Saturday, May. 18, 2024

Loach Lands A Win At Bromont CCI**

What the Todd Sandler Challenge CCI** at Bromont, Que., on June 7-10, lacked in quantity, it made up for in quality.
   
Though only 11 horses started in the division, there were some serious competitors entered: Phillip Dutton, John Williams, and Carol Kozlowski from the United States and Canadian team rider Ian Roberts, to name a few.

Colleen Loach, 24, may lack the experience of Dutton and Williams, but she rode a cool, professional performance on Peter Barry’s Irish Sport Horse, Longfield Dougal, to win over all the famous names.
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What the Todd Sandler Challenge CCI** at Bromont, Que., on June 7-10, lacked in quantity, it made up for in quality.
   
Though only 11 horses started in the division, there were some serious competitors entered: Phillip Dutton, John Williams, and Carol Kozlowski from the United States and Canadian team rider Ian Roberts, to name a few.

Colleen Loach, 24, may lack the experience of Dutton and Williams, but she rode a cool, professional performance on Peter Barry’s Irish Sport Horse, Longfield Dougal, to win over all the famous names.

Loach moved up from second after dressage to take the lead after cross-country and maintained it to the end, finishing on her dressage score of 49.69. Dutton, who won the Bromont CCI** in 2001, ’02 and ’03, followed up in second riding Loose ’N Cool, and John Williams claimed third with Sweepea Dean.

Loach, who has competed up to the three-star level previously, has been riding the 11-year-old gelding Longfield Dougal since last summer, and trains with Dutton. Longfield Dougal had done several intermediates, but was injured shortly after arriving in Canada last year and had some time off to recuperate.

“Dressage was quite good, but maybe a little conservative,” Loach said. “The cross-country course was challenging but flowing; he was really on and rideable.”

They posted one of only two cross-country trips that were clear and in the time; Dutton turned in the other double-clean.

After a double-clear trip around Jean-Pierre Ayotte’s galloping show jumping course on Sunday, Loach emerged victorious. “My horse was trying so hard and jumped really well. I just tried to keep him forward on the turns, and he responded and it worked out well,” she said.

Williams and Sweepea Dean had taken the lead after dressage with a charismatic test that stood out from the crowd and earned a score of 47.19. Williams said that he felt his dressage at the Radnor CCI** (Pa.) last year was better, and that he’d have liked to have the gelding more up in front, but the judges seemed to be impressed.

Head of the ground jury Cara Whitham commented, “I loved the horse—he’s good looking and athletic and he was boldly presented. The horse has lovely cadence and John let him carry himself. If he jumps well, the horse is what the FEI wants in the new event horse.”

Sweepea Dean did in fact jump well around cross-country, but as Williams explained, “He is not the fastest horse in the world and not light on his feet, so I struggled going quick enough out there.” A total of 5.2 time penalties dropped them from first to third after cross-country.

“He was confident and honest. He has been slow to mature, like a gangly teenager, so he has been slow to be comfortable on his feet, but he tried very hard,” Williams said. He and his wife bought Sweepea Dean as a 2-year-old from the same farm in Canada where they bought Carrick, his mount for the 2002 World Equestrian Games (Spain) and 2004 Olympics (Greece).

Loose ’N Cool, owned by Nina Gardner, was fresh off an intermediate win at the Virginia Horse Trials two weeks before Bromont and put in a confident-looking performance to finish in second place.
Following cross-country Dutton said, “Today was a long test for him—it’s the longest and toughest he has done. He’s not the fastest horse, but he’s easy to ride and doesn’t waste time.

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Loose ’N Cool pulled one rail in show jumping, but the 4 faults didn’t affect his placing.

Price Is Right in CIC**
Only seven horses started in the CIC**, and Shawn Price moved up from third to the win on the off-the-track Thoroughbred Jack The Lad.

Canadians Peter Barry and Jefferson D’Aurois and Stephanie St-Pierre on Santo Domingo were in first and second after dressage. Barry said that he was not focused when he headed out on course with his 11-year-old Selle Français gelding and did not ride his best, and the horse stopped twice at the fourth fence on course, later getting eliminated.

St-Pierre had two stops on course, so Price moved into the lead despite 4.4 time penalties.

