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O’Neal and Fury H Blaze Around Ocala Jockey Club CCI**

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Reddick, Fla.—Nov. 17

Two-star riders were a bit taken aback to find that their CCI** cross-country course was 10 minutes long at the Ocala Jockey Club International, but by the end of today, their fears were eased as Clayton Fredericks’ course rode well, and most horses and riders came home happy.

Alex O’Neal admitted he planned Fury H’s fitness around an expected 9-minute course, but he and the 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (San Remo—Miss Marple, Maurice) easily cruised home inside the time almost 30 seconds fast to maintain their overnight lead.

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Alex O’Neal and Fury H. Lindsay Berreth Photo

“I think you need to sit back and look at who’s designing the course,” he said. “It’s a four-star rider, an Olympian, a World Games gold medalist. He knows what he’s doing, and if he thinks 10 minutes is going to suit, then it will—and obviously it did. I thought the horses looked great coming in. Mine felt great coming in. I think it’s going to be an exciting day tomorrow. I think we’ve all got to give applause to Clayton because he definitely had a trick up his sleeve. He had everybody freaking out last night, and here we are. Everyone’s happy and the horses look good.”

The gelding became O’Neal’s horse after his wife, Elinor, gave him the ride when “Marvin” got a bit too big for her.

“He’s a total beast, and that’s something I’ve had to get used to,” said O’Neal. “I’m used to having to push horses along the whole way. Once I get out and jump five fences I just kind of stay there, and he’s such a big horse that you just have to trust the rhythm and trust that it’s going to work, take your time in the combinations, and he’s going to keep traveling. It ends up being really efficient.”

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Doug Payne and Starr Witness maintained their second place. Lindsay Berreth Photo

Twenty-two of 35 finishers made it inside the optimum time. Katie Ruppel retired Greek Empire after one refusal at fence 13, the troublesome double skinny brushes set on a four-stride line, and Clark Montgomery retired Caribbean Soul after one refusal at the same fence. Natasha Erschen and FE Gran Torino were eliminated for refusals, and there was one horse fall when Alexandra Knowles fell from her last ride Business Class at fence 2, but both were up quickly.

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“I think the first couple of minutes you had to come out and ride really positive and forward because there were some big tables,” said O’Neal. “By the time you got to the first water you wanted to be moving. I think everybody came out really positive, and the horses liked how nice the ground was. It was warm but it wasn’t hot. I think everybody came out really positive, and by the time their horses were tired they just looked after them and the time was quite achievable.”

The first horse inspection starts at 8 a.m. tomorrow, and CCI** show jumping begins at 2:30 p.m.

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Full Results/COTH Coverage/Live Stream/Start Times

We’re on site at the Ocala Jockey Club all weekend to bring you news, photos and results from the final FEI event of the year in the U.S. Check back all weekend for more, and if you know of a good story, email lberreth@coth.com!

Check out the Dec. 10 print edition of The Chronicle for much more.

2018 Ocala Jockey Club - CCI** Cross-Country

Lindsay Berreth / November 17, 2018 9:01 pm

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