March 8—Tallahassee, Fla.
You might not have bet on Czechmate to win the CIC*** at Red Hills this weekend based on the entry list, but the 9-year-old Czech Warmblood stepped up to the plate for Lauren Kieffer and came home with the win in his first CIC*** after jumping a double clear round over Fuzzy Mayo’s show jumping track.
“He’s just always been a really competitive horse, but it’s certainly nice when five years later he’s still doing it,” said Kieffer, who’s brought “Czechy” along since he was 4 for owners Courtney and Kylie Ramsay.
“He’s a class horse and you’d like to say it’s easy when your horses are really nice. It’s certainly a lot simpler!” said Kieffer with a laugh. “With him, if you just do your job, he’s gonna be in the money most of the time—he’s got so much presence on the flat and he’s as brave and genuine as can be on cross-country and same in the show jumping, so it’s really kind of his game unless you mess up.”
Mayo’s course was held in the new crushed granite arena, which some riders thought was a bit too firm.
“It’s definitely a huge improvement over jumping on the hill,” said Kieffer, referring to the grass field used for show jumping in the past at the event. “It was probably a bit on the firm side, but you know what? I’ll take that over deep any day. It kind of depends on the horse—all mine jumped pretty well on it, but it had to be a bit stingy. But they made the effort and it’s much appreciated.”
When Kieffer said her horses jumped well, she’s being modest. Of her five horses across all divisions, she didn’t pick up a single jumping penalty today and took home another blue with Veronica in the advanced.
“She just doesn’t do anything wrong at this point, she’s so experienced,” she said of Veronica. “Last year I feel like we were sort of still getting our partnership a bit. It was really only our second year together, but this year it’s kind of come out and we’re right on it together.”
Czechmate will target a spring CCI*** while Veronica is headed to the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** to try to better her second-place finish last year.
The top six placings in the CIC*** didn’t change at all, so Liz Halliday-Sharp and HHS Cooley brought home second on a clear round while Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda put in their usual clear for third.
“It was a tough course,” said Halliday-Sharp. “It was mostly all related distances, but it rode a lot better than I thought it would. It sort of worked for my horse because I could keep motoring along. I thought the ground jumped a lot better than I thought. I think my horse jumped one of the best rounds he’s ever jumped in his life.”
After recovering from a freak ankle injury last year, HHS Cooley was making his first FEI start back.
“I feel like I’ve got my horse back,” said Halliday-Sharp. “He gave me a great feel and a great ride.”
Three For Three
Marilyn Little led the CIC** from start to finish with RF Scandalous, an 8-year-old Oldenburg mare.
The pair have won their last two FEI outings—the CCI* at Galway Downs (Calif.) last fall and the CIC** at Pine Top (Ga.) two weeks ago, so Little is eyeing an advanced moveup later this spring.
“Kitty’s” owners are Phoebe and Michael Manders, who owned Little’s RF Smoke On The Water. The gelding was sadly was euthanized last year just after completing Rolex due to an injury in his stall.
“I’m absolutely thrilled for [Kitty] and the first thing I said when I got off was that I’m so happy for her owners, Phoebe and Michael Manders because they were such incredible human beings to stay true to the sport and stay behind the sport when they really had no involvement in it prior to Smoke,” she said. “So many people would have walked and they’ve been incredible.
“I’m unbelievably happy for the horse because she’s put in such a huge effort and has an amazing will to learn and to win and to create a partnership,” she added. “With some horses you can feel like they’re looking for a friend and looking to figure it out and I wasn’t sure if she was going to be that horse in the beginning and she really has stepped up to the table and she deserves to be rewarded for it.”
Little enjoyed the two-star show jumping course, which ran on a different track than the three-star.
“I love that the rails came all over the course,” she said. “In pure show jumping that’s important that there’s not just ‘a spot’. When the rails fall everywhere, it’s a really well designed course, not a trap. It was technical enough that the amateurs on good horses had a chance to excel but a professional riding a green horse also had the chance to excel if they rode it well. It gently told you what you needed to work on.”
The top five placings stayed the same in the CIC** with Tik Maynard and Dutch Times taking second and Ryan Wood and Alcatraz third.
In the CIC*, Hannah Sue Burnett and Jitter Bug won, while Buck Davidson and new ride Carlevo took home second and Danielle Dichting Busby and Fernhill Tastic were third.
For full results, visit evententries.com.
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