Long-anticipated competition began for The Great Meadow International (GMI), presented by Adequan® on Friday evening with the first rotation of dressage. Featuring the only North American leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing competition outside Europe, teams from Canada, Great Britain and the United States all had one representative perform their test along with individual entries.
Jessica Phoenix (CAN) and Pavarotti scored 44 penalties, the best of the day, placing the pair first individually and putting the Canadian team in the lead.
“I was really excited for “Rotti”. This was his first full event since Kentucky and he was so composed in there,” said Phoenix. “It’s always a pleasure to ride this amazing horse.”
As the lead rider for the British team, Justine Dutton (GBR) and her mount Jak My Style felt a little added pressure. The pair earned a score of 56.4 penalties for second place in the team standings.
“I think I might have had a glass of champagne when I agreed to that,” said Dutton. “All kidding aside, when (Chef d’equipe Philip Surl) asked me if I was comfortable going first I told him that I would be happy to do whatever is necessary for the team. So, I will continue to try my best and hopefully that will be good enough.”
Some of the horses reacted to the atmosphere, including Boyd Martin’s (USA) mount, Steady Eddie. The pair received a dressage score of 58.3 penalties leaving the U.S. team third in the standings.
“The test was alright,” said Martin. “He hasn’t been out for a while so he got a little bit 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.”
The two-time Olympic veteran was the sole U.S. team member participating on Friday. Dressage competition for the remaining team and individuals competitors will resume Saturday morning.
Following dressage, spectators were treated to the exciting Bareback Puissance class, sponsored by Morningside Training Farm. Six horse and rider combinations took turns jumping a vertical that was raised each time they cleared the fence. A rail down meant elimination and after several rounds only Evan Coluccio and Fluttershy negotiated the fence at an astonishing 5’5″ to take to take home the blue ribbon and a $1,000 grand prize. Coluccio and his 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding made an attempt at 6′ feet, but they were unable to leave the rails intact. The Middleburg, Va. resident went the extra round for “fun”.
“I don’t get to do this very often and it is so much fun,” said Coluccio. “I won a few years ago, but I was a little less certain today because it was the first time I ever rode this horse without a saddle. This class is not for everybody, but I really enjoy it.”
Earlier in the day a horse inspection was held for the FEI competition. The purpose of the inspection is to evaluate the horse’s “fitness to compete” in the competition ahead. All 32 horses were presented and accepted.
Dressage competition continues on Saturday morning. Show jumping will take place in the afternoon. The GMI culminates on Sunday with the popular cross country phase. Tickets for the remaining days of the GMI competition are available for purchase at the gate. The cost is $50 per carload for the two days.
For a complete list of results and information on the USEF live streaming click here.