Three horses did not finish cross-country in this division, perhaps most disappointingly Sarah Anderson, who retired from the course after a fall from Against All Odds at the canoe out of the water complex. She was held for some time by medics but eventually released when found unharmed.

Price, 18, of Louisville, Ky., had two rails down in show jumping but still finished more than 10 points ahead of Martha Griggs on Gregory in second and Diana Burnett on Manny in third.

“I just did the intermediate at Virginia two weeks ago, where he placed fourth, and thought this event was comparable,” said Price. “I have been working on his dressage with Susan Harris and he felt good here. He settled down after a while. I like this event overall—it was different than I expected. The galloping is a lot different than Kentucky, but my horse is a fabulous cross-country horse.”

Price came to Bromont to qualify for the North American Junior and Young Riders Championships (Va.) in August and said that she plans to do some dressage shows and combined tests until then to save her horse for the championships.

New Friends For Wins
In the CCI*, Dutton guided a relatively new ride to the win. Mighty Mangaroo led from start to finish. Owned by Ann Jones, the 6-year-old Australian Thoroughbred gelding was imported by Boyd Martin, an Australian who is also based in the United States.

“He’d done some novice in Australia, but he got injured when he got over here so he’s only been to four events,” said Dutton. “He’s a very good galloping horse and I’m quite excited about him. He’s a good jumper and he’s quiet. The cross-country here was a hard test for him, but in a good way. He got more confident as he went around.”

Sharon White and Fortunate Son went into show jumping in second place, but brought most of the rails to the ground. Hillary Popiel also had numerous rails down, so Canadian team rider Penny Rowland moved up from fourth to finish second riding the handsome gray gelding Charley Farley, currently on trial from Jill Henneberg for purchase by Don J. Good.

Rowland had only sat on Charley Farley about seven times before the competition, but she was confident in the horse since he had competed up to intermediate with Irish rider Austin O’Connor before Henneberg imported him. Rowland hopes that the gelding will be her partner for next year’s Olympic Games in Hong Kong.

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It was only a short drive up from Brownsville, Vt., for Susan Berrill to win the CIC* with her 12-year-old mare Welton Hvala.

“Bromont has always been a special place. The new cross-country course was fantastic! I can’t wait to ride the two-star course. I try to come back here every year, as long as I have a horse to ride,” she said.

Welton Hvala, 12, was bred by famed British event horse breeders Sam and Linda Barr and imported to Canada as a 4-year-old.

Having recently started competing again after an injury, the mare looked to be in good form. “I was very pleased with her cross-country. She was fast and clean and made me remember why I like to ride her so much!” Berrill said.

Bright Future For Bromont
Next year, the organizers of Bromont plan to host a CCI***, and they have already started making major changes to the site, which was where the 1976 Olympic Games took place and one of few Olympic venues still to continually host equestrian competitions.

There have been some serious improvements to the cross-country course this year, which is designed by Derek di Grazia and built by Jay Hambly and crew. Many of the old cross-country fences were removed entirely, and 36 new fences were constructed.

Organizer Sue Ockendon hopes word will get out and that more riders will add Bromont to their calendars. The improvements were made largely because they are planning to add a three-star next year and she thought that the one and two-star courses needed to be of a high quality and challenging enough in preparation for the addition.

Next on the list is to tackle some drainage issues and work on the footing and to raise funding to construct the three-star track. Also, they plan to run the event a week later, which may give more riders a chance to make the trip north.

Di Grazia’s outlook for the future of the event is positive. “I think people will take the news home—the organizers made a push this year and were committed to doing the job right,” he said.

Dutton is a regular competitor at Bromont and said that he likes the changes to the cross-country course. “I hope they stay on track,” he said. “It’s tiring because of the terrain, but it’s a flowing course and Derek has done a good job working with the terrain, not turning the horses backwards and forwards. It’s a forward-riding course and they have a fair bit of land here. I think a three-star is exciting.”

Technical Delegate Peter Fell of Ireland had the same job at last year’s Bromont as well and was especially enthusiastic about the changes he has seen in the event over the past year.

“Derek is spot-on,” he said. “The track is beautiful, and a plan is in hand for the three-star. The venue is superb and so is the terrain. You can get all the tests in, use the ground to its full extent and get a happy, safe track that is a good test of horse and rider fitness.”

Amber Heintzberger

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