LEESBURG, Va.--Cross-country shook up the CCI4*-L leaderboard on Saturday, Oct. 8, at the Morven Park Fall International CCI & Horse Trials, with Tamra Smith and Solaguayre California now leading with a score of 29.7 heading into the third and final day.
Will Coleman and Gin Tonic HS currently are second with a score of 32.2, and as one of only three double-clear efforts, Mia Farley and Phelps made the biggest leap up the leaderboard, moving from 15th to third on a score of 34.4.
“My horses were awesome,” said Smith, who has been partnered with Solaguayre California, an 11-year-old Holsteiner mare, for a little over two years. “California was the first out, which is good practice since it throws in another element to the whole mix because you don't get to know how the course is riding. California is such an athlete and just jumped around and was fast. I was super pleased with her. She’s a fighter, and she wants to do it. I think today was a lot about our partnership and her trusting me. It was awesome that she read all the jumps and jumped in.”
For the second year in a row, the track for the CCI4*-L was set by renowned course designer Derek di Grazia, and it once again posed many challenging questions across Morven Park’s varied terrain.
“IT WAS HARD," said Smith of the course. “It rode like a typical Derek di Grazia track where everything looks really readable and right there, and then you get out there and it's a lot harder than it seems.”
“What Derek has done, which I think is masterful, is created combinations in which you're not sure what the stride's going to be," said Smith. "You can't anticipate how they're going to react to something like the Leaf Pit. They jump down, and you might end up too big. So, I think what's really cool about the course is it really helps riders have to dig into that instinct of riding. I think there was a fair bit of trouble out there today.”
Friday’s front runner, Sharon White on Claus 63, was one of the nine who ran into trouble on course, with a fall at the Devoucoux Frog Pond eliminating her and opening the door for Coleman on Hyperion Stud’s Gin Tonic HS to move into second.
“It’s a great course,” said Coleman. “Derek has built something that’s going to help us develop five-star horses in this country. I feel like that's something we were lacking at the four-star level. It’s really nice to have this place and a course like that for our future horses. He used the terrain really well and gave the horse a wonderful education.”
After jumping up into third place on David O’Connor’s Phelps, Farley expressed similar sentiments.
“I thought it rode really well for the horses that were able to see everything and understand it,” said Farley, who has ridden Phelps since the 9-year-old thoroughbred gelding was 4. “There were turns to help me set him up. He was wonderful. He went around really well. He’s such an underdog. I just feel like I've been along for the ride with him. He's been great to be with.”
Aboard her own BGS Calculated Chaos, Farley won the CCI2*YH-S division with a score of 28.5.
In addition to the young horse prize money, Farley also received a $750 bonus as the top U25 athlete in the CCI2* divisions.
Finishing in second place in the CCI2*YH-S was Julie Wolfert on Namibia with a score of 32.4, and Sara Schulman on Cooly Chromatic’s score of 33.1 placed her third.
Cosby Green climbed the rankings in the CCI4*-S to win on Copper Beach, finishing on a score of 45.8, followed by Julie Wolfert on SSH Playboy, second on a score 50.6, and Buck Davidson on Electric was third on a score of 52.1
Victory in the CCI3*YH-S division went to Lauren Nicholson on Landmark's Jungle's Gold, with a score of 36.4.
Woods Baughman on Kamara CFF finished a close second with a score of 36.6, while Ryan Wood on Check Point was third with a score of 38.5.
Lucienne Bellissimo had just two time faults on cross-country on Dyri to win the CCI3*-S championship, finishing with a score of 28.2.
Hannah Sue Hollberg on Carsonstown finished just a fraction over the time for second on a score of 31.0, and Cosby Green on Jos UFO De Quidam scored 31.9 for third.
Smith continued her top performances for the week with Kynan, leading the CCI2*-S from start to finish to win the division by finishing on her dressage score of 24.4.
Matthew Brown on Riverview Starboy also finished on his dressage score of 24.9 to place second, while Ariel Grald on Diara was also clear through each phase for third with a score of 27.4.