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Rider alert: Pairs to watch at the Ocala Jockey Club International – Sponsored by MD Barnmaster
This weekend, some of the top eventing pairs in North America are competing at the Ocala Jockey Club International 3-Day Event in Reddick, Florida. This is only the second year running of this event and again this year there are three FEI divisions – a CIC3*, a CCI2* and a CCI1*. There are 36 pairs set to compete in the CIC3*, 45 in the CCI2* and a whopping 96 in the CCI1* division. The action kicks off tomorrow with the first horse inspection for the CCI2* and CCI1* divisions. Dressage starts on Thursday, with everyone in the CCI2* riding their tests and part of the CCI1* division. On Friday, dressage continues with the rest of the CCI1* and all of the CIC3* competitors. Cross-country for the CCI2* and CCI1* takes place on Saturday, along with the CIC3* show jumping. The show finishes up on Sunday with the CIC3* cross-country and the CCI2* and CCI1* show jumping.
World famous four-star cross-country course designer, Mike Etherington-Smith has created the CIC3* track again this year and Clayton Fredericks has designed the CCI2* and CCI1* courses. The show jumping courses are being designed by Chris Barnard. With so many quality pairs across all the divisions this weekend, pairs will have to deliver stellar performances in all three phases if they want to earn a top finish. These impressive duos have the potential to finish on top this weekend and will be exciting to watch progress in 2018…
Maya Black (USA) & Mowgli – CCI2*: Maya and Mowgli, a 7-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, have won four events at the Intermediate level this season. Last year, they claimed the American Eventing Championships Preliminary Horse title. Maya is an incredibly experienced and talented rider; she finished 3rd at the Rolex Kentucky CCI4* in 2016. Mowgli is an athletic young horse and, considering that he is 100% Thoroughbred, he should have no problems as he moves up the levels. Not only could this pair easily clinch the win this weekend, but they could also represent the USA at major team competitions in future years.
Phillip Dutton (USA) & Lup The Loop – CIC3*: This is an exciting new pair and this weekend will be their first event together. Lup The Loop, a 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, was previously campaigned up to the CCI3* level with Kylie Lyman (USA) and delivered top results including a 3rd place finish at this year’s Bromont CCI3*. Phillip is a world-class rider and with this horse, he could bring home another individual medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Sinead Halpin (USA) & Cutty Sark – CCI1*: Cutty Sark, a 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, is one of the most promising young horses in Sinead’s string right now. Sinead only began competing Cutty Sark in January of this year, but they have already formed a solid partnership. In 2017, they won the River Glen June H.T. Open Preliminary division and the Morven Park H.T. Preliminary division. They definitely have the potential to claim the win this weekend and this could be a team horse for Sinead in years to come.
Autumn Schweiss (USA) & Oakport Strauss – CCI2*: Autumn and Oakport Strauss, a 13-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, are hot off of winning the Morven Park CIC2*. They finished in the top 10 at five out of the eight events they competed at this year. Although they are not always on top after dressage, they have never picked up a 20 on cross-country and have shown the ability to show jump a clear round. This weekend, a top-five finish should be well within their grasp if they repeat the performance they delivered at Morven Park.
Rylee Gailey (USA) & Dukes Up – CCI1*: This pair has had a consistent 2017 season, finishing in the top 10 at six out of the eight events they contested. Dukes Up, a 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding, was competed up to the Advanced level by Alex O’Neal (USA) before Rylee took over the ride this April. Rylee is only 17-years-old and has been competing at the Preliminary level since last year. This will be Rylee’s first CCI1* event but she has the ability to finish in the top 10 and will be a serious contender at next year’s North American Junior Young Rider Championships.
Jacob Fletcher (USA) & Atlantic Domino – CIC3*: Jacob and Atlantic Domino, a 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, have been campaigning at the three-star level since 2015. Together, this pair has finished in the top 10 at numerous three-star events. Most recently, they won the Area V Intermediate Championships at Holly Hill Fall H.T. Atlantic Domino has scored in the low 40s in dressage at the three-star level in the past and is a superb show jumper. If this pair can deliver a speedy cross-country round they could be the winners at this event.