partners, discussed the need to bring all three equestrian Olympic disciplines to Wellington while touching on the overall success of the event.
“Thank you to Asheville Regional Airport. They’ve been a great partner here and a great partner in Tryon. We appreciate everything you do for us. We’ve had a great relationship with Wellington Equestrian Realty since they stormed Wellington six years ago. We’re very proud of this event and it really takes a village,” Bellissimo said. “It’s amazing to see a group of athletes, both human and animal, go through this course and everywhere I walked there were so many people who were just excited because they had never seen this before. I’d also like to thank Rolex, Land Rover, Adequan®, and Ariat for their continued support and contribution to this event.”
“It was a high-risk strategy to do this eventing. We have tried to push the envelope a little bit and really engage the audience. The goal of this event was to bring new owners into the sport. I think we’ve had great success in generating interest for owners and my goal is to generate ten new owners for the sport. We had three or four last year, and I’m actually an owner now working with Jimmie and Dom Schramm. I want to engage this at different levels, and I think there will be others who will too,” he continued.
Several new awards were distributed during the awards ceremony, highlighting the dedication and support of owners and team members for all participating horse and rider combinations. Caroline Moran of Goshen Hill donated $10,000 for the Grooms’ Awards, which was distributed to all grooms at the event in honor of their continued hard work and commitment to the sport. Martin’s groom, Sergio Reyes, took top honors earning $2,500, while Colleen Rutledge’s groom Alex Ambelang received $1,500, and $1,000 went to Sabel Giesler, the groom for Daniel Jocelyn this week. The Blackfoot Mystery Syndicate, owners of the winning horse, were awarded with a $10,000 check to be donated to the charity of their choice, which will be made to Guillain-Barre syndrome research, in honor of syndicate member Anne Laver. Martin also collected a $10,000 bonus for winning the event two consecutive years in a row.
“We hope to see this event grow, and I think we’re going to up the stakes a bit. We will increase the prize money to $100,000 and a big part of that is to reward the owners and the riders. This year we added a grooms’ awards, and I’d like to thank Caroline Moran and Goshen Hill,” explained Bellissimo. “I’m a big advocate of supporting the team behind these riders and I think the grooms are, in many ways, the pit crew for these horses and riders and we’d like them to get more recognition. I think it’s a great way to reward some unheralded people in the sport.”
Equestrian Sport Productions would like to thank the team who made the Asheville Regional Airport Wellington Eventing Showcase, presented by Wellington Equestrian Realty, a great success and looks forward to the 2017 edition. For more information, please visit www.pbiec.com.
Individual Gold medal winners Marilyn little and RF Scandalous (StockImageServices.com)
Caledon, Ont. – The United States Eventing Team finished a stellar week of competition at the 2015 Pan American Games held at the Caledon Equestrian Park in Ontario, Canada. Superlative efforts by Philip Dutton, Lauren Kieffer, Marilyn Little, and Boyd Martin resulted in a Team Gold medal and a berth at the 2016 Olympic Games. Adding to their accolades, Little was awarded the Individual Gold medal.
The U.S. team began the show jumping phase in first place on a total of 133, with a narrow lead over Brazil on 136.70 and Canada on 159. First to cross the timers for the U.S. was Dutton on Thomas Tierney and Ann Jones’ Fernhill Fugitive. An unlucky rail at fence two caused the crowd to hold its breath for the remainder of Dutton’s ride. The rest of the rails stayed in the cups, adding four faults to his cumulative total, finishing on 52.40. Explaining his round, Dutton said, “I think I might have been a little bit quiet there [at fence two]; he didn’t even hit it very hard, but it did come down unfortunately. It was fortunate that we didn’t need that [score], but the rest of his round was good.”
The pressure was on the rest of the team as Kieffer entered the arena next on Marie Le Menestrel’s Meadowbrook’s Scarlett. The young mare again handled the electric atmosphere well, leaving all the poles up within the time allowed.
“I’ve had her since she was four and rode her in her first event. Every step of the way she has bumped up and just thinks it’s fun,” said Kieffer of the classy mare. “She was great out there today.”
Martin and the Pancho Villa Syndicate’s Pancho Villa completed the track handily for a score of no faults. Speaking confidently about his partner, Martin said, “I’m on a very good jumper; he felt fresh this morning, warmed up good, and jumped around pretty well. He is a three-star horse so I thought he should jump clear.”
