When New Zealand’s Tim Price came to Maryland with his five-star rookie, he hoped for a top-five finish in the CCI5*-L. He and Coup de Cœour Dudevin surpassed that. They jumped a clear show-jumping round with 0.8-time faults to capture the 2022 MARS Maryland 5 Star win. Their final score was 28.2.
“I came here with a hope of a top five for this horse but understood there might be a couple of things that showed his lack of experience. And we were able to do that whilst keeping a nice low score and finishing the week very well,” said Price of the 10-year-old Selle Français gelding.
The Top Five
Two more five-star rookies maintained their placings after cross-country to earn the next two spots in the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill presented by Brown Advisory in Cecil County, Maryland. California rider Tamie Smith and Danito, a 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding, were just 1.6 penalty points behind Price to finish second on a score of 29.8.
Great Britain’s Oliver Townend and As Is, an 11-year-old gelding, had a double-clear show jumping round to finish just 0.1 points behind Smith in third with a score of 29.9. Rounding out the top five were Phillip Dutton and his Olympic veteran, Z, who placed fourth with 30.5 and Jennie Brannigan and FE Lifestyle who finished fifth with 31.5. Both Dutton and Brannigan finished on their dressage scores.
All of the horses presented at the final Horse Inspection earlier in the day passed. Canada’s Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me, a 16-year-old gelding, withdrew before the jog. As a result, 23 horse-and-rider combinations tackled course designer Ken Krome’s show jumping track. The course included 13 numbered fences and 16 jumping efforts.
Price: Feeling the Pressure
With such a tight race at the top of the event, which took place Oct. 13-16, Price said he was ready for the pressure of today’s show-jumping phase.
“I knew there would be some flawless rounds at the top of the table, so that was what kept me from falling asleep [last night] and woke me up early in the morning,” said the number one rider of the FEI Eventing World Athlete Rankings. “In a way, with my young horse at this level, I almost hid behind his lack of experience and just went into the mode of educating him and giving him a good time.”
“But of course, when you get in the ring and you know that the clear round inside the time is key, you go into performance mode, and I was just really happy. He dug deep for me. It was a new depth of stamina requirement for him, and he really went into that ring and just lit up and busted himself for the job.”
Price said his plan when he first went into the arena was to focus on building Joker’s rhythm. “Give them good distances and stick to a plan. And if you’re going to execute plan B, then do it quickly and do it well. And I had to do that a couple of times.”
That happened, he said, because Joker has “a really long stride, which today was more evident than in some other show-jumping rounds I’ve had. I think maybe that’s just a carryover from the day before. He was very good over his fences, but he landed in the longer canter.”
When asked about Joker’s personality after the award ceremony, Price said, “He’s a cool dude … for a small horse, he moves in such a big, open, loose way. And that’s his personality as well. He’s an easy-come, easy-go kind of horse.”
Owner: ‘If You Feel It, We Do It’
Joker’s breeder and owner, Jean-Louis Stauffer said he, Price and their veterinarian met about a month ago to discuss the next competition. “And then Tim told to me, ‘Yeah, I feel it.’ And I said, ‘If you feel it, we do it.’”
Throughout the week, Price talked about the pressure of bringing such an inexperienced horse so far for his first five-star outing.
As for why Joker has been successful so far, Stauffer said, “Knowing the horse from his first day until now and having been following him this way. I think we did it right in the way that we never forced him. He was never pushed to something that he couldn’t do.”
Smith’s and Danito’s Comebacks
Smith shared that Danito broke his withers last January in a freak cross-tie accident. Additionally, she broke her ankle and tore ligaments in the joint early this year. “I could see my dreams just fading away. That I wasn’t going to be able to be in contention for the World Championships. [But] I wouldn’t take no for an answer,” she said. The latter part of the year ended much better, she added. She earned team silver at the FEI World Championships in Pratoni del Vivaro, Italy, in September with Mai Baum.
And Danito’s Maryland placing added to that feeling. Smith said she hadn’t produced a clear show-jumping round on Danito at his three four-star long formats. Of his Maryland show jumping rounds, she said, “He really jumped out of his skin. There were a couple of places where I definitely didn’t go to plan. But, like Tim said, you go as quickly as you can to plan B. He is just such a mighty, little horse, and he tried his guts out. I’m super proud.”
Townend: ‘Down to Me’
Townend said he was happy with his horse’s performance, especially because he is now working for new owners. They are Cauton and Victoria Wright. “It’s the first time I’ve had a job since I was 21. … To deliver results for the people who are employing me for the first time in years is very special to me.”
His horse, As Is, delivered the results that Townend and his new employers thought the horse was capable of. “He went out a little bit green yesterday and a bit careful. And I just thought last night, ‘Well, let’s just hope he’s as careful in the show jumping tomorrow as he was around the cross-country course. And we’ll be all right,’” Townend said. As for how he felt today being on such a good jumper, Townend said, “It was down to me to. To press the right buttons and get the right distances.”
Dutton and Z
Dutton and Z moved from 11th place after dressage to fourth place with the 14-year-old Zangersheide gelding, Z. “He’s a great jumper. It’s just sometimes, I lose a little bit of rideability and his attention. But I was really pleased,” Dutton said. “He’s getting, obviously, more experienced. I think I’m riding in better. And we practice a bit as well. We’ve been to a lot of jumper shows.
Riding at the event was bittersweet for Dutton, he admitted. “I was a little emotional because my good friend Richard Picken was here last year and [a friend] said to me, ‘Ah, it’s bringing back memories,’ and it started to flood over. But I was able to put it back together, and [Grand Prix show-jumper] Lauren Hough has been here to help me with the show jumping and we had a great warm-up.”
Brannigan and FE Lifestyle
Brannigan was limping a little at the final Horse Inspection after a horse kicked the side of her ankle. But that didn’t stop her from moving up a from sixth place after cross country to fifth. She rode the 12-year-old gelding FE Lifestyle. “He jumped super. He tried so hard,” she said. “I’m really proud of him.”
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Thanks to Mane n Tail Equine for our coverage of the 2022 Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill. Check our website and social media for rider interviews, competition reports, horse spotlights, photos, videos and more!