Leslie Law Wins Richland CIC3*
Richland, MI, USA
"He started off with a few rubs but then got kept getting better and better," Law said after his faultless trip. "On the whole he jumped very well."
Richard Jeffery designed the course, which saw 11 double-clear rounds of the remaining 22 combinations, and offered a number of questions for competitors to ponder.
"There were a lot of related distances out there," Law commented. "I suppose indecision comes into your brain a little bit especially after watching other rides and seeing extra strides added here or there. But I basically went in having watched a few and went with what I had originally planned."
Finishing in second place were Jennie Brannigan and her 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood Cooper. Despite a less than ideal warm up, Brannigan and her exuberant partner made the course look effortless as they finished on their dressage score of 50.2.
"I have to say he wasn't feeling the greatest in the warm up," Brannigan admitted. "He was a bit tight and just excited with all the atmosphere and I think he jumps better when he's just a touch more relaxed and can really get up in the air. But he did jump well and I'm thrilled with him."
While Brannigan still sees room for improvement in her dressage and show jumping with Cooper, she said Saturday's cross-country trip was not only one of the best she's ever had with him, but also symbolized a turning point in her riding career.
"The cross-country was the strongest of my three phases this weekend and it hasn't been in awhile" she explained. "He felt like he could jump around Rolex this spring here this weekend. After going to Bramham and having such a big disappointment and not being mentally in the right place, now I'm feeling better mentally and I think that will show in my riding.
Brannigan and Cooper had earned the USET Jacqueline Mars International Competition and Training Grant earlier this year which helped them gain some valuable international experience competing outside of the U.S. at the Bramham CCI3* in England this June. While they led the Under 25 division after a brilliant dressage test, a runout and time faults on cross-country quickly dampened their positive drive.
The pair regained some confidence after winning an Intermediate division at the Fair Hill International Horse Trials on their dressage score in early August. Now, after their trip at Richland, Brannigan feels that she and Cooper are back on track.
"My priority here was to get back on track with this horse and I think we accomplished that," she said. "When you're sitting in second place by less than a point and watching Leslie Law show jump, you'd like to have the win, but I didn't come here to win this weekend, I came here to get ready to win Fair Hill in the fall."
Moving up to finish in third place was Phillip Dutton aboard Woodburn. They navigated the course flawlessly to finish with 54.7. Just behind Dutton in fourth place finished fellow Aussie Boyd Martin riding Bruce Davidson's homebred mare, Rock On Rose. Mara Dean and High Patriot jumped into fifth place with a double-clear round and finished on a score of 57.3.
With her faultless cross-country trip on Saturday, crystal clean show jumping trip on Sunday and second-placed finish, Jennie Brannigan collected 270 more Gold Cup points to add to the 200 she racked up earlier on in the season at The Fork Horse Trials. Her total now tallies 465 to lead the Series with only two events remaining.
"Who would have thought I'd be leading the Gold Cup?" Brannigan said smiling. "Ten thousand dollars..." she pondered the year-end purse for a moment. "Guess I'm going to the AEC!"
Likewise, Leslie Law and Fleeceworks Mystere Du Val now sit close behind Brannigan, tied in second place with Kelly Prather and Ballinakill Glory on a cumulative score of 415.
Both Law and Brannigan plan to attend the Bit of Britain USEA American Eventing Championships where the Advanced division will award more Gold Cup spoils and points to top placers. The Twin Rivers Horse Trials, whose CIC3* serves as the final Gold Cup event in the series, runs two weeks after the AEC which could make the Championships at Lamplight a pivotal competition in determining who will claim the year-end $10,000 Gold Cup bonus.
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