World #1 ranked rider Oliver Townend (GBR) and Cooley Master Class remain at the top of the leaderboard at the Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill following a fault-free round during Saturday’s Cross Country Driven by Land Rover.
The Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill, one of only two 5 Star level events in the United States and just the seventh worldwide, runs October 14-17 at the newly constructed Fair Hill Special Event Zone in Elkton, Maryland (Cecil County).
In addition to the 5 Star competition (CCI5*-L), the event also features a 3 Star competition (CCI3*-L), which is serving as the USEF CCI3*-L Eventing National Championship, and The Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse East Coast Championships Presented by Dubarry of Ireland. The four days of Eventing competition culminate in Sunday’s final showjumping phase.
Over 10,000 spectators came out to watch the sport’s top horses and riders navigate the new Ian Stark designed courses. The CCI5*-L featured 43 jumping efforts over a 6,270-meter track.
Only 11 horse-and-rider combinations finished clear within the 11-minute optimum time, including Townend and Angela Hislop’s 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding. The pair maintained their dressage score of 21.1 and remain in first place moving into Sunday’s showjumping phase.
“The course rode well, all in all,” said Townend, 2021 Olympic Team Gold medalist. “The top-class horses coped with it extremely well. Some of the really good gallopers made it look like a walk in the park. The time was not difficult to get with these horses, but at the same time, there were still some nice challenges, some good technical questions. Obviously, there were fences that looked big and scary, which you want in a 5 Star, but my horse came out very well.”
Two-time New Zealand Olympian Tim Price also put in a fault-free round over the Cross Country Driven by Land Rover with Xavier Faer, a 15-year-old British Sport Horse gelding owned by Price, Trisha Rickards, and Nigella Hall. The pair finished on their dressage score of 24.3 and hold onto second place on the leaderboard. Saturday’s completion also makes him the first rider to complete all seven 5 Star events in the world.
“It’s something to be proud of,” Price said. “It does pay to come from the Southern Hemisphere! I think what’s most important about every 5 Star event in the world is that they all have their own stamp of a 5 Star, and this feels like it’s got that. This will be exciting to come back to, and it’s just great to have another one on the calendar.”
Three-time U.S. Olympian Boyd Martin remains in third place with On Cue, a 15-year-old Anglo-European mare owned by Martin and Christine, Thomas, and Tommie Turner. The duo finished penalty-free, maintaining their score of 25.0.
“On Cue gave me a wonderful round today,” Martin said. “I had the luxury of sitting back and watching [Townend and Price] make it look easy. Basically, by the time I went, I knew the distances that suited each combination. I know that my horse is fit and a great galloper, so I knew that if I could get her through the jumps, she would make the time with plenty of gas left. It was a lovely ride. On Cue gave me everything she had today, and I feel fresh and ready to go for tomorrow.”
The Maryland 5 Star was Ian Stark’s debut as a 5 Star course designer. He worried most about accidentally tricking the horses, but he was relieved to see each horse read the questions he presented. “I feel as though I’ve aged 30 years in a week,” he said. “I never thought I was neurotic, but I feel like it now. Thankfully, [the course] just worked. There were good horses and good riders, and they made it look pretty straightforward. There were bits of trouble all over the place, but from my point of view, I’m very happy. I feel like I can breathe tonight.”
Kurt Martin (USA) maintains his lead in the USEF CCI3*-L Eventing National Championship with a score of 23.5. He piloted D.A. Lifetime, Debbie Adams’ 9-year-old mare, through a fault-free cross-country round over the new Ian Stark designed course.
“Clarence is a lot of horse,” Martin said. “It’s more nerve-wracking to ride such a nice horse, and she gets very excited. The first few minutes at the start were really just managing her excitement and enthusiasm to get out there because she loves it so much. As we went around, she seemed to settle, and [the jumps] started to come up a bit better. I’m just so excited about the course, and she tried so hard today. I’m grateful that the owners have given me such an opportunity with such a great horse.”
Fellow American Daniel Clasing, who was in fourth after Friday’s dressage phase, has moved into second place with his own fault-free round aboard Olney Uncle Sam, a 14-year-old American Trakehner gelding owned by Jennifer Ward.
“I’m thrilled to be in second,” Clasing said. “I thought the horse was really good. It maybe wasn’t the cleanest round we’ve ever had, but he’s a phenomenal horse and can do things really easily.
“I thought there was a lot to do in the beginning coming down the hill,” Clasing added about the course. “Then once you got to the Sawmill Field, you had just a couple of jumps and then a long pull. It was really testing the horses’ fitness and how fast you could gallop up the hill.”
Caroline Martin remains in third place with HSH Vamonos, her and Sherrie Martin’s 8-year-old Zangersheide gelding. The pair finished their ride with only two time faults, resulting in a score of 27.5 going into Sunday’s showjumping phase. She has had one of the busiest weeks of all the competitors, riding in The Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse East Coast Championships Presented by Dubarry of Ireland divisions as well as the CCI3*-L and CCI5*-L.
“I have to say I have a really, really, really good crew,” Martin said. “All of the girls came from our barn, and my assistant is there every moment with the horses.”
The entire CCI5* is available via livestream presented by MARS Equestrian. It can be accessed through USEF Network in North America and through Horse & Country outside North America. USEF Network is also providing exclusive coverage of the CCI3*. A link to the livestream is available on the event’s website via the USEF Network player.
For full results, visit here.