Saumur, France—May 23
Competition officially kicked off today at the Saumur CCI*** with the first day of dressage. Seventeen combinations performed their dressage tests, and U.S. entries Hannah Sue Burnett and Marilyn Little propelled themselves into the top five following the first day of competition. Burnett is second and Little is fifth, while France’s Geoffroy Soullez leads aboard Madiran Du Liot HN (46.8).
Burnett, The Plains, Va., and Jacqueline Mars' Harbour Pilot (Cruising—Shannon) were the penultimate combination of the day but proved worth the wait as they scored 48.6 to lie in second place overnight. The 2012 Dansko Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.) winners have repeatedly shown a proficiency in the first phase when the stakes are at their highest and once again produced high quality work on Thursday.
“He was really good. We've been a little inconsistent this spring, so I rode him quite a bit this morning because he has been quite exuberant at his last two competitions. But he was all business from the first ride and went right in the ring and was rideable,” said Burnett of the 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding. “In hindsight I could have gone for it a little bit more in the trot, but the canter and changes were very good."
Looking towards Saturday's cross-country, Burnett believes course designer Pierre Michelet has built a demanding track.
“The course is good; it's big and pretty technical. There are six combinations of three strides," said Burnett. "I was impressed the first time I walked it, but I've walked it a couple more times, and it keeps looking better.”
Little, Frederick, Md., and RF Smoke on the Water were the first U.S. pair of the day before the ground jury of Sandy Phillips, Luciano Cantini and Catherine Agaesse. Raylyn Farms Inc. and Phoebe and Michael Manders' 8-year-old Wurttemburger (Samos—Rapaula, Rapaulo) gelding put in a polished effort to stand in fifth place on a score of 52.0.
Fellow Land Rover Competition Grant recipients Will Faudree, Hoffman, N.C., and Buck Davidson, Ocala, Fla., round out the U.S. effort at the Saumur CCI***. Faudree will ride Jennifer Mosing's Andromaque at 10:45 a.m. local time, while Davidson and Sherrie Martin's The Apprentice perform their test at 2 p.m.