CIC3* Fork: Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous Lead from Start to Finish
Marilyn Little (USA) and RF Scandalous crossed the finish line of the FEI CIC 3* at The Fork at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) presented by Lucky Clays Farm with a fierce determination as they attempted to maintain their competition-long lead. The duo paced through the inaugural use of the track to conclude their weekend with a score of 47.70, after adding six time faults in their final phase. Doug Payne (USA) and Vandiver moved up from fourth to second after finishing as the only pair to go double clear cross-country and end with score of 50.80, while Kim Severson (USA) and Cooley Cross Border rounded out the top three with a score of 51.70.
Little and RF Scandalous, a 2005 Oldenburg mare (Carry Gold x Lario) owned by Jacqueline Mars, Robin Parsky, and Phoebe & Michael Manders dominated the competition throughout the week and triumphed with a forward and smart cross-country trip around the course, co-designed by Captain Mark Phillips and Tremaine Cooper.
“I want to thank Mark Bellissimo and his team, as well as Jim and Bernadette Cogdell, for starting this event so long ago, that has such a tradition and has been brought here to this incredible venue. That is special today, but even more special is knowing where it’s going in the future,” commented Little. “It was a pleasure for all of us to be galloping around on what will be the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 course, and one day will be very hallowed ground.”
RF Scandalous and Little were nearly foot perfect the entire competition, piecing together three fantastic phases, and exemplifying their preparation and training during the winter season. While the course rode fantastic throughout the day, as all 17 combinations contesting the FEI CIC 3* completed the track, Little felt that the difficulty of the questions asked was spot on for their needs moving forward into their season
“It was a lovely run from start to finish. We had a beautiful few days after some incredible rains and it only speaks to the venue and to the course that it was able to take those rains and give us the gallop and terrain we had today,” she noted. “This was my first run of the year and she gave me a great ride out there today. I was thrilled with her.”
While most of the combinations competing throughout the week are heading to Lexington, KY, in just a few short weeks, Little is still working through her plans with RF Scandalous and where they will come out to compete next.
“I will go back and talk to her owners after this and the team behind her; Jacqueline Mars has been in the sport far longer than I have and she watches closely. We’ll go back and have a meeting of the minds and figure out what will work best for her,” she noted. “While she is twelve, she’s only a few years into this sport and today she gave me the feeling of a confirmed horse. She was very confident at the fences and I let her go and she started flying. I think that spoke well to her fitness for the first run and I think Luhmühlen is definitely on the table. She strikes me as a horse that’s ready for a 4* and this was a great kick-off to what is hopefully a fantastic season.”
Doug Payne, who piloted Vandiver, a 2004 American Trakehener gelding (Windfall x Mystic Replica XX) owned by Debi Crawley, inched up the leaderboard throughout the week to ultimately finish behind Little.
“I have to thank Debi Crawley, she often times is not able to be here, but she was today. She bred Quinn and has had him from the start. Debi has been absolutely great,” said Payne, taking a moment to appreciate Vandiver’s owner. “I’ve just been trying to be smoother and smoother. I want to be more efficient with the lines taken and out there in general. I’m very lucky to have such a talented horse because he has an exceptional gallop.”
“Honestly, he just cruised around and I’m enjoying it while we have the opportunity,” he concluded. Payne also finished in first and second place in the George H. Morris Arena in the $15,000 Jumper Classic during Tryon Spring III, hosted just before the start of cross country on the White Oak property.
“It was great that worked out. It’s amazing that we have a facility that can accommodate both. I can’t thank the staff enough. They were very flexible and helped us with all of the scheduling,” he added.
Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border, a 2007 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Diamond Roller x Osilvis) owned by The Cross Syndicate, concluded their weekend in third place, after a strong showing on their way to the Rolex Three Day Event CCI 4* in Lexington, KY, in April.
“Cross was fantastic. I mean a lot of the people who know us, know our situation has not always been smooth sailing, but I think we’ve done a lot of good work the past few years and given him enough time to go the right way,” said Severson. “He got better and better this weekend. We had a large jump into the water and he fought for it the rest of the way around the course. I’m just thrilled with him.”
Jim and Bernadette Cogdell, organizers of The Fork event for many years at their property in Norwood, NC, were on hand to discuss the week’s events and comment on the transition from their beautiful farm only a few hours to the east