Friday, May. 24, 2024

Mosser Monopolizes At Jersey Fresh


Bonnie Mosser said at the Jersey Fresh Three-Day Event that she doesn’t have any grooms, just five volunteers. And it was fortunate that she had those extra pairs of hands available, because she needed plenty of help to carry the load of loot she claimed after winning both the CCI*** and the advanced horse trial division at the Horse Park of New Jersey in Allentown, May 30-June 3.
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Bonnie Mosser said at the Jersey Fresh Three-Day Event that she doesn’t have any grooms, just five volunteers. And it was fortunate that she had those extra pairs of hands available, because she needed plenty of help to carry the load of loot she claimed after winning both the CCI*** and the advanced horse trial division at the Horse Park of New Jersey in Allentown, May 30-June 3.

“This was a heck of a day,” a beaming Mosser said after completing dual victory gallops on Sunday afternoon. “I’ve won a three-star before [at Foxhall (Ga.) in 2002], but I never expected to have two big wins like this at a single event.”

In addition to her blue ribbon harvest, Mosser, Unionville, Pa., also earned the awards for best conditioned horse and best turned-out with her three-star mount, Merloch. The 9-year-old gray gelding is a relatively new ride for Mosser, although she actually purchased the horse four years ago in New Zealand for her student, Alexandra Zavoyna.

“He’d done a one-star, and he was very rideable, jumped well, had a good temperament,” said Mosser. “I wasn’t looking for a horse for [Alex], but he was similar to the one she was riding.”

Under Mosser’s tutelage, Zavoyna and Merloch went on to win the CCI** at last year’s North American Junior and Young Riders Championships (Va.), after which the rider went off to college, handing the reins over to her coach.

At Jersey, Mosser and Merloch sat just off the lead after the dressage, scoring a 46.3, only a few points behind frontrunners Mara Dean with Nicki Henley and Will Coleman with Icarus.

The cross-country course was shortened by 450 meters in view of Saturday’s sauna-like atmosphere, and U.S. Equestrian Federation President David O’Con-nor warned riders to be especially careful, as the veterinarians had found that horses were likely to get just as hot in the short format warm-up as the traditional steeplechase.

A smattering of time penalties did reshuffle the order a bit, but didn’t have a significant impact on those on the top of the leaderboard. Mosser’s 2.4 penalties dropped her down to fourth going into the show jumping.

“He’s always been a ‘Steady Eddie,’ and very willing,” she said of the horse, who had show jumped clean under pressure to win the NAJYRC gold medal for his former owner last summer. “But he’s turned out to be even better than we thought.”

That was a definite understatement. The horse’s stunning double-clear round during Sunday afternoon’s chilly rain showers wowed the crowd and applied some serious pressure on the top three riders, who, in the end, were unable to deliver.

Stephen Bradley on From and Dean on Nicki Henley were in second and third respectively but pulled a rail each, while overnight leader Coleman garnered two rails and 2 time faults with Icarus, landing them in fourth overall—still a respectable outcome for the horse’s first CCI***. Coleman took over the ride from friend Nathalie Pollard three weeks before Jersey so that she and husband Michael could focus on starting their new business.

Bradley was far from disappointed with his runner-up finish, as it was more than enough to qualify him for his next goal: the 2008 Olympics in Hong Kong.

“I am absolutely thrilled,” he said, noting that his mount pulled a tendon just before Jersey Fresh last year and that his horses have an unfortunate history of missing out on qualifying for big international team competitions (namely ones that start with an A: Atlanta, Athens and Aachen). “It’s fun to have From back, and I think he genuinely had a really good time. He was happy to get through a course again, and he was good in all three phases.”

Dean echoed that sentiment after finishing third with Nicki Henley, who has been an inconsistent performer in the past and is just coming back from a splint bone fracture that happened in the pasture over
the winter.

“This is really a turning point. It’s been a bumpy road, and I feel like we’ve finally smoothed it out,” she said. “I can’t be more excited.”

Mosser said she had taken a jumping lesson with Anne Kursinski a few weeks before Jersey Fresh to get back into the forward rhythm in the final phase. And with only one rail down between her three advanced mounts, it seems to have done the trick. Merloch, Jenga and Close The Deal are all qualified for the Pan American Games (Brazil) this summer.

