Wellington, Fla.—March 22
“You had to dig deep tonight to get around. It was all about survival out there,” Mario Deslauriers said after posting the best score of 1 time fault in Round 3 of the U.S. Equestrian Federation selection trials for the U.S. team for the London Olympic Games.
Tonight’s course was all about scope, and course designer Alan Wade built houses for fences that broke a lot of hearts. “I thought it was very hard. I think George [Morris] wanted to see the horses tested and find out their limits a bit, and find out about all the riders. Some horses jumped it easier than others, but it was a very hard test,” Deslauriers said.
Watch Deslauriers and Urico navigate the massive course.
When the dust cleared, Deslauriers’ round with just 1 time fault moved him up to fourth in the overall standings. Tied for first with 8 faults each are two wise veterans of the sport and one fresh-faced girl—Margie Engle, Rich Fellers and Reed Kessler. Read all about Kessler's rise to the top and all the action from Round 2, earlier in the day.
Kessler has been the sensation of the trials so far, and while she’s a co-leader aboard Cylana, she also sits in sixth with Mika. At every press conference, Kessler attests to her wonder at what had unfolded in her first attempt at a selection trial series. But as she stared up at her 8 faults on the scoreboard after her round on Cylana tonight, the import of the situation seemed to sink in. Two rails had fallen, her streak of clean rounds was over, and there’s a lot of hard work yet to be done.
Kessler, 17, attributed Cylana’s two rails tonight to exuberance. “I left Cylana a little fresh because obviously this is three rounds of really big jumping, but she was actually pretty wild. She’s so fit, and she just picked up under the lights,” Kessler said. “She’s still a green horse, really; she’s only done one other night class. I don’t think I expected her to be as fresh as she was with all the jumping she’s done. She went beautifully and jumped beautifully; she was just a bit electric, and so was I. She was a little charged, and I think that’s why I had the first rail, and then I didn’t call on her enough for C of the triple [and it came down].”
Take a look at Kessler's round on Cylana.
Engle had the opposite problem with Indigo, claiming that she felt the powerful gray tire for the first time. Indigo had had an enforced vacation for a few weeks before the trials due to an abscess, and he just got a shoe put back on and went back to work a week before the first round. “He’s just not jumping fit, but he has a lot of heart, and he tries so hard,” Engle said. She and Indigo had the vertical at 5B down; the 4 faults added to her 4 from Round 2 put them on 8 total faults. The combination at 5AB was an oxer-vertical one-stride with both elements set over black liverpools. Four very tight strides after the combination was a wide oxer.
“I honestly thought the course was very difficult when I walked it. Most of the oxers you couldn’t reach across—not just someone of my size, but a normal sized person, too! They were very wide, and it was tough. To me, that was as big as the individual rounds at international championships,” Engle said.
Watch Engle and Indigo jump around.
Fellers and Flexible had just one rail in Round 3 to add to the rail they’d had in Round 1 to put them tied for the lead with Engle and Kessler. Flexible had the C element of the triple combination down.
The triple combination was massive, with a triple bar leading to two short strides to a vertical, then one stride to a wide oxer. Christine McCrea made a costly mistake in the combination when Romantovich Take One jumped huge over the triple bar at A and couldn’t sort out the two strides to the vertical at B and stopped. McCrea circled quickly and finished the course perfectly, but picked up 4 faults for the refusal and 3 time faults. Added to her clean score from Round 1 and 4 faults from Round 2, she’s got 11 faults total and lies in fifth place in the standings.
One of the shocker rounds of the night was Kent Farrington’s on Uceko. The elegant gray had great style over fences but punched out a rail at the first fence, then carried on the same way. By the time they crossed the finish timers, there were four rails in the dirt, and an additional time fault on the scoreboard for 13 faults. Their total of 18 now puts them in ninth in the overall standings.
Laura Kraut and Teirra had similar woes, with fence 2 falling and then two more. Their 12 faults in Round 3 have put them into eighth. Saer Coulter, 20, showed considerable cool under the pressure, as she piloted Springtime to just 10 faults in Round 3. She now stands in seventh.
Charlie Jayne and Quentin Judge, who both jumped clean in Round 2 earlier in the day, had trouble in Round 3. Judge had 17 faults, and Jayne 25. Charlie Jacobs also took himself out of the running when he and Leap Of Joy picked up 29 faults over Round 3.
Brianne Goutal started Round 3 far down the standings with rounds of 4 and 20 in Rounds 1 and 2, but she matched Deslauriers’ score today. She and Nice de Prissey left all the rails in the cups but picked up 1 time fault.
Beezie Madden continued to have a disappointing week. Cortes C had two rails in Round 3 to lie in 11th, while Simon had 9 faults over the massive course this evening and sits in 23rd in the standings.
The selection trials horses and riders have a rest day tomorrow, then return on Saturday evening for a final round of jumping under the lights.
Standings After Round 3
|Place||Rider/Horse||Round 1||Round 2||Round 3||Total Faults|
|5.||Christine McCrea/Romantovich Take One||0||4||7||11|
|10.||Lucy Davis/Nemo 119||1||5||13||19|
|11.||Beezie Madden/Cortes C||8||4||8||20|
|12.||Quentin Judge/HH Carotino||4||0||17||21|
|13T.||Katie Dinan/Nougat de Vallet||10||8||5||23|
|15.||Brianne Goutal/Nice de Prissey||4||20||1||25|
|16.||Lauren Hough/Quick Study||8||13||5||26|
|17T.||Lauren Hough/Blue Angel||8||8||12||28|
|17T.||Jimmy Torano/Walk About||5||9||14||28|
|24.||Nick Dello Joio/Scarface||12||12||13||37|
|25.||Jessica Springsteen/Vornado van de Hoendrik||16||12||12||40|
|26.||Charlie Jacobs/Leap Of Joy||4||8||29||41|
|27.||Karl Cook/Jonkheer Z||8||12||22||42|
|28.||Ray Texel/Kismet 50||13||13||17||43|
|30.||Alicia Jonsson-Foster/Tao Tao 3||18||22||30||70|