Bromont, Quebec—June 9
Lynn Symansky joked that only having one horse at the Mars Incorporated Bromont CCI felt a bit like a vacation, but Derek di Grazia’s CCI*** cross-country course was no walk in the park today.
Symansky and Mary Ann Ghadban’s Under Suspection were eighth to go and were the first pair to come home without jumping penalties.
None of the 19 to jump went inside the optimum time of 10:06, but Symansky only added 2.4 to her score to take the lead.
“It was a tough track out there,” she said. “I didn’t know that [I was the first jumping clear] until I was doing [a post-ride] interview. I was surprised to hear that. It walked hard. But Derek is a fantastic designer, and he definitely made you work, and he asked different types of questions. The mare’s such an amazing cross-country horse. She’s a beast. She did feel a little bit tired coming home in the end, but it’s a real fitness test here. I couldn’t be happier with her today. She was pretty awesome.”
Three pairs retired after one or more refusals, while Buck Davidson took a dramatic fall from Erroll Gobey at the first water at 4A when the horse jumped in and buckled on landing. Both Davidson and the horse were unharmed.
Another seven pairs picked up one or more refusals. Matt Flynn and Wizzerd (seventh after dressage) and Sara Kozumplik Murphy and Rubens D’Ysieux (tied for second after dressage) were victims of the B element of the final combination at 25, a sunken road featuring a log to a left-handed corner, both picking up one run-out.
Boyd Martin and Steady Eddie (ninth after dressage) had a drive-by at the arrowhead brush in the water, 10B.
Ema Klugman and Bendigo were the only mandatory retirement. Bendigo fell at fence 16, a pair of angled tables in the arena. Both were reported to be fine.
“It has a feel like [di Grazia’s] maybe playing with some stuff for what people going to the WEG would possibly see in August,” said Symansky. “The course is big and taxing, and you know when you come here you remember when you go across the finish line how tired they feel. They feel more like a Kentucky track getting home. It’s not quite as long and hard, but it’s undulating.”
Bromont will be hosting a CIC*** in August as a final prep run for several WEG-bound riders.
“It did have more of a four-star feel,” Symansky added. “I would say it was like a 3 7/8-star. You got a lot of practice with open oxers. It was big, and it was technical. You would want to have an experienced horse coming here and be an experienced rider.”
Symansky got the ride on “Pippy,” a 14-year-old Holsteiner mare (Contender—Naomagic I, Exobitant xx) this spring when her close friend Hannah Sue Burnett awaited results from a positive drug test under FEI rules. Burnett has since been suspended until November of this year, but Symansky is keeping the ride on Pippy indefinitely.
Before Burnett, Pippy was campaigned by Sharon White, who got her from Dirk Schrade.
“I still don’t know the horse that well,” Symansky admitted. “My dear friend Hannah rode her before I did, and she’s done an amazing job with her. She’s been really helpful. I sent her a picture this morning of one of the combinations and asked what she’d probably do there, and she gives me some pointers because she knows her so much better. I’m very fortunate to be able to get on what she’s produced up to this point. [Burnett and I] do have similar styles and know each other very well. I’ve come to know the horse, and she’s pretty cool. I have a good time riding her. She just comes out and gives it her all. She’s such a fighter. It’s pretty unusual to have that many different riders at that level with a horse like that.”
Symansky is hoping to make the WEG team this year with her top horse Donner, but if Pippy finishes well tomorrow, she’ll be Symansky’s third horse with a qualifying score.
Her other, RF Cool Play, finished well at the Jersey Fresh CCI*** (New Jersey) in May.
“It’s so nice because you can have nothing, and then all of a sudden you have a few, and you figure it out. Then all of a sudden everybody gets sidelined,” she said. “Every single day and every weekend that I get to come out here and do it, I’m really fortunate and blessed to be in the situation I am right now with horses that are keeping me at the top of my game.”
Jenny Caras had a couple of setbacks last year with her longtime partner Fernhill Fortitude, a 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Courage II—Misty Matilda, Clover) owned by the Fernhill Fortitude Syndicate, but she had a confidence-boosting round today to move up to second place.
“ ‘Forty’ was amazing,” she said. “We had a bit of a rocky year last year with Kentucky and Fair Hill not going to plan. He’s very experienced, and there wasn’t one combination on course that I was super concerned about. I knew that it kept hitting you as you went around. I wasn’t super concerned about one because I was concerned about them all! I know him so well that if I go out there and ride half decently he loves to do it. I had a great prep run at Jersey Fresh in the CIC***, and it just carried over today. He was a little tired at the end, but he knows himself when he is tired, and he knows how to keep jumping well and stay honest. He was just on it the whole way.”
Caras said the course today was as tough as any she’s jumped. “It hit you from fence 3 really, then kept hitting you all the way around until you came home,” she said. “I was really happy to be on an experienced horse that I’ve produced and I know so well.”
For full results, click here.
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