Mill Spring, N.C.—April 8
Two advanced divisions completed their show jumping today, and we caught up with the leaders to hear their thoughts.
Jessica Phoenix – leader of the advanced, test B, division on Bentley’s Best (35.6)
On her weekend so far: “He’s such a cool horse to ride, and he feels like he’s getting playful at this level, which is really fun. On dressage day I was suffering from the stomach flu, so I was happy I got through that day! I was happy we had a quiet day yesterday, but I’m starting to feel back to normal.
“I’m really thankful I entered them in this event. Having to walk through into that big ring is really great for the horses. It’s a really good set up for Rolex.”
On the cross-country course: “The course looks amazing. I think they’ve done an incredible job. I think having as much rain as we did is really good for the footing. I’m really excited to get out there tomorrow.”
On running the advanced: “I think sometimes it’s nice just to take a step back. The advanced, test A, has the four changes, and the B test has more walk movements. Strategically they were good tests for the horses to be in the ring before Rolex and do those movements.”
Liz Halliday-Sharp and Fernhill By Night – leaders of the advanced, test A, division (25.9)
On her show jumping round: “He tried really, really hard. He wasn’t quite awake in the warmup and needed a little bit of a [giddy up] out there, but he tried really hard in the ring. He is a great jumper—as long as I don’t make any mistakes, he’s pretty cool. He’s definitely a bit of a sensitive flower, so you have to look after him a little bit. I would be someone who is prone to time faults with him because I usually look after him too much, so I was really pleased with that today. I thought the time was tight enough, so I kept on rolling.”
On the cross-country course: “Definitely the main plan is to get a clear round. It’s no secret that ‘Blackie’ can be a little tricky cross-country. I actually think he’s probably in the best place he’s ever been, despite what the record shows, he’s going the best he’s ever gone cross-country. I gave him a good school when we stayed at Will Faudree’s place [in North Carolina,] so he’s been running up the hills a lot and jumped some pretty scary stuff there, which was great. He’s feeling fantastic. I’m thinking of giving him a really good, confident, positive round, rather than thinking I have to win. It’s all about Rolex now.”
On choosing the advanced division over the CIC***: “Mainly I thought it would be a nicer run. He’s definitely a horse that would benefit from not having the hardest run of his life right before a big event. He’s very much a horse that we drop him down a level here or there. It just suits his brain. You’ve got to keep his mojo in check! I’m pleased it’s quite a different track.”
For full results, click here.