Reddick, Fla.—Nov. 15
If you wanted to move up the leaderboard at the Ocala Jockey Club International CCI4*-L today, you needed to be fast.
No one made the time last year, and it was looking to be a similar situation this year over Clayton Fredericks’ cross-country course of 10 minutes 26 seconds until Lauren Kieffer and the speedy Landmark’s Monte Carlo became the first pair to make the time.
They shot up from eighth place to the overnight lead on their dressage score of 32.7.
Phillip Dutton and off-the-track Thoroughbred Sea Of Clouds leapt from 12th to second as the only other pair to make the time, while Erin Sylvester and Thoroughbred Campground were the next fastest, adding .4 to their score and rocketing from 24th to third.
“Patrick,” a 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse-Thoroughbred gelding (Formula One—Glamour), was bred and is owned by Jacqueline Mars. His full brother, Landmark’s Monaco, finished a clear jumping round in the CCI4*-L with Kimmy Cecere.
“He was great. He was fun. He’s a homebred so I’ve had him his whole life and we’ve got a pretty good partnership,” said Kieffer. “He’s always been a really fast horse. Honestly, we were quick, but it didn’t feel like we were taking risks. He’s easy to be quick on. The course kind of suited him because he doesn’t pull. I wouldn’t say it was the most fun course—the jumps were fine, but the roping was kind of weird. You had a lot of unnecessary yanking them off their feet, which is unfortunate because it’s such a great piece of ground, and it feels a lot like [Land Rover] Kentucky. I had a great time on him. He’s just kind of an old pal now, and it was a fun course to ride around on him.”
Patrick has overcome some show jumping demons this season and finished second at the MARS Equestrian Bromont CCI4*-L (Canada) in June. Kieffer relied on an animal communicator when she was out of answers, and she was told the gelding didn’t like the pressure of competition, so she’s put aside her notions of what it means to be competitive—where feeding off her own nerves helps her to put in good rounds—and has tried to show jump as if it’s just practice for Patrick.
“Show jumping is his bogey. He doesn’t do well with pressure, so it will be an interesting mental exercise to go in like it doesn’t matter tomorrow,” she said. “But we know that’s his thing. We do the best we can by him and try to prepare him the best we can, but whatever happens tomorrow happens, and we’ll enjoy tonight and take it as it comes.”
Dutton was held on course before fence 7 with “Socs,” an 8-year-old Thoroughbred gelding (Malibu Moon—Winner’s Ticket, Jolie’s Halo) owned by the Sea Of Clouds Partnership, while a rider who fell was tended to. He was originally given time penalties, but appealed, and they were taken away.
This is the gelding’s first four-star long. He’d raced twice under trainer Graham Motion before beginning his eventing career at Dutton’s barn. “I didn’t think it would be quite as strong a course here,” he said. “I wanted a nice move-up course, and obviously it didn’t ride like that, but he stepped up and did his job. He’s obviously a very fast horse, and he’s a good cross-country horse, but he hasn’t been exposed to a lot of the stuff he saw today, so I was very proud of him.”
Thirty-one pairs started cross-country today, and 23 came home. Two pairs were eliminated for refusals, two retired and there was one technical elimination when Gabrielle Ruane jumped the wrong fence at 15ab.
There were three rider falls: Arielle Aharoni fell from Dutch Times at the water at 11b, Joe Meyer fell from Buccaneer at the water at 23abcd, and Dutton, sitting second after dressage, fell from Long Island T at the water at 23abcd. No horses or riders were reported to be injured.
It’s been more than a year since RF Scandalous competed internationally with Marilyn Little after an injury during the lead up to the FEI World Equestrian Games (North Carolina), but she’s come out with a bang this weekend, hanging onto her impressive dressage lead (24.4) with a clear show jumping round today in the CCI4*-S. Sara Kozumplik Murphy and Rubens D’Ysieux remained in second place with a clear round to sit on 32.5.
“She was really wonderful,” said Little of her dressage test yesterday. “She was very excited. She was calm right up until the last minute, then went in and got a little excited with the atmosphere. Two years ago we were here and that translated into not such a great test. But she has just become so mature and such a great partner that she went in and did her job like she always does.”
“Kitty,” a 14-year-old Oldenburg mare (Carry Gold—Richardia, Lario) owned by Jacqueline Mars and Phoebe and Michael Manders, competed in two preliminary horse trials, an advanced combined test and a jumper show as preparation for this event. She’s Little’s last event horse as she’s been focusing more on her show jumpers in recent years.
“I cannot tell you how much fun it is to be able to ride her here and have her back,” said Little. “When you’ve lost something and you get it back it is really cool. This is a really special weekend for me; it has been a long road. There is an incredible team of people that have helped get her back here. She is such a special horse to me. It’s wonderful to be back at an event, but it’s even better being back with a best friend; it makes it that much more fun. If I didn’t have this horse I wouldn’t be eventing. I event for her, because I love her.”
Follow along at COTH.com all weekend for more from the event and check out the Dec. 2 print edition of the Chronicle for more.