Richland, MI - The Richland Park CIC and Horse Trials wrapped up with influential show jumping in all of the divisions on Sunday, but none more than in the USEF Mandatory Outing for the 2011 Land Rover USEF Eventing Team. The 14 short-listed horses tackled the Advanced show jumping track and proved a test of accuracy and scope.
Leading off with a large triple bar, course designer Marc Donavon asked for forward riding from the beginning. When the last fence was jumped, the top three spots of the exciting group of young horses and up-and-coming riders were filled by horses that show jumped clear.
The classiest effort of the division belonged the eventual winner: Shannon Lilley rode Ballingowan Pizzaz confidently around the course and the 9-year-old chestnut gelding jumped a dazzling clear round. "He's a very good show jumper and he always has been," said Lilley. "He usually warms up well but then he goes in the ring and is that much better. He was stronger today in the show jumping than he's been so I felt like I had to do a few more half halts to get him to jump clean - but he does jump well."
Owned by The Lilley Group, Ballingowan Pizzaz jumped to the top spot after the winners of the dressage and the overnight leader after the cross country, Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot, rolled two rails to drop to fourth. Lilley and Ballingowan Pizzaz finished on their dressage score of 47.10, making their trip from Gilroy, CA, worth every mile. "The weekend was phenomenal," said Lilley. "The organizers did a great job to make this well worth the trip. The courses were fantastic. Ian (Stark) designs a great course and the course builders did a great job as always."
She has had the Pan American Games as a goal since she bought Ballingowan Pizzaz last fall. Lilley imported him for a client when he was a 5-year-old. He then was sold to another client, who then decided to go to veterinary school. Lilley was determined to keep the horse in the barn and put the Lilley Group together to do so.
"I knew I had to figure out a way to keep him," said Lilley. "When I bought him, to help with getting (the syndicate) put together, I did cite the Pan Ams as a goal. I work with Dayna Lynde-Pugh and we planned that if this hadn't worked out the fall CCI3* at Galway would be the plan. He has a really good base at the CCI2* level so I felt like the move up to the advanced would be pretty seamless."
Michael Pollard and his wife Nathalie's Schoensgreen Hanni also jumped an immaculate clear round to move from fifth to second. The 8-year-old mare galloped and jumped her way up the leaderboard to add just 8/10ths of a time fault on the cross country to her dressage score of 49.1. Nathalie rode the Dutch mare herself at the beginning of her career but is currently pregnant with the couple's fourth child.
Pollard left quickly after he jumped his Intermediate horse to fly to England to ride Icarus at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials which begin on Wednesday. Pollard will be contesting the prestigious CCI4* for the first time, he was a recipient of a Land Rover Competition and Training Grant.
Lynn Symansky and Donner improved throughout the weekend and ended up on their dressage score of 50.50. An 8-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, Donner won the 2010 Intermediate American Eventing Championship last fall and has continued to progress confidently.
Six of the horses jumped clear out of the 14 starters, after they jumped the Advanced cross country course on Saturday, and performed the CIC2* dressage test on Thursday.
The 2011 Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team for the Pan American Games is expected to be named Tuesday after tomorrow's veterinary evaluations. The Pan American Games will be held in Guadalajara, Mexico October 14-30. Please visit: www.guadalajra2011.mx for more information.
Photo: Shannon Lilley and Ballingowan Pizzaz. Stockimageservices.com.