Unionville, PA - Lauren Kieffer and Veronica started out the first day of Plantation Field International Horse Trials on a high note, scoring 31.8 to lead the small yet talented Advanced division after dressage. After placing second at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event in April, Kieffer and Veronica were named to the U.S. World Equestrian Games squad in addition to receiving a Land Rover Competition Grant to the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials.
Unfortunately, a minor setback forced Kieffer to withdraw the mare from Burghley, and competing here at Plantation Field is their first major competition together since Kentucky. "She's been fit and ready for awhile, and she was pumped to be back out in the ring today," Kieffer said. "She was pretty saucy, but, luckily, she still performs and went in and did her job.
Veronica typically excels in this phase, and Kieffer said she's generally predictable in the ring in that she goes in and does her job every time.
"Kentucky was definitely a case where she peaked at the right time, and she came out of Kentucky where we left her," Kieffer said. "So now we're trying to maintain that and build on it."
Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda are sitting in second place in the Advanced division on a score of 32.4, and she said the gelding is feeling incredibly fit right now due to his new training regimen of galloping at the racetrack."
"He's the fittest he's ever been, which is great, and I want him really fit going into Fair Hill, but I definitely felt like he was a bit more up in the ring today," she said.
Brannigan said she knew Kieffer would be very strong in this phase and wasn't surprised to be sitting behind her in second place, especially with Cambalda being a bit fresh during his test. "I was pleased enough with the score considering I thought I left a lot of points on the table," Brannigan said. "I'm excited because I think the horse is well and coming into his prime years, and hopefully this new fitness will help him."
The first half of the large CIC2* division also did dressage today, with Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous leading on a score of 42.4, followed by Will Faudree and Caeleste on on 43.0. Both mares are new to their respective riders and stepped up to the plate today with lovely tests.
In the Intermediate division, local rider Matt Flynn leads with Baronto on 30.8, with Lauren Kieffer and Meadowbrook's Scarlett in second place on 31.3, and Michelle Warro and the off-track Thoroughbred Not Without Me in third on 32.1.
The action continues tomorrow when the 50-strong Adequan USEA Gold Cup/PRO Tour Series CIC3* division, which starts with dressage at 8 a.m. EST. CIC2* dressage continues tomorrow, and the CIC* will also kick off, along with the National divisions.
Full results, a schedule and ride times for the weekend are available at www.plantationfieldhorsetrials.com. Be sure to "like" Plantation Field on Facebook and follow the event on Twitter @PlantationField.