With Brazil at the heels of the U.S team, all eyes were on Little as she entered the ring on Raylyn Farms Inc. and Phoebe and Michael Manders’ fiery mare, RF Scandalous. Little was in second place going into the stadium phase adding to the pressure to perform. With a lifelong background in show jumping, Little mastered the course perfectly. With the leading Brazilian rider dropping a rail at the last fence on course, Little was secured of an Individual Gold.
“Nothing really compares to a day like this,” said Little. “This is my first major games and this day is indescribable. It’s a great day for all of us and the people supporting us who made it happen. [RF Scandalous] was everything that I hoped she would be and that we know she can be. She’s a very special horse and a pleasure to work with. She shows up for work and really loves her job. She was exceptional this weekend and I am really proud of her.”
At the end of the team competition, the U.S. won Gold, Brazil won Silver, and Canada won Bronze. Individual medals were awarded to Little as the Gold medal winner, Jessica Phoenix of Canada as the Silver medal winner, and Ruy Fonseca of Brazil as the Bronze medal winner. Martin placed fourth individually on 44.30, Kieffer seventh on 48.40, and Dutton in 10th on 52.40.
As the first team medal for O’Connor as the U.S. Eventing Chef d’Equipe, O’Connor noted, “I have a belief in the program. We wanted to change some things when we started this program – attitude and belief; belief from the riders, from the public, and from the eventing community as a whole. I think step by step we’ve done that. To have these guys perform the way they performed this weekend, they were very professional and had great camaraderie, and with the help of everyone behind the scenes it was an exceptional effort. It showed that a system that’s built like this, with belief, belief in each other, and huge respect for each other, that you can really win in the end. We let these guys prove what they can do; we all know they can do it and believe in them as riders. We’ve seen great performances out of all of them and to put it all together in one weekend; that’s what these championships are all about. It was a joy to watch them.”
A passionate Martin said after the Team Gold win, “I’ve been in this racket for the last 20 years and have never gotten a medal. This is my first medal and we had to fight for it pretty hard. I have to say it is a rewarding feeling. I’ve been trying for this for a long time and I’ve finally got it. Team USA has the best support system with Joanie Morris as team leader, Dr. Susan Johns who is an unbelievable vet, Steve Teichman who is a genius farrier, and David O’Connor as our coach.”
USA’s Marilyn Little, Boyd Martin, Phillip Dutton and Lauren Kieffer celebrate team Jumping gold at the Pan-American Games in Caledon Park, Toronto, Canada today. Little also claimed the individual title. (FEI/StockImageServices.com)
Lausanne (SUI), 19 July 2015 – America scooped both the team and individual titles as Eventing came to a close today at the Pan-American Games 2015 in Caledon Park, Toronto, Canada. Always with their eyes on the target of that single qualifying spot on offer for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Philip Dutton, Lauren Kieffer, Marilyn Little and Boyd Martin forged a marginal lead over the host country in Dressage on Friday. And once out in front, they held on tight to triumph ahead of Brazil this afternoon, while Canada had to settle for bronze in the final analysis.
And Little took the individual title in fine style. Lying second, and less than a fence behind Brazil’s Ruy Fonseca who led from the outset with Tom Bombadill Too, the 33-year-old former Jumping rider kept a cool head to stay clear with her relatively inexperienced mare RF Scandalous today, while 2011 Pan-American Eventing individual champions Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti from Canada claimed silver this time around when Fonseca’s single error dropped him to bronze medal spot.
A total of 11 nations lined out in the team competition, and Ecuador, Chile and Mexico were lying fourth, fifth and sixth after the Dressage phase. The USA had only a slender 0.7 point lead over Canada going into cross-country day, and Brazil was chasing hard when only three marks further adrift at this stage.
Canadian chances took a sharp knock, however, when Kathryn Robinson was eliminated for a fall with Let It Bee at the Hayracks, the second fence on yesterday’s cross-country track. Her team-mates Waylon Roberts (Bill Owen), Colleen Loach (Qorry Blue D’Argouges) and Jessica Phoenix (Pavarotti) all completed the course without incident. But Canada dropped behind Brazil when Fonseca, Carlos Parro (Caulcourt Landline), Henrique Plombon (Land Quenotte) and Jorge Marcio Carvalho (Lissy Mac Wayer) all likewise kept a clean sheet, Robinson’s brilliant 39.80 in Dressage, which placed her individually second on the opening day, no longer being taken into account. All four American team-members cruised home, maintaining their advantage with nothing to add.
