New Jersey's Most Important Eventing Fixture Showcases Top Riders

Saturday, May 8, 2010
Posted by Nancy Jaffer, Star Ledger

Phillip Dutton, the biggest name in U.S. eventing at the moment, will headline this week's Jersey Fresh Three-Day Event at the Horse Park of New Jersey in Allentown.

He's coming off a second-place finish with Woodburn at last weekend's Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, the only 4-star-rated eventing competition in the country. Because the winner, William Fox-Pitt of Great Britain on Cool Mountain is a foreigner, Dutton earned the U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation's Pinnacle Award as the top-placing American.
Dutton, an Australian Olympic gold medalist before becoming a U.S. citizen, will be riding Truluck at Jersey Fresh. That horse and Woodburn were named to the "A" section of the U.S. high performance training list with an eye toward developing a team for this fall's Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games at the Rolex venue, the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

The Pennsylvanian also will be aboard his 2008 Rolex winner, Connaught, and Inmidair, a promising horse usually ridden by Jan Byyny who has been sidelined by a bad accident.

Jersey Fresh, a WEG selection trial for the U.S. squad, offers both 2-star and 3-star divisions, which enables a rider as busy as Dutton to spread his mounts around.

While the Pennsylvanian likes the event, he noted, "It hasn't quite grown to the potential you'd think it has. It's in a good area where you could get a crowd. It hasn't lit up and taken off yet, but hopefully that might change this year."

A big effort in that direction is being made by PRO, a new professional riders' group aimed at promoting the sport. Jersey Fresh is part of the recently launched PRO tour, and as such, is providing a variety of family activities.There will be an expanded trade fair and a whole Jersey Fresh agricultural offering that includes fresh flowers and plants, as well as honey and alpacas. At lunchtime next Sunday, an exhibition game of polocrosse, a blend of polo and lacrosse, will be played with eventers taking part.

Adult spectators also can drive the Kubota Tractor obstacle course challenge, in effect testing their own cross-country prowess.

Jersey Fresh benefts ReRun Inc., which find homes for thoroughbred ex-racehorses. The organization will be hosting a dinner and silent auction Saturday night, with admission open to all for $15.

Others riders to watch at Jersey Fresh include Doug Payne of Oldwick and Kristen Schmolze of Califon, as well as Buck Davidson, one of the favorites to make the WEG team, and Californian Tiana Coudray on Ringwood Magister, winner of the 3-star last month at Galway Downs in California. .

Admission to Jersey Fresh is free for the dressage phase 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and $20 per carload Saturday, when cross-country runs 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and Sunday, when show jumping starts at 10:30 a.m. Weekend tailgating spaces go for $30 per car.

For more information, go to horseparkofnewjersey.com.

ON THE RAIL -- It's been a year since 3-star winner Icarus and Michael Pollard took their victory gallop at Jersey Fresh, but they have been in limbo since the steroid Winstral was found when the horse was drug tested.

Pollard was suspended until mid-September 2009, but there has been no decision on whether the horse should be taken down as the winner.

A ruling is expected soon from the FEI (international equestrian federation). A preliminary panel looking at the case noted Pollard "obviously relied solely on the advice of his veterinarian" in the administration of the prohibited substance to his horse. The FEI has been examining expert reports and scientific evidence before deciding whether to refer the case to a tribunal for a formal hearing.

The Rutgers Young Horse Program will continue next year with six to eight mustangs, according to Sarah Ralston, the professor who oversees the project in which students learn while training their equine charges.

All the horses in this year's program, which included mustangs for the first time, sold at an auction in New Brunswick last weekend. Two draft crosses went for the highest amount, $2,000. Two horses that did not sell originally eventually found new homes after Rick Wills of Rick's Saddle Shop offered to give the buyers 10 bags of feed.

Ralston is off to a good start for the "class" of 2011; she already has three pledges of sponsorship.

Palermo Show Stables in Bedminster is holding its $20,000 grand prix today at 3 p.m., with routes laid out by two-time Olympic course designer Olaf Petersen. Want more show jumping? The Garden State Horse Show's $50,000 grand prix is Saturday after 4 p.m. at the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta.

Oliver Townend of Great Britain is finally back at home. His quest for the $350,000 Rolex Grand Slam ended ingloriously in a "crunching" fall last weekend with Ashdale Cruise Master at Rolex Kentucky, He is barred from competing for two more weeks because he was knocked unconscious in his tumble.

Townend, who had a successful cross-country run earlier in the day at Rolex on ODT Master Rose, had to skip this weekend's 4-star Badminton event but could not have ridden his top mount, Carousel Quest, anyway, because the horse suffered a slight injury while training and had missed work.

Townend wound up with a cracked sternum, collarbone, shoulder and ribs, but noted he was saved from more serious injury by his inflatable safety vest.

Commenting, "I am lucky to have survived," Townend said, "I was really pleased with both horses to the point of disaster; at the same time, we'll all live to fight another day."

Photo: Phillip Dutton and Truluck,, a prospect for the USA's Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games team, are among the stars competing in the Jersey Fresh event this week   Nancy Jaffer/For The Star-Ledger