Great Meadow International showcased top eventing athletes, human and equine, in three hotly contested FEI-sanctioned divisions, August 22-25, The event reflected 2019 rule changes by the Federation Equestre Internationale that increased the top eventing level to five stars with the addition of a new entry-level CCI (Concours Complet International). Great Meadow set a spectacular stage for the 57 entries in the CCI2*S, 42 in the CCI3*S, and 38 in the CCI4*S where the horse and rider athletes exhibited their expertise in dressage, show jumping and cross-country.
Locals did very well. Middleburg’s own Lynn Symansky earned a good share of the glory while enjoying great days “at the office” with three horses in two divisions. She won the 4* with Under Suspection, owned by Mary Ann Ghadban, commanding first place in the field of 38 after dressage with a score of 25 and never looked back. After show jumping faultlessly, Lynn and “Pippy” finessed the cross-country, adding only 2-time penalties for a final triumphant tally of 27.
Top 10 finishes in the 4* by Virginia-based horses and/or riders included Lauren Kieffer and D.A. Duras, owned by Jacqueline Mars and Debbie Adams, placing 3rd on 36.4, followed by Kimmy Cecere and Jacqueline Mars’s Landmark’s Monaco in 4th on 42.1. Will Coleman (Charlottesville) finished 9th with TKS Cooley and 10th with DonDante.
The 2* attracted the biggest field of entries and a preview of potential equine stars shown by both up-and-coming and experienced riders. Will Coleman and Chin Tonic HS, owned by Hyperion Stud, topped the 2* leaderboard, finishing first on their dressage score of 25 points. Breathing down their necks in second place on 26.1 penalty points were Lynn Symansky and her SpectraVET Tempranillo. Jacqueline Mars’s Get Gaudi and Lauren Kieffer finished fourth. Lynn Symansky and The Jerry Syndicate’s Global Cassero 3 led after dressage on 21.4, but dropped 2 rails in show jumping for 8 faults, then jumped clear cross-country within the time for sixth place on 29.4. Allison Springer and Crystal Crescent Moon, owned by Nancy Winter, jumped double clears to finish 8th on their dressage score.
In the 3*, 42 started with 28 finishing all three phases. Phillip Dutton (PA), one of eventing’s iron men, won aboard Fernhill Pick Pocket. Lauren Kieffer and Jacqueline Mars’s Landmark Monte Carlo finished 4th, and Sharon White and Claus 63 earned 5th. 2019 Pan Am team and individual gold medalist Boyd Martin (PA), another iron man, competed five horses in the 3*, completing with Ringo Star (10th), Bonito (13th), and Maya (27th).
The cross-country was designed by David O’Connor, Olympic medalist, former chef d’equipe, and former president of the US Equestrian Federation. Using the terrain is key to every good track, and Great Meadow offers terrific variety between the Gold Cup race course and Fleming Farm.
“I thought David’s course design was good. I thought it was right, and I thought it was exactly what was needed at that time of year,” said Jim Wofford — and he would know. He’s an Olympic medalist and outstanding coach, based in Upperville. Since 1978, he has been able to claim at least one student on every U.S. Olympic, World Championship and Pan American eventing team. “Jimmy” outdid himself for the 2000 Sydney Olympics when all four members of the U.S. bronze team, including individual gold medalist David O’Connor, were graduates of his program.
“I think that David, like many other course designers, is starting to make much more intelligent use of the terrain to get his questions, rather than size and distance,” Jim explained. “And I’m gratified by that, because we’re supposed to be cross-country riders and, in the past, some of these obstacles were mathematical puzzles. This is striking out in a new direction.”
Asked what he thought of Lynn Symansky’s 4* win, Jim said, “Well, I’m a little biased because Lynn is a former student of mine and I’m proud of her accomplishments. They were the best horse and rider of the day.”
Lynn Symansky is known throughout the eventing world, especially in Virginia where she grew up in pony club. Her work ethic is impressive, and she’s harvesting good results thanks to more than 25 years of dedication, determination, and passion for horses — not just competing, but also giving them 24/7 first-class care. Kids of all ages would do well to aspire to be like Lynn: she’s the real deal. Riding since three, competing since five, she just keeps getting better.
When asked what it’s like to be in her boots, Lynn replied, “I don’t have any complaints! When you stop to think back to when you were a kid, you didn’t believe the dreams would come true. Being where I am now, you’re just working toward the best goal. I’m so lucky to have all the experiences I’ve had with horses. It’s great to be on a few teams with different horses, not just my longtime partner, Donner, and I feel I’m competing with consistency at the international level. I just keep working on being better.”
Lynn isn’t one to rest on her laurels. She takes nothing for granted and is refreshingly humble about her successes because she’s all about her horses. In July, Lynn and RF Cool Play, owned by The Donner Syndicate, contributed mightily to the U.S. Eventing Team’s success at the Pan American Games (Lima Peru) where Boyd Martin, Doug Payne, Tami Smith, and Lynn won team gold, thereby securing U.S. Eventing’s qualification for the 2020 Olympics. Boyd harvested individual gold and Lynn the individual silver.
It’s a long way literally and figuratively to next summer’s Tokyo Games for which Cool Play is in the pipeline. He has yet to prove himself at the 5-star level; if all goes well, he’ll have a go at the Land Rover Kentucky 3-Day (CCI5*L) in April. Lynn’s already busy with training goals and competition schedules for each of her talented horses, as well as teaching.
If you witnessed Lynn competing at Great Meadow International, you know exactly why she has a huge fan-base cheering her on.
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