US sweeps board at Canada’s Bromont horse trials

Karen O’Connor (US) and Mr Medicott on their victory round after winning the CIC3* division of the Volvo Bromont CCI3* Three Day Event.
Karen O’Connor (US) and Mr Medicott on their victory round after winning the CIC3* division of the Volvo Bromont CCI3* Three Day Event. © Cealy Tetley,

Jonathan Holling led a clean sweep for the USA at the Volvo Bromont CCI3* Three Day Event in Quebec at the weekend, taking out the feature CCI3* class.

The CIC3* division was won by Karen O’Connor, who also won the CCI2* division and Buck Davidson won the CCI1*.

Holling of Ocala, Florida, led the CCI3* division from beginning to end riding Connie Holling’s eight-year-old Trakehner gelding Downtown Harrison.  Of the initial 18 combinations in the division, 12 completed the event.  Not one of the horses posted a clear round within the time allowed over a demanding course designed by Leopoldo Palacios of Venezuela and built by Mauricio Garcia of Puerto Rico and Canadian J.P. Ayotte.

Holling, entering the arena last, had two rails in hand and he used them both. An early knock down at the second fence, a vertical, was followed by another vertical down at number five.  Holling managed to leave the rest of the jumps in their cups, adding eight faults to his score for a total of 58.8, and clinching victory in his horse’s three-star debut.

“My horse ran great yesterday on cross-country, but he is young and I could tell he was tired today,” said Holling, whose win at Bromont is a career first in a CCI3*.

“After the second rail fell I was doing math in my head as I cantered around, but he jumped better and better as he went.  It’s always nice to win on a clear show jumping round, but this is Bromont, and Bromont is always a true test.”

Even though the CCI3* and CIC3* divisions were the final observation trials for selectors of the US and Canadian Olympic Eventing Teams, Holling said he didn’t declare Downtown Harrison for the US team.  Instead, he is looking ahead to future team opportunities.

“I’d like to think I’ll have him for quite a long time to come.  I could not be happier with him.”

Finishing second in the CCI3* division was Australian-born American Boyd Martin of Unionville, Pennsylvania, riding Trading Aces.  Martin had one rail down, which was good enough to advance him two places from fourth following cross-country.

Holding onto third place with an eight fault round was equine veterinarian Kevin Keane of West Grove, Pennsylvania, riding Fernhill Flutter.  His score of 66.6 kept him just ahead of fourth placed Phillip Dutton, also ofWest Grove, on Atlas with 67.4 penalties.  Dutton lost his second place position when Atlas dropped two rails and incurred a time penalty for not completing the round within the time allowed.

Caitlin Silliman of Paoli, Pennsylvania, was fifth riding Catch A Star.  A 12-fault show jumping round gave Silliman a final score of 78.2 penalties.  Silliman was also awarded the Best Conditioned Horse Award for having the horse that the Veterinary Commission determined had ended the competition in the best physical condition.

• Karen O’Connor of The Plains, Virginia, rode Mr. Medicott through a fault-free show jumping round in the CIC3* division to win on her dressage score of 43 penalties.  The CIC3* division was offered for the first time at Bromont at the specific request of the US and Canadian Olympic Eventing Team selectors.

O’Connor has ridden in four Olympic Games and is hoping to make London her fifth.  A long-time fan of the competition at Bromont, she knew her performance with the 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by the Mr. Medicott Syndicate would be closely watched by the selectors, including team chef d’equipe Captain Mark Phillips.

“Mark made it clear he wanted to see my horse make the time on cross-country,” said O’Connor.  “The selectors were happy to see that.  I love the track at Bromont.  For me, this is about making the US Olympic team, but also about getting there and knowing you are within striking distance of the best in the world.”

Second and third place in the CIC3* went to two combinations who also finished on their dressage scores.  Will Faudree of Hoffman, North Carolina, rode Andromaque around a beautiful clear round to second place on 47.4 penalties, and the winner of last year’s Bromont CCI3*, Clark Montgomery of Fairburn, Georgia, was third with 48 penalties following his fault-free round on Loughan Glen.  Faudree had a second horse in the top five, placing fourth with 53.8 penalties after adding four faults to his score on Pawlaw.

Rebecca Howard of Salmon Arm, BC, was the top Canadian in the CIC3* division, placing fifth.  Riding Riddle Master, the horse on whom she competed at the 2010 World Equestrian Games,  Howard had one of only five clear show jumping rounds within the time to finish the day with 62.6 penalties.  Howard was the winner of the 2011 Bromont CCI** riding Roquefort.

• Karen O’Connor put in another flawless round to win the CCI2* division with Mandiba, a 13-year-old Thoroughbred gelding owned by Joan Goswell.  Going into the show jumping, O’Connor was tied for first place with Will Coleman of Gordonsville, Virginia, riding Zipp.  “Will is closer to the optimum time, so it’s not really a tie,” she explained before the show jumping phase.

O’Connor was impressed with the fact that the show jumping course at Bromont was created by Palacios, a top international show jumping course designer.

“It was very exciting to ride one of his courses,” she said.  “He knows the weaknesses of the event riders, and he asks the right questions of our abilities.”

Having gone second to last, O’Connor’s clear round put the pressure on Coleman, who went last.  Zipp had a single rail down that cost Coleman not only first place, but second as well.  Moving up one place to second was Danielle Dichting of Roswell, Georgia, after her clear show jumping round on The Graduate gave her a score of 48.8, leaving her just ahead of third placed Coleman with 51.9 penalties.

• In the CCI1* division, Buck Davidson of Unionville, Pennsylvania, took top honours on his dressage score of 47.5 penalties riding Copper Beach, a six-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Carl and Cassie Segal and Sherrie Martin.

“It was a fantastic week here at Bromont,” said Davidson.  “It’s so cool to see a place that is made better every year, regardless of whether it’s the one, two or three star. I feel like my horses will leave better horses than they were when they got here.”

Davidson’s clear show jumping round made the difference  in a tight battle among the top three.  Doug Payne of the United States took one rail to finish second on 49.9 penalties, while Alison Springer, who had led the division through the end of cross-country with Eclipse, had two knock downs which in turn knocked her down to third place with 50.8 penalties.

The hard work of the organizing committee and volunteers, along with the generous support of its sponsors, once again produced a resounding success at the 2012 Volvo Bromont CCI3* Three Day Event, which takes place each year at the site of equestrian events at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games.  The cross-country course, designed by Derek di Grazia of Carmel Valley, California, and built by Canadian course builder Jay Hambly, received unanimous praise from the competitors.

Jonathan Holling of the US won the Volvo Bromont CCI3* Three Day Event, The Todd Sandler Challenge, with Downtown Harrison.  Representatives of title sponsor Volvo Canada presented Holling with the Todd Sandler Trophy.
Jonathan Holling of the US won the Volvo Bromont CCI3* Three Day Event, The Todd Sandler Challenge, with Downtown Harrison. Representatives of title sponsor Volvo Canada presented Holling with the Todd Sandler Trophy. © Cealy Tetley

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