June 8—Bromont, Quebec
A big cross-country track and trying conditions in the Volvo Bromont CCI*** would seem to favor the more experienced horses in the field, but three-star rookie Obos O’Reilly jumped up for Will Coleman to take the lead (58.2) over four-star veterans Sally Cousins on Tsunami (64.2) and Kyle Carter on Madison Park (64.4). Dressage leaders Lauren Kieffer and Veronica fell to ninth place after a runout at the second corner in the arena.
Days of consistent rain coupled with heavy overnight downpours left parts of Derek di Grazia’s track in sloppy condition, and while the ground crew worked tirelessly throughout the day, adding gravel, digging drainage and filling in holes, they couldn’t best Mother Nature.
Coleman, who sat second after dressage, didn’t know what to expect from “Oboe,” who’d only done three advanced horse trials previously.
“He’d be the greenest horse here by a mile,” he said. “He’s never done a course 10 minutes long. The last CCI he did was two years ago here. It was a big ask for him, but he answered it. I’m thrilled and thrilled for the people who support the horse.”
The 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Obos Quality 004—Omard Clover Queen, Clover Hill) is owned by the Four-Star Eventing Group Syndicate, which includes Kristen and Andy Sparks, Jim Fitzgerald, the Booth family, and Coleman and his family. Coleman has had the ride on Oboe since the gelding was 4, but he sat out part of 2011 and 2012 due to an injury.
“Even though he was a little underprepared for this, his attitude and his bravado is such that I did feel like he’d go around,” said Coleman. “He jumped and ran his heart out. I was really proud of him. He’s been kind of overlooked his whole life, including by me a lot of the time. When it gets down to it on a day like today with crappy going and bad weather, he’s a fighter, and that’s what you needed today.”
It was a comeback story of sorts for the horses behind Coleman as well. Cousins’ Tsunami was headed to the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** six weeks ago, but she developed a fever on the way there and couldn’t compete.
“It took her a while to bounce back from it,” said Cousins. But the 14-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred mare (Roanoke—Tsu Tsu Slew, Tsunami Slew) was full of running today—she was the only horse to make time in the three-star, moving up from 17th to second.
“I didn’t have one sticky moment with her,” said Cousins. “She was super. She’s a very experienced horse. I could cut turns and wait to set up. She didn’t get tired. She jigged all the way back to the barn.”
And for Carter, just being there at all with Madison Park was a triumph, since the 15-year-old Thoroughbred slipped a tendon off his hock in the fall of 2011 and wasn’t expected to recover.
“It was hard for me to really push on him in that footing because of what he’s done for me and what I owe him,” said Carter. “The biggest deal to me was getting him home happy, healthy, strong and getting this out of the way. We did that. I didn’t come here not to do well, but the real question was what he’d come through it like. I was thrilled with it.”
In the 21-horse three-star field, 11 finished without jumping penalty. There were no falls, but Jeff Kibbie on Loki and Leslie Chelstrom on Cecelia were eliminated for stops on course. Loki stopped three times at the first element of the coffin at 7, and Cecelia quit out at the corner in the water at 11B. Rick Wallace retired Ultimate Victory at the drop at 14A after breaking the frangible pin on the back rail of the oxer at the fence before.
Watch a selection of the Bromont CCI cross-country courses:
However, there were serious problems in the CIC***, where four riders of nine fell off. Nicole Parkin fell from Lexus at the table at 17, as did Ian Roberts. Roberts was transported off the course. He suffered a broken pelvis and a serious concussion according to his son, Waylon, who’s leading the one-star on Yarrow.
“I think it was just coincidence two people had trouble [at fence 17],” said CIC*** leader Phillip Dutton. [Parkin] should have had one more stride, and I’m not sure what happened with Ian.”
Dutton was pleased with Ben, who maintained his dressage lead in the CIC*** despite 21.2 time faults. “He was actually galloping pretty well,” said Dutton. “I didn’t try to go too quick. I think by the fall he’ll be a speed demon. He’s not bred to go real fast, but he doesn’t get strong. You can save time on the approach.”
Dutton also sits in sixth in the CCI*** with Fernhill Fugitive. He opted not to run William Penn. "I was disappointed in that way it went yesterday [in the dressage], and I realized I’d rather save him," he said. "He’s coming back from an injury as well. I talked to [his owner Nina Gardner] this morning and thought it’d be better to get the dressage more consistent."
The CCI** went last in the day, incurring the worst of the weather as light mist turned to steady drizzle and then rain. Horses in the beginning of the division had a noticeably easier time of it than those who went at the end, with four of the last nine riders retiring. Of 23 starters, six retired and two fell off. Jennifer Simmons popped out of the tack and landed on her feet after GV Tuscany stopped at the second element of the bounce at 19. Anita Nemtin-Gilmour parted company with Topper at fence 22.
But where other riders incurred problems, Erin Sylvester found opportunity, charging up the leaderboard from 12th to first aboard Mettraise by incurring only 2.4 time penalties. Buck Davidson made a similar move, jumping from 20th to second on Knight Lion, the first horse out in the two-star division.
“The course certainly rode pretty tough,” said Sylvester. “The first five fences, that’s where she felt the most backed off. I rode that rail down to the house, and I had to cluck to her and make sure she was going to stay honest there. She needed two minutes to understand that that’s how the going was for the day, and she was scopey enough to jump out of it, and she could absolutely do it. Once she had the long run down to 6 and the first coffin, she got really feisty and confident that she could do whatever.”
“Missy” is the first horse Sylvester’s had that she didn’t bring up the levels herself. She bought her from the team at True Prospect Farm in Unionville, Pa., last year as a going preliminary horse.
“This would be my fourth intermediate on her and seventh event I’ve done with her. I don’t know her that well. She’s always trying so hard for me,” said Sylvester of the 9-year-old Thoroughbred (Metfield—Spin A Yard, Huckster).
Sylvester’s one-star ride, Paddy The Caddy, caused some drama for her before the start of cross-country. He pulled a shoe in the warm-up, and she had to take him back to the stabling so the farrier could replace it.
“In retrospect, I’m so happy it happened in warm-up because it would’ve happened on course. He would’ve kept running, and I’m scared he would’ve hurt himself,” she said. “I jumped a jump, and I looked down and thought, ‘There’s a shoe on the ground there.’ I started thinking, ‘I just rode that line maybe a minute ago.’ So I pulled up and asked my girls if I had my shoe, and I didn’t.
“They ended up putting me at the end of the division,” continued Sylvester. “They were really good about it. I was nervous about that. He’s a baby. I wanted the warm-up to go perfectly and then head right up to the start, and that is not what happened!”
Regardless of the rocky start, Frank McEntee’s 6-year-old Irish Thoroughbred (Azamore—Slamy) jumped around his first one-star with no issues, moving up to second place on a double-clear round.
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