May 12 – Allentown, N.J.
Not only did Jessica Phoenix’s husband, Joel, surprise her by coming to watch her compete at the Jersey Fresh Three-Day Event with their son, Jacob, but she also won the CCI*** competition on Exponential, making for a very special Mother’s Day.
Going into show jumping, they were second behind Buck Davidson and D.A. Adirmo, and when Jessica took down a rail, she doubted she’d end up in the winner’s circle.
However, Davidson had two rails on the relatively green gelding, giving Jessica the win.
“In this sport, it’s really humbling. All I wanted was to have a really good weekend for him,” Jessica said. “I feel so bad for Buck. It’s unfortunate. He had a great weekend on [D.A. Adirmo]. That horse is beautiful.”
Davidson, however, was thrilled with his second-placed finish on the 8-year-old gelding. They had been leading all weekend, but Davidson wasn’t going to complain about the finish for the horse that’s still relatively green.
For Jessica, the weekend was doubly exciting when she saw her husband and son while she was walking the cross-country course.
“It was a total surprise. Jacob was originally going to come down, but we had just gotten home from Florida, and we were going to leave him in school,” she explained.
When Jessica left the arena from the awards presentation, Jacob, 3, was waiting with a half-eaten ice cream cone for his mom. Jessica happily finished it while accepting congratulations and giving Exponential a well-deserved pat.
A Wire-To-Wire Win
Will Faudree and Andromaque kept their lead throughout the weekend to top the CIC***. Faudree was pleased with Jennifer Mosing’s Irish Thoroughbred mare in her final outing before the Saumur CCI*** (France). “She’s a star. I’ve always believed in [her.] She came here in preparation for Saumur, and I wanted her solid in all three phases,” said Faudree. “It’s always great to win, and it’s great to lead from start to finish, but it’s also a big wake-up call. I won here on a score of 51, which is really exciting, but I know in a couple of weeks in France, a 51 won’t even get me in the top 20, so we’ve really got to up our game.”
Faudree will ship Andromaque to Karen and David O’Connor’s farm in The Plains, Va., to train with David before shipping out in a week. He plans on working to gain more points in the dressage, focusing on accuracy but not overcomplicating things.
“I’m very happy with her this weekend, and it’s really fun to win. I’m so excited for Jennifer Mosing. She’s an incredible friend and sponsor of mine and we have a lot of fun,” he said.
No Fears, No Faults
As Caitlin Silliman cleared the second-to-last oxer on the CCI** show jumping course, a smile spread across her face. She had two rails in hand, and although the phase was her nemesis, she’d just guaranteed herself the win at Jersey Fresh with Ron and Densey Juvonen’s Remington XXV.
Silliman took over the ride on “Remi” last year after his former rider, Boyd Martin, and his owners decided it was time for him to show the ropes to a young professional. “He’s a funny horse. He’s a very good jumper, and Boyd really figured him out in the last couple of years,” she said. “He’s very capable of having a round with four or five down, and he’s very capable of a clean round, so as long as you ride him well, he jumps well. Boyd is such a huge help because he knows the horse so well. I try to listen to every single word in his warm-up and try to execute it to the best of my ability. Lucky it came off today. I get quite nervous in the show jumping, so I was lucky to have the two rails in hand. It kept me more relaxed the whole way around.”
Silliman led the whole weekend on Remi, a 17-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Rubinstein I—Weserpalme, Wenzel I) in her final FEI qualifier before moving up to advanced. “When I first got him, I wasn’t planning on getting four-star miles on him. I was just the first leg of his retirement. Even if I got a preliminary or an intermediate out of him, it would have been special, and it still is,” she said. “He’s a wonderful horse, and he has a heart of gold, but he’s been ridden by a professional his whole life, so as he teaches me, he’s sort of learning when I make mistakes on him how to think on his own a little bit more and how to help me out when I’m in trouble.”
In a perfect world, Silliman would like to take Remi to a three-star in the fall and try for the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** next spring, but she’s letting the gelding tell her what he wants to do. “That’s plan A. There’s also B, C, D and E, but that would be my dream. Remi’s the boss, so whatever he wants to do,” she said.
Veronica Hangs Onto The CIC** Win
Lauren Kieffer clung to her lead in the CIC** aboard Veronica and brought home another victory this season.
They went into show jumping without a rail in hand, but when second-placed horse and rider, Jordan McDonald and Prince Mayo, took down three rails, it was clear they could make it happen. Veronica did drop one rail for a final score of 55.3 penalties.
“I knew it was going to be a little bit tougher for us because she has jumped so many big jumps. She’s such a bold mare, I was worried they wouldn’t hold her off very much,” said Kieffer. Veronica had been going advanced before Kieffer took over the ride from Karen O’Connor earlier this year, but with the new FEI qualification rules, Kieffer had to take the mare back down the levels. This was their last two-star competition, and Kieffer said they will next complete a CIC***.
“The rail she did have was my fault. I took a bit of a flat one at the fence before and then I paid for it a fence later,” said Kieffer,
Back in the barn, Veronica has been showing off not only her huge personality, but also her flirtatious side this weekend.
“She actually got a new boyfriend this weekend. She and Lucky Devil fell in love. He’s the first man to tame her heart,” joked Kieffer. She rode Lucky Devil in the CCI** division at Jersey Fresh.
Sharon White rode Don Sheffield into second place, and she couldn’t be happier with the gelding’s performance. White said he’s a shy horse, and they’ve been slowly advancing through the levels. In the show jumping, where the jumped double clear, he knew he had done a good job, White explained.
“If he feels like he’s done something really well, he gets all puffed up. That’s really fun. He show jumped really well, and he was happy about it. He’s like, ‘I did really good,’ “ said Sharon. “He has so exceeded my expectations. It’s unreal. He’s really blossomed.”
–Jordan McDonald took three rails in the CIC** show jumping on Prince Mayo, dropping them from second back to seventh. However, the gelding won the award for the best conditioned in the division, and the pair also too home an extra prize for the best cross-country run in the CIC**.
–Jennie Brannigan admitted she was slightly nervous coming into the weekend. After Cambalda slipped and fell on pavement at Rolex Kentucky and had to be withdrawn, she rerouted to the CIC*** at Jersey Fresh. “Obviously it wasn’t my plan to be here, and I was kind of laughing all weekend thinking, “Plans always change, don’t they?’” she said.
Brannigan is planning to compete at the Lühmuhlen CCI**** (Germany) and after her second-placed finish, she’s feeling confident. “I look back to two years ago and this was my final event before Luhmühlen, and, just thinking about all the things that have happened and all the things that are happening now, and realizing forever life with horses is constantly changing plans. I do look back and think about how well the horse is jumping now compared to then. I have a lot of confidence this year that Lühmuhlen is going to go well, and I think he’s in good form,” she said.
–Mackenna Shea’s Landioso was spun from the last horse inspection for the CCI***. The Californian traveled to the East Coast for the competition and was in third place after cross-country. All other horses presented to the ground jury passed inspection.