Maryland 5 Star Kicks Off with First Horse Inspection

Maryland 5 Star kicks off with First Horse Inspection. 24 horse-and-rider combinations to compete in the CCI5*-L.

The second annual MARS Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill presented by Brown Advisory kicked off today with the first horse inspection. In the CCI5*-L, the ground jury accepted 24 horses.

Riders and horses from five nations will compete in the CCI5*-L dressage tomorrow and Friday. Crossing the pond to compete are the FEI World #1 rider Tim Price of New Zealand riding the 10-year-old Selle Français gelding Coup de Coeur Dudevin. Great Britain’s Oliver Townend and the 11-year-old gelding As Is and Harry Meade and the 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding Superstition will contest the competition.

Maryland 5 Star First Horse Inspection
Doug Payne and Quantum Leap during the MARS Maryland 5 Star First Horse Inspection.
© Amy K. Dragoo

U.S. riders set to compete include Phillip Dutton and 14-year-old Zangersheide gelding, Z; Doug Payne and 11-year-old German Sport Horse gelding, Quantum Leap; Buck Davidson with 15-year-old Holsteiner gelding, Carlevo, and the 11-year-old gelding, Sorocaima; Will Coleman and 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, DonDante; and Lauren Nicholson and the 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, Landmark’s Monte Carlo. Liz Halliday-Sharp will compete 11-year-old Irish Sporthorse gelding, Cooley Quicksilver. The ground jury held Halliday-Sharp’s Deniro Z during the inspection and did not accept him upon re-inspection. For a complete list of riders, click here.

The CCI5*-L competition starts tomorrow at 2:05 p.m. EST with Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver. Coleman, Dutton and Davidson will compete Thursday as well. Friday’s competition starts at the same time and includes Payne, Meade, Townend, Nicholson and Price.

Horse Reports: Quantum Leap and Danito

This event will be the fourth five-star for Payne’s Quantum Leap, owned by Payne, his wife, Jessica, and Susan Drillock. “We’re finally getting all the pieces and parts put together,” Payne said after the horse inspection. “The flatwork is still coming along, and I think it just continues to get better and better. I was just trying a little bit different configurations or warm-up routines to figure out how to maximize his comfort level and then his performance as a result. So I think we’ve got it pretty well dialed in.

“His mindset would be very much that he’s an overachiever and a trier. … He wants to do it right,” Payne continued. “And if he doesn’t do it right, then he gets worried about it. My job is to try and figure out how to make it flowing, easy and simple for him. And that’s going to be tough going into dressage. The jumping stuff is fine.”

West Coast rider Tamie Smith will be riding in the first five-star competition for Susan Bley’s 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding, Danito. They ride their dressage test tomorrow. The horse broke his withers in January in a freak barn accident where he fell asleep and got startled and fell. His first event back was at The Event at Rebecca Farm in July where “he felt better than ever,” Smith said.

Maryland 5 Star First Horse Inspection
Tamie Smith and Danito in the MARS Maryland 5 Star First Horse Inspection.
© Amy K. Dragoo

“He’s quite, quite smart in the first phase,” Smith continued about the dressage. “He really shines. If he’s with me and doesn’t get tense, he could have quite a good test. Cross country, he feels like a machine now. Our partnership is very solid and good. I think that he’ll read everything very nice. It’s his first five-star, so you never know, endurance-wise, how he’ll handle it. But I’m lucky to have him. I really believe in him, and I think he’s a super horse.”

Maryland 5 Star Cross-Country Course

Course designer Ian Stark has modified the CCI5*-L course slightly from last year, moving the start and finish areas. The course has 29 questions with 11 combinations.

The MARS Maryland 5 Star CCI5*-L course.
© Sandra Oliynyk

“Certainly it’s gonna be a true test at 11-1/2 minutes,” Payne said. “There’s a number of really solid combinations. I’m very lucky to have a good galloping horse and one that’s super-quick on his feet. … It’s a very rewarding course … not one that’s trappy or tricky. It’s kind of laid out for you just to go attack it and make it happen.”

In addition to the changes in the start and finish areas, horses will gallop into the Main Arena used for show jumping and dressage to jump Fences 6 and 7AB. “If that’s really packed, that’s going to be a big environment for [the horses] to go, especially early in the track,” Payne said.

“The main water’s quite late,” he added. “You’re nine-and-a-half minutes [in] I think, [to get to] that main water. So that’s definitely a big ask there. You just have to gauge your horse and figure out how best to present it to him.”

For more information on the event, click here. For how you can watch the event, click here.

Thanks to Mane n Tail Equine for our coverage of the 2022 Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill, including rider interviews, competition reports, horse spotlights, photos, videos and more!

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