March 21—Raeford, N.C.
Michael Pollard may have given the crowd—and himself—a scare as he turned the wrong way after fence one on Marc Donovan’s CIC*** course at the Carolina International, but he quickly corrected himself and made up the time to jump a double-clear round on Ballingowan Pizazz to take the lead going into cross-country.
“I got lost after the first fence,” he said. “Luckily I was on a good jumping horse, so I could basically do a jump-off course for the rest of the course and still jump clear. He can leaves strides out if you need to. He jumps higher, so it makes you fairly confident that you can make a mistake and he’ll smooth it out for you. I had a pretty stupid move there and he saved me.”
Pollard and “Mango,” a 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse (OBOS Quality 004—Rocklea, Leabeg) owned by the Phoenix Syndicate, were third after dressage (42.3), but when leaders Jan Byyny and Inmidair dropped a rail and runner up Will Coleman on Conair dropped two, they moved up.
Only 11 pairs jumped double clear over Donovan’s track, which was set on the Carolina Horse Park’s grass field. The new Stonehenge complex on the cross-country course sat in the middle of it, and a large VIP tent on the long side where the triple combination was located created a lot of atmosphere for the horses.
Mango was previously ridden by Shannon Lilley at the 2011 Pan American Games (Mexico), and Pollard started riding him in 2012, but before he could take the gelding to their first advanced, he strained a tendon.
After a lengthy rehab, the pair came out again last summer and finished sixth in the Richland Park CIC*** (Mich.) and won a division of advanced at the Five Points Horse Trials (N.C.) before Mango had a nasty overreach that took a month to heal, right before his fall CCI***.
They’ve come out strong this season though, and Pollard, Dalton, Ga., is aiming at a spring CCI***. He’s planning to go quick on cross-country tomorrow, but winning is not his end goal.
“On one hand, I’d love to come out of here with a really fast cross-country round and go home with a blue ribbon, on the other hand, this is one step in a larger picture,” he said. “He’s a wonderful horse to ride everyday. If you’re ever feeling down, get on him and you feel great afterwards. He’s what everybody wants to ride.”
Doug Payne also jumped double clear with Crown Talisman to move up from fourth to second after dressage.
“Tali,” an 11-year-old Holsteiner-Thoroughbred (Carlson—Lakewoods Crown Jewel) owned by Payne and Larry and Emilia Ross, showed his handiness when Payne took a shortcut from fence 4 through the Stonehenge complex to get to fence 5.
“I always appreciate Marc’s courses because they certainly make you think a bit,” he said. “I was pretty concerned about the fourth fence [a rustic oxer close to the Stonehenge cross-country complex in the middle of the ring,] so I spent a little bit of time to set that up and knowing that was the case, I knew I was going to be a bit back on the clock so I decided to cut through the Stonehenge. I know Marc’s intention was to have the [optional] oxer to oxer line be the faster route, so I took that cue with my line and saved a few seconds. The great thing is that he’s so maneuverable and quick on his feet that he really adjusts well. I’m certainly thankful we did a fair bit of jumpers this spring.”
He’s also planning on going reasonably quick on cross-country, but he’s saving Tali for their Rolex Kentucky CCI**** debut this spring.
“He’s an incredible athlete,” he said. “It’s scary to think it’s just starting to come together. In the next few years, I can’t imagine what he’ll end up being. It’s a privilege to ride him, he’s pretty special. I’ve been spending the time last fall taking any options that were there, the slightly easy variant. There’s a few here I’m going to try to go a little bit more direct and forward. I plan to go out and have a lot of fun. He’s a great cross-country horse. He’s really quick on his feet.”
For Leslie Law, his clear show jumping trip on Fernhill Whatever in the CIC** featured a few lucky moments, but it was enough to move him to the top spot when leaders Emily Beshear and Shame On The Moon had a rail and a time fault. Pollard continued his good weekend by moving up to second on Halimey with a clear round.
“He jumped really well,” said Law. “I think I got a little lucky at the second. He rubbed that a little bit but it stayed in the cups. He was very early to go, the third horse in, and the light was a little strange, especially on the rustic in and out. Even I came round there and my eyes sort of played tricks with me a little bit, so I think it definitely played tricks with them. He’s a good jumper and wants to be very careful.”
Law, Ocala, Fla., was wearing a brace on his right knee to support a torn ACL that he injured in a fall in the show jumping at the Ocala Horse Trials six weeks ago. Being a horse professional, Law didn’t even think about surgery. “That would have been way too long!” he said with a laugh. “I went to a very good surgeon down in Orlando. He actually fixed [my wife] Lesley’s leg when she broke that a few years ago and he understands what we do now and goes, ‘Yeah, I know you want to get in the saddle as quickly as possible.’ He sent me away to get this brace.”
Even though he said it felt good, “you might see a little bit of a production getting off the horse tomorrow! I might need a mounting block.”
Fernhill Whatever, a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Bahrain Cruise—Glenmaddy Lady, Chillout) owned by the Greyside Syndicate, is a new ride for Law this year. He was previously ridden through the intermediate level by Valerie Vizcarrondo.
“I’m still getting to know this horse a little bit, and I think from that point of view, it’s good for me and this horse because I will learn more [tomorrow,]” said Law of his plans for cross-country. “His next competition is going to be the CCI** in Ocala, so how hard I’ll go tomorrow, I’m not sure really. I want to get a really good run in to him as far as preparation and confidence goes for that.”
A Trickle Down Effect
Peter Barry rode Long Island T into the lead in the CIC* with a clear ride. Rails came down at several jumps, including the first fence, a rustic brown vertical off a turn. Only 10 out of 51 entries jumped double clear.
Barry shares the ride on the Oldenburg gelding with fellow Canadian Colleen Loach. She finished in eighth place in the intermediate at Red Hills [Fla.]. “She did a very good job with him and she was riding him at Red Hills,” said Barry. “That was his first intermediate. We figured we should give him some confidence and go one level down. Since my other horse turned up gimpy, she was kind enough to give him back to me.”
Barry praised the event for the good courses at all levels. “I think it’s a very well-put together event and it asks very good questions. Going to Rolex, I would think that this is a must-go-to event. I think that trickles down. If you have a very good event and good questions, it will create better riders.”
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