Bromont, Quebec—June 10
Jonathan Holling doesn’t exactly look back and remember the small injury that kept Downtown Harrison out of the 2011 Pan American Games (Mexico) with fondness. But after winning the Volvo Bromont CCI*** today with the 8-year-old Thoroughbred/Trakehner cross gelding owned by his mother, Constance Holling, he could definitely see the silver lining in the six weeks his horse had to take off last fall.
“[The injury] was bad timing,” said Jonathan, of Ocala, Fla. “But it gave me the opportunity to really work on his education on the flat in the weeks when he was coming back, when jumping him wasn’t an option. His flatwork has always been good, but we really shaved some more points off, and it’s paid off.”
In fact, Downtown Harrison won the dressage at Bromont on a score of 46.0 and added nothing to that mark on cross-country. Today they had three rails in hand over Boyd Martin and Trading Aces, and they used two up early in Leopoldo Palacios’ challenging course to make for a nail-biting finish.
“That made me nervous,” said Jonathan, who would have tied with Martin for the win if he'd pulled one more rail. “It was a tough course—I don’t think there was any one jump that was unrelated to another one. He was definitely tired today, but he got better and better as we went around the track.
“It’s pretty unbelievable. I always knew he was a great horse, but you never really know [how they’ll handle a three-star] until you do it,” Jonathan added. “I’d love to be able to take him over to Europe and maybe do another three-star this autumn. The nice thing for him is that there’s really no pressure—there’s no team championship next year, so we can really take our time.”
Watch Downtown Harrison's winning round:
The Cream Of The Crop
Ten horses who’d scratched from the CIC*** jumped an “exhibition round” today for the benefit of their respective U.S. or Canadian selectors.
Only three horses logged double-clear rounds: Boyd Martin on both Otis Barbotiere and Remington XXV and Peter Barry on Kilrodan Abbott. Martin also rode a clear round on Neville Bardos but incurred 2 time faults.
Phillip Dutton put in two one-rail rounds, with Fernhill Eagle and Mighty Nice. Will Coleman also lowered one rail with Twizzel and picked up 2 time faults.
Allison Springer (Arthur) and Buck Davidson (Ballynoe Castle RM) pulled two rails each. Hawley Bennett-Awad and Five O’Clock Somewhere picked up 12 jumping faults.
Bring On The Bubble Wrap
After his dressage-score win in the CIC*** today, Karen O’Connor’s mount Mr. Medicott seems almost assuredly bound for the London Olympic Games. While many riders chose to scratch from the competition and not run cross-country, O’Connor had planned all along to complete the event.
“I came to give the horse a good run, to improve on the dressage, and be inside the time on cross-country,” said O’Connor, of The Plains, Va. Even after a great run at the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** in April, where the pair finished fourth, O’Connor knew she could do better.
“This weekend, in spite of the fact that we had all the scratches, he still ended up on a 43.0, which is a competitive score in any ring,” she said. “I’m so excited about this horse and so proud to be a part of his life. He’s changing mine.”
Will Faudree and Andromaque finished on their dressage score (47.4) in second place. Faudree, of Southern Pines, N.C., also placed fourth after a one-rail round aboard Pawlow (53.8).
Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen ended the weekend in third place on their dressage score of 48.0.
Master Of His Domain
O’Connor and Will Coleman started the CCI** with the same penalty score, but if both had jumped clear Coleman would have taken first on Zipp as the one closer to the cross-country optimum time.
So when Zipp, last year’s winner of the CCI* here at Bromont, pulled the rail of an oxer halfway through the course, O’Connor knew the win belonged to her and Mandiba.
Mandiba had just jumped a clear round, clinching his third consecutive FEI victory (47.9); he also won CIC**s at The Fork (N.C.) and at Jersey Fresh (N.J.) this spring.
The 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Master Imp—High Dolly, Chair Lift) gelding was O’Connor’s mount at the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong and the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (Ky.), but Mandiba never quite clicked at the four-star level. Then, in the spring of 2011, he suffered a terrible fall at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton CCI**** (England) and broke several ribs.
“He’s a very special horse to me and to everyone who’s been involved with him,” said O’Connor. “Joan Goswell is an incredibly dedicated owner, and he’s had the same vet, groom, farrier, you name it, following and supporting his career from the very beginning, when [my husband] David and I fell in love with him as a 4-year-old. So seeing him so happy and confident and really enjoying the sport again is a real success story for us.
“There’s a part of me that feels like, ‘Gosh, he shouldn’t be at the two-star level,’ but the flip side of the coin is that this horse has been asked to do a lot in his life,” she continued. “He moved very quickly from the two-star level to the three-star level, and from three-star to four-star. So this year it was so important to let him spend some time back at the two-star level, which is where I believe event horses really learn their trade. I won’t burn the two-star level any more with him now, because I think he’s really ready to move back up.”
Watch Mandiba's show jumping trip:
There were nine double-clears out of the 29 who jumped in the two-star today. O’Connor also moved up from sixth to fifth with RF Amber Eyes, and a faultless round meant Danielle Dichting moved up from third to second with The Graduate to finish on 48.8 penalties.
Marilyn Little-Meredith and RF Smoke On The Water finished fourth after putting in another of the double-clear trips. They were also the only pair to finish the two-star on their dressage score.
A Day At The Beach
In the CCI*, the top two riders failed to replicate third-placed Buck Davidson’s double-clear round with Copper Beach, so he and the shiny chestnut gelding led the victory gallop on their dressage score of 47.5.
Allison Springer and Eclipse, who’d won the dressage and gone double-clear on cross-country yesterday, pulled the one rail they had in hand at the penultimate fence. They then seemed to have a miscommunication as they approached the last, lowering another rail and dropping to third place in the process.
Doug Payne and Royal Tribute, who picked up 4 faults, held on to their second-placed standing.
Copper Beach, a 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse of unknown breeding owned by Carl and Cassandra Segal and Sherrie Martin, completed six preliminary horse trials this spring. He won two of them with Davidson’s father, Bruce, in the saddle.
“He’s very sweet; he’s just like a dog in a stall,” said Buck, of Riegelsville, Pa., and Ocala, Fla. “And he’s talented. He’s very green, and he still doesn’t steer as well as I’d like him to, but he tried to not hit the jumps! I think he needs to stay preliminary all year, but he’ll be ready to run intermediate next year.”
Buck noted that Bromont’s courses, atmosphere and terrain were the perfect learning experience for his mounts.
“I was saying to Derek [di Grazia, the cross-country designer] how great the course was. I had an 8-year-old [The Apprentice] in the three-star and three 6-year-olds [Copper Beach, Santa’s Keeper and Knight Lion] in the one-star, and it was great education for all of them,” he said.
Only 11 horses jumped double-clear rounds in the CCI*. Forty-four completed the competition.