Monday, Jun. 3, 2024

More Cross-Country Action Shakes Up The Standings

As the courses got longer and the jumps got bigger, the winning margins got tighter and tighter today, Sept. 15. Horses and riders at the upper levels brought their A-games, and the standings in the preliminary through advanced divisions showed how fierce the competition has become.

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As the courses got longer and the jumps got bigger, the winning margins got tighter and tighter today, Sept. 15. Horses and riders at the upper levels brought their A-games, and the standings in the preliminary through advanced divisions showed how fierce the competition has become.

Becky Holder of Mendota Heights, Minn. took over the lead in the advanced division after overnight leaders Allison Springer and Arthur incurred 5.6 time penalties on today’s cross-country course. Arthur, who is typically looky early in his courses, spooked in two different places at a golf cart and tree, and took a short detour off the main galloping path.

“I don’t think I would have made time anyway,” said Springer, who was slightly disappointed in her drop to fifth place, but completely pleased with her 8-year-old mount.  “He’s a super athlete and was super catty. I don’t think he had a bad fence. It’s so nice to go and make such easy work of so many things. And it was huge for me to beat Becky on the flat. I’ve only ever done that twice, and I just look up to her so much.”

Holder, meanwhile, made easy work of the course she had previously conquered at the Maui Jim Horse Trials in July, where she and Courageous Comet won the CIC***. “This course was a bit more galloping than the one in July, and I thought the waters were more straightforward,” Holder observed.

Comet, co-owned by Holder and her husband Tom, who is also competing here at the AECs in the amateur novice division, has been on a major winning streak this summer. The grey gelding also took top honors at the CIC*** at Richland Park (Mich.) in August.

“He’s recently learned to put together his big gallop between the fences with tight turns, and it’s made a difference being able to slice and cut those turns,” Holder said.

Feeling confident in her speed, Holder said she actually let up a bit heading toward the finish line this afternoon, but then realized she wasn’t as fast as she’d thought, so she gunned the gas again and crossed through the flags exactly on the optimum time.

In light of tomorrow’s final phase, Holder wasn’t afraid to admit that she feels nervous. “I’m just going to use the same warm-up I used at Richland Park and go out there and stick to a plan,” she said.

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In the intermediate, Nate Chambers of Virginia emerged the leader with the only double-clear round in the division. Previously in fourth place, he and his North American Jr. and Young Riders Championships individual silver-medal mount Rolling Stone II moved into a tie the top slot after dressage leader John Williams logged 8.4 time penalties aboard Sweepea Dean. In addition, Williams is also currently in second in the advanced division with Sloopy.

The amateur preliminary division placings experienced the biggest shake-up of the day, as dressage leaders Jamie Marlewski of Virginia and Sprint Tech suffered a stop and time penalties on the technical course, while both riders previously tied for second also incurred time faults. Lisa Barry and Kenzo de la Roque jumped from fifth to first with no jumping and just 1.6 time penalties.

As the first preliminary division to run, many amateur riders did not have the benefit of feedback from their fellow competitors, and there were several falls at the barrel coffin combination, and lots of glance-offs at an angular one-stride set of rolltops late in the course. Fortunately no horses or riders were seriously injured.

In the Jr./Young Rider preliminary division, Jennie Brannigan of California and Cooper retained their lead with a fault-free ride, though Julie Wolfert and Wondaree Merlin, who had previously been tied for first with Brannigan, did not fare as well. Wolfert unfortunately skipped Fence 15, a straightforward steeplechase jump, en route to the second water complex, and was eliminated.

Justine Dutton of Pennsylvania rode Samson VIII to the top of the preliminary horse division with a foot-perfect round. Darren Chiacchia and Hanno, who led the field after dressage, added 7.6 time faults to their score to drop to ninth place.

Emily Beshear’s clean round in the novice horse division kept Phinneus at the top of the leaderboard, while Tera MacDonald and La Tee Da also held onto their lead in the open beginner novice division.

Three rings of show jumping action for all divisions will commence tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m.

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