New Zealand’s Tim Price feels validated that he made the right decision to bring Coup de Cœur Dudevin to the 2022 MARS Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill after cross country. A relatively inexperienced horse at his first five star, the 10-year-old Selle Français gelding and Price galloped clear around the CCI5*-L cross-country course today within the time allowed to take the lead.
“I just really tried to be patient with him so that he could find his way and not feel like he was under too much pressure,” Price said. “He loves a big jump, but he had to find himself with a big jump a bit as well. He just was great in all the important places.”
Price and “Joker” head into tomorrow’s show-jumping phase on their dressage score of 27.4 penalty points.
The second and third places were also claimed by horses riding in their first five-stars. U.S. rider Tamie Smith and Danito, a 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding, moved up from sixth place after dressage into second following cross-country. Great Britain’s Oliver Townend and As Is, an 11-year-old gelding, moved up from 10th place to third. Both horses jumped fault-free and maintained their dressage scores of 29.4 and 29.9, respectively.
The MARS Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill presented by Brown Advisory runs through tomorrow, Oct. 16, in Cecil County, Maryland. Twenty-four horses started over CCI5*-L cross-course designed by Ian Stark. Thirteen combinations jumped around faultless while 15 made it within the time allowed, which was 11-1/2 minutes. Two horses retired on course (Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver and Zachary Brandt and Direct Advance). Four horses had refusals, including Direct Advance.
Coup de Cœur Dudevin: Good Decisions
Price said that Joker made good decisions on course. One place was Fence 23AB at the water jump called the MARS Sustainability Bay. “He even managed to make a better choice than I did going to the crab at the top of the hill where I had absolutely the wrong idea, and he sorted it out and got us in there and through it in no trouble.” Price said he approached the crab fence “in a bit of a no-man’s-land canter.” When he went to pull Joker together, the horse “just kept lobbing along.”
Another place was Fence 26 ABCD, the County Fair Roller Coaster and the Fair Hill International Drop. Price said off the drop, he walked the next line in a short four strides, but Joker balanced and put in five strides. “He’s amazing because even the best horses I’ve ridden around these have come home strong and a bit tanky, and the stride’s gone long, and then you just have to manage them home. And whether it’s his inexperience … he came home so controlled. … . He just balanced and he added a fifth stride. It was just like child’s play.”
Danito: Answered All the Questions
Smith said her ride with the 15.1-hand Danito was the best that she could have expected. “He was a bit distracted and green, but I was able to kind of tap in and say, ‘Hey, pay attention,’” she commented. “And he answered all the questions great. [He] stayed on his feet and was full of run at the end.”
Before the drop into water at Fence 23AB, Smith said she got Danito’s attention. Then, Fence 24ABC, the water jump, was a jump out of the water to a bounce to a log, then three strides to a brush. “He jumped up and bounced perfect and got the three out, like a million bucks.”
Danito’s cross-country finish was even more amazing because he had broken his withers in a freak cross-ties accident in January when he spooked, slipped and fell down. He was off for four months, and his first big event back was at The Event at Rebecca Farm in July.
As Is: Loves His Job
Oliver Townend said As Is was green in places on course but the horse grew in confidence as he went around. “He’s very, very pony-like. He looks after himself. You tell him what to do, he generally does it. He’s very, very intelligent.” After As Is had a bobble at Fence 5, a brush table, where he banked it—almost stepping on it—he perked up. “He had one little reminder and from that point on he was like, ‘OK, I’m going, I’m going, I’m going. So he’s a bit terrier-like. You can get at him a little bit and say, ‘Come on,’ and he responds with his ears pricked. He’s a bit cute, I think, and it’s nice to have one that seems to love his job.”
Z: An Olympic Veteran
Phillip Dutton rode his Olympic and World Champion veteran Z from 11th place after dressage into fourth place. “He is not the fastest horse, so I set out quite fast, and I was a bit up on time, which was my plan,” Dutton said of the 14-year-old Zangersheide gelding. “I was maybe a bit too much up on time, but you know, when you go faster, obviously you take more risk, too. But I trust him so much, so it’s just a case of trying to point him where to go and he usually figures out how to do it.”
Down the Leaderboard
Dressage leaders Woods Baughman and C’est la Vie dropped to 19th place. The pair had rough patches throughout the course because C’est la Vie gets strong and on a massive stride. Fence 15ABC was a vertical to a ditch going downhill then uphill to a skinny fence. C’est la Vie made the striding a bounce inside the line. At Fence 24C, they had a refusal. They had more trouble at Fence 26ABCD, the Country Fair Roller Coaster to the Fair Hill International drop.
Baughman had changed C’est la Vie’s bit for the cross-country. This was after the pair didn’t finish the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in September. “We definitely need to do a little more homework so we cannot have those rough moments,” said Baughman.
Alexandra Knowles and Morswood, who were in third place after dressage, added 6.4-time penalties to their dressage score. This dropped them to 12th place. “He did literally everything I asked,” Knowles said. “I’m frustrated that I had time because I could have made up 15 seconds time somewhere. It was mine to lose, so I lost that placing … . But I’m relatively green at the five-star level. … This is the fastest time I’ve done yet, so at least we’re heading in the right direction.”
Cross-Country Time Too Easy
With 15 riders making the course within the time allowed, many said it was too easy. Price said that the fences were more rigorous than last year’s inaugural event. But the track could have been wheeled more tightly. “Knowing the fortune of being later in the draw, I knew that the time was fairly straightforward. So I started extra slow, and that’s just not really the way any five star should be approached, in my opinion,” he said.
At the press conference after cross-country, Stark said he was pleased with the results on many levels. “I’m kind of expecting to get a bit of abuse about so many getting inside the time. But for me it was perfect footing, perfect ground, some great riding, some bold and fast and brave riding. And I would much rather see 10 get inside the time, then five on the floor.”
‘We’ll Still Be Back’
Townend said Stark had changed the course quite a bit this year. So the track was almost like it was the first time the track had been ridden. He said he thinks the course designer will find a way to slow the riders down next year.
But that did not dimmish Townend’s enthusiasm for the event. “We’re all loving the event. We’re all loving the course. We’re all loving Ian being the designer,” he said. “But we’re still in the very early, early stages. And we’re still coming back. We’ll still be back next year. So I think that says a lot about the course and the way the place is giving us the feel. I think that it’s all positive, but [it] still needs just one big tweak.”
For complete results after cross-country, click here. The CCI5*-L show-jumping round begins tomorrow (October 16) at 2 p.m. EST.
The Maryland 5 Star will be broadcast on Maryland Public Television, ESPN3 and USEF Network in North America, and on Horse & Country TV outside North America.
Thanks to ADM Animal Nutrition for our coverage of the 2022 Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill, including rider interviews, competition reports, horse spotlights, photos, videos and more!