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Jersey Fresh 2007: Bonnie's Big Weekend
Allentown, NJ, USA
by Karen Briggs

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Penny Rowland and Eric
Last year at Jersey Fresh, Jan Byyny pulled off a one-two finish in the CCI*** division, but in 2007 Bonnie Mosser, of Unionville, Pennsylvania, went her one better. Mosser, 44, made history at the Jersey Fresh CCI***/** this weekend (May 30-June 3, 2007) by winning BOTH the three-star and Advanced Horse Trials divisions, aboard Merloch and Close the Deal.

The wins put Mosser in the enviable position of having three well-qualified potential mounts for the upcoming Pan Am Games, as she also has the veteran Jenga, who did not run cross-country at Jersey Fresh, but showjumped on Sunday and put in a tidy clear round as if to signal his readiness.

"This was a heck of a day," a pleased Mosser said. "I've won a three-star before, but I never expected to have two big wins like this at a single event."

In fact, Mosser's Merloch was also named Best Conditioned Horse, and to cap things off, she received the Best Turned Out award too!

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Vanessa Fenwick and Magic Carpet
Asked which horse she would select to ride at the Pan Ams, given the choice, she shook her head: "I honestly don't know at this point. I have all three on the list, and all three are amazing. Jenga and Merloch are similar to ride - they're both pony-like and sensible whereas Close the Deal has a redhead streak in him."

Her newest ride, Merloch, is a nine-year-old New Zealand-bred gelding Mosser originally found for her student, Alexandra Zavoyna, four years ago. At the time, the horse had completed one one-star. Mosser persuaded her student to buy him sight unseen, and the pair had considerable success in the Young Riders division before Zavoyna went off to college and handed the reins over to Mosser. "He's very rideable, has a good temperament - he's a Steady Eddie," she says. "He's turned out even better than we'd hoped."

Jersey Fresh finally got some relief from the heat for Sunday's stadium phase, with temperatures falling about 20 degrees as the remnants of Tropical Storm Barry moved in to provide some light rain. With the heat no longer an impediment, all that remained to challenge the riders were Sally Ike's big, technical showjumping courses. In particular, the Advanced course, shared by those in the CCI*** and Advanced Horse Trials divisions, was rated by the riders as very demanding. "It was tough," said Mosser, simply, and Mara Dean (third in the CCI*** division with Nicki Henley, after a four-fault round), elaborated, "It required that you ride really forward and then negotiate a lot of sharp turns." Eighteen-year-old Waylon Roberts (third in the Advanced HT with Paleface), rated it, "herky-jerky"! Clear rounds were definitely the exception rather than the rule, and time faults were also plentiful in the CCI*** division, with only six of the remaining 39 competitors managing to make no additions to their two-day scores.

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Waylon Roberts and Pale Face
The two-star division went first, with Clark Montgomery and Up Spirit having two rails in hand over their next nearest rivals, Buck Davidson and Ballynoecastle RM, and Jessica Kiener on My Boy Bobby, tied for second. Montgomery used both of those rails, but managed to hang on to the win by his fingernails, while Davidson and Kiener both turned in clear rounds and had to be separated by virtue of Buck having been closer to the optimum time on cross-country. Jennifer Libby and Jazz King maintained their fourth-place position, as did her sister Emilee Libby in the Advanced HT divison with Cahir.

Top Canadian in the two-star division was Penny Rowland aboard Eric, a chestnut Thoroughbred who finally, after about six years of mishaps, succeeded in completing a two-star! They placed 12th, followed closely by Vanessa Fenwick and Magic Carpet (14th). Rowland's working student Danielle Ziehlke and Glasgow Dancer placed 28th in their first two-star, and Sonya Crampton and Kenlis Cavalier rounded out the Canadian contingent in 33rd.

Several horses who had not made an appearance on cross-country day, did so in the Advanced Horse Trials division on stadium day - treating the competition as a combined test as recommended by US Team selectors. Their scores were discounted, but their performances were undoubtedly closely watched. The crowd was particularly pleased to witness the rubber-ball style of Karen O'Connor's pony-sized partner, now universally recognized as Teddy, as well as near-Rolex winner Kristin Bachman and Gryffindor. The Canadians, too, put in some stellar performances - especially a workmanlike double clear from Alberta's Sandra Donnelly and Buenos Aires, who ended up fifth in the division. Jonathon Holling, who was leading after cross-country with Lion King II, was disappointed to have three rails and drop to second. "I was hoping to have a better result," he admitted. "He can be a tough horse in the showjumping and he didn't jump all that well today. I have yet to have a horse who was equally good in all three phases, and this is definitely his weakest area. We'll go back to the drawing board and get it sorted out."

In the afternoon, the three-star horses tackled the stadium course as the light rain continued. There were a surprising number of 20- and even 28-fault rides, a testament to the difficulty of Ike's track, and very few managed to make the time and leave the rails up - although New Zealander Donna Smith did so early on with Rocket, moving up nine placings in the process to finish 35th. The second double clear wouldn't come until Amy Tryon and Poggio II bounded around in their usual exuberant style, belying the fact that Poggio has not done a major competition in some time.

Will Coleman had been sitting in first place going into stadium with Icarus, a gorgeous gray on whom he'd been given the ride only three weeks previously. But the greenness of the partnership became a factor, when they pulled two rails and added a couple of time faults, to fall into fourth place. From and Stephen Bradley, however, managed to maintain their second place position with a four-fault round, and Dean piloted Nicki Henley similarly to hang on to third. Both riders were thrilled with their mounts: "It's fun to get From back (from a tendon injury) and get to do this again," said Bradley. "I'm really proud of him." Said Dean, "It's been a bumpy road, and I feel like we've really smoothed it out. I couldn't be more excited about this horse right now."

Selena O'Hanlon was the surprise top Canadian in the three-star division, aboard Columbo; their final score of 62.9 pp was good enough for seventh place. Jessica Phoenix and Exploring were 11th, Wendy Southam and Ruba Z 15th, Mike Winter and Wonderful Will 20th, Tabitha Lee and Calypso 31st, and Jessica Hampf and High Society III finished 39th.

A number of other awards were presented at Jersey Fresh this year, including the "Traveller Forever Young" Memorial award honouring the oldest horse to complete the two- or three-star (won by Dorothy Crowell's 17-year-old Radio Flyer - though Will Faudree's Antigua is reportedly older, he had not been declared for consideration). The top Young Rider in the CCI*** was O'Connor student Lauren Kieffer, 25th aboard Tigger Too; Closest to Optimum Time on Cross-Country was shared by Allison Springer and Kim Severson in the three-star division, and won by Clark Montgomery aboard Raconteur in the two-star; and Will Coleman's groom Katie Strickland was honoured as Best Groom with a wooden tack trunk full of goodies. The top Young Rider in the two-star division was Olivia Loiacono, with Subway (10th), and Andrea Leatherman's Mensa was honoured with the Re-Run Award for the top-placing Thoroughbred ex-racehorse. Best Conditioned in the two-star was Will Faudree's Mr. McWhinney, and Best Turned Out in that division was Canada's Sonya Crampton with Kenlis Cavalier.


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