Tag Archives: Marilyn Little

Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous Lead from Start to Finish in FEI CIC 3* at The Fork

Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous. Photos ©ShannonBrinkmanPhotography.

Mill Spring, NC – April 9, 2017 – Marilyn Little (USA) and RF Scandalous crossed the finish line of the FEI CIC 3* at The Fork at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) presented by Lucky Clays Farm with a fierce determination as they attempted to maintain their competition-long lead. The duo paced through the inaugural use of the track to conclude their weekend with a score of 47.70, after adding six time faults in their final phase. Doug Payne (USA) and Vandiver moved up from fourth to second after finishing as the only pair to go double clear cross-country and end with score of 50.80, while Kim Severson (USA) and Cooley Cross Border rounded out the top three with a score of 51.70.

Little and RF Scandalous, a 2005 Oldenburg mare (Carry Gold x Lario) owned by Jacqueline Mars, Robin Parsky, and Phoebe & Michael Manders dominated the competition throughout the week and triumphed with a forward and smart cross-country trip around the course, co-designed by Captain Mark Phillips and Tremaine Cooper.

“I want to thank Mark Bellissimo and his team, as well as Jim and Bernadette Cogdell, for starting this event so long ago, that has such a tradition and has been brought here to this incredible venue. That is special today, but even more special is knowing where it’s going in the future,” commented Little. “It was a pleasure for all of us to be galloping around on what will be the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 course, and one day will be very hallowed ground.”

RF Scandalous and Little were nearly foot perfect the entire competition, piecing together three fantastic phases, and exemplifying their preparation and training during the winter season. While the course rode fantastic throughout the day, as all 17 combinations contesting the FEI CIC 3* completed the track, Little felt that the difficulty of the questions asked was spot on for their needs moving forward into their season.

“It was a lovely run from start to finish. We had a beautiful few days after some incredible rains and it only speaks to the venue and to the course that it was able to take those rains and give us the gallop and terrain we had today,” she noted. “This was my first run of the year and she gave me a great ride out there today. I was thrilled with her.”

While most of the combinations competing throughout the week are heading to Lexington, KY in just a few short weeks, Little is still working through her plans with RF Scandalous and where they will come out to compete next.

“I will go back and talk to her owners after this and the team behind her; Jacqueline Mars has been in the sport far longer than I have and she watches closely. We’ll go back and have a meeting of the minds and figure out what will work best for her,” she noted. “While she is twelve, she’s only a few years into this sport and today she gave me the feeling of a confirmed horse. She was very confident at the fences and I let her go and she started flying. I think that spoke well to her fitness for the first run and I think Luhmühlen is definitely on the table. She strikes me as a horse that’s ready for a 4* and this was a great kick-off to what is hopefully a fantastic season.”

Doug Payne, who piloted Vandiver, a 2004 American Trakehner gelding (Windfall x Mystic Replica XX) owned by Debi Crawley, inched up the leaderboard throughout the week to ultimately finish behind Little.

Doug Payne and Vandiver

“I have to thank Debi Crawley, she often times is not able to be here, but she was today. She bred Quinn and has had him from the start. Debi has been absolutely great,” said Payne, taking a moment to appreciate Vandiver’s owner. “I’ve just been trying to be smoother and smoother. I want to be more efficient with the lines taken and out there in general. I’m very lucky to have such a talented horse because he has an exceptional gallop.”

“Honestly, he just cruised around and I’m enjoying it while we have the opportunity,” he concluded. Payne also finished in first and second place in the George H. Morris Arena in the $15,000 Jumper Classic during Tryon Spring III, hosted just before the start of cross country on the White Oak property.

“It was great that worked out. It’s amazing that we have a facility that can accommodate both. I can’t thank the staff enough. They were very flexible and helped us with all of the scheduling,” he added.

Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border, a 2007 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Diamond Roller x Osilvis) owned by The Cross Syndicate, concluded their weekend in third place, after a strong showing on their way to the Rolex Three Day Event CCI 4* in Lexington, KY in April.

“Cross was fantastic. I mean a lot of the people who know us, know our situation has not always been smooth sailing, but I think we’ve done a lot of good work the past few years and given him enough time to go the right way,” said Severson. “He got better and better this weekend. We had a large jump into the water and he fought for it the rest of the way around the course. I’m just thrilled with him.”

Jim and Bernadette Cogdell, organizers of The Fork event for many years at their property in Norwood, NC, were on hand to discuss the week’s events and comment on the transition from their beautiful farm only a few hours to the east of TIEC, to the growing facility.

“The journey of The Fork began in 2002 and the journey has been a lot of good fun. There’s been a lot of laughs and tears. We’ve become close with a lot of good people,” said Jim Cogdell. “When I started aging out of age at 75, the stress level of running the event was great. We asked if we could relocate our event for a few years and just try something that is coming down the road and what I see as a great vision for the sport.”

“What we see here today is only one-tenth of what we’re going to see at this great place over the next five to six years,” he added. “With the FEI World Equestrian Games™ coming to North Carolina, we’re a part of that journey and I kind of like that as the legacy that Bernadette, myself, and The Fork would like to leave.”

Both Jim and Bernadette Cogdell have been instrumental in the growth and presence of the sport of eventing on the East Coast, as well as in the state of North Carolina.

“I personally am so happy with how the weekend went. I think always, when you’re at a new facility, there’s always going to be questions and I thought from start to finish it couldn’t have been more perfect,” said Bernadette Cogdell. “I know everyone worked to pull this off and I think it turned out fantastic.”

Logistically, the event took months of planning in order to make the transition as seamless as possible, while also adding a new sense of venue flare. A strong team behind the scenes focused on the preparation for the event since word broke that the move was officially set for 2017.

“It was a real joy to have this event here. Since the time that Jim called us, we started working with our team, on a vision of the extension of the course and multiple courses for a number of cross-country experiences,” said Sharon Decker, COO of Tryon Equestrian Partners, Carolinas’ Operation. “It was a great chance to push us on the timeline of development, and we like that around here. It only challenges us and I was thrilled to hear the comments from the riders regarding the course and how well it rode.”

Mark Bellissimo, Managing Partner of the Tryon Equestrian Partners (TEP), felt that the week of competition exemplified the grit and determination of event riders, while also providing them with a new facility to hone their skills and grow their sport.

