Doug Payne and Vandiver (Leslie Mintz/USEA)
Tryon, N.C. – A group of the finest well-known names in eventing competed in the Adequan Advanced Gold Cup Final division at the 2016 Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships presented by Land Rover at the Tryon International Equestrian Center, September 2-4. In addition, the U.S. combinations in the division also vied for the USEF Open Horse Trial National Championship and the Jack LeGoff Trophy. After getting off to a slow start, Doug Payne and Vandiver found their groove to claim the title with an overall score of 41.5.
“It is an incredible honor. It could have been anyone’s day. To be in the mix and have an opportunity, that is all one can ask for. You hope a little luck goes your way, and having some incredible horses to work with has been a blessing,” said Payne.
Payne (Aiken, S.C.) spent last year qualifying Debi Crowley’s Vandiver for the 2016 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Land Rover, where they placed 22nd in their first CCI4* outing together. With that hurdle cleared, Payne has begun further gauging the 2004 Trakehner gelding’s strength and weaknesses as well as the competitive advantage he may have with him. Payne got a good indicator over the past three days of competition.
Payne and Vandiver began the competition with dressage on Friday. Vandiver got a bit nervous in the test. However, he regained his composure and had a consistent test for a score of 31.5.
“There have been times in the past that if I lost him, I would lose him for the rest of the test,” said Payne. “He has a tremendous upside, is incredibly talented, and probably the most genuine horse that I have worked with.”
The growing combination sat in 10th place moving into Saturday’s cross-country course. The Captain Mark Phillips-designed course presented numerous challenging questions, and not a single combination could find the exact formula to finish the course within the optimum time of 6:40. While every combination fell victim to time penalties, Payne and Vandiver posted one of the fastest times in the field at 6:55. As Payne watched combinations rack up time penalties, he and Vandiver worked to trim seconds at every opportunity. Payne pinpointed areas to shave time when walking the course, including a short cut through the Land Rover Hollow. As a result, they managed six time penalties and moved to second place with an overall score of 37.5.
“He has a great gallop, which is a distinct advantage. He is quite careful; I don’t have to spend a lot of time setting him up for fences or combinations. I was concerned that he might slip on a tight turn, and knowing the conditions were a bit slippery, I probably spent a little more time just to make sure I got it done without having a slip,” said Payne.
Payne and Vandiver dropped to third place overall but picked up the USEF Open Horse Trial National Championship with one rail down during Sunday’s show jumping course. The field had to negotiate some tricky lines, with nine combinations going clear. Payne and Vandiver managed the course well until they reached the Nutrena double combination, where Vandiver knocked the top rail of the second element.
“I’m very thankful that Debi Crowley gave me the opportunity to work with him, and I can’t wait to see what is to come in the future. In addition to owning him, Debi also bred him, which is a neat story for U.S. combinations,” said Payne.
Buck Davidson (Riegelsville, Pa.) and Ballynoe Castle RM, Cassandra Segal’s 2000 Irish Thoroughbred gelding, just missed out on the title with an overall score of 41.6. The combination had a strong dressage test to sit in seventh place with a score of 29.6. Time hindered them on the cross-country course where they added 12 time penalties. However, they remained in seventh place with an overall score of 41.6. Even though they went clear in show jumping, it was not enough to edge Payne, and they finished fourth, overall. Mackenna Shea (Temecula, Calif.) and her own Landioso, a 2002 Bavarian Warmblood gelding, placed third with an overall score of 42.5.
Australia’s Ryan Wood was the Adequan Advanced Gold Cup Final Champion and Reserve Champion with Powell and Woodstock Bennett, respectively.
From the USEF Communications Department