Three-Day Event riders have gathered at the Horse Park of New Jersey this week for the Jersey Fresh International Three-Day Event.
The final selection trials for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, the premier event has attracted some of the best riders in the United States, several of whom have something to prove after having a rough go at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event in Lexington a couple of weeks ago.
California rider Tamie Smith holds both the lead and second position in the CCI4*-L division. Smith scored 23.9 today with Danito, owned by Ruth Bley, to take the lead from her other horse, En Vogue, also owned by Bley, claimed the lead yesterday with a score of 24.3. Smith is also leads in the CCI3*-L with Solaguayre California, a 10-year-old Argentine Sporthorse/Holsteiner owned by Julianne Guariglia on a score of 26.7.
Suffice it to say, her week is off to a strong start.
Boyd Martin of Cochranville, PA is in third place with Luke 140, a 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding, on a score of 25.6. Martin also leads the CCI4*-S with the athletic German-bred gelding Long Island T and is competing three more horses in the competition.
This year’s event boasts a large number of entries, with 162 horses competing in four divisions. There are 55 entries in the CCI4*-L, the biggest field since the level was introduced at Jersey Fresh in 2005. With a number of major events canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, riders are clearly eager for the opportunity for high-level competition.
It is important to remember that this is not a dressage show: tomorrow’s cross country course looks big and imposing, and combined with predicted rainy weather, it should shake up the leaderboard. After the rigors of cross country, when they have galloped and jumped around a course of solid obstacles and are feeling the effects of the endurance test, the horses will be face the final phase: a stadium jumping course that will test their quickness and agility, as they aim to leave the rails up.
Smith said, “I think cross country will be a fitness test; it’s a long format…but I feel like all the horses are prepared and schooled and ready for the challenge, I think it’s a course that suits all of them.”
Martin, who has represented the U.S. at three Olympic Games and is gunning for a spot on this summer’s team, agreed that the course looks tough. But like Smith, who was his team member at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, where they brought home gold for the USA, he said that he feels his horses are up to the challenge and he will be aiming for a clear, fast ride with no time penalties.
Cross country begins tomorrow with the CCI3*-L at 8:00am and the CCI4*-L begins at 11:15am. (No livestream unfortunately.) Show jumping for both short-format divisions will also take place tomorrow, with show jumping for the long-format divisions taking place on Sunday.