Bromont, Quebec—June 9
Jonathan Holling had lots of questions when he left the startbox for the Volvo Bromont CCI***. He has a few less now.
“You’re always wondering a little bit, ‘Have you done all the proper work? Is your horse fit enough?’ ” said Holling, Ocala, Fla. “You don’t really know until you get into it.
“This was my horse’s first three-star, so the other question I had was if he had the gallop to want to really push through at that 7- and 8-minute mark, and he did,” Holling added. “I couldn’t be any happier with the horse, and the course was really educational, which is what you want. You leave there and you have a better horse.”
Holling and Downtown Harrison, an 8-year-old Thoroughbred/Trakehner cross gelding owned by his mother, Constance Holling, put in a clean jumping round with 4.8 time penalties to maintain their dressage lead on a score of 50.8.
“I walked the course several times, and I walked it late last night with David O’Connor because I ride with him when I’m at home,” said Jonathan. “We talked about a few lines, and all of those rode like we walked, which was quite tough. It really was a challenging course, I thought. It’s Bromont, so it’s always a true test of horsemanship.”
No one made the time in the CCI*** division, with Kevin Keane on Fernhill Flutter coming the closest. Keane’s 0.4 time penalties moved him up from eighth to third. Phillip Dutton and Atlas jumped into second with 8.8 time faults and will show jump on 58.4 penalties tomorrow.
“The time is typically hard to make,” said Derek di Grazia, who designed all four of today’s courses. “In past years it’s always been difficult to make. It’s just the nature of the site and the terrain and everything that goes along with it.”
Downtown Harrison and Jonathan have been a team for about six years. The horse was slated to travel to Mexico for the Pan American Games last fall but was withdrawn shortly before getting on the plane due to a minor veterinary concern.
“I got him when he was a 2-year-old,” Jonathan said. “My mom wanted a horse. She owned a horse I rode around Rolex [Kentucky CCI****] years ago. We decided that we’d get a young one. I went down the road and found the horse in a field, and I thought he was pretty cool. I hoped he would be this horse, but you never know when you pick one up. We broke him and trained him and brought him along.”
A Fair Test
Problems in the CCI*** were relatively rare and spread around the course.
Danielle Dichting, fourth after dressage, took a tumble off Tops at fence 14, a downhill rail to a skinny. Michael Pollard was in second after dressage with Schoensgreen Hanni, but he elected to retire the mare after a run-out at fence 16, a corner to a table set up in the ring that housed some of yesterday’s dressage tests. Leslie Law and Zenith ISF also picked up a run-out at the same spot.
Jessica Bortner-Harris and Win The War were eliminated for continuing on after jumping to the right of the flags over a corner coming out of the water.
Amy Ruth Borun and Santa’s Playboy picked up 20 jumping penalties at the second water (fence 11), and were later eliminated on course for more stops at fence 22, a triple combination of a table to a corner to a skinny. Erin Flynn Tamplin retired Royal Ruckus after stops at 22 and 24, a brush heading into water.
Getting What She Came For
While Mr. Medicott and Karen O’Connor sat fourth in the CIC*** after yesterday’s dressage, the withdrawal of the top three pairs (Marilyn Little-Meredith and RF Rovano Rex and Boyd Martin on Remington XXV and Neville Bardos) moved them up several places.
And Karen did her best not to relinquish that top standing, but she had something else to prove on the course today; she needed to show the selectors she should make the time with her still-new partner Mr. Medicott. “Cave,” as he’s known around the barn, was previously ridden at the four-star level by Germany’s Frank Ostholt.
“I had a conversation with [U.S. team eventing coach] Mark [Phillips] on the Monday after Rolex,” Karen said. “I had 6 time penalties there. I was not unhappy with that, but I know that if you’re going to win a big three-day event, you have to go inside the time on cross-country. It’s really that simple. You have to have a dressage test inside the low 40s or high 30s, and you have to jump clean show jumping. It’s really not complicated, but it takes a lifetime to figure it out, and a very special horse in your lifetime.
“Mark and I talked, and I said I felt strongly that I wanted to run the horse at Bromont. I love the track at Bromont. Mark made it very clear that he wanted to see if I could make the time. The selectors, I’m sure, were happy to see that I did that,” she added.
