American Boyd Martin was once again victorious at the $75,000 Wellington Eventing Showcase, this year with Blackfoot Mystery.
Third after the dressage the pairing took victory by keeping a clean sheet in both the show jumping cross country phases of the event, which took place at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) over the weekend.
After his win, Boyd said: “This year was a much more competitive field. It was a higher standard, the course was tougher and it was harder to win this year than last year, but saying that I knew that this horse, Blackfoot Mystery, had a good chance. When I bought the horse in July, the ding in him was the show jumping. I have been working very closely with an English show jumping trainer, Richard Picken, and he has gone well beyond the call of duty. Richard has been studying videos of the horse and making trips up to Pennsylvania and Aiken and probably turning away plenty of business to help me. We had to go flat out because the time was quite tough and if you wanted to win you had to go for it. My goal would be to do Rolex on him, so I will probably tone it down in the next few weeks and do an event slow and easy and then tone it up again closer to Rolex.”
In addition to taking home the $22,500 as winning rider, Martin also secured a $10,000 bonus for winning the event two years in a row – a scheme that was thought up by himself and granted by Mark Bellissimo.
Boyd added: “I will be coming back to this event for the next 30 years – even if I have a donkey to ride. Wellington is place for all the Olympic sports and Bellissimo has made this happen.”
The event certainly proved to be far from a dressage competition. Allison Springer and Arthur were the leaders after the dressage – the only combination to score a sub 30 mark with 29.1. The 2015 Wellington Eventing Showcase was the last time the horse ran a full event, and a year later the combination were using the competition as preparation for their seventh attempt at the Rolex Kentucky CCI****.
After the dressage Allison commented: “He feels great. He is so happy to be out doing something again. He got hurt before Kentucky last year and he feels really strong and well now. This was the perfect thing to get him in the atmosphere – have all the noise and everything. Arthur is happy to be here.”
Only eight horses of the 35 who show jumped went clear. With the rails flying the standings jumbled and Boyd Martin and Blackfoot Mystery moved into the lead. Dressage leader Allison Springer and Arthur dropped a rail, moving them down the order and they eventually finished in ninth.
Time on the cross country course, which included running up a ramp through the VIP tent and dropping off a bank into the main arena, also proved tight. It wasn’t until the 15th combination took to the course that going inside the time was deemed possible.
Colleen Rutledge and her own Covert Rights, a 10-year-old Thoroughbred cross made a steady climb up the leaderboard to finish in second place – adding nothing to her dressage score of 31.0.
“The cross-country course was fabulous,” said Colleen. “I am so thrilled with how C.R. went out and ran. The amount that he has grown up from Rolex last year is just leaps and bounds. He is just a completely different horse.”
British based New Zealander and Olympic veteran Daniel Jocelyn made his journey well worth his time as he took home $9,750 for finishing third aboard Sable Giesler’s Devil Munchkin. The pair moved up the standings from 13th after dressage to finish in the third spot by adding nothing to the dressage score of 32.3. He also finished 21st with Win The War.
He said: “Thanks to Sable and Jessica [Bortner-Harris] for lending the horses. That was a big call, and they obviously have done a good job with the ground work because the horses felt fantastic out there. It is just a fantastic facility here. I have enjoyed the three days of being here – seeing my buddies, going down the road and watching Sharn jump in the Grand Prix. It is just an unbelievable experience and something I will definitely be taking back home and telling everyone about.”
Final Results – Top Five
1. Boyd Martin, Blackfoot Mystery (USA) – 30.60
2. Colleen Rutledge, Covert Rights (USA) – 31.00
3. Dan Jocelyn, Devil Munchkin (NZL) – 32.30
4. Phillip Dutton, Fernhill Fugative (USA) – 33.20
5. Buck Davidson, BallynoeCastle RM (USA) – 34.10
Photos; Copyright USAE / Leslie Mintz Photo
Sarah Carless Reporter at Large