Mill Spring, N.C.—April 7
From the moment Boyd Martin first walked the CCI4*-S course at The Fork this weekend, memories came flooding back to the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games held at the same venue, the Tryon International Equestrian Center.
Martin had high hopes of a good finish with Christine Turner’s Tsetserleg in September, but he misjudged a distance from a drop into the water to a boat, and the gelding stopped.
Since then, Martin’s been thinking about that moment and analyzing what went wrong, and today he got the chance for redemption, as the same combination was on Mark Phillips’ course.
“It’s a very weird thing. Last year’s [WEG] was just a horrible memory here, and it was only one jump,” he said. “It’s a very weird sport because one jump can just destroy emotion or feeling and everyone’s moral for months and months and months, so it’s good to be back here, to be honest.”
Martin was able to put the boat behind him today though, and jumped it neatly with the 12-year-old Trakehner gelding (Windfall—Thabana, Buddenbrock). He was fast too, adding 4.8 time penalties to take the win after overnight leader and runner up Liz Halliday-Sharp added some time to her scores with Fernhill By Night and Deniro Z to finish third and fourth, respectively.
“Everyone’s having a chuckle and making a big deal out of it,” said Martin. “At the World Equestrian Games I got the wrong ride in, plus there was a lot of other stuff around it to distract the horse, and that wasn’t there today, so it was a little bit easier to get him over it today. But still, it was a good feeling getting over it, and I got a big cheer from the crowd. I could distinctively hear Christine Turner shrieking. She’s been a great supporter. It was good to get that behind me and come here.”
Martin thinks “Thomas” is a bit more seasoned now, and he’s looking ahead to the Land Rover Kentucky CCI5*-L.
“He’s learned a lot the last 12 months,” he said. “He feels a lot more seasoned now, and he’s a lot easier to ride. He’s not so distracted, and I’ve learned how to ride him a bit differently and a bit better too. It was good to have a win because I’ve had a bit of an awkward start to the year, a bit injured here and there and missing a few shows. It was good to win one, but to always remember that some of the best horses here chose to run a little bit slow to prepare for Kentucky. We’ve still got a little bit of work ahead of us, but he was good in all three phases.”
Martin also finished second the advanced with Long Island T, a 13-year-old Oldenburg-Thoroughbred gelding (Ludwig Von Bayern—Highlight, Heraldik xx) owned by the Long Island T Syndicate.
“He gave me a good ride,” he said. “He’s a little bit greener than Tsetserleg, and he’s a very strong, feisty wild man. He still jumped really well, but he’s definitely a little bit too keen. I think he’ll be better suited to Kentucky because it’s a longer, more flying course where I can get him to fall asleep a little bit more in between fences. He’s very strong in the dressage and show jumping. Cross-country he’s very game, but he gets strong and a little bit out of control, so he’s a hard horse to ride fast.”
Felix Vogg and Colero moved into second place in the CCI4*-S with a fast cross-country round, adding 7.6 time penalties. He’s also headed to Kentucky with the 11-year-old Westphalian gelding (Captain Fire—Bonita, Bormio xx).
“Colero I tried to ride him a little bit different than at WEG,” he said. At the WEG he incurred a couple of stops on course, but he feels the gelding is more seasoned now.
“There’s always something to fix [before a big event], some little stuff to do, and I’ll try to get that done in the next two weeks. I think we always have to complain about something; it’s never perfect, but I’m pretty sure he’s more ready for Kentucky this year than last year maybe for WEG. WEG was maybe a little bit early, and I think that course down here is a pretty difficult because it’s so quick and so many things after each other, so I think Kentucky is easier for the horses to do the cross-country.”
Of 27 starters, none made the 6:35 optimum time, and five pairs picked up 20 penalties. Two pairs retired after stops on course and one was eliminated for refusals.
Doug Payne and Vandiver got a bit unlucky when the gelding’s breastplate broke at the second fence. Payne dismounted to try to fix it, jumped a few more fences, then decided to retire, but he reported he felt confident without the full run heading into Kentucky.
Ryan Wood and Woodstock Bennett both fell at fence 10a when the gelding hung a leg, but they were up quickly and walked off course.
For full results, click here.
We’re on site at The Fork at the Tryon International Equestrian Center all weekend to bring you news, photos and stories. Check out the April 22 print edition of the Chronicle for much more.