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Leaping Up The Leaderboard
The superstar of the CCI** was Clark Montgomery, whose performances in the jumping phases aboard Up Spirit and Raconteur secured them first and fifth places, respectively.

Up Spirit, an 8-year-old gelding owned by Montgomery’s mother, Carol, placed third in the dressage with a 47.6, and had a textbook clear cross-country round early on Saturday morning, but Montgomery isn’t ready to push him too much just yet.

“He’s definitely not ready to do a three-star,” the rider said afterwards. “He needs to stay at this level for awhile. I definitely found that out today. But having said that, he definitely went wonderfully. I couldn’t have asked him to go better for his age and what he’s done so far.”

Montgomery followed up his first cross-country performance with an equally perfect go aboard the 7-year-old Raconteur, which catapulted the pair all the way from 31st to ninth in the standings. Of the six double-clear rounds in the CCI** division, two belonged to Montgomery. Out of 47 starters, there were 27 rounds without jumping penalties.

Other pairs did not fair so well, including dressage leaders Coleman and Ret Mercury, another horse recently acquired from the Pollards. The pair had a stop early in the course, then retired after Coleman fell at the double corners at 11AB, a combination that dashed the hopes of many a rider over the course of the morning.

“I tried to re-arrange the face of that corner,” Coleman explained good-naturedly. “I don’t know what happened, I just ended up on the ground!”

Problems also arose for second-placed Stuart Black and Fleeceworks Mystere du Val, who slipped down to 18th after a run-out at fence 9, The Splash.

New Jersey rider Buck Davidson conquered the course aboard Ballynoecastle RM, and they moved from seventh place into a tie for second after adding only 4 time faults to their score.

“At two-stars, sometimes the course is too easy,” Davidson said of Saturday’s high penalty count. “Fair Hill [the CCI*** (Md.) in October] is a real three-star, and I think it’s completely fair. I think John [Williams, the Jersey Fresh course designer] has got it right.”

Davidson’s partner in the tie for second was his own student, Jessica Kiener, who rode My Boy Bobby to accrue only 5.2 time faults on cross-country. Both riders brought their A-game on Sunday, slapping hands as they passed in the show jumping in-gate and jumping fault-free rounds to put the squeeze on the leader.

Montgomery and Up Spirit had two rails in hand going into the final phase, and they used them both, holding on to win by the skin of their teeth—a margin of only .6 point—on a score of 55.6.

“It was nice to get the opportunity to ride the course first on a lesser-placed horse,” said Montgomery of Raconteur, whose double-clear bumped him up from ninth to fifth. “I had a lot of confidence going in. I felt good about my plan for [Up Spirit], I just needed to try and execute it.

“He’s a really good jumper,” Montgomery continued. “He can be slow-footed, and he doesn’t always give you all the scope and effort. You have to create it to keep him jumping. This season the most rails I’ve had on him is two, but you never want to take it for granted.”

Davidson and his student, meanwhile, retained their tie for second, but he and the 9-year-old Ballynoecastle earned the red ribbon ahead of Kiener and My Boy Bobby, as his cross-country time was closer to the optimum.

My Boy Bobby’s owner, Carl Segal, wasn’t allowed to be too disappointed with the tie-breaker finish. He posed graciously for photos with both horses, smiling along with Ballynoecastle’s owner—his own wife, Cassandra Segal. She co-owns Davidson’s mount with Ann Glaus.

Farewell To A Friend
Regrettably, the unexpected death of one horse cast a shadow over the proceedings on Saturday. Laine Ashker’s long-time partner Eight Saint James Place collapsed and died after jumping flawlessly around the CCI*** course.

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“He was one of the last ones to run across country, in the heat of the day, but nevertheless, made the course look easy and finished with few time penalties, ears pricked and all,” remarked Ashker in a post to her online competition journal. “When I crossed the finish line, I immediately dismounted and pulled off his saddle so that both my grooms and I could get ice on him as soon as possible, due to the weather conditions. He looked and felt very happy even after I dismounted, but as soon as we reached the bottom of the hill and the vets went to take his temp and heart rate, Jamie staggered and then fell over and died almost instantly.”

