Bromont, Quebec—June 8
As Jessica Phoenix prepped A Little Romance for the first CCI*** show jumping round of the mare’s career this morning, she underscored how great it would be for the Canadian-bred horse to win the event on their home soil.
“She has this habit of standing there and nodding her head, and she did that like she understood me, so I thought, ‘Alright, we got this,’ ” said Phoenix, of Uxbridge, Ontario.
They did. Even with one rail down, “Blue Eyes” earned the lead spot in the Jaguar Land Rover CCI*** victory gallop, finishing on 59.8 penalties ahead of Lisa Barry and F.I.S. Prince Charming (62.8) and Lizzie Snow with Coal Creek (65.4). The top three finishers moved up from eighth, 13th and 10th place, respectively, in the dressage, while overnight leaders Erin Sylvester and No Boundaries lowered three rails and picked up 2 time faults to drop to fourth overall.
“She has so much heart, and as we saw this week, heart can carry them a long way,” said Phoenix of the 9-year-old Thoroughbred-Trakehner (A Fine Romance—Samland Furstin, Donaufurst) owned by Donald Leschied. “I can’t say I’ve sat on many horses like that, besides [my other rides] Exponential and Pavarotti. You don’t come across horses like that every day of the week.”
While this win came as a surprise in Blue Eyes’ first CCI***, Barry’s reserve championship was a much longer time coming. She’d originally hoped to be doing the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** this past April, but small complications kept her out of her planned spring and fall CCIs in 2013, then she tore her MCL in a fall from a young horse over the winter, so she came to Bromont just hoping to finally finish a three-star.
“Obviously I wanted to be competitive, but really I just wanted to go out and get it done,” said Barry, who’s currently based in Middleburg, Va. “To be second was icing on the cake! Jess is like a sister to me, so if I had to lose to anyone, I’m so glad it’s her.”
Barry jumped a clear round today and overcame a hectic cross-country preparation yesterday; F.I.S. Prince Charming, a 10-year-old New Zealand Thoroughbred by His Royal Highness, pulled a front shoe while trotting up to the start box. The starters allowed her a reprieve until the farrier could be summoned to tack it back on, but by fence 5 she felt the gelding slipping quite a bit. She assumed it was just him adjusting to muddy conditions he’d never experienced, but when she finished the course she learned he’d lost both his hind shoes.
“I think it’s a pretty good testament to what an amazing horse he is, that he could tackle that course and do everything I asked of him with no hind shoes and come out sound today,” she said. “If he'd had all his shoes on I’m sure I could have gone a bit faster!”
Symansky Seals Her CIC*** Win
Lynn Symansky might have topped a small division—just two competitors finished the CIC*** this weekend—but more importantly she accomplished all her goals with Donner. After a rough go at the Jersey Fresh CIC***, Symansky wanted a clean cross-country round, a good dressage test and solid show jumping trip. She ended up adding only time faults to her dressage score, finishing on 65.6 penalties over Meghan Perry on Nicos (99.8).
“I usually think I’m good with my mental game and nerves, but it definitely tested it a lot,” said Symansky. “There was a lot of pressure. My horse is a good cross-country horse, and I know that, but still, after you have something happen, it kind of dries the ice in your veins.”
Symansky will head home to Middleburg, Va., and continue allowing the muscle tear she sustained in her cross-country fall at the Jersey Fresh CIC*** (N.J.) to heal. As a Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (France) hopeful, she’s crossing her fingers for some good news later this month.
“This wasn’t about doing something for WEG,” she said. “It was more about going and doing what my horse needed. I’d love to do a summer or fall three-day; whether that’s WEG or Burghley, we’ll see.”
Kieffer Packs A One-Two Punch In The CCI**
Faultless rounds weren’t easy to get in the CCI**, with only four pairs jumping double clear. Two of those belonged to Lauren Kieffer, with Landmark’s Monte Carlo and Meadowbrook’s Scarlett, and helped her secure first and second place in the division. Both horses finished on their dressage scores, with Meadowbrook’s Scarlett ending on a 44.1 and Landmark’s Monte Carlo finishing with 52.8 penalties.
