September 19, 2015 -- At the completion of the dressage phase at the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials CCI3*on Friday, Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen stand atop the leaderboard with an impressive score of 33.8, while three other American pairs sit in the top 20 of the field of 101. All U.S. combinations performed well in the evident atmosphere of the major competition.
Montgomery (Tetbury, England) and Jessica Montgomery, Kathryn Kraft, and Holly and William Becker's Loughan Glen performed an excellent dressage test to receive a score of 33.8 from the Ground Jury of Tim Downes (GBR), Vanda Robinson (IRL), and Jane Tolley (GBR). He and the 2003 Irish Sport Horse gelding demonstrated lovely, fluid movements throughout their test to lead the competitive field.
“I'm happy with our performance today,” said Montgomery. “We are obviously in a good position for cross-country and the course looks good. I'm looking forward to tomorrow.”
Listen to Montgomery’s thoughts on his test, Blenheim, and the results he and Loughan Glen have achieved this year.
Emily Beshear (Somerset, Va.) had a great test with Deep Purple Eventing's Shame On The Moon in the horse’s European debut to score 44.5. The USEF Land Rover Competition Grant recipients executed wonderful trot and canter tours, with the test only being marred by jigging during the walk tour. She and 2006 Trakehner/Thoroughbred mare sit in 14th place heading into the cross-country phase.
“It was a great experience for her in a new environment, and she handled it really well," explained Beshear. “The course looks fabulous, and it was exactly what I was hoping for when we decided to come here."
As the first U.S. combination on Thursday, Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp (East Sussex, UK) and Deborah Halliday’s Fernhill By Night had a smooth test to score 45.9. The 2003 Irish Sport Horse gelding was a bit reserved in the dressage ring, unable to produce the flashy movements he is known to display. Halliday-Sharp rode him well, though, and the duo is in a solid 15th place in the massive field.
Lauren Kieffer (Middleburg, Va.) and Team Rebecca, LLC's Veronica, recipients of a Karen E. Stives Endowment Fund for High Performance Eventing Competition Grant through the USET Foundation, demonstrated their signature quality dressage test on Thursday to score 46.2. She and the 2003 Dutch Warmblood mare went to task to produce an accurate test and more settled performance than others earlier this year to sit tied in 16th place. Listen to Kieffer’s thoughts on her test and cross-country.
Elisa Wallace (Jasper, Ga.) and David and Jill Hopcroft's Simply Priceless have been making a name for themselves this year and continued to do so today. The USEF Land Rover Competition Grant recipients had a very professional performance in their European debut despite a flying lead change being late behind. Wallace and the 2001 Thoroughbred gelding head into the upcoming phases in 30th place with a score of 50.1.
Attending Blenheim on a USEF Land Rover Competition Grant, Will Coleman (Gordonsville, Va.) and The Four Star Eventing Group's OBOS O’Reilly had a respectable test on Thursday to score 51.1 despite noticeable tension. Coleman rode the 2003 Irish Sport Horse gelding well in the horse’s European FEI debut as he exhibited a fair amount of nerves in the busy surroundings. They are in 35th place as they look forward to reception in the upcoming jumping phases.
Jennifer McFall (Wilton, Calif.) and her own High Times made their overseas debut at Blenheim on Thursday, but struggled with the electric atmosphere. She and the 2004 Holsteiner gelding had a couple mistakes during the walk and canter tours to score 62.9 and stand in 86th place.
The cross-country phase begins Saturday at 9:00 a.m. BST.