Becky Holder headed into show jumping in second place with Courageous Comet 7 points behind Kim Severson in advanced, division 1, at the Southern Pines Horse Trials II in Raeford, N.C. When she dropped a rail, it looked likely that Severson had the competition all sewn up.
But Tipperary Liadhnan took down an unfortunate three on Marc Donovan’s course, allowing Holder to lead the victory gallop after all.
For the first time the show jumping was set up on grass right next to the cross-country course, and with spectators lining the ropes and sponsors watching from a large white tent, the event had the atmosphere of a larger competition.
“I was pretty nervous before I went in,” Holder, 40, said. “It was beautiful and being out on the turf had a big time feel to it, a lot of atmosphere.”
After competing at the Olympic Games in 2008, the pair had a disappointing year in 2009, culminating in a retirement on course at the Burghley CCI**** (England) in September after stops. But things look to be turning around for them this spring as she has earned her second win at advanced so far.
“He feels good. He’s having fun, and he feels great on cross-country,” said Holder of the 14-year-old Thoroughbred gelding. She credited a management change for Comet’s return to form—these days he’s turned out with another horse and living a more relaxed lifestyle.
Holder is aiming Comet at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event this spring and planning to take her time getting there. “I’ve been taking too many withdraws out of his confidence bank and not putting enough deposits in,” Holder explained. “I’ve been trying to just put some good solid runs back in him where he just feels confident and try to have him arrive at Rolex feeling just about as happy as he possibly can.”
When Will Faudree, a Southern Pines local, cantered into the arena on Pawlow in advanced, division 2, he knew he couldn’t have any rails down to maintain his lead. Kate Hicks on Belmont and Phillip Dutton on The Foreman both had beautiful clear rounds to put the pressure on Faudree.
“He’s such a great show jumper, and he’s given me a lot of confidence in the show jumping,” Faudree said. That confidence was evident when he and “Ernie” jumped clear and won the division.
After his fast ride around the cross-country the previous day, Ernie felt no worse for wear on the grass. “It’s good practice. I think it’s always nice to jump on a bit of terrain,” Faudree said. From here, Faudree plans to take Ernie to The Fork (N.C.) to compete in the CIC***, and then hopefully their path will take them to Rolex Kentucky.
But Faudree was the most excited for Ernie’s owner, Jennifer Mosing. “Jennifer had both of her horses win today. She is such an amazing mom and friend to these horses,” he said.
Mosing’s other victor was Andromaque, who won with Faudree in open intermediate, division 1. Faudree and “Missie” held onto the lead they earned with a clear cross-country round. The pair has only been together since November of 2009, but their victory today gave them their second win in as many weeks. They took home the honors in the open preliminary division the previous weekend at Southern Pines Horse Trials I.
Faudree is aiming Missie for the CCI** at Bromont Three-Day Event (Que.) in June, but he isn’t in too much of a hurry. “I think a lot of her, and she is so fun. I’m just going to take it one weekend at a time,” he said.
Kelli Temple and Valentine also kept their top spot with a clean show jumping round in intermediate, division 2. The big grey gelding’s intermediate run couldn’t have gone any better for Temple.
“He is really coming into his own,” Temple said. “I’ve had him since he was 5 and have done all the eventing on him.”
Valentine is stepping up to advanced at his next event but is still looking toward the CCI** at Bromont. In the long term, Temple hopes to qualify him for the Pan American Games in Mexico next year.
In the intermediate rider division, Joelle Baskerville’s clean round on Malibu moved her from third to first after the top two pairs after cross-country—Danielle Dichting on Tops and Arden Wildasin on Totally Awesome Bosco—had rails.
Baskerville, a 19-year-old Canadian young rider from Calgary, is taking a year off between high school and college and has been training with Sharon White at Last Frontier Farm in Summit Point, W.V., since Christmas. “I’ve learned a lot from her,” Baskerville said.
Malibu is a Thoroughbred/Hungarian Warmblood cross that Baskerville hopes to take to the North American Junior/Young Rider Championships later this year in Kentucky.