Boyd Martin set himself up for a successful fall with a win aboard Trading Aces in the Richland CIC3* in Richland, Mich., in August. Martin, whose Windurra Farm is based in Cochranville, Pa., positioned himself well after dressage, scoring 43.9 to sit in second place behind fellow Pennsylvanian Phillip Dutton and Ben.
Trading Aces, a 2004 Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by the Trading Aces Syndicate, perfomed a lovely test sans a silly spot when he bucked during a change, catching Martin off guard in a comical moment. But the bobble didn’t detract from Oscar’s lovely gaits and Martin’s accurate riding, and they sat within striking distance for show jumping the next day.
Renowned show jumping course designer Marc Donovan built a course that shook up the leader board substantially, with both time penalties and rails factoring heavily into the scores. Martin and Oscar jumped one of just eight double clear rounds — which he attributed to the horse’s penchant for this phase.
“He’s a really good quality jumper,” Martin said. “You don’t have to do much of anything to get a clear round out of him — just ride him well, point him at the jumps and he usually goes clear.” Martin and Oscar moved into first place on the merits of their double clear show jumping round, and he made it clear that he intended to “go for it” on cross country the next day.
“He’s got a bit of mileage under his belt now, since he’s spent nearly 12 months at the Advanced level,” Martin said. “It’s time to forget that he was a green horse; now he’s a big-time horse and I need to be able to pull the trigger. This is a perfect situation to test him.”
Indeed, Ian Stark’s monster CIC3* cross-country course had the barns abuzz all weekend, as many riders thought of tricky lines like 19AB to 20 as more of a four-star question. Only a handful of riders successfully took the direct route through that combination, and Martin and Oscar were one of the pairs to do so.
“The mission was to go clear and fast, and he was jumping great, so I was managing to catch the fences out of stride,” Martin said. “I wanted to be competitive, so I took an inside turn into the sunken road, which turned a three-star question into a four-star question.”
With the Richland win under their belt, Martin and Oscar next head to the Boekelo CCI3* Oct. 10-13 in the Netherlands as recipients of a coveted Land Rover Competition Grant. It will be Oscar’s first CCI event since Rolex, where Martin retired the horse just a few fences from home on cross country.
“I need to get him a little bit fitter still,” Martin said. “He’s really good in the show jumping, so I don’t think I’ll have to work on that, but we’ll keep chipping away at the dressage.”
Martin’s wife Silva, a Grand Prix dressage rider who hails from Germany, has worked diligently on Oscar’s dressage this year and hoped to show him in Fourth Level at Dressage at Devon at the end of September.
“I’d like to knock his dressage score down into the 30s,” Martin said. “He did a good test at Richland, but to be competitive overseas we still need to knock five or six points off in preparation for Europe.”
Richland served as Martin’s first major event back in the irons since undergoing surgery in May to repair six torn tendons and ligaments — which he sustained while falling from a scooter and horse on consecutive days at Southern Pines — in his right ankle. While he’s sporting a nasty scar, Martin said the ankle is healing well.
“It’s been three months since the operation, and the ankle doesn’t quite bend properly yet, but it’s nearly there,” Martin said. “I’m facing another four weeks of physiotherapy, and then it should be mostly back to normal.”
Looking Ahead to Fair Hill
The Fair Hill International CCI3*, the fall’s premier event on the East Coast, will be held the week after Boekelo on Oct. 16-20 in Elkton, Md. While entries have not yet been finalized as of press time, numerous Pennsylvanians are sure to compete in the prestigious CCI3* and CCI2* divisions.
Pan Am Game gold medalists Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot took the CCI3* title last year, adding their names to a star-studded list of horse-and-rider pairs that previously clinched the honors, including Boyd Martin and Ying Yang Yo in 2011.
Katie Murphy and her own Esccord RGS, a 5-year-old Hanoverian gelding, will be returning to defend their 4-year-old Championships title, and numerous new 4-year-old competitors will undoubtedly burst onto the scene as well.
In addition to the CCI3* and CCI2* Fall Championship divisions, Fair Hill also plays host to the USEA Spalding Labs Young Event Horse East Coast Championships in both the 4- and 5-year-old divisions.
Dubbed the Festival in the Country, Fair Hill boasts a four-day celebration of the Maryland lifestyle, featuring food and beverages native to the Chesapeake Bay area, dog agility competitions, President’s Cup Pony Club games, live music, classic cars and a trade fair filled with shopping opportunities.
Tickets are $10 for adults on Friday and $15 on Saturday and Sunday. Multi-day passes can be purchased for $30 in advance or $35 at the gate. For more information on the Fair Hill International Three-Day Event, visit www.fairhillinternation.com.