Allentown, N.J.—May 11
Buck Davidson is known for his signature socks in his cross-country colors of red and yellow, which he wears at every horse inspection.
But earlier in the week, Davidson thought his luck had run out when he misplaced them in his camper at Jersey Fresh.
“Honestly, I kind of knew on Wednesday when I was getting ready for the jog that I was going to win,” he joked. “I have these stupid red and yellow lucky socks that everybody jokes about, and I couldn’t find them. Then all the sudden I found them in the back corner of my camper; I was like, ‘Oh, I’ve got this now.’ ”
Those lucky socks did their job, as Davidson took home the CCI*** win with Copper Beech when overnight leaders Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Fugitive dropped a rail. Davidson also finished third with The Apprentice, in his best show jump round to date.
Of course, it wasn’t just socks that helped Davidson, 38, to the win. “Sean”, an 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, tried his hardest in his first three-star and surprised his rider.
“They both jumped fantastic,” said Davidson. “We weren’t looking very good in the warm-up, especially with Copper Beech, and they both really tried. I’ve worked really hard with Silvio [Mazzoni, the U.S. Eventing Team show jumping coach] this winter, and he’s been fantastic. He’s come over to the farm, and he’s done great things. I’m really, really excited with The Apprentice, because that was the big missing link, and he jumped really well today, and that’s a huge improvement.”
Davidson, of Rieglesville, Pa., wasn’t sure what to expect coming into the competition as Sean looked a little “chunky,” but with a foot-perfect cross-country round yesterday and a very good dressage score, he’s proven himself a future star.
“He’s 8 years old, so you don’t ever really know what’s going to happen,” he said. “He tries. He doesn’t know what he’s doing—legs everywhere. But he tries in all three phases.”
Although Dutton was disappointed to lose the win, he was pleased with Fernhill Fugitive’s finish. They had a fall on the Jersey Fresh cross-country last year, and Dutton took a step back and got the gelding’s confidence up and is now looking forward to a four-star in the near future.
“He jumped great,” said Dutton, 50, of West Grove, Pa. “It was probably his best round. I was worried about the verticals, and he had the back rail of the oxer going into the one-stride down. I probably should have given him a bit more leg off the ground because I was worried about the next vertical, but overall it’s been a great performance. Hopefully he’s going to learn and get even better from this. We’ll see how he comes out of this and come up with a plan.”
Part Of The Game
CCI** overnight leader Emily Beshear had two rails in hand heading into show jumping, and she needed them as she and Shame on the Moon ticked the first and ninth fences out of the cups. But, an otherwise faultless weekend helped them take the win on a score of 51.9.
“Honestly, I was pretty relaxed through the whole ride,” said Beshear, 36, of Somerset, Va. “It was actually the least nervous I’ve been coming into a show jumping round; I had somewhat taken the pressure off myself because I’ve never jumped this mare after a cross-country run, so I didn’t really know what to expect.
“She can get a little bit nervous in the ring, so my main goal was to stay relaxed and just support her,” she continued. “I knew I had a little bit of wiggle room, and honestly I just felt like if today was her day, it would come out OK. But I knew if I overrode then I could risk her getting tense and jumping a little bit erratic. So at the end of the day I definitely got a little bit lucky, but that’s part of the game.”
“Delta,” an 8-year-old mare, came to Beshear in December with little mileage at the level, and the two placed second at The Fork (N.C.) and eighth at Pine Top (Ga.), so the win was a culmination of their hard work developing a partnership.
“It’s funny because when we got the mare we sort of jokingly said, ‘Oh, she’s so fancy, and she needs to do a two-star; let’s go win Jersey!’ So it was pretty cool. How often does that happen that you can set a goal for the beginning of the year and it actually comes true?” said Beshear.
She's considering running Delta in the advanced at the horse trials at the Horse Park of New Jersey in six weeks.
Second-placed Melissa Miller took down one rail, finishing on a 56.0 with her 14-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred, High Finance.
But on Thursday, the night before dressage, “Finn” colicked, and she spent the night with him at the barn. His recovery was strong, needless to say.
“He warmed up a little tired; I was a little worried [because] when he gets tired he just kind of fades and would rather not jump,” said Miller, 25. “So coming out after the warm-up, he came up to the ring, and he woke up the moment when he came in there. I was really happy with him.
“He was spot-on yesterday in cross-country,” she continued. “He hasn’t felt that good in a really long time. He’s run really well this year but he’s a very quirky, finicky horse.”
For complete results, visit EventEntries.com.
For more stories from Jersey Fresh, click here.
To read more about Melissa Miller’s eight-year partnership with Finn, which was set back at one point by a life-threatening illness, along with all the other top finishers’ additional analysis, and more, check out the May 26 print issue of The Chronicle of the Horse.