Bromont, Quebec – Jonathan Holling of Ocala, FL, leads the CCI3* division of the Volvo CCI3* Bromont Three Day Event, The Todd Sandler Challenge, following the cross-country phase of competition held Saturday, June 9, in Bromont, Quebec. Often described as the triathlon of equestrian sports, eventing requires the same horse-rider combination to complete three phases competition - dressage, cross-country and show jumping.
Holling took the lead following the opening phase of dressage with Downtown Harrison, an eight-year-old Trakehner gelding. During Saturday’s cross-country phase, Holling added 4.8 time penalties to his dressage score to comfortably maintain his lead with a total of 50.8 penalties.
“Bromont is a true three star and it’s always a test of horsemanship,” said Holling. “I walked the course last night with (2000 Olympic Champion) David O’Connor because I ride with him at home. We talked about a few lines, all of which walked the way they rode. They were quite tough. This was my horse’s first three star competition, and I didn’t know if he would push through and gallop past the seven or eight minute mark.”
Heading into Sunday’s final show jumping phase, Holling hopes to keep his lead with Downtown Harrison, who is owned by his mother, Connie Holling.
“He’s historically been a pretty good show jumper, but this was the biggest cross-country course he’s jumped around,” Holling noted. “And it’s never easy when you have Phillip Dutton breathing down your neck.”
Two-time Olympic team gold medalist Phillip Dutton of West Grove, PA, currently sits in second position with 58.4 penalty points riding Atlas. Kevin Keane, an equine veterinarian who also hails from West Grove, PA, moved up the leader board from eighth after dressage to third place on Fernhill Flutter. Keane, who added just 0.4 of a time penalty to his dressage score for a total of 58.6 penalties, posted the fastest time of the division, which saw none of the 17 competitors make the optimum time of 9 minutes, 54 seconds over Derek di Grazia’s demanding course measuring 5,640 meters. Two more Americans, Boyd Martin riding Trading Aces with 58.8 penalties and Caitlin Silliman with 66.2 penalties riding Catch A Star, round out the top five.
In the CIC3* division, Karen O’Connor of The Plains, VA, holds the lead riding Mr. Medicott, a 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by the Mr. Medicott Syndicate. An Olympic silver and bronze team medalist, O’Connor was one of only three riders to finish the 3,820 meter cross-country course inside the optimum time of six minutes and 42 seconds, adding nothing to her dressage score of 43 penalties.
“I had a fantastic day,” said O’Connor of her flawless cross-country round riding a horse she has only had for six months. “My horse allowed both rideability and adjustability. I think he was a happy horse and had a good time. I’m really excited about my partnership with him.”
O’Connor will go into Sunday’s final show jumping phase with a margin of one show jumping rail ahead of her two closest rivals in the CIC3* division. Lying second with 47.4 penalties is Will Faudree of Hoffman, NC, riding Andromaque. Faudree is also in fourth place with Pawlaw on 49.8 penalties while last year’s CCI3* Bromont Three Day Event winners, Clark Montgomery of Fairburn, GA, and Loughan Glen, are in third place with 48 penalties. Marilyn Little-Meredith of Frederick, MD, is currently fifth with RF Demeter on a score of 52.6 penalties.
The Volvo Bromont CCI3* Three Day Event, one of North America’s most prestigious three day events, is the final North American outing for athletes seeking a berth at the 2012 Olympic Games. The results of the CCI3* and CIC3* divisions will help American and Canadian Team selectors determine their representatives for London.
While at the same level in terms of fence height and technical difficulty, the CCI3* and CIC3* divisions differ in the length of the cross-country course. Since 2009, di Grazia of Carmel Valley, CA, has had the responsibility of designing Bromont’s cross-country courses, assisted by course builder Jay Hambly of Canada.
“Generally in the three star divisions the problems were spread around the course,” said di Grazia.
The CIC3* division, added this year at the request of the Canadian and United States Eventing Team selectors, meant a different course had to be designed and built among Bromont Olympic Park’s hilly terrain. Despite being added in 2012 for Olympic selection and training purposes, di Grazia said, “I think we’ll keep building on and developing that in future years.”
Three Canadians sit in the top 10 in the CIC3* division. Michelle Mueller of Port Perry, ON, is eighth riding Amistad with 60.2 penalties while last year’s CCI2* division winner, Rebecca Howard of Salmon Arm, BC, is ninth. Riding Riddle Master, her 2010 World Equestrian Games partner, Howard was sitting in 22nd position following dressage, but a clear cross-country round moved her up into ninth position with a total of 62.6 penalties. Danica Moore of Salmon Arm, BC, is currently in tenth position on 64 penalties riding Utah B.
In addition to leading the CIC3* division, O’Connor riding Mandiba is tied for the lead in the CCI2* division with Will Coleman riding Zipp. Both American riders currently have a score of 47.9 penalties. American Danielle Dichting is third with 48.8 penalties riding The Graduate.
Attracting a total of 56 entries, the CCI1* is the largest division at the Volvo CCI3* Bromont Three Day Event. Alison Springer of the United States riding Eclipse maintained her lead from dressage, posting a clear cross-country round inside the optimum time for a two-day total of 42.8 penalties. Moving up from third to second position was American Doug Payne on Royal Tribute with 45.9 penalties, while Buck Davidson, also of the United States, sits third on 47.5 penalties with Copper Beach.
Following the final horse inspection on Sunday morning, all four divisions of the 2012 Volvo CCI3* Bromont Three Day Event will contest the third and final phase of show jumping. The show jumping courses will be designed by Canadian course designer J.P. Ayotte.
This 26th edition of the Volvo Bromont CCI3* is generously supported by a number of sponsors, including title sponsor Volvo and Beaulieu Canada.
The Volvo Bromont CCI3* Three Day Event, The Todd Sandler Challenge, is made possible in part through a contribution from the Government of Canada. The organizing committee also wishes to thank the Gouvernement du Québec, Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport, for their support of this year’s event.
For more information about the Bromont Three Day Event, including live scoring, please visit the bilingual website, www.bromontcci.com.
Photos: Jonathan Holling of the United States riding Downtown Harrison leads the CCI3* division of the Volvo CCI3* Bromont Three Day Event following cross-country on June 9 in Bromont, Quebec; Karen O’Connor of the United States riding Mr. Medicott head the CIC3* division of the Volvo CIC3* Bromont Three Day Event following cross-country on June 9 in Bromont, Quebec. Photo Credits – Cealy Tetley, www.tetleyphoto.com