Lexington, Ky.—Aug. 29
Add together $60,000 in prize money, a chance to gallop across the cross-country course at the Kentucky Horse Park and the atmosphere of the Rolex Stadium for show jumping, and you know the riders in the Adequan USEA Advanced Final are gung ho to be the ones accepting the championship cooler at the end of the weekend.
Boyd Martin is off to a good start with Long Island T, scoring a class-leading 25.6 to sit comfortably ahead of Mara DePuy and Congo Brazzaville C, who are second on 29.6.
“ ‘Ludwig’ was brilliant today in the dressage,” said Martin. “He’s such a fantastic mover. He’s always full of expression, and he’s very, very well trained and experienced at this level now, so he’s quite fun to ride. And he’s sort of got that mixture between good energy but without getting too explosive, so he’s very good. There’s a couple little things that we can always improve on, but overall it’s just lovely to have a horse that’s just got phenomenal talent for the dressage because you just have to sit there and everyone thinks you’re a good rider.”
The 13-year-old Oldenburg/Thoroughbred (Ludwig Von Bayern—Highlight, Heraldik xx) has had a light season so far. He’s competed four times and his last outing was at preliminary at Fair Hill (Maryland) in early August.
Derek Di Grazia built a beefy course, so time will tell whether Martin’s plan for the gelding will pay off.
“I think unfortunately Derek di Grazia is practicing for building Burghley because he’s come out here and he’s gotten all excited now that he’s got the Burghley job, and it looks huge to me,” he said. “Saying that, if you break it down and you really look at it, it’s a great course, great footing. Obviously it’s a nice, open galloping course. So my plan—obviously there’s a bit of prize money on the line—so obviously I’d love to have a bit of a crack, but also this is Ludwig’s first advanced in a while.
“You have to ride a little bit smart and make sure that I don’t go crazy and wild and don’t go for broke too much,” he continued. “He can get quite strong and hard to turn, especially towards the end of the course, so my plan would be just to keep him open and fast but try to keep him settled and keep his mind the whole way around.”
DePuy did the test ride at the MARS Equestrian Great Meadow International last week to get “Congo” into a ring with atmosphere before heading here, and it has paid off thus far.
“Congo is getting better and better,” she said. “I’m thrilled with the fact that he was rideable, which he has not been in atmosphere this spring, so I was very happy with him.”
Phillip Dutton rounds out the top three with Fernhill Singapore on a 29.8.
“Parts of it were good—the flying changes were still not great,” he said of his test. “He’s such a quality horse, and I think the judges want to score him because he looks the part. He’s coming along.”
Advanced cross-country kicks off the day at 8:42 a.m. Friday, Aug. 30.
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Ride times and live scoring are here: https://eventing.startboxscoring.com/eventsr/aec/ht0819/
The schedule is available here: https://useventing.com/events-competitions/aec/aec-schedule-of-events