Phillip Dutton and Ben won the CIC3* at Bromont in June.
Pennsylvania eventers put in a very strong performance at the Volvo Bromont Three-Day Event in Quebec in June, claiming top placings in the CCI3* and wins in the CIC3* and CCI2* divisions. The horses and riders battled cold and rainy conditions all weekend, which made for tough going on cross-country day.
Phillip Dutton, who trains out of his own True Prospect Farm in West Grove, Pa., won the CIC3* division with Ben, a 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Team Rebecca. Bromont introduced a CIC3* division last year, and just nine riders entered this year. Four fell from their mounts on cross-country day, leaving a very small division to show jump on the final day.
But Dutton and Ben put in a dominant performance from the beginning, scoring a 46.9 in the dressage — which would have led the CCI3* division — putting in a clear cross-country trip with time and pulling one rail in the show jumping. Ben is making a comeback after sustaining an injury last year, and Dutton said he is pleased with the horse’s progress.
“His owner, Sarah Kelly, and I will discuss his fall campaign, but I’d like to do another three star this year with him, perhaps Blenheim this fall,” Dutton said. “I think that would be a good next step, and he’s not quite ready for a four star yet.”
Erin Sylvester and Mettraise
Erin Sylvester, who trains out of Ferideh Farm in Cochranville, Pa., won the CCI2* division aboard Mettraise, a 9-year-old Thoroughbred mare. This mare is a relatively new ride for Sylvester, as she bought her last September through Dutton, who had the mare in training to sell.
“I spent most of last fall figuring her out,” Sylvester said. “She was the first horse that I had not brought along from the very start, as she was already going preliminary when I got her. That was different for me.”
Sylvester and “Missy” were in 12th place after dressage on a score of 60, but rocketed up the leaderboard to first place after the cross country, where they came home clear with just 2.4 time penalties.
“She’s definitely my type of ride to jump,” Sylvester said. “She’s a forward-thinking horse, and she likes to lock onto jumps. If I had one criticism of the weekend, it would be that she got a little bit distracted in the dressage and show jumping.”
Missy pulled two rails in the show jumping — although she still clinched the win — and Sylvester said this phase is still a work in progress for the mare. Criticisms aside, Sylvester is thrilled with the mare’s performance in her first CCI2*.
“For how inexperienced she is, she really sized everything up and tried very hard,” Sylvester said. “She blew my mind on cross country and skipped around so easily. I hoped she would jump clear, but I didn’t expect her to take charge and jump around with such ease.”
Buck Davidson’s Talented 7-Year-Olds
Buck Davidson, who rides out of his family’s farm in Riegelsville, Pa., took second and third places in the CCI2* division aboard Santa’s Keeper and Knight Lion, respectively.
Buck stalked the leaders in the CCI2* all weekend with Santa’s Keeper, or “Simon,” a 7-year-old Thoroughbred gelding owned by Carl Segal, sitting in fourth after dressage and dropping to seventh after an unfortunate runout late on cross country at the final water complex.
“I got Simon off the track from Keeneland as a 3 year old,” Davidson said. “He’s not the bravest horse to ride on cross country, but he’s probably the easiest. It really started raining hard when we were out on course, but it didn’t faze him.”
Out of all the horses in his barn, Davidson believes Knight Lion, his own 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, has the most potential to be a four-star horse. “Breven” showed just how good he can be at Bromont, and he was the only horse to make the time on cross country.
“Cross country was unbelievable,” Davidson said. “When I finished, I asked Jessica Phoenix if she thought the course was really easy. She said, ‘Not really.’ I thought I might have missed a jump because he was on cruise control. I haven’t found a jump yet that he even looked at.”
That lightning fast cross-country round moved Davidson and Breven from 20th all the way up to second place going into the show jumping. While Breven had rails on the last day, Davidson is really excited about the future with this horse.
“I'm planning for both Simon and Breven to move up to Advanced at New Jersey this summer,” Davidson said. “Any 7-year-olds that are going in the top five at a CCI2* are something special. I just have to hope they stay stand up to the rigors of competing.”
Sally Cousins and Tsunami
Sally Cousins, who rides out of her farm in West Grove, Pa., brought home the best placing of all the Pennsylvania-based riders in the CCI3*, finishing the weekend in third place with Tsunami, her own 14-year-old Thoroughbred mare.
Cousins and “Sue” were in 17th place after dressage on a score of 64.2, but that day became a distant memory after the pair smoked the cross country. As the only pair to make the time, they moved all the way up to second place.
“I was pretty disappointed with the dressage,” Cousins said. “Prior to her getting sick at Rolex, I’d had some good tests with good scores, and I haven’t been able to recreate that since. The weather was cold, windy and rainy for her test, and that doesn’t do anything for a horse that tends to be tense.”
But just a day can make all the difference in the world, and Cousins and Sue dominated Derek De Grazia’s challenging CCI3* course that caught out numerous riders and drastically altered the leaderboard.
“It wasn’t even that hard to make the time on her,” Cousins said. “She’s very fast and experienced, and I was able to cut corners and take different lines than people on greener horses.”
If all goes according to plan, Cousins and Sue will cross the pond this fall to tackle the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in Stamford, England, one of the toughest three-day events and one of the world's six CCI4* events.
“She had a week off after Bromont and is back to walking now,” Cousins said. “We’re going to have the vet out to do a complete workup on her. We’ll see how she’s training and see what the vet says, but the plan right now is definitely Burghley.”