May 12, Allentown, N.J.
It’s not just 18 other horses and riders that Alexandra Slusher has to defeat at the Jersey Fresh CCI*** this weekend. She’s got a bit of a ghost tailing her that she’s eager to banish, as well. But by winning the CCI*** dressage today with a score of 48.7, she’s taken the first step toward dashing the demons.
Last year, Slusher and Last Call flew over from their Auburn, Calif., home to place second in the Jersey Fresh CCI*** dressage, but then had to retire on cross-country. “[Last year,] she was a lot quieter and better in the dressage, but then I didn’t make it around the cross-country. A big reason for that was because she wasn’t fit enough,” Slusher said.
“But I feel a lot more prepared this year, with a better level of fitness. She feels like a completely different horse. But, that’s a double-edged sword, because she’s more excited and more tense in the dressage. She’s a different horse to deal with than last year. My walk and trot work were really good; she stayed relaxed and really rideable. Then she got a bit tense in the canter work, which is kind of our nemesis. So, my flying changes could have been better, which is normal.”
After last year’s Jersey Fresh disappointment, Slusher and Last Call went north to the Bromont CCI*** (Que.), where they had a stop on cross-country. They then retired on course again at the CIC*** at The Event At Rebecca Farm (Mont.) in July. Slusher regrouped, dropped “Fergie” down to preliminary and intermediate for a few events, and got back on track. By November, they were back on form, taking second in the Galway Downs CCI*** (Calif.), and then they won the Galway Downs CIC*** this April. After that win, Slusher made it clear that winning Jersey Fresh was her mission.
She flew Fergie to New Jersey again because “I wanted to do one more three-star and really feel confident about it,” she said. “And, I think I needed to come back here and prove something to myself, more than anything else. It was definitely an eye-opener for me last year, and I want to tell her and myself that this is doable—that last year was just a bump in the road and that we can come back and do it better.”
Slusher’s had a few looks at the cross-country course, and she’s eager to get out there with a fitter, hungrier Fergie. “It looks long, but I’m confident I can jump all the jumps, and I’m confident about her fitness. I like the course more than last year, though I can’t really tell you why. It’s maybe a bit more galloping. But it looks like a great course, and I’m excited for Saturday,” she said.
She’ll have her work cut out to stay ahead of Doug Payne on Running Order, who is just a few points behind after dressage. Payne and Running’s Order’s elegant test scored a 51.3. “He’s getting a lot stronger and a lot more consistent. It’s not 100 percent yet—we had two bobbles in the test—but it’s looking a lot better. I’m pretty excited about this weekend. In general, he was a lot more solid in his connection than he’d been leading up to this point. The general feel of it was quite confident,” Payne said. Carl Bouckaert is in third, with a 54.0 on Cyrano Z.
“The courses are great—open and galloping. The CCI*** course looks like it will end up catching some people out—I hope I’m not one of them!” Payne said. “The end of the course has quite a long pull up a hill and then down the hill, there’s an accuracy question, and then the coffin, which I think is going to be tricky enough.”
Slusher isn’t the only one with a score to settle at Jersey Fresh. Katie Ruppel is here with Sir Donovan, determined to prove her disappointing elimination from the dressage at the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** last month was a fluke. There, Sir Donovan was extremely resistant to going forward after her first halt, even resorting to biting at her feet. His continuing temper tantrum caused the Rolex dressage judges to ring the bell and ask her to leave the ring. But at Jersey Fresh, she was the very last to go today, and she rode “Donald” into a tie for 10th place with a solid dressage test. Ruppel was all smiles and hugs for Donald after their performance.
In the CIC** dressage earlier in the day, Rebecca Howard rode Roquefort into a commanding lead, scoring a 43.6 to second-placed Stephen Bradley’s 49.7 on In The Fog.
Tomorrow is another day of dressage, with CCI** and CIC*** divisions showing.
Looking for full provisional results? Visit EventEntries.com.
- Last Call/Alexandra Slusher 48.7
- Running Order/Doug Payne 51.3
- Cyrano Z/Carl Bouckaert 54.0
- Fun Maker/Mara DePuy 55.8
- Mensa/Andrea Leatherman 56.0
- Fernhill Fearless/Nina Ligon 56.2
- Detail Specialist/Melissa Miller 59.4
- Tops/Danielle Dichting 59.4
- No Boundaries/Erin Sylvester 59.6
- Kenzo de la Roque/Lisa Barry 60.2
- Sir Donovan/Katie Ruppel 60.2
- Llewellyn/Brittany Kart 60.6
- Look Sweet/David Koss 62.7
- Impeccable/Bonner Carpenter 62.9
- Dillon/Colleen Rutledge 63.1
- Daily Edition/Kendal Lehari 66.5
- Dunlavin’s Token/Danica Moore 69.8
- Sea Lion/Pam Fisher 71.1
- Medici/Elissa Gibbs 77.3
- Roquefort/Rebecca Howard 43.6
- In The Fog/Stephen Bradley 49.7
- Double Rivers Really Cool/Kadi Eykamp 50.7
- Camerlingo/Doug Payne 50.9
- Ideal Contini/Lucia Strini 51.6
- Young Man/Phillip Dutton 52.6
- Obos O’Reilly/Will Coleman III 55.9
- Powderhound/Arden Wildasin 56.6
- Royal Waters/Robert Meyerhoff 57.8
- Westwind’s El Dorado/Will Coleman III 58.3
- All The Aces/Buck Davidson 58.8
- Cordonelli/Shannon Baker 59.8
- High Finance/Melissa Miller 61.7
- Rising Spirit/Laine Ashker 61.9
- Obama/Liza Horan 62.8
- Call Me Ollie/Boyd Martin 62.9
- Luna/Clarissa Wilmerding 63.3
- Fruition’s First/Holly Payne 63.8
- DHI Colour Candy/Will Faudree 64.0
- Utah B/Danica Moore 65.7
- Guypowder Valley/Boyd Martin 67.8
- Buckingham Place/Amanda Silver 70.7
- Loki/Jeff Kibbie 70.7
- Running Wolfe/Juan Andres Larrazab Simon 71.7
- Awesome KC/Helen Morris 74.1
- Foxwood High/Selena O’Hanlon E