The Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team recorded their second consecutive win in the Great Meadow International Nations Cup™ of Eventing, presented by Adequan, during a great 3-Day weekend in The Plains, July 7-9. The U.S. led in all three phases of the Nations Cup™ to finish on the final score of 151.5 penalty points (in eventing, the lowest score wins), followed by the team from Canada on 168.6 for second place, and Great Britain in third.
Great Meadow International has the distinction of hosting the only FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing competition that takes place outside of Europe. Teams from Canada, Great Britain and the United States competed in the $20,000 CICO3* FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ which featured a field of 30 riders and horses, representing Canada, Great Britain, Australia and the USA, vying for prize money worth $30,000 in the individual competition.
“We were very excited to host the FEI Nations Cup™ again this year. We anticipated a spectacular competition with world-class eventers,” said Teresa Condon, who was hired in June to fill the newly created position of GMI Director of Operations.
It really was a super-spectacular show. American team riders swept the top three individual places, ensuring the Nations Cup victory. Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda (aka Ping), owned by Nina Gardner, scored the individual win on 49.8 penalty points. It was their second victory at Great Meadow, having won the 2015 GMI CIC3* Pan Am Games Prep. Local rider Lynn Symansky and Donner placed a very close second, adding only 1.2 time penalties for a final score of 50.1, followed by Phillip Dutton and I’m Sew Ready in third. The fourth combination on the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team, Boyd Martin and Steady Eddie, finished 10th overall.
“The first time I came [to Great Meadow International], it was so exciting because it earned me a spot as traveling alternate for the 2015 Pan Am Games, which was quite special to me,” said Brannigan. “It’s such an honor to get to ride for your country and “Ping” has been an incredible horse in a lot of ways and is wonderful to me. I really appreciate him stepping up to the plate.”
Brannigan, who grew up in Illinois and is based in Unionville, PA, began her equestrian education as Allison Springer’s first working student, before continuing her equestrian education with eventers and show jumpers on both coasts. She landed at True Prospect Farm in Pennsylvania and spent five years under the tutelage of Phillip Dutton before she set out on her own. Dutton’s lessons encompassed every facet or riding and training horses from start to upper levels as well as how to run a horse business and acquire owners.
Symansky, based in Middleburg, grew up in Virginia. She joined the Difficult Run Pony Club when she was four and soon earned her D rating. At five, she rode in her first Beginner Novice event. By 18, Symansky was competing successfully at the Advanced level and, before finishing high school, competed in three long format FEI 3-day events. She earned her “A” Pony Club rating with No It Tissant, her first 4-star horse, an off-the-track Thoroughbred, and also combined a Bachelor of Science degree in business at Washington & Lee University with competing at the Advanced level while bringing along a young event prospect. Symansky’s a veteran of eight CCI4*: Kentucky, Burghley (England) and Pau (France).
Symansky ånd Donner (2003), an off-the-track Thoroughbred owned by the Donner Syndicate, were part of the US Team that won gold at the 2011 Pan Am Games. They earned the USEF National 4-Star Reserve Championship at 2013 Rolex Kentucky CCI4* where Donner was Best Conditioned, Best Turned Out and the Highest Placed OTTB. They were on the US team for the 2014 World Equestrian Games, 2015 Aachen CICO3*, and the traveling alternate for the US 3-Day team for the 2016 Rio Olympics, to name a few highlights.
Entered as alternates in the GMI Nations Cup, Symansky and Donner were called to join the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team when Buck Davidson withdrew his Copper Beach just before the start of the competition. They took it right in stride, their second place finish contributing greatly to the US Team’s success.
“It’s such a cohesive group. Everybody just works together and supports each other,” said Symansky. “We’re all out here to win and do the best we can. It was awesome. The whole way around, I heard people cheering me on, saying ‘come on, Lynn, you can do it!’ It’s cool to ride in your hometown event. It was an honor.”
Local rider Allison Springer and her very popular, recently retired 4-star horse, Arthur, performed the test ride, kicking off the dressage on late Friday afternoon, which continued on Saturday morning. Two withdrew, leaving a field of 30 combinations to show jump before that evening’s Bareback Puissance competition, sponsored by Morningside Training Farm.
