Uncharacteristically strong, cold winds presented an extra challenge to competitors during the dressage phase of competition at the Red Hills Horse Trials in Tallahassee, Florida, the first event of the 2011 Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series.
Phillip Dutton and Susie Beale’s 14-year-old Oldenburg mare Isabella II performed a quiet, accurate test to beat out several other experienced pairs in the Adequan Gold Cup CIC3* division. Heading into cross-country, Dutton will strive to maintain the pair’s dressage score of 43.9 to stay ahead of Karen O’Connor and Joan Goswell's Mandiba, just two-tenths of a point behind. Allison Springer and her own Arthur also put in a solid score of 45.3, putting them in a close third place after dressage.
The Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series, now in its eighth year, includes seven events from across the country, giving top horse and rider combinations the chance to win prizes and cash throughout the season, as well as picking up leaderboard points. The top pair at the end of the Series takes home a check for $20,000. Learn more about the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series.
The winner of the CIC3*, the designated Adequan USEA Gold Cup division, will receive: a Gold Cup trophy, $500 in prize money, 7-dose box of Adequan, a three-month supply of SUCCEED, and a pair of Nunn Finer American Style open front boots. The second placed finisher will receive: a 7-dose box of Adequan and a pair of Nunn Finer American Style open front boots. Top finishers in this division also earn valuable points towards the year-end purse.
Julie Richards and Ben stayed calm while the wind whipped across the competition grounds to grasp first place after dressage with a score of 44.7 in the CIC2* division. Becky Holder and Rick Dunkerton’s Can’t Fire Me are second with a 47.1, followed closely by Hannah Sue Burnett and Jacqueline Mars’ Harbour Pilot.
Candace Tribe and Catalina were the only pair to break into the 40’s in the CIC1* division and hold a 3.9 point lead over Karen O’Connor and Cherubino as they leave the start box on cross-country tomorrow. Evil Munchkin behaved well in the weather for his rider Sable Giesler to place third after dressage on a score of 51.5
Jessica Phoenix and Exploring were originally entered in the CIC3*, but chose to compete in the Advanced division instead. This turned out to be a good choice because they currently hold the lead going into cross-country on an impressive score of 25.9. William Coleman III and Twizzel are hot on their heels with a 26.6, and Developing Rider Danielle Dichting and Tops placed third with 30.3 penalty points in dressage.
The Red Hills Horse Trials is also hosting Intermediate and Preliminary divisions this weekend. Katlyn McMorris and Clifton Peekachu scored a 29.2 for the lead in Open Intermediate-A. Mara DePuy and Chequers Macon posted the best score of the day, 24.0, for the lead in Open Intermediate-B. Andrew Palmer and Inamorato and Doug Payne and Camerlingo won the dressage competition in Open Preliminary-A and Open Preliminary-B respectively. April Simmonds and Sunday Best performed a winning test in the Preliminary Rider division, with 30.4 penalties.
The cross-country course at Red Hills is one of the most visually appealing in the country. The well-built fences wind through the hills in the shape of a cloverleaf, and Spanish moss hangs dramatically from the trees over many of the tracks. With a little help from Mother Nature, the course is in perfect shape for Saturday.
“This year, Hugh Lochore has done a fantastic job with all the courses,” Karen O’Connor said of the Scottish cross-country course designer. “We had heavy rains on Thursday and it made for a beautiful weekend; the footing couldn’t be better.”
Cross-country begins at 8:30AM on Saturday morning with the CIC1* and Preliminary divisions. The USEA Cardiovascular and Pulmonary study will be taking place at the cross-country finish line during Preliminary. The Gold Cup CIC3* division will begin before lunch, followed Advanced, CIC2*, and Intermediate divisions.
Despite the wind chill, many locals turned out to support the city park where the event takes place, and the trend is expected to continue throughout the weekend. “It’s a fantastic feeling that you have when the whole Tallahassee community gets involved,” Karen said. “A lot of people come to spectate that don’t know anything about horses, but they want to have a wonderful day at a beautiful sight like this.”
Thank you to the wonderful Adequan USEA Gold Cup Sponsors for this continued support of this exciting series: Adequan, Nunn Finer, Nutrena, Broadstone Equine Insurance, and SUCCEED.
Photos: Phillip Dutton & Isabella II; Karen O'Connor & Mandiba and Allison Springer & Arthur by Leslie Threlkeld