THE PLAINS, Va.--Will Coleman on Off the Record won the individual championship at the Great Meadow International CICO3*, but Great Britain prevailed in the team competition, with Canada second and the U.S. third.
Following the dressage and show jumping phases of the event, the leaderboard looked very different after the cross-country as Mike Etherington-Smith’s course shook up the overnight standings.
Clear rounds were few and far between (only 16) with double clear rounds even rarer – just five of the 40 horses who left the start box crossed the finish line inside the time of 6:33.
In the end it was Off the Record, a 9-year-old competing in just his second CIC3* who bested many more experienced horses.
“I think he genuinely is a horse who runs better when he goes out and has a crack at it,” said Coleman about Off The Record. “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t paying a little bit of attention to the scores, and when I saw that maybe there was an opening it was probably a bit easier to let him run. He likes to go like so I would say that is a bit of his style to kind of go hard.”
Coleman got “Timmy” from Richard Sheane of Cooley Sport Horses as a 4-year-old and has patiently brought him along since then.
TIMMY JUST moved up to Advanced in the spring and in all of 2018 he never finished below third place.
Coleman focused on CICs so far this year, but he is aiming for the Boekelo CCIO3* in the fall.
“He was pretty hard as a young horse, but we have formed a bit of a partnership now and he has had a really, really good 18 months,” said Coleman. “His record has been pretty outstanding so I am pretty pleased especially for his owners.”
With 18 pairs faulting at the brush corners in the main arena (9ab) the combination was definitely the bogey fence and was the talk of the course, but Coleman didn’t let the problems take away from his thoughts of the design.
“He was a little green in the arena, but I think as the day went on this question got a bit harder,” said Coleman who was in the last group of riders to run. “It is a little disorienting when you run into the bright sand and sometimes it was hard to get the horses to focus on where they needed to go, and I just thought it was a hard question, but besides that he was pretty honest everywhere. It probably wasn’t the smoothest round, but when you are trying to win sometimes are you just doing what it takes, and I am a bit prone to perfectionism, and it was kind of nice for the two of us to say let’s just get this done.”
“I thought the course was fabulous,” said Coleman. “I think we are lucky to be able to have Mike [Etherington-Smith] do the track here. I think he is one of the best we have ever seen designing cross-country courses. I thought it had enough for an older horse, and it was a lot for a greener horse, but they finished with a good taste in their mouths even if they had a run out or a little problem there was plenty of time to get them confident again and really feel like you gave them a formative experience and that is really all you can ask for – you can’t ask for easy cause that doesn’t do you any good. I thought it was just about right for what you wanted this time of year for these horses.”
Just 0.1 below Coleman was Georgie Spence and Halltown Harley, who made their long journey from England well worth it with a second place finish.
Halltown Harley was only the second horse on course and made it look like child’s play to move up from 13th place overnight.
“For me, I was quite lucky I went out early and I know my horse well and trust him 100 percent, and he was good to me,” said Spence.
Spence thought her early draw was a benefit when it came to the tricky corner line.
“I think sometimes you can over-analyze how people are riding things and how they should jump it and how you should jump it, but to go out early sometimes is a benefit," said Spence. "Around the rest of the course I thought they had done a good job with the ground it was fantastic and obviously it has worked out well for all of us.”
The top three individuals represented all of the FEI Eventing Nations Cup as Jessica Phoenix from Canada finished in third – although not on her team horse, but on her longtime partner, Pavarotti.
“Looking forward to the fall it was the right decision [not to have Pavarotti on the team],” said Phoenix. “It just gave Pavarotti a little bit more leeway on how we ran him and how fast we ran him. It sure was awesome to leave the startbox on Bogue Sound and really have a crack at it for the team. He really stepped up to the plate and feels like a big time horse, and I was excited that I could just go out with Pavarotti and cruise around with him.”
There were two horse falls and one rider fall, but all horses walked off the course and are resting comfortably in the stables.
Savannah Fulton went to the hospital to be checked out after her fall from Captain Jack at fence 1.
GREAT BRITAIN won the FEI Eventing Nations Cup CICO3* at the Great Meadow International on July 8.
The British had a sizeable lead following show jumping on Saturday, however Sunday's challenging cross country course left the title in question until the last rider crossed the finish line.
In the end, Canada placed second and the United States came in third.
Great Britain led after the first two phases of the eventon July 7.
The Brits led for the entire day with three of the four riders going double clear and entering the cross country phase on a score of 99.3.
The developing team from the United States was second with 123 points, and Canada was behind in third with 126.9.
In the unique FEI Nations Cup™ format, the dressage phase was held in the morning, and show jumping took place in the evening.
Great Britain's Ben Hobday and Shadow Man finished with a 29.7, the best score of the team.
