Mill Spring, N.C. – Sept. 3
While BCF Belicoso has had a light season coming back from an injury last year, Matt Brown wanted to target the Adequan/USEA Gold Cup Advanced Final at the U.S. Eventing Association’s American Eventing Championships with the 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding.
Brown and his wife Cecily partially own “Holden” alongside longtime supporters Bob and Valerie Fish, and Matt has been pinching pennies this season and targeting events close to home, mostly at the intermediate and two-star level.
The pair were in fifth after show jumping in the division, but when overnight leader Marilyn Little fell from RF Scandalous on course, Matt’s double-clear on Holden bumped him into first, and he took home the championship, along with $20,000 of the $40,000 prize.
“We’ve been building him up and trying to make it work continuing to compete him, so limited funds means we have limited venues we can take him to,” said Matt. “Literally our bank account was at $0 driving into this venue, so my bank account is going to be very happy I can pay some bills! I told Cecily she could get some mozzarella sticks before we left today, big surprise! It feels good. It feels like we made the right decision. We just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.”
Matt was eighth after dressage on 33.5 out of 24. A clear show jumping ride under the lights of the George Morris Arena last night moved him into fifth.
“I think the thing that’s remarkable about the horse to me is that he just steps up every time and is willing to give me more and more and more. At the beginning of the week I joked with my wife that riding him is like riding an electric golf cart that’s slightly running out of batteries all the time. He doesn’t have a lot of blood to him, but he’s always willing to go when I ask him to. He showed me the same thing in the show jumping and in the cross-country,” he said. “The thing I’ve found that’s really great about being on the East Coast—I’ve had some success on the West Coast, but coming out here in order to do well at a competition like this with Doug and Phillip [Dutton] and Jennie [Brannigan] and Marilyn and everybody, you really have to be on the inside line and not give away those points. I feel like being back here is definitely pushing me and pushing the horses.”
Matt hopes to target some CIC***s this fall and maybe the $50,000 Arena Eventing competition at the Rolex Central Park Horse Show (N.Y.).
Doug Payne and Vandiver finished second to Brown with one of three double-clear rounds (Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me were the other).
Payne is very familiar with the Tryon International Equestrian Center, competing several show jumpers and event horses there throughout the year.
“He’s definitely still a work in progress. The jumping has come a long ways. I think it’s a distinct advantage that this is becoming home turf. We’re here probably every other week for jumping,” he said. “We brought all the event horses last week. He was able to get into this ring three times. He’s the most genuine creature I’ve ever worked with, and we’re very lucky that Debbie [Crowley] has trusted me with him.”
Payne is headed to the Blenheim Palace CCI*** (England) in two weeks with “Quinn.”
“Jumping was good last night and today cross-country was excellent. He’s like a seeing-eye dog. You just kind of sit there and enjoy it,” he said. “I was probably five seconds down when we went across the first bridge, and then the course starts to open up a little, and his stride is absolutely massive. I got to the last fence and had 20 odd seconds, and I just coasted across the finish line. I think it’s the perfect prep for Blenheim.”
Mark Phillips’ and Tremaine Cooper’s course followed a similar track to The Fork CIC*** which was held in April. The site of the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games, the course is still a work in in progress.
The footing held up well, although the cross-country was moved from Friday evening until this morning due to the dirt road leading from the main part of the property to the course being difficult for emergency vehicles to pass because of the wet weather.
Only Courtney Cooper and Who’s A Star picked up a stop on course, but Kylie Lyman and Lup The Loop fell hard at fence 5d, a bank with a bounce to a brush, when the gelding tried to add a stride.
Lyman was on the ground for several minutes, but was conscious an speaking with emergency officials. She was taken to Spartanburg Regional Hospital in Spartanburg, S.C., where she was diagnosed with a concussion and broken clavicle. She is expected to be released from the hospital this afternoon. Lup The Loop walked off course. Little was also uninjured in her fall, which happened at fence 16 when RF Scandalous pecked on landing.