After the first two phases, the US stood in first place with a score of 143.1. Great Britain sat in second on 155.6, just in front of the Canadians on 156.2.
On Sunday morning, the cross country consisted of 24 obstacles, including eight combinations. Course designer Mike Etherington-Smith reversed the track to make it more interesting. His technical questions prompted respect from the competitors with 22 out of 28 starters finishing the course. All but one of the 22 jumped clear and, of those, only three made the optimum time of 6:33.
The sole American rider, who didn’t incur time penalties going cross country, was Boyd Martin aboard Steady Eddie. They just kept working their way up the leaderboard after scoring 58.3 in dressage that put them in 24th.
“The dressage test was alright,” said Martin. “Eddie hasn’t been out for a while, so he got a little excited. I was a bit disappointed, to be quite honest. He’s a Thoroughbred so he gets a bit anxious at times, but that’s just the way it goes. This is a worthy horse for the team.”
Steady Eddie proved it by living up to his name for the rest of the weekend. His double clear show jumping round improved them to 14th going into Sunday’s cross country finale when Eddie and Martin went out as Team USA’s pathfinder. Their clear round in 6:31 put them into 10th place overall.
“Eddie came through for me, he was the only horse that finished on his dressage score,” said Martin. “It was a bit hard to gauge the course because the first rider fell, the second was held on course, but I zipped around and everything rode really well.”
Phillip Dutton, six-time Olympic veteran and the only American eventer to medal (individual bronze) at the 2016 Rio Olympics, was last out on the cross-country with I’m Sew Ready, owned by Kristine and John Norton. In first place after dressage, they lowered a rail in show jumping, and the four faults dropped them to second. Just before leaving the start box on Sunday morning, Dutton knew that the U.S. team had won. They jumped clear, incurring 5.6 time penalties for third place.
“My teammates did it all for me,” said Dutton. “I thought it was a good run for the horse. He’s not the fastest, but I think I could have done a little better job at the galloping fences. Overall, though, I was pleased that he went so well.”
The individual overnight leader going into cross-country was Team Canada’s Jessica Phoenix and Pavarotti, but 12.4 time penalties dropped them to 6th place overall. Two teammates jumped clear and within the time. Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High moved from 9th to 5th; Waylon Roberts and Kelecyn Cognac clocked the fastest time, 6:21, for a final score of 57.3 that boosted them four places to 8th individually. Rounding out the Canadian team, Lisa Marie Fergusson piloted Honor Me to a clear round with 2 time penalties.
“I think it was a really exciting weekend for Canada,” said Phoenix. “We almost all got personal bests, which was great for us.”
Only two members of the British team finished the cross country. First out of the start box, Justine Dutton (no relation to Phillip) and Jak My Style were eliminated when they fell at #18, the Adequan Beaver Pond. Three refusals at the Beverly Equestrian corner (9b) took Matthew Heath and One of a Kind out of the running. Emily Llewellyn and Emirati Night Sky jumped clear with 8.8 time penalties. Anchor rider Nicky Roncoroni and Watts Burn added only 4.4 time penalties to their score for 53.0 and fourth place overall.
“We’ve had the most incredible experience,” said Roncoroni. “For sure, we are all desperate to come back again. What an incredible event that you guys have made here.”
Plans are already in the works for next year at Great Meadow International.
“We’re thrilled to have produced another successful Nations Cup of Eventing,” said Rob Banner, President of the Great Meadow Foundation. “Our area deserves the best in the world, no less. This competition will help raise the bar for the whole sport. We thank the like-minded donors who have helped us achieve this goal and look forward to the next Nations Cup, July 6-8, 2018.”
For more information: www.GreatMeadowInternational.com
Note: You can still watch the Great Meadow International FEI Nations Cup™ of Eventing, presented by Adequan: US Equestrian offers a fan membership for $25/year that provides access to the Learning Center, USEF Network, and various member perks, including the USEF Network’s full schedule of national and international equestrian competitions, live and on demand.