LEXINGTON, Ky.--Boyd Martin of Cochranville, Pa., was defending his 2019 win in the USEA American Eventing Championships, and he did so successfully, winning the $60,000 Advanced Final title, but it wasn’t with the same horse.
After leading the dressage with Long Island T, Martin fell off on the cross-country, but he then returned and jumped a clear cross-country round with On Cue.
Martin started in eighth place On Cue but moved up to fourth after adding only 6.4 time penalties to his dressage score of 27.3.
Bobby Murphy’s show jumping course under the lights in front of a packed Rolex Stadium proved very influential to the top of the standings, and when Buck Davidson of Unionville, Pa., had a rail on both his second and third-placed mounts and the overnight leader, Fylicia Barr, dropped two rails, it opened the door for Martin and On Cue to take the win and a check for $30,000.
“To be honest, coming into the show jumping phase tonight I didn’t think I was going to win,” Martin said. “There were plenty of good horses and riders ahead of me and it is a very high-pressure event.”
THE MARE is one that Martin is no stranger to riding the victory gallop with, having come in the top-placed American horse at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day event earlier this year.
“I am just thrilled with On Cue, she is everything you dream of in a horse— she’s a mover, she’s a galloper, she’s sensitive, she’s elegant, she’s bright, and I’m just blessed to have her, she’s been on fire this year,” he said.
“I think the AEC this year has been incredible,” he said. “It is an awesome venue, and the competition was stiff with several good competitors jumping clear just before me, but it is a brilliant event and I can’t thank the USEA enough for putting it on.”
Doug Payne and Quantum Leap made a steady climb up the leaderboard throughout the competition starting in 14th and ending up second.
“He’s a special horse,” Payne said of the horse he has had since he was a yearling.
“I think he is an incredible athlete, and I’m beyond excited for the future," said Payne. "I’ve got to echo Boyd in that I think this venue is one of the best in the country, and for the future of this sport.”
Following a successful finish in the Bates USEA Preliminary Horse division the day before, Liz Halliday-Sharp on Cooley Quicksilver finished third.
“He just keeps getting better,” Halliday-Sharp said. “He loves a big atmosphere and I think I also got a little excited about the crowd; when I finished tonight, I got a bit excited like ‘wow we have a crowd again’.”
“This is actually my first AEC event as I have been in England for so many years,” said Halliday-Sharp. “It has been so much fun, and to be able to have it here at Kentucky Horse Park has been an incredible opportunity for all of the horses and riders to get into these iconic rings.”
While Davidson’s rails dropped him off the podium he still finished in fourth with Jak My Style.