TRYON, N.C. — Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg sailed clear through the Cross-Country course to take top honors and conclude CCI 4*-S competition at The Fork at TIEC presented by Lucky Clays Farm at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC).
Martin, of Cochranville, Pa., stopped the timers in 6:47 to finish on a total score of 35.00, improving from a third place rank throughout the week.
Twenty-six pairs tested the track set by Captain Mark Phillips (IRL), hosted on the White Oak Course at TIEC and mimicking the same course used for the FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018 (WEG). Martin was happy for some redemption over a particular sailboat obstacle that he admitted was less distracting than in September: "At WEG I got the wrong ride in, plus there was a lot of other stuff around it to distract the horse and that wasn't there today, so it was a little bit easier to get him over it today," he explained.
"But still, it was a good feeling getting over it and I got a big, big cheer from the crowd. I could distinctively hear the owner shrieking, Christine Turner, who has been a great supporter and I could hear her cheering on her horse," said Martin. "It was good to get that behind [me] and come here, and to be honest the horse, Thomas, is a little bit more seasoned now and a little further on. He's probably learned a little bit more in the last 12 months, so he feels a lot more seasoned now, so he's a lot easier to ride.
"He's not so distracted and I've learned how to ride him a bit differently and a bit better, too," Martin continued of the 2007 Trakehner gelding (Windfall x Buddenbrock). "It was good to have a win because I had a bit of an awkward start to the year — just sort of bouncing around, a bit injured here and there, and missing a few shows, and it was good to win one, but [it's] also good to always remember that some of the best horses here chose to run a bit slow to prepare for Kentucky, so we still got a little bit of work ahead of us. But he was good and strong in all three phases."
Martin allowed that he did plan to go a bit quick due to missing some prior events in the year, but didn't go "flat out." He continued, I thought [he needed] a good run and a bit of a fitness run, but not to go so fast that you risk an injury or anything like that. He felt very, very strong around the whole track and was quite fit. He jumped really well and I think we're in good shape."
The White Oak Course, which hosted CCI 4*-S, CCI 3*-S, CCI 2*-S, Advanced, Intermediate, and Preliminary Divisions for Cross-Country, is one that Martin knows very well. "I like it down there. It's a really, really good track," he elaborated. "It's not as easy to ride as you think just because it's an old golf course, so there's all these little humps and lumps and the ground is not quite flat. So sometimes it's a bit deceiving, especially on the galloping jumps, you think you see a good line and then it changes just a little bit just because the undulation of the ground.
Martin concluded, "It was good coming here just with a handful of horses and here for a few days just to concentrate and zero in on them. I think it's a great show and a great preparation for Kentucky and a really good show for the young horses to get them ready. Obviously, I love this place. On top of that, I think Captain Mark Phillips is such a great course designer and he really knows how to build a good track. I think he's building better tracks now than ever."
Martin was also pleased with the Cross-Country ride in the Advanced Division put in by Long Island T, the 2006 Oldenburg/Thoroughbred gelding (Ludwig Von Bayern x Heraldik XX) owned by The Long Island T Syndicate, but noted that "he's definitely a little bit too keen and is a strong, feisty wild man" on course. "He still jumped really well, and gave me a good ride. I think he'll be better suited for Kentucky because it's a longer and more flowing course, where you can get him to fall asleep a little bit more between fences.
"He's very strong in the Dressage and Jumping and he's very game on Cross-Country, but he just gets really strong and a little bit out of control. He's a hard horse to ride fast," Martin admitted. "You get baited into wrestling with him and have to steady him up. It could go either way come Kentucky, but you got to be in it to win it."
See https://legacy.evententries.com/livescoring/17017.html to view all results from The Fork at TIEC presented by Lucky Clays Farm.
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