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Double Lead for Boyd Martin at Bromont
Bromont, QC, Canada
by Amber Heintzberger
Photo: Anthony Trollope/
Boyd Martin (AUS) and Benwald
2008 marks a milestone in Canadian eventing, with the introduction of a CCI*** Olympic qualifying event at Bromont, Quebec. In the first day of this historic competition, Australian Boyd Martin, based in West Grove, Pennsylvania took the lead riding Anne Hennessy's Irish Thoroughbred gelding Benwald with a relaxed and accurate dressage test that scored 55.0. Canadian Young Rider Waylon Roberts, Port Perry, Ontario is close behind with 58.7 riding Paleface, and Sharon White and The King's Spirit are third with 66.8. Only six horses are contesting the three-star competition, a modest but promising field in the event's inaugural year.

Martin has only been riding Benwald for a few months and had an inauspicious start with the bay gelding. They had a runout at their first event, then jumped the wrong jump their second time out. But recently they placed second in the advanced at MCTA, and Martin is hoping to keep improving on that result.

"He's a much different style horse to what I've ridden," he said. "He has an unconventional style in jumping and dressage. I haven't tried to change him that much; I'm just learning how he likes to be ridden rather than being too hard on him now that he's at a high level. He can get strong and wild at the beginning of jumping so I put him in a plain snaffle and let him go and he just settles down on his own."

Martin also has the lead in the CCI** riding Galileo VI on a score of 47.1. A Trakehner gelding imported from England, he is owned by Christy Price of Texas. He is usually ridden by Martin's employer, Phillip Dutton, but since Dutton is focusing on his Olympic prospects right now Martin has taken over the ride to get the horse qualified for a three-star. It's a new ride for Martin but they won their division of intermediate at Waredaca recently.

"I'll feel what he's doing on cross-country and if he's good early on I'll go for it but if he's green then I will be more conservative," he reasoned. Martin is enthusiastic about tomorrow's cross-country course, designed by Derek diGrazia and built by Jay Hambly and crew.

"It's my first time here at Bromont and the two and three-star courses are two of the best I've ever walked," he said. "They are well built and every question looks fair. I think both courses are tough and testing and really strong, true two and three-stars. I think the time will be hard to get with the terrain here - it's right up there with the harder courses I've walked."

In the CCI* Nicole Parkin, Hockley Valley, Ontario scored an impressive 45.4 on Nique Henrie's eight-year-old Hannoverian mare Lexus to take the lead. Parkin has been riding the mare for three years now and hopes to move her up to intermediate at their next event.

"She was great in dressage today," she said. "They let us ride around the outside of the arena yesterday and that helped - she is experienced at horse trials but green in this kind of atmosphere. I spent the winter in Florida with Peter Gray and that helped a lot - he's been super supportive. I also work on dressage with John McPherson. I am so lucky to have Nique as an owner, she's wonderful and supportive and leaves the decisions to me."

Parkin competed in Young Riders at Bromont in her youth and noted that she thinks it's wonderful that the event has a three-star now.

Looking forward to tomorrow's cross-country, event organizer Sue Ockenden pointed out that tremendous work has been done on the footing, especially on drainage, and that a lot of new terrain has been opened up in the valley where the cross-country course is located. Bromont is held in a picturesque location, with a lake in the middle of the course and small mountains surrounding the valley and providing a beautiful backdrop for the competition. Cross-country day promises to be enjoyable for competitors and spectators alike.

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