Three-time Olympian Boyd Martin became the first American to win a CCI5*-L since 2008 when he piloted On Cue to victory at the inaugural Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill.
The Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill, one of only two 5 Star level events in the United States and just the seventh worldwide, took place October 14-17 at the newly constructed Fair Hill Special Event Zone in Elkton, Maryland (Cecil County). The event’s prestigious 5 Star (CCI5*-L) designation is the pinnacle of the Olympic sport of Eventing, often described as an equestrian triathlon.
In addition to the 5 Star competition (CCI5*-L), the event also featured a 3 Star competition (CCI3*-L), which served as the USEF CCI3*-L Eventing National Championship, and The Dutta Corp. USEA Young Event Horse East Coast Championships Presented by Dubarry of Ireland. The four days of Eventing competition featured Dressage (Thu-Fri), Cross-Country (Sat) showcasing the new Ian Stark designed courses, and Show Jumping (Sun).
Thirty-four horses returned to the Main Arena for their final showjumping test after Sunday’s second horse inspection on the new jog strip recently put in by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Martin and his 15-year-old Anglo-European mare – co-owned by Christine, Thomas, and Tommie Turner – turned in one of only seven clear rounds over the 16-effort, 1.30m course designed by Ken Krome, ending on their dressage score of 25.0.
Martin was all smiles after winning the title and a third of the $300,000 prize money. “To be quite frank, Oliver [Townend] and Tim [Price] own super-duper jumpers, and I was just hoping to finish in the Top 5 today. On Cue really gusted out and jumped around; I think Lady Luck was on our side. We bumped and thumped a few poles, but I never heard one come down. I couldn’t believe that I got a clear round. I would have been happy with third or second, but winning is a great privilege. [Oliver and Tim] are two riders that I’ve sort of idolized and looked up to, and I learned a bit from their mentality and their championship ideology. Today was On Cue’s day, and it’s great to win it.”
“Coming into this thing, I thought I had a chance just because she was really good at Kentucky this year and was sort of my backup horse for the Olympics and was fit for that,” Martin said. “I knew there was a chance but that it would be very, very competitive.
“I think obviously you want to bring out a really good athlete for any 5 Star, and I think this event’s going to evolve in years to come,” he added. “It’ll probably be the world’s greatest 5 Star. This year already established it as a world-class event. It was just fantastic.”
Oliver Townend (GBR) and Cooley Master Class seemed unbeatable throughout the four days of competition with their dressage score of 21.1 and a clear round over the Cross Country Driven by Land Rover. A dropped rail at the fourth fence knocked him into second place. He and Angela Hislop’s 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding finished on a total score of 25.1, just 0.1 behind Martin’s clear round.
“I have so much respect for Boyd,” Townend said. “We always have a conclusion with a few words between myself and Karyn [Shuter], who runs the show with me. When I got off, we said we were very happy with how our horse jumped. We’re very happy with Boyd, too. Some days are your days, and some days aren’t your days. Today was Boyd’s day.
“It does show people that we are normal people, and that you can make it to the pinnacle of the sport,” Townend added. “That’s the message I want to get out to any kid that’s thinking, ‘I can’t do it. I’m not from a wealthy background.’ You can make it to the top of the sport, and it is very possible. I’m very proud of Boyd, Tim, and myself to have worked hard and thankfully be once again sat [on top].”
Although two-time New Zealand Olympian Tim Price had the fastest showjumping round aboard Xavier Faer, a 15-year-old British Sport Horse gelding owned by Price, Trisha Rickards, and Nigella Hall, a pole down at the second fence moved him into third place with a score of 28.3.
“I’ve just been so grateful to have another competition at this level, even in its early 5 Star stages,” Price said. “I’m excited to see what comes in the future here.
“I brought a horse myself that I felt was going to be very capable of the cross-country,” Price added. “That’s the place where you can really fall out of a competition or stay in the competition, so I felt with a course designer like Ian Stark and from the reputation I’ve heard this place has with its undulations, I brought a horse that could go around. Having the second rail is not a great beginning to your [showjumping] round, but he’s a trier. He’s a very simple horse; if I get him to the fence the right way with the right energy, we can get away with it most of the time. I’m very pleased with the result and just to be up here again with these boys.”
For full results, visit results.hippodata.de.
The entire CCI5* is available via livestream presented by MARS Equestrian. It can be accessed through USEF Network in North America and through Horse & Country outside North America. USEF Network is also providing exclusive coverage of the CCI3*. A link to the livestream is available on the event’s website via the USEF Network player. Additionally, press conferences are being livestreamed through the event’s Facebook page.