“I would first like to thank Jim and Bernadette for having faith in us to take, what was your child, and have the confidence that we could provide a good experience. Thank you for the opportunity to host this event. To the riders, the competition was great today,” said Bellissimo.

The Advanced and FEI CIC 3* runs were the first footsteps on what will be developed as the eventual track for the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018and Bellissimo commented on his excitement for the future and what is expected for the continued expansion of the course.

“It’s always nerve-wracking with a new event, especially when you’re dealing with footing, horses, and safety, and this is one of the most dangerous sports out there. For us, we try to pride ourselves on footing in all of our facilities and this is new ground for us, literally and figuratively,” Bellissimo explained. “I think that this course is a great testament to Mark Phillips and Tremaine Cooper. We have a great team of people here and I’m very encouraged by what we saw here today.”

“This is a passion project for my family and partners. The course you saw today will only continue to evolve. That’s only one-third of our footprint, as that was only six holes of the 18-hole golf course. There’s a lot more property that you didn’t see today that you will, since this will utilize all 18-holes of the golf course to be converted into one of the most unique cross-country destinations in the world. I’m hopeful that this is the first of many different competitions to be hosted here,” he concluded.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night, a 2003 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Radolin x Argentinus) owned by Deborah Halliday, secured their weeklong lead with an efficient and flowing cross-country trip in the Advanced-A division. The pair finished their competition on a score of 34.30, after picking up 8.40 time penalties on cross-country. Will Coleman and OBOS O’Reilly finished in second with a score of 37.20, while Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti took home third on a 44.40.

“He felt great. He was amazing today. He felt as good as I could have ever wanted him too. I think because the course had so many big tables and the undulation, I just tried to think ahead to Rolex and let him gallop on,” said Halliday-Sharp. “I tried to not get in his way too much and work on the flow.”

The pair, who is also aiming at a start at the Rolex Three-Day Event CCI 4* in Lexington, KY, came into the competition looking for a confidence-boosting round that would give Fernhill By Night, a strong galloping effort, to make sure his fitness level is where it should be before heading into the biggest competition of their season.

“I thought it was a very fair course. It rode as we walked it, which was good. I thought it rode fair. I think it gave us the confidence we needed. I went quick enough without going mad and wanted to go give him a good gallop. He felt very fit and he felt confident and happy within himself, which is what we were here to do. I’m pleased with it.”

Jessica Phoenix and Bentley’s Best, a 2007 Trakehner gelding (Hirtentanz x Eichendorff) owned by Don Good, also secured victory in the Advanced-B division on a final score of 44.40. Boyd Martin and Tseterleg earned second place with a 47.30, while Jordan Linstedt and Revitavet Capato finished in third on a score of 49.70.

Jessica Phoenix and Bentley’s Best were the third pair between the Advanced and FEI CIC 3* divisions to maintain their lead throughout the duration of the horse trials.

“Honestly, Bentley’s Best had one of his best weekends ever here. I was so proud of everything that he did. In all three phases he felt really confident and playful in his jump, almost as if it was getting a bit easy for him at this level, which is really exciting,” explained Phoenix.

As another combination using The Fork to prepare for their Rolex Three Day Event CCI 4* debut, Phoenix is feeling good about the duo’s progress this weekend and felt that the competition set them up perfectly looking towards the end of April.

“He was incredible from the start flags to the finish and it’s not often that you can say that. I was really proud of everything that he did out there. He felt like it was just a blast and very fun,” she elaborated. “It’s awesome to feel like you’ve put together all three phases really well. This has to be one of the toughest sports in the world and to have all three phases come together for you in one weekend is pretty remarkable.”

To learn more about Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC), please visit www.tryon.com.

Little and RF Scandalous Remain Leaders Heading into FEI CIC 3* Cross-Country at The Fork

Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous. Photos ©ShannonBrinkmanPhotography.

Mill Spring, NC – April 8, 2017 – Marilyn Little (USA) held onto her lead in the FEI CIC 3* at The Fork at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) presented by Lucky Clays Farm aboard RF Scandalous, adding nothing to their dressage score of 41.70. The pair will head into cross-country only two points ahead of Kim Severson (USA) and Cooley Cross Border, who currently sit in second on a 43.70. Sara Kozumplik Murphy (USA) and Ruben D’Ysieux moved up two positions, finishing in third after show jumping with a score of 50.60.

Little and RF Scandalous, a 2005 Oldenburg mare (Carry Gold x Lario) owned by Jacqueline Mars, Robin Parsky, and Phoebe & Michael Manders, performed a stellar stadium round, which was smooth and accurate, exemplifying the mare’s scope and carefulness. The pair stayed well away from all of the rails, and will head into cross-country as the last pair on course, with the CIC 3* and Advanced divisions running in reverse order of go.

“I was really pleased with her. As I’ve said, we’ve been working a lot on the show jumping throughout the winter. It was great to see her come in relaxed to the warm-up area and in the ring,” commented Little.

As a seasoned grand prix show jumper, Little has a breadth of experience jumping in large atmospheres and feels that her knowledge as helped the mare gain confidence in the stadium phase.

“She knows exactly what to expect now. That was one of the problems when we first started working with her. She’s such a careful horse that she didn’t really know what to expect next,” she explained. “She does better when she knows what’s coming so that she can be relaxed in her program. That’s when you get the best out of her. She feels very confident.”

Heading into the final phase of cross-country, Little will look to pilot RF Scandalous to a strong and confident round ahead of their summer plans for the season.

“I’ve walked the course twice now and it’s just gorgeous. I think it’s going to be difficult to make the time,” she noted. “I think one of things that I’ve been trying to pay attention to is not just where the jumps are, but what is the best route through the terrain.”

While this is the duo’s first FEI run of the season together, Little commented that while she will look to give RF Scandalous a solid run, she will also focus her ride on perfecting the more difficult questions asked on course.

“This is her first run so I won’t start off too quickly. We’ll see how she’s handling it and where her adrenaline is,” said Little. “I think once I get across the bridge, I may start to pick it up a bit more and see where I can make it up. I want to take care of her out there and have a nice confident round. This event will determine where our season goes from here.”

Kylie Lyman and Lup the Loop Take Top Honors in FEI CIC 2*

Kylie Lyman (USA) and Lup the Loop rode to victory in the FEI CIC 2* after finishing on a 58.70 after the completion of all three phases. Will Zuschlag (USA) and RF Southern Command rode to second place with a 61.80, while Erika Nesler (USA) and Right Above It collected third place with a score of 62.70.