Following his double clear round in show jumping, Hobday could hardly contain his excitement, throwing a huge fist-pump as he galloped around after his double clear round, and that enthusiasm earned him $500 for the best fist-pump of the day.
"I'm fortunate to have such a lovely horse," said Hobday. "He's a very good jumper. He was quite calm and relaxed in the warm-up so we didn't do too much. The bigger the atmosphere the bigger he jumps. Just point him in the right direction and he does the rest."
Spence and Halltown Harley set the pace for the British team with the first double clear on the Marc Donovan-designed course to stay on their dressage score of 35.2.
"It's my first time over here competing. It's great to be here, the event is amazing," said Spence. "Harley, my horse didn't make any mistakes, so I was really pleased with him this morning in the dressage. He's a complete machine jumping, so I really didn't have to do anything to get around. I'm very lucky, very excited to be here and in this position and hopefully we'll have a good day tomorrow."
FOLLOWING dressage, USA was a close second to Great Britain with a team score of 103, but no U.S. team rider was able to show jump without fault, giving Great Britain more than a 20 point advantage going into Sunday's cross country phase.
For the U.S., Caroline Martin addedn two time faults on Spring Easy to finish on 37.8. Phillip Dutton on Sportsfield Candy also added two time faults scoring 38, Sydney Elliott added 13 faults to her dressage score on Cisko A for 50.5 points, and Buck Davidson was the drop score on Park Trader, with 16 show jumping faults added to their dressage score.
Canada sits 3.9 penalty points behind Team USA.
Shelby Brost and Crimson had the sole double clear in show jumping to score 35.5. Waylon Roberts scored 45.5 on Kelecyn Cognac, Jessica Phoenix and Bogue Sound scored 50.9 and Lisa Marie Fergusson scored 45.9 on Honor Me.
Individually, Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border held the top spot following dressage and show jumping, but at the end of the day Severson withdrew from the competition, moving Hobday into the individual lead.
Allison Springer and Lord Willing moved up to second with 29.8 and Canada's Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti stood third with 31.5 points.
After the Nations Cup competition, those named to the nominated entry for the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team for the FEI World Equestrian Games at Tryon had the opportunity to participate in the show jumping phase as part of the optional combination test.
Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg finished on top. Phillip Dutton finished second on Z and third on I'm Sew Ready.
THE LARGE crowd appreciated the world-class competition at the only North American leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing competition outside Europe, AND no one appreciated it more than British Chef d'Equipe Philip Surl. In the past they have not fared as well, but Surl believed the previous experiences at GMI proved valuable this time around.
"I think coming over the third time has helped. We were familiar with the layout," said Surl. "We're just incredibly grateful to be here and give our horses and riders the opportunity to ride at this level at a competition of this magnitude. We've had a couple of more challenging years and today was a rollercoaster. It just shows you that in a team competition anything can happen until the very end."
Initially, the day looked to be as pleasant as the weather for the riders, with the pathfinders easily negotiating the course designed by Mike Etherington-Smith.
First to go was Waylon Robertsfor Canada, who jumped clear on Kelecyn Cognac adding 6.4 time faults for a final tally of 51.9 points.
Spence and Halltown Harley had the first of only five double clears of the day, and Dutton jumped clear on Sportsfield Candy only adding 1.6 time faults to his score for a total of 39.6 points.
The second rotation did not work out as well, as all three nations had problems at the obstacle located in the Fleming Arena.
The Brush Corners, fences 9AB, caused problems for several horse-and-rider combinations throughout the day.
Shelby Brost of Canada was eliminated due to three refusals on Crimson, Sophie Brown for Great Britain and Wil had a refusal adding 20 penalty points to score 64.8, and Caroline Martin on Spring Easy also had a refusal for the additional 20 penalty points for a final score of 67.4.
The third rotation was a turning point.
Jessica Phoenix helped Canada improve their position going double clear on Bogue Sound for a final score of 50.9 while overnight leader Hobday and Shadow Man had a stop at bogey fence 9A for 20 penalty points, scoring 56.9.
Sydney Elliott and Cisko A moved the U.S. team up, going double clear, with a final score of 50.5 points and placing the title in question.
"I'm super excited about going double clear," said Elliott. "I have probably one of the best cross country horses in the field, so I felt pretty confident going into today. My horse loves cross country and loved the course today, so I really enjoyed the moment. It was wonderful."
The anchor riders had a herculean task ahead of them and the pressure was palpable.
Canada's Lisa Marie Fergusson went double clear on Honor Me, scoring 45.9 and a final team score of 148.7.
Leslie Law for Great Britain jumped clear with time faults on Voltaire De Tre, for a final score of 46.4 and an overall British team score of 138.5.
The U.S. hopes were high as Buck Davidson left the start box as a clear round on Park Trader would secure a win for the U.S.
However the pair had a refusal at fence 9A, which gave the U.S. team a final score of 157.5 points and Great Britain the victory.