Phoenix takes top spot at Chattahoochee Hills

Canadian Jessica Phoenix and Bentley’s Best were victorious at this weekends Chattahoochee Hills CIC3* competition.

The pairing held their lead wire to wire after the nine year old Trakehner gelding scored a 45.40 in the dressage phase, his best three-star score of his career so far. The pair then had one rail in the show jumping, but maintained their lead going into the cross-country.

“It was amazing. It was so great to get out there. The footing was beautiful. I thought the course was designed really well and he did a great job out there today,” Phoenix said of their cross-country round. The gelding is green at the level, and Phoenix commented that she planned to make this trip very educational. “He never feels un-confident, he just feels like sometimes things surprise him, so it was great to get him out there and pick up all the flags and draw me to them which was awesome.”

Jessica Phoenix

One of the harder questions on the course was on the second water. Riders faces an airy log drop to a corner in the water [11 ab] followed by another corner out of the water [12]. Phoenix was the only one of the three riders who used the opportunity to circle between the two corners, making sure Bentley fully understood the question. “The two corners out, those are the types of things he doesn’t always picks up really quickly, so I was really happy with the way he jumped in and found that corner and took me to it. I did circle between the corners and I’m really glad I stuck with my plan there.” The pair jetted along the remainder of the course, adding 17.20 time penalties to finish on a 66.60 for the blue ribbon.

Another Canadian, April Simmonds finished in second place in the three-star division with Quebec NZPH. The 13-year-old Warmblood gelding is owned by Simmonds and Faydon Enterprises. This pair had a 53.00 in the dressage and two rails in the show jumping, which Simmonds attributed to “rider error.”

They added only 6.80 time penalties to their score after the cross-country. “He was awesome. I think it was a harder course than expected, but he’s so on it all the time,” Simmonds explained. In addition to the second water [11 ab, 12], she added that the new bank complex [15 abcd] also required serious riding. This complex featured a log drop which followed a downhill slope across a road, then a bank bounce, followed by a one stride to a brush fence. “If you jumped too quiet [up the bank] the one would have been too long,” Simmonds explained. “I was almost too quiet, but he was really good.”

Now adding another confident CIC, Simmonds and “Rex” next will head for their first CCI3* at Jersey Fresh International. “I feel quite confident going into it. Just some little show jumping things to tweak, and we’ll be good,” she said. Simmonds also said she praised Rex after their great weekend with one of his favorite treats, Twizzlers.

Werner Geven, from the Netherlands, rounded out the three-star pack aboard Carden Burdette’s Vilas County. The 12-year-old Thoroughbred gelding scored a 55.60 in the dressage, and had five rails in the show jumping. This pair had a super go around the cross country which included a nearly seamless ride thorough the second water. They had 10.80 time penalties to finish on a score of 86.40.

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