Kylie Lyman and Lup The Loop

Lyman and Lup the Loop are coming off of an extensive European tour in 2016, which helped the pair gain valuable international experience, which they have been able to translate into their season so far in 2017.

“I was originally entered in the CIC 3* and we had a little blip at Carolina last week when my stirrup broke,” explained Lyman. “Today was really difficult even though it was a CIC 2*. I think he came away from this having learned something. We both had to work for it. Even though he has a lot of 3* mileage at this point, it was not easy, so I was happy with the result.”

The pair performed a lovely, even dressage test and then finished their weekend efforts with an efficient and clean cross-country run. Lyman was quick to comment that she felt the weekend not only served as a solid building point for the pair, but continued to emphasize that the pair was able to work in a different environment, which was beneficial to both herself and Lup the Loop.

“I’m really happy with him. For me and my style of cross-country riding, it wasn’t the most natural because I like to kick on and go. The terrain made that a bit more difficult and it was a great experience for both of us, learning how to be patient and working with the terrain a bit more than we have before,” she commented. “Things came up quickly and he was adjustable and rideable, which is something that we’ve been working on.”

After their win this weekend, Lyman will give Loopy a break before working backwards from a schedule created to aim the pair towards the FEI CCI 3* at Fair Hill in October. “He’s done a lot last season and this spring so I think he’s earned a little bit of quiet time to do our homework. It seems like a long way away, but it will be here quickly,” she concluded.

Valerie Vizcarrondo and Favian Rise to Occasion in FEI CIC 1*

Valerie Vizcarrondo (USA) and Favian, a 2008 Oldenburg gelding (French Kiss x Relevant) owned by Valerie Vizcarrondo, rode to victory in a competitive FEI CIC 1* division, finishing their weekend with a final score of 45.90. Rachel Wilks (USA) and Great Expectations claimed second place, finishing just behind Vizcarrondo on a 46.00, while Boyd Martin (USA) and On Cue took third with a 48.00.

Vizcarrondo and Favian began their competition with a strong dressage score of 41.90 to sit in second place before the stadium phase. Vizcarrondo worked hard in the off season on their flat and show jumping, which paid off in a big way during the competition.

“He’s a relatively new horse for me and he’s very cool. It took me a bit to get him figured out and start to feel like he’s really mine,” she said. “He has a huge stride and he’s still not very strong so it turned out to be a bit tricky. We put him into dressage and show jumping boot camp this winter and to feel like you’re transitioning that to competition was a question mark for us, but he handled it amazingly.”

As the pair is still forging a relationship, Vizcarrondo was pleased with their overall performance and noted that their win solidified the potential of the budding partnership.

“He handled the atmosphere great this week. He was happy to scorch around the cross-country today. It felt really good,” she said. “He set right out with his big ears and they were pricked forward out of the box right away. It was great to see.”

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Jessica Phoenix Control Advanced A and B Divisions before Final Phase

Liz Halliday-Sharp (USA) and Fernhill By Night, a 2003 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Radolin x Argentinus) owned by Deborah Halliday, continue to lead the Advanced-A division, as they look towards cross-country on a score of 25.90. The duo left all of the rails in the cups during their show jumping round to stay on their spectacular dressage score. Jessica Phoenix (CAN) and Pavarotti sit in second place with a 29.20, while Allison Springer (USA) and Arthur round out the top three on a 30.80.

“He tried really hard today. He wasn’t quite awake in the warm-up, but he tried really hard in the ring. He’s a great jumper, as long as I don’t make any mistakes, he’s pretty cool,” she said. “He’s a sensitive flower so you have to look after him a little bit. I would be someone who is prone to time faults with him because I do look after him a bit too much, so I was pleased with our round.”

The pair, who continually excels on the flat and in the show jumping phases, will look to tackle a difficult Advanced track set on the White Oak complex, which will be used for the first time.

“Definitely the main plan is to get a clear round. It’s no secret that Blackie can be a bit difficult on cross-country and despite his record, I think this may be the best he’s ever been going,” she commented. “We gave him a good school before coming here. We were at Will Faudree’s place, which was fantastic and he’s been running up the hills. He’s feeling fantastic so I want to give him a confident and positive round.”

Jessica Phoenix (CAN) and Bentley’s Best, a 2007 Trakehner gelding (Hirtentanz x Eichendorff) owned by Don Good, currently sit atop the scoreboard in the Advanced-B division on a 35.60. The duo incurred a single time fault during their stadium round, which was added to their dressage score of 34.60. Emily Beshear (USA) and Silver Night Lady are in second with a 40.80, while Jordan Linstedt (USA) and Revitavet Capato hold third with a 42.50.

“I’m really thankful that I entered this event. I think that getting them into this atmosphere and this venue, having to walk through into that big ring, is really good for the horses,” said Phoenix. “Being able to do dressage and show jumping in this venue is a great setup for Rolex.”

Phoenix will be looking for a solid effort from Bentley’s Best during the cross-country phase. The pair is heading to the Rolex Three Day Event CCI 4* in Lexington, KY after this event, and Phoenix feels that the course will help them in their final preparations.

“The course looks amazing. I think they’ve done an incredible job. It looks perfect. I’m really looking forward to getting out there tomorrow,” she commented. “It’s an interesting course with the roping and the terrain. It really feels like a major games event. The terrain and technical questions will be a good test and good prep before Rolex.”

For more information on Tryon International Equestrian Center, please visit www.tryon.com.

Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous Lead after Dressage in $100k Wellington Eventing Showcase

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.

Ryan Wood and Powell

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.

Marilyn Little and Clearwater Set Winning Pace in $35k 1.50m Qualifier CSI 4*

Marilyn Little and Clearwater. Photo Credit ©ManciniPhotos.

Wellington, FL – December 1, 2016 – Marilyn Little (USA) and Clearwater executed a perfect plan in the $35,000 TACKNRIDER 1.50m Qualifier CSI 4* at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) to take the victory with a speedy jump-off time of 36.14 seconds. Little narrowly edged Jessica Springsteen (USA), who piloted Tiger Lily to second place after crossing through the finish in 36.42 seconds. Samuel Parot (CHI) guided Atlantis through the course to complete the track in 37.13 seconds for third.