“They are two very different horses,” said Kieffer, The Plains, Va. “Monte Carlo, as long as he feels good, he’ll be really confident, so my warm-up was focused on that with him. With Scarlett, she always kind of tries hard. She just went in and did her job like she always does.”
Kieffer’s winner, Scarlett, is a 7-year-old Thoroughbred cross (All In Black—Bliss) owned and bred by Marie le Menestrel.
“She went through a hunter barn as a 4-year-old, and then she got sent to me to sell,” said Kieffer. “I called Marie, and I said, ‘She’s really nice. You might want to keep her around for your breeding program.’ She came and watched me at an event, and she was like, ‘She is really nice. OK!’ ”
This was the first CCI** for both of Kieffer’s horses, and they’ll now get a long vacation before she evaluates their fall plans. In the meantime she’s back to legging up Veronica, who finished second at this year’s Rolex Kentucky CCI****.
Buck Davidson placed third in the CCI** with one rail down aboard Captain Jack, and Colleen Loach moved up one placing to fourth on the strength of her clear trip with Freespirit.
Be Mine Calls Dibs On The One-Star
Davidson and Be Mine finished on their dressage score in the CCI* to take the red ribbon (the traditional Canadian color for first place), and their completion on 39.0 penalties was a wire-to-wire win.
“I was saying to Lisa [Darden, Be Mine’s owner], I would much rather have a competitive horse than a talented horse, but it’s so cool to have one that’s both,” Davidson said. “This horse did everything better in competition this weekend than he does at home—everything better in the dressage and out on cross-county, and he show jumped better today than he ever has before.
“For the amount of time he’s done this, he shouldn’t have been able to do it this well,” Davidson said, referring to the Rhinelander (Daimler D’Adriers—La Bonita) gelding’s quick rise in the sport. He only did his first horse trial, at novice, in January.
“But he’s 8, so it’s not like he’s a baby,” said Davidson, of Riegelsville, Pa., and Ocala, Fla. “This sort of feels like the beginnings of the partnership I have with [my longtime partner and four-star veteran] Reggie.”
Second-placed Australian native Ryan Wood put the pressure on Davidson with a clear go aboard Woodstock Bennett, a 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned Curran and Margy Simpson. And Bennett’s barnmate, another 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding named Woodstock Wallaby, owned by Mark and Linda Ledray, finished just 1 point behind him in third.
Wood’s young geldings began the weekend in sixth and ninth place, respectively, but they finished on their dressage scores.
“They’re keepers,” he said. “I went to Ireland three years ago and picked out three horses and it’s the three that I have here this weekend [including Fernhill Classic, who finished fifth in the CCI**]. I went through a bit of a dry spell when I came over here [in 2008]. I had two advanced horses, one that I sold, and the other one that had an injury. I decided I never wanted to be in that position again, and [these horses] are the first crop coming through.
“You’re always comparing the two [one-star horses], since they’re both 7 and at the same level and we got them at the same time, and the owners are pretty competitive,” Wood joked. “Bennett is typically a little quicker at the horse trials, and he was my first ride here, and I thought he would smoke it around the cross-country. But I came in just 1 second under, so I thought, ‘Man, I’m going to have to really gun it on Wallaby.’ But he’s a bit like a diesel engine, and once you get him up to speed, he can hold it, and he did. They came in on the exact same time.”
But Wood, West Grove, Pa., said he savored today’s results—clear rounds on all three of his mounts—even more than yesterday’s.
“It’s good to go clear cross-country, but there’s nothing like going clear show jumping at the end of it!” he said.
You can find our full report from the Jaguar Land Rover Bromont CCI in the June 23 issue of The Chronicle of the Horse magazine.
Looking for full final results? Visit EventEntries.com.