Caroline Powell and Monica Spencer are top nine in the MARS Maryland CCI5* at the end of a very tough Ian Stark-designed cross country this morning. Caroline and Greenacres Special Cavalier were clear and added 12.8 time to finish the day on 41.8 penalty points in seventh spot while Monica and Artist also added just time for a tally of 43.6 in ninth spot.
Five star debutant Mia Farley (USA) and Phelps were the only combination to come home clear and inside time, rocketing them from 10th to third in the 26-strong field. World no.1 Oliver Townend (GBR) and Cooley Rosalent lead the pack on 29.1 with William Fox-Pitt (GBR) aboard Grafennacht in second on 31.3. There were four retirements and five eliminations.
Caroline couldn’t have been prouder of her mare. The combination were held on course for a bit which Caroline says led to the horse getting “a little leery on me”. But she was still over the moon with their efforts. “I am really pleased with her. We just need to consolidate things at this level and she will be fine,” said Caroline. “She is a bloody good jumper. I am over the moon with her – she is only 10 and we are still building. We are well on target for whatever we do next year.”
The horse had more than delivered on course today. They had a little moment at the Fairhill Drop but Caroline’s experience saw them pop down without penalty. “She just wasn’t expecting that.” Caroline said the course had been nice to ride without too many surprises.
“That last water rode well for those who went straight and fine for those who did the alternative. Ian did a cracking job of the course.” She had expected it to be bigger, but says it was certainly big enough.
Monica was also exceedingly proud of her off-the-track thoroughbred. “He was incredible,” she said of Artist. “I am so proud of him. I was going for the clear so slowed down a bit early for the jumps. I suppose I was a bit intimidated by the size and difficulty of the course. It really was so hard and you had to fight the whole way. He was just a legend.”
It was by far the biggest track either Monica or Artist had ever seen. “It was insane! When I walked the course I literally thought, ‘I hope my horse can jump this high’. I am just so proud. I think next time we may come into it knowing we can do it and maybe catch the time. We know he is fast; it is just I was a little careful in places.”
That said, they went all the straight routes and received plenty of cheers around the course. “There were heaps of enthusiastic people on the sidelines and the crowds were right by the jumps so you could really hear them. I got an amazing cheer at the Crab Water and found out later I was the first one to go straight through.”
Despite Monica’s concern about the size of the jumps, Artist had continued to jump “bigger and bigger” right to the end. “He wasn’t touching anything. He is such a trier. It really does melt you heart what these good horses will do for you.”
ESNZ high performance director Jock Paget had plenty of praise for both women. “The course was really tough – as we knew it would be,” he said.
“Caroline showed all her experience out there. She is an incredible jockey and did a great job getting around clear. Monica had a very deliberate ride. She doesn’t have another qualification opportunity in America so needed to go clear today on a super tough track so really made sure of that. It was a bloody good ride and showed just how capable they are.”
All three had nothing but praise for the event and the welcoming they continued to receive. “I cannot speak highly enough of everyone here,” said Caroline. “We want for nothing and are treated so well.”
Jock also praised the event saying organisers had done an amazing job. “Everything is very slick and well run. It is my first time here and I will be encouraging others to come.” It wasn’t quite enough to want him to get back in the saddle but says it was “cool to appreciate such an awesome event”.
The showjumping is next for the field. Both the Kiwi horses have pulled up well and the teams are looking for a strong finish.
Sun 22nd – 2.00pm
Mon 23rd – 7.00am
THE HORSE DETAIL:
Artist (by Guillotine) – owned by Monica and Andrew Spencer
Greenacres Special Cavalier (by Cavalier Royale out of Greenacres Touch who is by Touchdown) – owned by Chris Mann
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photo credit: Cynthia Lawyer