Little, who is just returning to the international stage of show jumping after pursuing a career as an international eventer for the past few years, was incredibly pleased with the performance of Clearwater in the large class.

“He’s really still a green horse and I felt like over the past two days I’ve been able to take advantage of the opportunity to compete in this big arena and all that it offers,” she explained. “I knew exactly what I wanted to do in the lines and also got to go late in the jump-off so I could see how it was riding and fine tune my plan.”

With 62 entries contesting the Anthony D’Ambrosio (USA) designed track, Little used the time she had to watch prior trips to her advantage, something that she values when preparing the 2007 Holsteiner gelding (Clearway x Come On) owned by Karen O’Connor. Little bested the 16-horse jump-off with an efficient and quick round, which she feels gave even more confidence and experience to the talented gelding.

“I’ve gotten to go really late in the order twice this week and that’s not really an advantage I typically have,” commented Little. “I don’t have a ton of ranking points right now because I’ve really just gotten back into the sport this past year and it’s always beneficial to watch how the course is riding before heading in.”

The pair has gained valuable experience together, furthering the career goals Little has for Clearwater looking towards the upcoming circuit. Coming off of their inaugural indoor circuit together Little felt their recent outings enhanced their partnership in the ring.

“He’s really developed and come on so strong in the last year. His stride is getting bigger and the footing is fast here. I haven’t ridden here in a while, since last spring at WEF, and it’s so much fun to do a jump-off in this atmosphere,” she continued. “There’s so much space and the horses really get to turn. He’s matured a lot and we’re just so pleased with his progress.”

At only nine, Clearwater has been the go-to mount for Little throughout the 2016 season and she feels that there is even more potential for him at the top levels of the sport. Little is careful to monitor Clearwater and his progress, ensuring that he is not over faced to build confidence and ultimately find success.

“I think we have a real player in this horse and sometimes I have to remind myself that he’s only nine and that means that Saturday night will be big for him. It’s an exciting place to be at the beginning of a long circuit and really excited for what’s coming in the next few months.”

Jessica Springsteen and Tiger Lily
Jessica Springsteen and Tiger Lily

The duo will return to the International Ring on Saturday evening to contest the $216,000 Palm Beach County Sports Commission Grand Prix CSI 4*, which will begin at 6:30 p.m. Little is looking forward to the evening as it has a similar ambiance to those of the bigger “Saturday Night Light” classes that are the highlight each week of the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) season.

“He’s a smart horse and he’s very programmable. He wants to come out the same every day and is very easy to ride. It makes him a great competitor, especially on days like today. With 16 in the jump-off, you have to know that you have to take a shot and there’s going to be a small margin of error,” Little elaborated as she discussed her take on the pair’s rounds.

“It’s coming down to the hundredths or thousandths of a second. I know exactly what I can get done on him in the ring and that helps me make the best choices for him. His technical ability will always play to his advantage and I think he showed that today.”

For more information on Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC), please visit www.pbiec.com.

Little and Brannigan Win USEF National Championship Titles at Fair Hill International

Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous (Shannon Brinkman Photography)

Fair Hill, Md. – The final day of competition for The Dutta Corp./USEF Two- and Three-Star National Championships took center stage on Sunday at Fair Hill International. Winning the Three-Star title was Marilyn Little with RF Scandalous. Little held the top two spots on the leaderboard throughout the weekend with RF Scandalous and RF Demeter. RF Scandalous ultimately won the National Championship while RF Demeter took Reserve Champion honors. In the Two-Star, Jennie Brannigan and Stella Artois were foot-perfect in show jumping to hold onto their overnight lead and earn The Dutta Corp./USEF Two-Star National Championship title.

Little (Frederick, Md.) began her successful weekend with solid dressage performances aboard both horses. On day one of dressage, Little rode a focused test with Jacqueline Mars, Robin Parsky, and Phoebe and Michael Manders’ 2005 Oldenburg mare RF Scandalous, who was fluid and obedient throughout the test to score 41.50 for the lead. On day two, Little laid down another good test with Jacqueline Mars, Raylan Farms Inc., and Patrick Witte’s 2002 Oldenburg mare, RF Demeter. Though a bit tense at times, the mare managed to earn a 44.50, putting Little one-two going into cross-country. RF Demeter cruised over the Derek di Grazia-designed course to remain on her dressage score and take over the lead. Little took her time with RF Scandalous, as the mare is relatively new to this level, and added 4.80 in time penalties to her score to sit in second overall. RF Scandalous turned in a foot-perfect show jumping round on Sunday, though, to win top honors in The Dutta Corp./USEF Three-Star National Championship with a score of 46.30. Little’s second ride of the day, RF Demeter, had an unlucky rail, dropping the pair from first to second, ending with a total of 48.60 and taking home Reserve Champion honors.

“I really couldn’t have had a better day with those two,” said Little of her winning mares after show jumping. “RF Scandalous was lovely out there. She showed what an exciting horse she is now and for the future.” Commenting on her ride on RF Demeter, Little observed, “I truthfully thought it was Demi’s weekend. It’s just the way the chips fell but she’s just as deserving and is truly an incredibly horse and partner, and has made my time in eventing so special.”

With rails causing problems for the top horse-and-rider combinations, Hannah Sue Burnett (Reddick, Fla.) piloted Mary Ann Ghadban’s Under Suspection to a clean round to move the pair up from sixth to a third-place finish with a score of 49.60.

Jennie Brannigan and Stella Artois (Shannon Brinkman Photography)
Jennie Brannigan and Stella Artois (Shannon Brinkman Photography)

In the CCI2*, Brannigan (Kennett Square, Pa.) brilliantly rode her own and Elsbeth Battel’s Stella Artois throughout the weekend to win The Dutta Corp./USEF Two-Star National Championship on her dressage score of 44.50. On the strength of a double-clear cross-country round, Brannigan moved up from second going into Sunday’s show jumping phase. The 2008 Holsteiner/Thoroughbred mare made light work of the Sally Ike-designed course to secure their title.

“With Toddie (Stella Artois), it’s a connection,” said Brannigan. “I’m just thrilled. I had her overly fit for this event. I’m so happy; she jumped well. Even though I was feeling nervous going into it, but she felt fit and ready to go.”

Reserve Champion honors went to Emily Beshear (Somerset, Va.) and Deep Purple Eventing’s 2006 Irish Sport Horse mare Silver Night Lady. The pair led after dressage thanks to a brilliant test that earned a score of 43.00. Adding two time penalties on cross-country, the pair slipped to second, but maintained its position on the leaderboard with a clear show jumping round to end the weekend on 45.00.