Ashker had been partnered with the horse for 14 years, winning bronze medals at the North American Young Riders Cham-pionships in 2000 (Colo.) and 2001 (Ill.) and the Markham Trophy at the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.) in 2004. They were also the highest-placed U.S. pair at the 2004 Blenheim CCI*** (England), and competed at the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** twice, in both the long and short formats.

“Not only did I lose him, the sport lost one of the most amazing and beautiful athletes that was ever to cross a galloping lane,” Ashker said. “I will always think of him every time I enter that box and when the countdown begins.”

A collection was taken up amongst the competitors at Jersey Fresh to purchase a tree to be planted at the Horse Park in Jamie’s name.

Kat Netzler

Mosser Closes The Deal In Advanced And Sets Her Sights On Rio
Close The Deal and Bonnie Mosser shut down the competition to win the advanced horse trial, held in conjunction with the Jersey Fresh CCI***/**, May 30-June 3.

Mosser couldn’t have asked for a better weekend to steal the show. The advanced horse trial served as a mandatory outing for Pan American hopefuls, and U.S. Equestrian Federation eventing coach Capt. Mark Phillips and USEF officials were on hand, sizing up the contenders and preparing to choose who will represent the United States in Rio de Janeiro this July. Eight competitors will be selected to attend the Games: four will compete on the U.S. team, three will compete as individuals, and one reserve rider will accompany the contingent.

Another mandatory outing was held May 25-27 at the Woodside Horse Trials (Calif.) to give West Coast riders a chance to impress the committee.

Mosser took over the ride on Close The Deal, a Thoroughbred-Dutch Warmblood cross, two years ago when owner Rebecca Polan decided to take a break from serious competition. This is the pair’s first big win of the season; last year at this event they were third.

Jonathan Holling and Lion King II took the lead after running the second-fastest cross-country round but dropped back to second after three rails fell in show jumping.

“Today it just didn’t come together,” sighed a disappointed Holling on Sunday. “He wasn’t tired, and he felt great in the warm-up. Honestly I wish I had a really good explanation. We’re going back to the drawing board to figure it out.”

Canadian selectors were on hand as well to scrutinize the performances of their Pan Am contenders. Waylon Roberts, 18, described himself as “very serious” about going to Rio with his Thoroughbred gelding Paleface. His score of 52.2 earned him third place and a subsequent bid to the Games. The precocious young rider has already made a trip to Brazil, riding in Young Riders in Brasília in 2002 at the FEI Children’s Jumper Championships.

Officials announced on June 7 that the remainder of their Pan Am contingent will be comprised of Kyle Carter with Madi-son Park, Sandra Donnelly with Buenos Aires, Jessica Phoenix with Exploring and Mike Winter with Kingpin.

Seven U.S. competitors, many of whom had already shown their stuff running around the  Rolex Kentucky CCI**** at the end of April, opted to skip the cross-country phase. Karen O’Connor rode crowd favorite Theodore O’Connor in dressage and show jumping, as did Will Faudree with his long-time partner
Antigua. Phillip Dutton also took cross-country day off, but guided Truluck and Connaught around the show jumping course on Sunday.

Mosser let her second advanced mount, Jenga, take cross-country day off. The pair got through the show jumping course fault-free, though the 14-year-old Thoroughbred jumped her clean out of the tack over the last oxer, and Mosser had to battle to stay onboard.

The show jumping tripped up a surprising number of competitors, with only two horses—Mosser’s Jenga and Donnelly’s Buenos Aires—leaving all the rails up. “It rode a lot harder than it walked,” noted Mosser of Sally Ike’s deceptively technical course, while Roberts dubbed the course “herky jerky.”

Spectators gasped as Kristin Bachman aimed Gryffindor at the wrong jump, nearly repeating the mistake that cost her the victory at the Rolex Kentucky CCI****, before redirecting him back on track at the last moment. Darren Chiacchia and Better I Do It slid from second to seventh after a refusal at an airy oxer.
Fourth-seated Becky Holder had a fall from Courageous Comet at the fifth fence, knocking her out of the competition, and Emilee Libby and Cahir misjudged the last jump, crashing through the oxer.

When asked which of her horses, Close The Deal, CCI***-winner Merloch or veteran Jenga, would be her pick if selected for Rio, Mosser hesitated. “They’re all amazing horses,” she explained. “They’re all the best in my eyes. I can ride them all.”
 
Mollie Bailey

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