All 14 of the CCI4*-L entries left the cross-country start box. Of those, 10 finished the course with two rider falls and two retiring on course. One of those falls was Buck Davidson, second after dressage, who came off Business Class at the first water complex. Both horse and rider were uninjured. Davidson remounted and walked off course. Leader Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Moonshine completed the course with no jumping faults and 6.4 time faults. Unfortunately, the horse pulled both front shoes while on course. Halliday-Sharp posted on Instagram that “While he tackled the course very well, it became apparent once his adrenaline had come down that he was quite sore from running without front shoes for most of the course.” Doing the best thing for her horse, she withdrew Cooley Moonshine from the competition.
James Alliston Inherits the Lead
Six of the completions did not have jumping penalties, but only two went double-clear. James Alliston with Karma and Madison Temkin with MVP Madbum were those two envious combinations.
With the withdrawal of Cooley Moonshine, Alliston’s score of 32.6 moved him into the lead. The double-clear round for Temkin vaulted her from 10th place into second with a score of 38.4. Jessica Phoenix and Fluorescent Adolescent also went clear but had 3.6 time penalties. On a score of 39.3, she moved up from sixth to third.
The U.S.-bred Karma, who is owned by Alliston Equestrian, most recently won the Advanced level division at the Twin Rivers Summer Horse Trials in California and earlier this season was eighth in the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event CCI4*-S. This event marked her debut at the 4*-L level.
“I was thrilled with her,” Alliston said of his mare. “It’s her first four long, and she is a typically really good cross-country horse, but obviously she’s never gone this distance, or this difficult.
“I was really, really happy with her, and it was kind of hot as well, so sometimes that makes the galloping part harder, but she really galloped well and jumped the jumps well.”
Challenging Cross-Country Course
Numerous riders commented on the solid course designer Ian Stark put together. They were particularly focused on “The Bayou,” which was the first water combination and the sixth element in both the four-star long and short courses. It proved to be a challenge for many of the riders. Alliston came through it well, but he noted that it was a big question early on the course. “Normally they sort of ease you into it a little bit. You get the feet wet and then the big jumps would come later into the water. It was a very, very strong first water, so that was definitely challenging.”
Andrew McConnon and Wakita 54 into the Lead in the CCI4*-S
Andrew McConnon purchased his mount Wakita 54 as a coming 6-year-old. The 2013 Dutch Warmblood mare bred in the Netherlands has only been competed by McConnon. Earlier this year, they finished fifth in the CCI4*-L at the Tryon International Three-Day Event.
On the cross-country course, none of the riders came in under the optimum time, but McConnon came the closest. He did not have any jumping penalties and only 1.2 time penalties.
“She’s a really good cross-country horse,” McConnon said of Wakita 54. “She’s bold and brave. She loves it. I’m not able to go quick all the time with her. But I do choose a couple events in which I go a little bit faster. She would like to go quick all the time, but I think every few events we just take it easy.
“So, I targeted this as one to let her travel a little bit to help with her fitness and the hills,” he continued. “I was very aware of the elevation, but I’ve never been here before, so I didn’t know how she’d cope with that. But she is very fit just in nature, and she loved it, so she had a really good time.”
McConnon credited the travel grant he received from Rebecca Farm as what made it possible for him to make the trip from Southern Pines, North Carolina. “I did, fortunately, which, to be honest, without that generosity, I wouldn’t be able to come out. Like I said, I own this horse myself, and it’s a long way to do it. And so, I wouldn’t have been able to come out here otherwise. So that was a huge contributing factor into coming out. But yes, I did receive the grant, and I’m really thankful for that.”
Tamie Smith aboard Kynan, who led after dressage, was also clean but amassed 17.2 time penalties. That slowdown dropped her into second place. Emilee Libby and Toska, who were third after dressage, held onto their position.
Final Round on Sunday
Sunday afternoon closes out the entire event with the CCI4*-S and then CCI4*-L stadium jumping courses. For the CCI4*-L, this round will be very important in deciding the winner. With less than two rails separating the current top three finishers, a clean round will be necessary to win it all.
Follow along with Practical Horseman as we cover the final day of competition tomorrow with stadium jumping. Coverage sponsored by Cosequin®.