Beshear commented on her ride aboard Silver Night Lady. “I’m thrilled mostly for the group that’s behind me, the Deep Purple Eventing group. My goal from the beginning was to get a two-star qualifier done this year. Coming here and finishing second really helps to make everyone realize the effort we all put in. To me it’s balancing her out and keeping her focused in the ring without messing with her too much. She was jumping out of her skin. I’m certainly happy with that.”

In third with a 45.80 was Lauren Kieffer (Ocala, Fla.) riding Jacqueline Mars homebred, Landmark’s Monaco, to round out the top three in the Two-Star National Championship.

Earning the USEF Developing Rider National Championship as the top-placed rider in the CCI3* that has not completed a CCI4*, was Jenny Caras (Cartersville, Ga.) with her own Fernhill Fortitude. Chelsea Kolman (Versailles, Ky.) and her own Dauntless Courage won USEF Two-Star Young Rider National Championship while Matthew Flynn (Reddick, Fla.) and Flynn Sport Horses, LLC’s Wizzerd took the USEF Young Horse National Championship.

Complete Results

From the USEF Communications Department

Marilyn Little and Corona 93 Win Final Qualifier at Live Oak International in Ocala

United States’ Marilyn Little and Corona 93 jumped to the top of the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping qualifier at Live Oak International in Ocala. (FEI/Anthony Trollope)

Lausanne (SUI), 29 February 2016 – In a picture-perfect setting, with a full crowd and a top-class, turf field, the United States’ Marilyn Little and Corona 93 executed a skillful double clear to win the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping at the Live Oak International CSI3*-W in Ocala, Florida. In the final event of the inaugural North American League, the 34-year-old rider, and double-gold medalist in Eventing at the 2015 Pan American Games, showcased her multi-discipline talent by expertly answering all the tests in Leopoldo Palacios’ (VEN) course design aboard the 12-year-old, Hanoverian mare (Cordalme Z x Lenz XX), claiming victory over a starting field of 32.

The 1.40-metre to 1.60-metre course, with 14 obstacles and 17 jumping attempts, incorporated challenges like a wide, plank fence similar to the one at the legendary Hickstead and a big scope test in the design’s final three jumps. But it was a big wall to a wide triple bar and a steady double vertical combination that posed the biggest questions on course.

“I tried to do the best for the field,” said Palacios. “I have a good feel of the riders and the conditions were very good. I needed to build it strong for the conditions. When you have a ring with such good footing as we have here and we have very good set of fences and how the ring is now is way better after all the improvements that Live Oak did (like enclosing the ring); it’s fantastic.

“I had a lot of pressure. Walking the course, some riders complained it was too hard, but I believe that with the good footing, the conditions were super good, (the horses and riders) can jump harder courses.”

After the first two riders on course incurred time faults, the time allowed was extended by 3 seconds to a new limit of 90 seconds. Ten riders were clear in the first round to advance into the jump off.

“I thought the course was a little deceiving, a little on the low side,” said Little. “It was very progressive, and Leopoldo turned up the volume exponentially by the time you were midway through the course. By the end, there were a lot of technical, scope and stamina questions. It was a very long course, and the horses jumped to the best of their ability. It was a real thrill for both horse and rider.”

“There are no more challenging courses to jump than Leopoldo’s courses,” she added. “There’s always a number of tricks hiding in there and this was no different. It was brilliantly designed, and he had a beautiful, incredible field to work with in an electric atmosphere.”

All-female podium sweep

Out of the ten, talented horse-and-rider pairs, only three of America’s leading ladies went double clear to secure an all-female sweep of the top results. Little set the bar high as the first to leave the rails standing in the jump-off order, followed in hot pursuit by the youngest rider in the class, 19-year-old Chloe Reid, riding 9-year-old, Irish Sporthorse stallion Codarco (Darco x Orame). Last to go, 22-year-old Katie Dinan and 11-year-old, Irish Sporthorse gelding Dougie Douglas (Ard VDL Douglas x High Roller) chose a slightly more conservative track to finish in third.

“I’m set to graduate from Harvard in May and I’m going to be riding full time after graduation,” said Dinan. “I’m really looking forward to that. I’m going to try to take my riding further and focus on that full time. It’s really exciting.

“I’m in the process of making more definite plans, but over the last few years, I’ve been competing in Europe over the summers when on holiday from school and during the school year I’ve been in America. So when I graduate, I’ll have more flexibility. I’ll be able to choose my competitions around my horses rather than around school, and I’ll see what happens with that.”

Dinan acquired the horse that she rode to a podium finish in the final North American League event from the Goresbridge Supreme Sale of Showjumpers last November.

“I got Dougie at the end of last year and our first show together was at the beginning of January,” she said. “I believe this was our fifth competition together. I’m really grateful that so far, he’s been just wonderful. He’s so much fun to ride, he has a great personality, he seems to love show jumping, he has a lot of experience, which I feel very fortunate I can draw off of because he’s been to a lot of different venues.

“He’s jumped on a lot of grass fields, and that was one of the reasons why I decided to bring him to Live Oak because this is as beautiful as a grass field as there is to ride on, and I thought it would be a really good venue for him.”

A family affair

The well-regarded, annual competition, Live Oak International, is held on second-place finisher Reid’s grandmother’s farm and is organised in partnership by her uncle, Chester Weber and her mother, Juliet Reid.

“I couldn’t ask for a better placing at a better venue than right now and to do it and sit up here (in the press conference) with my uncle and my mom is incredible,” said Reid. “It’s a dream come true today and everything that’s happened this week.

“I have to give my success to my family. Without their support behind me, I wouldn’t be where I am today. And also to the group of people, my trainers, grooms, everyone who has helped me to be able to bring my horses and be best prepared for this moment.”

The 2016 season is set to be a breakout year for the young, American rider, who trains with Germany’s Marcus Beerbaum and Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum. Last month, she was also the youngest entry in the $130,000 Adequan Grand Prix CSI3* and placed third.

“I was actually talking to my dad before we started the class today and I was like, ‘I hope the course is challenging enough this morning,’” Reid said. “Because if the first go around at a show is challenging, that just makes me ride even better, I think. I was looking for the additional pressure today, but anytime you enter a class with the amazing riders that were in the class today is always such an honor and today definitely proved to be.”

