Rolex Recap: Dressage Day 1

John reports that Boyd Martin and Remington stepped up to take a late-afternoon lead, concluding the first of two days of Rolex dressage.

Top photo: Boyd and Remi with a smile to the crowd.

From John:

Boyd Martin and Remington were the second to last pair to ride on Thursday at Rolex, but their performance was well worth the wait.  Boyd rode the 16 year old veteran Remington to near perfection and took the lead from Karen O’Connor and Veronica with a 45.3.  There were many horses competing today that were flashier movers than Remington, but Boyd rode a very accurate test and found just the right tempo to present “Remi’s” best gaits to the judges.  The only criticism of “Remi’s” test would be a couple of inconsistent flying changes.  With so many big horses still to compete on Friday, I don’t expect 45.3 to be in the lead going into the cross-country, but it will put Boyd and Remi in great position for the weekend.  The field is tightly packed behind Remington, with just a rail separating 2nd through 7th.

Thursday Rolex Dressage Scores:
1. Boyd Martin and Remington 45.3
2. Karen O’Connor and Veronica 47.8
3. Andrew Nicholson and Calico Joe (NZL) 48.7
4. Becky Holder and Courageous Comet 48.8
5. Doug Payne and Running Order 50.2
6. Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch 51.0
7. Will Coleman and Twizzel 51.3
8. Marilyn Little-Meredith and RF Rovano Rex 54.7

[Full Rolex Live Scores]

Overall the dressage scores on Thursday were quite high.  I think some of this is because the 4* Dressage Test B is a real challenge and some of it is because there just weren’t any really spectacular tests today.  The B 4* test is challenging particularly because the trot work is broken up by a turn on the haunches and because the test features the always challenging shoulder-ins down the centerline (which adds to the difficulty in maintaining straightness and rhythm).  The judges must have read my post about judges usually being conservative with the first few rides–three of the top four horses after Thursday (Veronica, Calico Joe, and Comet) were part of the very first morning group!

Doug Payne and Running Order put together a great test for their first 4*.  Running Order showed the potential he has in a throughout the test and a few bobbles kept them from a better score than the 51.0 that they received.  Doug should be really happy with that test and he got a big cheer from the crowd as they left the arena.  They sit in 5th.

Doug was followed in the arena by his sister Holly Payne, who was riding Madeline, yet another really nice mare to compete here today.  Madeline was a little tense in her first 4* dressage test, but Holly rode beautifully and they should be really proud of their effort.  What a special day for the Payne family!

Lainey Ashker and Anthony Patch delivered a lovely test.  Their canter work dropped their score a bit, but they produced a picture of relaxed obedience and quality gaits.  This crowd favorite pair heads into the weekend on 51.3 and they are currently in 6th.

I wrote about this in the live blog, but I think that a test where a rider accomplishes her goals and the horse responds well is a great performance even if it doesn’t get the best score.   Katie Ruppel and Sir Donovan had a great test today.   They were eliminated last year when Donald wasn’t in the mood to do dressage, but he was 100% improved this year.  Donald was relaxed and extremely obedient for Katie.  They didn’t score the best but Katie had the biggest smile of the day on her face when they left the arena.

Erin Sylvester struggled with a very tense No Boundaries today, but she kept her cool and put together the best test she could.  They received an error for entering the arena after the allotted pre-test time amount.  The super mare UN was a tense but she listened to Jane Sleeper well and they will move onto their best two phases on a 68.5.

A bobble in the trot was the only big problem in Will Coleman and Twizzel’s test, which scored a 51.3.  Will Coleman and Twizzel have had terrible luck including an inexplicable tumble last year at Rolex and a freak lameness minutes before their Burghley dressage that left as quickly as it appeared.  When Will and Twiz do finally catch a break they will put together a terrific weekend.  Twizzel was among a few horses in the afternoon group that I would have scored better.  Peter Barry’s Kilrodan Abbott was really kind and obedient and I felt he deserved better than 60.3.  Kadi Eykamp and Double Rivers Dillon produced some really nice movements with Dillon’s usual flashy gaits but still only scored a 58.3.

Boyd taking the lead was the headline from the final group, but Thursday concluded with some really nice rides from Holly Hudspeth, Jordan Linstedt, Diana Burnett, and Heather Morris–they all produced good performances from their horses.  Diana Burnett has a good shot at making the Canadian Olympic team with a good performance this weekend.  Tullibards Hawkwind stuck me as a lovely big horse with nice movement and a lot of upside for the future–I can’t wait to see them on Saturday.

Some really heavy hitters ride on Friday including Burghley 2011 champions and my pick to win William Fox-Pitt and Parklane Hawk.  Thank you so much to all of our readers who joined and contributed to our live blog today.  If you had trouble logging on we will be expanding our capacity for tomorrow.  Thank you also to all of the organizers, sponsors, and volunteers who make Rolex possible.

Go eventing.


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