The dimensionally imposing Brush Table at fence 9A. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Good afternoon from MARS Great Meadow International! We’re anxiously awaiting the start of the CCI4*-S class, where we’ll see our potential Pratoni World Championship pairs strut their stuff in the hopes of team selection, along with many many other top combinations looking to start their fall season off in style. Our fearless leader Sally Spickard is on the ground in Virginia and I’ll be bringing you a play-by-play of the action remotely. If you missed the previous two days of action, check out yesterday’s report here.

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1:55 PM: Ahh! Holly gets tipped forward over the first element of fence 12, but Holly get’s back in the driver seat just in time for the B element drop.

1:53 PM: Holly Jacks-Smither and Candy King, a Pratoni-bound pair for Team Canada, are also on course now and Candy King is another horse excited to get out there today! He’s a bit on the muscle starting out.

1:52 PM: One of our Pratoni-bound pairs Lauren Nicolson and Vermiculus a.k.a. “Bug” are now on course and they’re pinging easily over everything so far! You can tell Bug is pretty stoked to be getting to run and jump — his little Anglo-Arab tail is flying high! Katie Lichten and Yarrow unfortunately pick up a refusal at the jump into the MARS Sustainability Bay and Katie decides to call it a day.

1:48 PM: Our newest pair on course now are Katie Lichten and Yarrow. I have to give Katie and her family a little shout out — they own the beautiful Aquila Farm is Hamilton, Massachusetts which has an amazing cross country schooling field that they keep open to local riders. It’s an incredible resource to have in my area!

1:45 PM: On course now we have Sarah Kuhn and Mr. Cash van de Start along with our CCI5* National Champions Doug Payne and the young Quantum Leap. Erin Kanara and Campground are home clear with 17.6 time penalties, as are Jill and Obos Darko.

1:40 PM: Oh dear, we just caught up with Alina Patterson and Flashback who were our newest on course, but Alina has popped off at, I believe, the log drop at fence 6. Alina is up, but visibly bummed and Flashback is taking himself on a little walk.

1:36 PM: Jill Thomas and Obos Darko are on course and catch a funky stride to the A element of 9ABC. They then have a runout at the corner B element but they get it on the second try. Meanwhile, Jennie has a bit of a flyer into the MARS Sustainability Bay, but Jennie pops herself bak into the tack quickly like the pro she is and carries on.

1:32 PM: Sydney and Q are home with 5.2 time penalties and now we have two additional pairs on course: Erin Kanara and Campground, who are already through the coffin complex at fence 17 cleanly, as well as Jennie Brannigan and FE Lifestyle, another alternate pair for Pratoni.

1:28 PM: Sydney Elliott and QC Diamantaire, one of the alternate pairs named for the World Championships team, are not on course and looking good so far. Both Will and Buck have now finished the course and picked up some time: 4 time penalties and 12.4 time penalties respectively.

1:22 PM: Will Coleman and his direct reserve horse DonDante are out the box and on course now — this pair is in 12th place, so they’re riding out of order since Will has two other rides in this division. Buck and Sorocaima are having a lovely clean ride so far.

1:18 PM: And we’re underway with Buck Davidson and Sorocaima, an 11-year-old Thoroughbred gelding who made his 5* debut with Buck at Kentucky this spring. First out was initially supposed to be Ariel Grald and Forest Gump 124, but they’ve withdrawn .

The actions kicks off at 1:15 PM and in the meantime, let’s review the course:

The cross country track is designed by David O’Connor and takes the 4*-S combinations over a total of 3740 meters with 32 jumping efforts set at 22 numbered questions. The optimum time is 6 minutes, 34 seconds. Well be interested to see if anyone guns for catching the optimum time today over Virginia’s rolling hills especially, as seems to be the case everywhere in the country, over some hard ground. You can view the course below or, if the embedded post does not show up, here. Plus, take a sneak peak and get a little extra insight from Sally’s course preview here.


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