Ten pairs (Martin on Neville, Otis Barbotiere and Remington, Little-Meredith on Rex, Buck Davidson on Ballynoe Castle RM, Will Coleman on Twizzle and Vancouver, Allison Springer on Arthur, and Phillip Dutton on Fernhill Eagle and Mighty Nice) withdrew before cross-country in the CIC***, which is being used as the final North American observation event for both the U.S. and Canadian teams.
Of the 23 who started, just three made the time, including Karen. Clark Montgomery on Loughan Glen and Will Faudree on Andromaque also added nothing to their dressage scores. Karen and Cave will show jump with 43.0 penalties tomorrow.
“When so many horses were withdrawing from the division, I never wavered off what I believe is the best thing for him,” Karen said of the 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Cruising—Slieveluachra, Edmund Burke) gelding. “Also I hadn’t gotten to the point in the relationship where I’d figured out the strong ride, the right bridle and the right technique to be able to go for it.
“For me, a lot was on the line today; not for anything other than the horsemanship side of it,” she continued. “It was seeing if I could take a veteran horse that someone else has produced really beautifully—but a much stronger ride—and make him my ride. For that, and that alone, I had a fantastic ride today. The horse allowed rideability, he allowed adjustability, and I think he was a happy horse today. He was really having a good time out there.”
Several members of the Canadian contingent suffered issues in the CIC***. Selena O’Hanlon and Colombo, tied for 10th after dressage, picked up three stops for elimination at Fence 4, a rail followed by a downhill stride into the first water. Peter Barry and Kildrodan Abbot were eliminated for missing fence 8, and Hawley Bennett-Awad and Five O’Clock Somewhere missed fence 9. And aboard Gin & Juice, Bennett-Awad also earned 20 jumping penalties at fence 13 and 24.0 time faults to drop from 14th to 17th.
Three other non-Canadian pairs—Jan Byyny on Inmidair, Nicole Parkin on Lexus and Wendy Lewis on Mastercraft—also earned one stop each at the same place. Becky Holder and Courageous Comet, fifth after dressage, had a run-out at fence 15.
An Open Door
Karen is also sitting tied for first in the CCI** aboard Mandiba, Joan Goswell’s 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Master Imp—High Dolly, Chair Lift), though, as she admitted, the tie currently works in Will Coleman’s favor. Coleman piloted Zipp, last year’s Bromont CCI* winner, to a round with just 0.4 time penalties. Mandiba picked up 4.0 time faults, meaning that, as the one closer to the optimum time, Coleman would take the win if both jump clear tomorrow.
“I was up on the clock at the 6-minute marker,” said Karen, The Plains, Va. “I was having a great ride, and I backed off a little bit, and I thought, ‘I’ve got this.’ I got to 7 minutes, and I was down a little, and I was like, ‘Wait, what’s going on here?’
“Will’s definitely in the lead at the moment,” she continued. “I did tell him I would spike his drink or dance him under the table tonight, and he said, ‘Why not both?’ ”
Thirty-nine horses started out on the two-star track, with 30 finishing and 22 making it around without jumping penalties. Marilyn Little-Meredith had the only double-clear trip of the division aboard RF Smoke On The Water.
Arden Wildasin came off Powderhound at fence 8 and was transported to the hospital, but she was soon released. Liz Millikin, second after dressage, took a fall off Masterpiece 54 at the final jump on course.
Aside from those shifts, the top of the leaderboard didn’t change much; Coleman jumped up from fourth with his speedy round, and Dichting and The Graduate remained in third after picking up 3.2 time penalties.
Allison Springer maintained her dressage lead in the CCI* aboard Eclipse with a double-clear round. Doug Payne and Royal Tribute, tied for second yesterday with Alexandra Green and Falkonet, also put in a double-clear trip to maintain his standing. Green picked up 20 jumping penalties at fence 10 and 14.0 time to drop down to 42nd.
There were 22 faultless rounds in the one-star out of the 53 starters. Forty-eight finished.
Show jumping starts at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow with the CCI*. Visit EventEntries for live scores.