“I think that Juliet and I often talk about Aachen as a model for the best annual horse competition in the world and that’s something that we look to,” said Weber. “When we started the show jumping, we did that together with the team from Spruce Meadows because we felt like that they could help bring us knowledge. We learned a lot from them, we still call them if we have questions; they’re great at answering those kinds of things. We have a great team in place, and we are talking back and forth about perhaps adding eventing.”

“There are about 2,000 eventing horses in Ocala in the winter; it’s a kind of mecca for eventers,” he added. “We have some big challenges to work through and whether 2017 is the right time, or if the right time will come, but I think not unlike Aachen, you’ll see some other sports happen here, but they have to come at their own logical time.”

Double threat

Speaking of eventing, Little has based her winter operations out of Ocala for the last two winter seasons to best prepare her eventing and show jumping strings at the same time. During the warmer months, Little and her family’s Raylyn Farms return to Frederick, Maryland, where her parents settled 36 years ago.

“It’s easier to get the eventing horses fit in Ocala,” said Little. “And also, I have 28 horses in the stable at the moment, primarily between ages 5 and 7 that I’ve bred, and it was a financial decision to develop the young horses here in Ocala. I am looking to return to Wellington next year.”

The grand prix show jumper turned to eventing in 2010, quickly working her way to the 4* level, the highest level of competition. “Anytime you’re entering another world or learning another sport or language, the best way to do it is full immersion program,” she said. “The goals that I had in eventing, there was really no other way to do it other than to completely immerse yourself and put everything, your whole heart and whole head, into it and that has been a focus for five or six years now.”

“I think that there’s certainly a way to play both sports at a very high level, if you have the team behind you that’s helping you play that game,” she added. “Because we all know that this looks like an individual sport, but it’s far more a team sport than the public may realise. I do hope to be able to do both and believe that it’s possible.”

Little’s eventing experience played a role in her approach to today’s course, especially in the long gallop to final oxer in the jump-off round.

“There, I was lucky; I knew that when I landed from the second to last fence, I could ask her for some speed then kick her into her highest gear then back off,” said Little. “I hoped that I would see the distance as far off as I possibly could, going at 750 metres a minute and trying to see a distance 12 strides out – that was a bit of eventing.

“I think eventing makes me sharper (for show jumping), and there are things that I feel that I do better than I did before I evented, and I wouldn’t trade those things for anything. And I think that being here in the show jumping ring will help me stay sharp for what I hope is coming in the eventing arena.”

Rio dreams

But despite the recent success in show jumping, not only winning the Longines FEI World Cup™ qualifier but also the $35,000 Live Oak International the day before and finishing in second in the $10,000 speed class on Friday, Little’s 2016 plans of focusing on the Rio 2016 Olympic Games for eventing have not changed.

“I have a very special horse in RF Demeter for high-level, performance eventing,” Little said. “She is in top form, and I can’t help but look toward Rio with her. So I have to stay the course for her and her owners and for myself because we’ve had a lot of years preparing for this season. We’re heading into the final Olympic trials prepared and fit, so a lot will have to go into that to make sure she’s on point.

“In jumpers, things are evolving quickly, and I can’t say that I have a solid plan for what’s coming in the next few months. There are a few things on the table but the plans will have to be made with Demeter in mind and her goals.”

Little’s return to the international show jumping ring largely stemmed from Corona’s development since Little acquired the talented mare last year from American rider Lauren Tisbo.

“There’s no question that Corona wouldn’t be part of the eventing string because dressage wouldn’t be a part of her repertoire,” said Little. “I think the judges’ comments would be that she’s not submissive and I would have to agree with them. “She is an extraordinary woman and she knows it and we have to treat her as such. She is 12 years old, and she’s in a new program so we have to find our way and it’s give and take. But she is a wonderful competitor, and I know she’s going to give 150 percent when she walks through the in gate.”

Despite the win, Little’s late start to the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping season means she will not head to the Final in Gothenburg, Sweden next month but will keep the next Final in mind for planning after Rio. “That’s an incredible goal,” she said. “I have a very special horse that is telling me that she’s ready for that, and that’s a dream and I will work toward that. At this point, it’s still one show at a time, one class at a time and hopefully the road I’m part of leads to the World Cup Final.”

Gothenburg calling

Following the final event of the North American League, the qualified U.S. riders are already planning the upcoming weeks that lead up to traveling to Europe.

“I am planning on going to the Final and will take Lucifer and New York,” said second-place finisher in the East Coast league, Hardin (Jack) Towell (USA).

The East Coast league’s third place finisher Quentin Judge (USA) finished in fifth in the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping in Ocala with HH Whisky Royale, but plans to take HH Copin van de Broy to Sweden.

“I thought Whisky Royale was great today,” Judge said. “He jumped really well in the first round, very easy to jump clear. But in the jump off, I cut the turn to the first fence too tight and knocked the standard with my foot. He jumped double clear; the rail was my fault.

“I’m planning to go to the Final with Copin and will jump him in two small classes before we head over to Gothenburg in a few weeks, to make sure he’s fit and ready to go.”

Current Longines Rankings number four Beezie Madden (USA) also plans to head to the Final, despite missing the last two East Coast league events. “We’re hoping to be able to go, that’s for sure,” Madden said. “Right now, Simon and Cortes will not go, but we have two horses, Quister and Breitling, who are doing really well and we just have to see which ones of those two we’d like to take the Final. Breitling just jumped double clear at last week’s Nations Cup so we’re really excited about him.”

Kent Farrington and McLain Ward do not plan to travel to Europe next month, instead opting to focus on qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. In their place, it’s likely that alternate Dinan will receive a bid.

“I was waiting to see after today that if it does work out, I’d plan on taking Nougat du Vallet,” Dinan said. “He competed in the World Cup qualifier at the Wellington Masters two weeks ago. I will figure out what makes most sense because I’ll be qualified on multiple horses but that would be my plan.

“I jumped him in the World Cup Final at Gothenburg in 2013 and always wanted to go back there. I’m heading back to Boston right now and come back to Wellington to jump in Florida in the next two weeks. If I end up getting into the Final, then I’ll organise my schedule around that.”

In the West Coast league, all three top U.S. riders, Karl Cook, Rich Fellers and Richard Spooner, plan to compete in the Final.