From a starting field of 43, a total of 16 returned within the time-allowed of 8 minutes 39 seconds, including all three members of the team from Ecuador who eventually finished fourth. A total of 10 horse-and-rider combinations were eliminated over the 26-fence track created by Australia’s Wayne Copping.
As the final Jumping phase got underway today, Team USA had less than a fence in hand over the Brazilians, while the Canadians were more than 20 penalties further adrift. America’s Martin (Pancho Villa) and Kieffer (Meadowbrooks Scarlett) kept a clean sheet once again, but when Philip Dutton’s Fernhill Fugitive collected four faults then Little’s result might prove pivotal for the team rankings.
The individual medals were also still very much up for grabs, and for Little there was no room for error as Canada’s Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti, who were lying just 3.20 points behind, had piled on the pressure with a brilliant clear when third-last into the ring. The American didn’t falter, however, leaving all the poles in place with her 10-year-old Oldenburg mare, and placing all the weight on Fonseca’s shoulders. Even a time fault would cost the Brazilian dearly, but when his 15-year-old gelding had a fence down he dropped all the way to bronze medal position individually and his team remained in silver medal spot.
New to the sport
“My mare is new to the sport; I have her for only a year now and she’s only just moved up to 2-Star level with the goal of these Games in mind!” said newly-crowned individual gold medallist Little this evening. She explained that she was a regular on the US Jumping team between 1999 and 2011, and competed in several Nations Cups, but then suddenly decided to change her allegiance. “I became interested in Eventing when watching the World Equestrian Games in 2010 on TV. I thought, ‘I’d like to do that; it looks like a lot of fun,’ so when I came back from Spruce Meadows that year I pulled one out of the barn and it has gone from there! I did my first 4-Star in 2012,” she explained.
She has really enjoyed the Pan-American Games experience at Caledon Park this week. “The event has been beautifully organised and it has been an incredible experience from the standpoint of horsemanship; the thought and care they’ve put into everything for the horses has been amazing. The cross-country course was fair but challenging; it has to be difficult for the course designer catering for the developing riders as well as very seasoned competitors. It needed to be challenging for both, but safe enough too, and he really succeeded in that,” she said.
In the moment
Talking about the cross-country track, she said, “Riding the course you had to be ‘in the moment’… you had to stay aware of all the plans. Cross-country is designed to force you to look at all the options and to stay ready to take them if necessary. Making it easy to quickly change your plan is the mark of a good cross-country course. Fitness played a part too yesterday; the terrain took its toll in terms of technicality and some horses got tired, but it was safe and jumpable and it was really a pleasure to ride the track.”
Despite all her experience as a Jumping rider, Little said she was still feeling the heat going into the arena this afternoon with so much hanging in the balance. “I knew I was under pressure, but I also knew my horse is a clear-rounder and very careful. She’s very sensitive though, and the atmosphere was electric, especially since I was following a Canadian rider (Jessica Phoenix) into the ring! I knew I had to remain calm and focused, and take it just one jump at a time and not get caught up with the magnitude of the moment!”
Facts and Figures:
USA claimed team gold and the individual qualifying spot on offer for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with victory in the Pan-American Games Jumping at Caledon Park in Toronto, Canada today.
The individual medals went to: Gold, Marilyn Little (RF Scandalous) USA: Silver, Jessica Phoenix (Pavarotti) CAN: Bronze, Ruy Fonseca (Tom Bombadill Too) BRA.
13 nations were represented in Eventing at the 17th Pan-American Games while 11 countries fielded teams.
A total of 42 horse-and-rider combinations competed for the individual medals.
The list of teams so far qualified in Eventing for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games now includes, Brazil (automatic qualification), Germany, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Australia, Ireland and Canada (placings at Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy), and USA (Pan-American Games 2015 in Toronto, Canada).
The next major Olympic qualification opportunity is at the forthcoming Longines FEI European Eventing Championships in Blair Castle, Scotland from 10-13 September 2015 where 2 further places are on offer.
Find out more about the Pan-American Games 2015 here and check out the programme of events here. Results are available here.