Boyd Martin was victorious with Welcome Shadow in the $100,000 Land Rover Wellington Eventing Showcase held on Saturday at Equestrian Village at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
Beginning the weekend with a class of 39 entries, Martin climbed to the top after a clear show jumping round and a great trip on cross-country to finish on 27.30 penalties with Welcome Shadow, a 2005 Thoroughbred mare owned by Gloria Callen, and an overall Showcase win for the third year in a row.
Buck Davidson and Carlevo, owned by Carlevo LLC, finished second on 30.9 penalties after moving up from 13th place after dressage. Doug Payne rode Vandiver, owned by Debi Crowley and Doug and Jessica Payne, to a third place finish with 34.2 penalties.
Commenting on his victory, Martin said, “This year was by far the hardest one to win. It was a much more competitive field; the calibre of horses was the best we’ve seen here. I’ve got to say, the show jumping was bigger and wider, and I think the show jumping was even bigger than at Rolex. The cross-country was a real test. I think that it’s been good that they’ve gently built it up like this, but the cross-country was influential this year compared to other years.
“My horse is one of my favorites in training at the moment,” he said of Welcome Shadow, who was originally owner Craig Callen’s fox hunter. “You couldn’t get a horse that tries any harder than Welcome Shadow. I thought she was great in all three phases, and I was proud to win. I will quite happily take the check home.”
The pair has a plan that will lead them up to the Kentucky Rolex Three-Day Event CCI4* within the next few months. “She’ll go home tonight and we will give her an easy week and back off her a bit. I don’t think this event knocks the horses around too much because it was only a four-minute track,” Martin explained. “It was four-star questions in intermediate height, so it tuned her up a little bit.”
Buck Davidson and Petite Flower jumped a clear stadium course and went on to a clear cross-country round.
“I was really happy with the mare,” said Davidson. “She couldn’t have been better this whole weekend. I was really happy with the dressage, and she tried her heart out in the show jumping, and was as straight as could be today. She is very fast and a fun horse to ride around these kind of events.”
Doug Payne and Vandiver rose through the standings from eleventh place after dressage to tenth place after show jumping, and came back strong after a flawless cross-country run to land in third place.
Payne said of his experience this year, “This is an incredible competition, and I think it will prove to be valuable for these horses able to come here early in the season. There is more atmosphere here than you are going to see anywhere except for maybe Rolex, domestically. It’s a great preparation because we seldom have the opportunity to have these horses in such an environment. It’s an incredible asset to the sport, and I couldn’t have been more happy with Quinn.
“I was disappointed I had the last jump down in show jumping, but on cross-country he’s a bit of a dirt bike, and we go out there and cruise,” he continued. “I am learning to trust him more and more, and I’m incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to ride and work with him.”
Equestrian Sport Productions’ CEO Mark Bellissimo highlighted once again the importance of growth within the sport of Eventing and amongst the equine community. “It takes a great team to pull this off,” he said. “I want to thank Land Rover for stepping up and distinguishing this event. We wanted to create an environment where we could demonstrate the great athleticism of the both the horse and rider in a compact environment which would allow for many new spectators and owners who have never seen Eventing to come and experience this.”
Bellissimo continued, “I think we are at a point now where we have a really good format. Next year we are going to try to push this event and make it something very, very special. We are very excited about this event and the future of Eventing in this country.”
Event Organizer Jim Wolf concluded the conference by discussing his thoughts on the event and its future.
“I think we are on to a really great product here,” he said. “We try to create sports entertainment properties, and I think today was really great sport and was great entertainment. Mark Phillips did a brilliant job on the course. I would especially like to thank Land Rover. They are a great supporter of the sport and of Eventing worldwide, and we are thrilled they are doing this with us. We thank them for their support and making it possible.
“Mark saw Eventing as an underserved audience as he saw dressage as an underserved audience several years ago and put together investors, owners, and supporters to elevate dressage to a whole new level in this country,” Wolf said. “I think we can do that if given a chance for Eventing. We see an audience that has an opportunity to put some money in this sport. This sport isn’t easy and you can’t go collect a big check every weekend like in show jumping, so when we see these riders come out and put it on the line like these guys do, they deserve to be recognized. Nothing says thank you more than a check.”
Helen McDonald, Events and Partnerships Manager for Jaguar Land Rover NA, spoke of the positive partnership that the company has with the Eventing Showcase. Said McDonald, “I just want to say thank you to Mark and Jim. This is an unbelievable event, beautiful facilities, and congratulations to the riders. I look forward to pursuing what’s available next year here.”
Caroline Moran presented awards to the grooms of the top three riders, in memory of Bruce Duchossois, to Sergio Reyes, Kathleen Murray, and Courtney Carson.