“I would like to do the World Cup Final with the horse because I really need to get to know (new horse, Big Red),” Spooner said. “I really want to feel confident on the horse and I want to feel 100 percent, if Rio were to be in his future, that I would feel 100 percent confident in our ability to do that and I have a short time to do it.”

“I just have a simple rule with what I do with my show jumpers, which is I just let them tell me how they feel and I go with that, and he feels really good,” Fellers said of 20-year-old stallion Flexible and their plans to travel to the Final. “I don’t have any explanation for it, but he just feels as good as ever.”

The Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final will be held in Gothenburg, Sweden, on 23-26 March (www.gothenburghorseshow.com/in-english).

See full Longines FEI World Cup Jumping North American League standings here: www.feiworldcup.org/jumping-north-american-league-standings.html.

Full results: bit.ly/1QmIIYY

Facts and Figures

In the first round, 10 horses went clear, 6 had 4 faults, 6 had 8 faults, 4 had 12 faults, 1 had 13 faults, 1 had 17 faults, 1 had 21 faults, 1 had 28 faults, and 2 retired.

The course designer was Leopoldo Palacios (VEN).

The first round was contested over 14 obstacles with 17 jumping efforts. The jump-off round had 7 obstacles with 8 efforts. The maximum height was set at 1.60 metres.

Thirteen nations were represented in the class: Canada (3 riders), Chile (1 rider), Columbia (2 riders), Dominican Republic (1 rider), Ecuador (1 rider), El Salvador (1 rider), France (1 rider), Germany (2 riders), Ireland (1 rider), Japan (1 rider), New Zealand (1 rider), Switzerland (1 rider), and the United States (16 riders).

About Live Oak International

Recognised as one of the most prestigious equestrian events in the United States, the Live Oak International Combined Driving and Show Jumping event brings together leading drivers, trainers, coaches and owners from all over Europe and North America.

Located on the grounds of the beautiful 5,000-acre Live Oak Plantation, Live Oak International is an affordable, family-friendly event with a strong focus on hospitality for its competitors. This year, the Live Oak team is proud to celebrate the Combined Driving competition’s 25th Anniversary and the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping in Ocala, presented by Golden Ocala Golf Equestrian Club.

Official fan site – www.feiworldcup.com/NAL

The FEI has developed an official fan microsite for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League, enabling fans to find all the latest information for this brand new series under one digital umbrella.

Fans can keep close tabs on the athletes competing in this exciting series as they do their utmost to qualify for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final in Gothenburg, Sweden, on 23-26 March 2016.

Tickets can be purchased through the fan site, with event-specific information uploaded regularly by the organisers of the events in this series for fan enjoyment.

Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping North American League

A total of 14 athletes from the new North American League will qualify for the prestigious Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final.

The top seven athletes from the East Coast US, top three from West Coast US and the two best-placed athletes from Canada and Mexico will qualify for the Final, alongside winners of the 13 other leagues from around the world.

The North American League boasts a minimum of US $2.4 million prize money across the series, and offers the best Jumping athletes from North America and around the world the chance to qualify for the jackpot of more than US $1.4 million (€1.3 million) on offer annually at the Final.

The new league was launched by Beezie Madden, the most decorated US female equestrian athlete of all time, American Gold Cup winner and FEI Solidarity Ambassador Jessica Springsteen, and Hannah Selleck, team and individual gold medalist at young rider level and one of the sport’s up-and-coming stars. Full launch release here: https://goo.gl/kCIsyW.

Share images, video, experiences using hashtag #FEIWorldCupNAL.

By Esther Hahn

FEI Media Contacts:

Ruth Grundy
Manager Press Relations
Email: ruth.grundy@fei.org
Tel: +41 787 506 145

Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
+41 78 750 61 46

Marilyn Little Stacks $5,000 FEI Welcome Stake Leaderboard at HITS Ocala

(C) ESI PHOTOGRAPHY. Marilyn Little and Venus.

OCALA, FL (February 20, 2016): Day one of the FEI CSIO4* week at HITS Post Time Farm in Ocala, Florida, ended on a high note for Marilyn Little, of Frederick, Maryland, who took home first place with Venus, owned by Raylyn Farms, Inc. and third place with Clear Water owned by Karen O’Connor in the FEI Welcome Stake. Excitement for Friday’s main event, the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup CSIO4*, presented by Edge Brewing Barcelona, filled the air as competition got underway.

Forty-two riders hailing from across the globe tested the 1.40m speed course set by Ireland’s Alan Wade. First in the order and with determination fueling their game, Little and her bay mount Venus dominated the course from the moment they stepped foot inside the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium. Fiercely attempting each obstacle, the pair zipped through the course to clock in clear, and in a time of 59.43.

“It was a really fast course, and the footing was great. Alan Wade did a good job building a nice introductory course and there were a lot of people in the class – many who were prepping for what’s to come later in the week, and some really taking a shot,” said Little. “I had to go first in the class so I knew I had some fast ones coming behind me, especially Andy Kocher. True to form, he was very quick, but Venus is a speed racer.”

Seventh in the order, Kevin Babington, of Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania, and his own Mark Q followed Little’s lead with a crisp, clean round, but were just over the 79 second time allowed, clocking in at 81.86 for one time fault.

Babington remained in second until the twelfth entry, Diego Jose Muyshondt, riding for El Salvador, and Val d’lsere, owned by Paulo Santana, cleared the course in 80.47 for one time fault and the second-place spot.

Muyshondt held his own until known speedster and a familiar name in the HITS Ocala winner’s circle this year, Andrew Kocher, of Lake St Louis, Missouri, appeared at the in-gate. Kocher, aboard Ciana, owned by Eagle Valley Partners, LLC, delivered a quick round in a time of 61.58, moving him up the leaderboard to second.

Little, piloting her second of two entries, Clear Water, was twenty-fourth in the order and she had her eye on the prize again. They sailed through the course for a clear round finishing with a time of 62.18, just one second behind Kocher for third.

Thomas Feigel, of Pompano Beach, Florida, and Analyze This were twenty-sixth and ready to chase the clock. Zipping through the course with precision and finishing clean with a time of 73.74 to secure the fourth-place finish.

Anchoring the order of go, Paulo Sergio Mateo Santana Filho of Wellington, Florida and his own Talubet was the fifth and final rider to give a clean round. Finishing in a time of 77.59, Filho took home fifth place.

