The Plains, Va.—July 26
The crowd lining the main arena at Great Meadow oohed and ahhed at expressive extended trots, gasped at missed flying changes and erupted in applause after each dressage test this morning at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games Prep Trial for the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team, and that’s exactly the kind of atmosphere riders hoped for as they worked out the final details of their performances less than a month from the opening ceremonies in Normandy, France.
Organizers of the World Games Prep Trial invited fans to come out to show their support at this event, designed to be a showcase, practice event and send-off for the team.
While only 14 combinations started—the six riders named to the team, alternates and two Canadian riders—more than 4,000 tickets were sold and fans were treated to a showcase of the nation’s top combinations.
Boyd Martin and Shamwari 4 lead the pack heading into tonight’s show jumping on 42.0.
The pair recently returned from their first four-star start together at Luhmühlen (Germany) where they placed third, and Martin’s feeling confident with his dressage heading into Normandy.
“There are a couple parts of the test that we’ll be looking to improve come Normandy, but we’re at a good place now where we’re just smoothing out little details,” he said. “Obviously the horse has got wonderful quality in his paces and we’re starting to build a partnership. I think in a couple of weeks we’ll put in a really smoking test.”
Martin, 34, Cochranville, Pa., noted that it’s been a quick turnaround since Luhmühlen for Shamwari 4, a 12-year-old Hanoverian gelding, so he plans to take it easy around cross-country tomorrow.
“He had a hard run only a month ago in Germany, but he’s a good, sound horse and it looks like a good course,” he said. “I’ll sort of run him about 85 percent and make sure to give him a good run and jump all the jumps well, and show jump well tonight and build on that from here.”
Hannah Sue Burnett was the first rider in the ring at 8 a.m. on Harbour Pilot, but they laid down a solid test to score 45.0 and land in second place.
Burnett, 28, The Plains, Va., noted that being able to ride an informal combined test on Wednesday at nearby Morningside Training Farm was helpful in her preparation.
“We got to go over our tests afterward with Sandy [Phillips, who also judged at the Prep Event] and she pointed out some things and I tried to improve on those,” she said. “I went a little overboard sometimes, like he jigged in the walk, when I was trying to go for this big medium walk, and the last change had a little miss there, but otherwise I’m really happy with him.”
Burnett has been jumping “William”, an 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, at Great Meadows’ Twilight Jumper series over the summer, so she’s confident heading into show jumping in the small arena.
“He’s jumping great,” she said. “He’s really gotten strong behind and really rideable lately and really quiet in there. He likes this arena luckily, so I’m hoping everything goes well and I’ll give it my best.”
Lynn Symansky and Donner scored a 46.5 for third place, their best four-star dressage score to date.
“I was really, really impressed with him today,” said Symansky of the 11-year-old Thoroughbred gelding. “I did not expect him to be as mature as he was. He’s really grown up a lot, and to handle this kind of atmosphere, which is not as many people as [at the Rolex Kentucky CCI****], but it’s a very claustrophobic ring for some of them. He was fantastic.”
Symansky, 31, Middleburg, Va., hasn’t had the most ideal preparation this season due to Donner incurring a minor injury over the winter. She then fell on cross-country at the Jersey Fresh CIC*** (N.J.) and was severely studded on her arm and leg, so she’s hoping for two solid jumping phases.
“He’s been in really good form and been jumping really well,” said Symansky. “I think tonight will be a test for him in that ring to see how he handles the crowd, because it’s not always easiest to jump him in a ring like that. But he stepped up to the plate today and I’m so proud of him.”
While she won’t be going for the win tomorrow, Symansky won’t be cantering around either. “He’s had a quiet season and I’ve kind of been saving him for this moment, so now it’s time to let him have the fun he always wants to on cross-country,” she said.
For full results, click here.
Show jumping starts tonight at 7 p.m. Cross-country starts tomorrow at 9 a.m.