WELLINGTON, Fla.-Boyd Martin of Cochranville, Pa., rode Welcome Shadow to win the $100,000 Wellington Eventing Showcase held Feb. 3 -4 in Wellington, emerging victorious for the third year in a row.
“This is a fantastic event,” said Martin. “It’s organized by people who have nothing to do with eventing, so they come in with a fresh and innovative way of doing things.”
“They’re bringing the glitz and glamor from show jumping and dressage to eventing,” Martin said.
The event is held at Equestrian Village at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, the former polo fields situated between the horse show grounds and the dressage show grounds and is produced by Equestrian Sport Productions.
“This event is right at the beginning of the year,” said Martin. “There hasn’t been any eventing for a couple of months, so I’m always raring to go, and to go down to Palm Beach is a real treat.”
This was the third time eventing was held in Wellington, and Martin has won it every time.
He won it last year on Blackfoot Mystery and in 2015 on Trading Aces.
From a starting field of 39, Martin won with a score of 27.30, following a dressage score of 26.5, a clean show jumping round and just .8 time penalties on a clean jumping cross country round.
Buck Davidson of Riegelsville, Pa., was second on Carlevo on a score of 30.9, and Doug Payne of Aiken, S.C., was third on Vandiver with 34.2.
"This year was by far the hardest one to win,” said Martin. “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. 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.”
“Welcome Shadow is a fantastic horse to win an Event of this caliber,” said Martin. “She’s a funny horse. She’s not the fastest or the biggest mover, but she’s by far the biggest tryer. I’m finding that’s the most important thing for an event horse. This horse has more heart and more desire.”
"She 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."
Martin’s path to the victory was cleared when show jumping leader Marilyn Little had a fall with her first ride, RF Demeter, at the Ariat Corner, fence17, resulting in broken ribs and meaning she had to withdraw her leading horse, RF Scandalous.
MARTIN SAID Welcome Shadow is one of three he plans to compete at Rolex Kentucky, along with Crackerjack and Steddy Eddie.
“I don't think this event knocks the horses around too much because it was only a four-minute track," Martin said. "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 and Vandiver rose through the standings from 11th place after dressage to 10 place after show jumping, and went clean cross country to rise to third place.
"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,” said Payne. “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," Payne said. "I am learning to trust him more and more, and I'm incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to ride and work with him."
"It takes a great team to pull this off," said Equestrian Sport Productions' CEO Mark Bellissimo. "We wanted to create an environment where we could demonstrate the great athleticism of 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.”
"I think we are at a point now where we have a really good format,” said Bellissimo. “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.”
"I think we are on to a really great product here," said Event Organizer Jim Wolf.. "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.”
Caroline Moran presented awards totaling $10,000 to the grooms of the top three riders, Sergio Reyes, Kathleen Murray and Courtney Carson, in memory of Bruce Duchossois.