Hometown Hero Claims the Victory in the $34,600 FEI Thursday Prix at HITS Ocala

The $34,600 FEI Thursday Prix went off without a hitch on Thursday as an impressive field of 76 riders and horses challenged the course set by course designer Alan Wade, of Tipperary, Ireland. Not only were competitors vying for a prestigious FEI victory as the prelude to the 2016 Nations Cup at HITS Post Time Farm on Friday, but the class also served as a qualifying opportunity for the $100,000 City of Ocala Grand Prix on Sunday, February 21.

(C) ESI Photography. Aaron Vale and Finou
(C) ESI Photography. Aaron Vale and Finou

Aaron Vale of Williston, Florida has been a force to be reckoned this Circuit. With two Grand Prix victories and multiple top-five finishes already under his belt this circuit, the Hometown Hero of Ocala Show Jumping did not disappoint, winning the race against the clock. “My goal was to be fast everywhere,” said Vale. “You had to be; the jump-off just got quicker and quicker, and it was a great class.” Indeed, all five top finishers jumped double-clear out of the 17 in the jump-off, and the time to beat seemed to get faster with every round.

The jump-off was designed around three lines that allowed riders to gallop and utilize their speed skills. Excitement burst in the stands as riders galloped to the in-and-out before turning to the last line which could be done in seven or eight strides, but where many a heartbreak came as rails fell and dashed the hopes of would-be winners. Of the top five in the jump-off, the first to return Ali Wolff and Brianda, co-owned with John Wolff. They were the first to finish fault-free taking the lead as they crossed the timers in a brisk 39.77 seconds.

Lisa Goldman of Hawthorne Woods, Illinois, also a multiple Grand Prix winner this circuit, entered the ring a few trips later aboard Centurion B, owned by Goldman’s mother and trainer Mary Goldman. Hunting for another victory, Goldman attacked the course, angling fences and galloping across the ring to the final in-and-out before the homestretch line. They crossed the marker in 38.57 to take the lead but the ensuing rounds would only get faster.

Mexico’s Juan Jose Zendejas Salgado and Tino la Chapelle, owned by IIan Ferder, galloped to the in and out, taking a tight turn before the final line to shave time off the clock and putting in a clear 37.25-second round to clock in almost a full second ahead of Goldman to top the leaderboard as the Mexican Team cheered in enthusiasm.

Vale and Finou 4, owned by Thinkslikeahorse and Donald Stewart, checked back in to the ring and the crowd was electric and chomping at the bit as Vale took up a gallop to the first fence.

“I didn’t get to watch Zendajas Salgado, but I knew if he had been faster than Lisa [Goldman], I had to be really, really fast if I was going to win.”

Vale took advantage of his horse’s big stride, leaving out strides in all three lines. “It felt like we were flying in that last gallop towards the in-and-out. I just kept going until I saw the spot where I could relax and my horse just softened and mentally slowed down to jump up quite nicely.”

Vale kept the momentum going to the last line, doing the seven strides, edging out Zendejas Salgado just a tenth of second on 37.01 to take the lead.

Many valiant efforts followed Vale, including Christian Heineking and AJE Cluny, with a heartbreaking rail at the final fence for ninth place and Molly Ashe, jumping clear to round out the top five with a time of 40.97.

The deal was sealed and Vale took home the win putting Juan Jose Zendejas Salgado and Tino la Chapelle in second place and Lisa Goldman and Centurion B in third.

For more information and a complete schedule of classes and events, visit HitsShows.com. Stay connected with HITS: join us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

HITS, Inc. • 319 Main Street • Saugerties, NY 12477-1330
845.246.8833 Tel • info@HitsShows.comHitsShows.com

US Eventing Team Triumphs at 2015 Pan American Games, Qualifies US for 2016 Olympic Games

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.”

Complete Results

Behind the Scenes with the U.S. Teams: USEF Sport Director Will Connell’s Blog

From the USEF Communications Department

Eventing Double-Gold for Team USA

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.

Cross-Country track

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.

Jumping phase

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.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:
At Toronto:
Jean Llewellyn
Press Officer

US Pan Am Eventing Team Members to Ride at Virginia Horse Center This Weekend

Phillip Dutton.

Lexington, VA – May 21, 2015 – The United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) announced the U. S. eventing team for the 2015 Pan American Games on Wednesday, and this Friday through Sunday, three of those top eventing riders will head to the Virginia Horse Center for the Virginia Horse Trials. With free admission, local spectators have the rare opportunity to watch these Olympic-level riders right in their own backyard at no cost.

Phillip Dutton, Lauren Kieffer and Marilyn Little have all been named to the team and all are scheduled to compete at the Virginia Horse Trials, to be held at the Horse Center on Friday, May 22, through Sunday, May 24. Also competing at the Virginia Horse Trials are team alternates Will Faudree and Michael Pollard.

The Virginia Horse Trials continually attract top riders from throughout North America for the CIC1* and CIC2* level competition, in addition to welcoming riders competing at all levels starting at Beginner Novice.

Dutton, a frequent attendee to the Virginia Horse Trials, is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and a former winner of the renowned Rolex Kentucky CCI****. Faudree, Kieffer, Little and Pollard all share impressive accolades, having each secured victories at top events around the world.

Spectators wishing to watch the highest levels of competition this weekend can plan to attend from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Friday, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday for the cross-country phase and on Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. for the show jumping phase.

To find out more about the Virginia Horse Trials, view a full list of entries for the weekend and see the complete schedule, please visit www.vahorsetrials.com.

The Virginia Horse Center is situated on a 573-acre site with eight barns to accommodate 750 horses in permanent stabling. Indoor stabling can be increased to 1,200 horses with the use of temporary stalls. The Virginia Horse Center hosts 19 show rings, including two large arenas and a five-mile Olympic cross-country course. Four of the Virginia Horse Center barns are winterized with close access to the 4,000 seat indoor coliseum. The Virginia Horse Center is recognized for the excellent footing of its show rings and the durable construction of the concrete stalls. The Virginia Horse Center also offers camping facilities and on-site food and beverage services. Find the Horse Center online at www.horsecenter.org.

Emily Riden for Phelps Media Group, Inc. International

Phelps Media Group, Inc.
12012 South Shore Blvd #105
Wellington, FL 33414
561-753-3389 (phone)
561-753-3386 (fax)