Phillips Nails The Event at TerraNova CCI4*-S Win

Alyssa Phillips and Oskar move up a spot from dressage to capture the win.
Event at TerraNova CCI4*-S
Alyssa Phillips (USA) and Oskar took the win of the Galati Yacht Sales CCI4*-S. ©Shannon Brinkman Photo

March 30, 2024—Alyssa Phillips (USA) of Fort Worth, Texas, won The Event at TerraNova CCI4*-S Saturday aboard Oskar (Coriando x Nicole), a 15-year-old 16.2-hand bay Holsteiner gelding.

The Galati Yacht Sales CCI4*-S, presented by B&D Builders, was at the TerraNova Equestrian Center in Myakka City, Florida.

Jessica Phoenix (CAN) of Cannington, Ontario, finished second, with Freedom GS (Humble GS x Friedel GS), a 12-year-old 16.1-hand bay Trakehner/Oldenburg gelding. Lauren Nicholson (USA) of Ocala, Florida, placed third with I’ll Have Another (Gaultjers x Kameja), an 11-year-old 16.3-hand dark bay Latvian Warmblood gelding owned by Brandye Randermann.

Cross Country: Beginning of the Course

The course’s 34 jumping efforts unrolled invitingly on the TerraNova terrain. Creative technical questions posed stiff challenges, but they offered options that some riders found saved the day.

FEI 3*/4* Course Designer Alec Lochore’s goal was to create a “nice galloping open start to the course.” He said he placed the first combination at fences five and six “so the course would begin with a test but on a really positive, forward stride.”

Phillips said that before setting out on the course, some riders were questioning how to ride that combination. “It was designed to be ridden in three and four [strides]. We considered that, but most of us changed our minds and did five and four. It worked out really well.”

The combination led to a big solid oxer constructed of thick logs. The route then required four committed strides on a straight line to a brush open ditch. Riders could tailor the distance by jumping to the left or the right side of a parallel there.

Event at TerraNova CCI4*-S
Jessica Phoenix (CAN) and Freedom GS moved up to finish in second place from fifth after a successful cross-country round in the Galati Yacht Sales CCI4*-S. ©Shannon Brinkman Photo

Cross Country: Middle and Final Sections Course

The middle of the course presented a brush oxer and two rails jumped on an angle. At the top of the slope, horses ran immediately down on two strides to the second element. “I wanted the slope to set the horses up so they would just pop over it, and then the riders would be able to sit up and go down to the angle. It’s just about being controlled in this environment,” said Lochore.

About the last portion of the course, he said, “They’ve really got to get going. They’ve had some technical jumps, and now comes the second last of the really technical jumps. They’ve got a big spread jump at the bottom of the slope, four strides up the slope to this pretty skinny little wedge at the top. Horses can’t see where they’re going to land. They can see that the ground is running away after them, and then they land, and then there are three quite gentle strides down to the frangible rails wedge at the bottom of the hill. This is about power over the first jump, accuracy and bravery over the top jump, and control down the slope.”

Event at TerraNova CCI4*-S
Lauren Nicholson (USA) and I’ll Have Another, in 19th place after stadium jumping, finished in third place after cross-country in the Galati Yacht Sales CCI4*-S. ©Roya Brinkman for Shannon Brinkman Photo

Alyssa Phillips on Dressage and Jumping

Phillips and Oskar had stood in second on Thursday with a dressage score of 29.3 aboard Oskar (Coriando x Nicole), a 16.2 hand bay Holsteiner gelding. They were behind Olympian Leslie Law (GBR) of Ocala, Florida, and Lady Chatterly, a 13-year-old bay mare owned by Jackie and Steve Brown.

Phillips was pleased with Oskar’s dressage test. “He has become so reliable in the ring and is acting as a professional these days. It’s nice to be able to go into the ring and show him off now.”

Event at TerraNova CCI4*-S
Phillips and Oskar were in second place after dressage in The Event at TerraNova CCI4*-S. ©Shannon Brinkman Photo

Phillips then took the lead after show jumping Friday She deftly piloted Oskar across course designer Chris Barnard’s flowing 4*-S course. She was thrilled with Oskar’s performance and called preparing him for the CCI4*-S “a work in progress because he is a bit stronger when the show jumping phase comes before cross country. I’ve worked really hard on that this winter.”

She said the CCI4*-S course was a difficult show jumping track but found that it rode extremely well. “There were spots when you had to wait a bit, but the time was also tight, so you needed to keep the energy throughout the course. At the same time, you needed to get there perfectly so the horse was able to cover the distances. It was a great track and it was really fun to ride around.”

Show Jumping Course Explained

Event at TerraNova CCI4*-S
Phillips and Oskar moved into first place after show-jumping in The Event at TerraNova CCI4*-S. ©Shannon Brinkman Photo

Most riders found the first part of the course relatively clear sailing, but the lines and combinations in the middle posed serious questions. Several riders overreached by trying to finish within the time allowed of 80 seconds. From start to finish, the pace and striding were exacting. The consensus among riders was that the course was a very fair test and that it readied the horses for the cross-country phase on Saturday.

This was the first course Barnard has designed at TerraNova Equestrian Center. “I’m a big believer in the standard – making sure that everything’s up to standard, the height, the width, everything,” he said. “Even though it’s early in the season, it’s still a 4*. So I like to make sure that it’s big enough and wide enough. My philosophy is building courses that flow. I just try to have a course that’s big enough, bold enough, and that encourages forward riding.”

Barnard characterized the time allowed as a tool that a course designer has to make the course a bit more difficult. “If you make them be a little swift, then they can’t take their time and get the perfect distance. They’ve got to bear that in mind,” he said. “So when the time is a little tight, the riders tend to rush a couple of bits and pieces and therefore, might make a little mistake or the horse gets a rail down. If the time allowed is a bit generous, then they can all take their time, and a lot of these riders are good enough to manipulate the whole course to have a clear round.”

The TerraNova Experience

Watch below for a video of Phillips riding Oskar around the cross-country course at The Event at TerraNova and share her experience.

Phillips called her experience at TerraNova “wonderful,” adding, “It’s always a treat to come here. Every time I’ve come, new improvements have been made, and they’re all absolutely fantastic. The turf on the cross-country course is the best that I’ve ever seen it, and it made it really fun to run across.

“I appreciate all the effort that everybody involved put into the event – the organizers, the volunteers, the TerraNova staff, the owners – everybody’s put a lot into this venue. People should make this a place they come to every year because it’s a very spectacular venue. I’ll definitely be back next year.”

Phillips also won the Open Preliminary division with Keep Calm (Biscayo x Beauty), a 9-year-old 16.2-hand bay Dutch Warmblood gelding, and placed third in The Estates at TerraNova CCI3*-S with Cornelius Bo (Concours Complet x Charlotte), a 10-year-old 16.2 hand bay Hanoverian gelding. Phillips owns all three horses.

Lauren Nicholson also won the CCI3*-S with Larcot Z (L’arc de Triomphe x Kocote de la Londe), an 11-year-old 16.1-hand bay Zangersheide gelding owned by Jacqueline Mars.

Several competitors at The Event at TerraNova are on the entry lists for the Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI5* and the Cosequin Lexington CCI4*-S at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. The event will be April 25-28, 2024.

For complete results, click here.

Thanks to Kent Nutrition Group and Blue Seal for our coverage of the 2024 Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event, including rider interviews, competition reports, horse spotlights, photos, videos and more.

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