Jessica Phoenix & Tugce Leading the CCI4*-S at the Maryland International

Erin Gilmore Photography photos.

Adamstown, M.D. – More than 100 horses danced between the boards at Loch Moy Farm despite the heat on the opening day of the Maryland International and USEF Eventing Young Rider Championships. When the judge’s pencils were down at the end of the day, Jessica Phoenix and her own Tugce were leading the highlight division, the CCI4*-S. 

Phoenix bought Tugce when the bay mare was just five years old. Seven years later, the pair has had a long working relationship that pays off in the ring. “I am so proud of her,” Phoenix said. “It is just such a pleasure to ride a horse like her. Her movement and her ability and her desire to be successful– It’s just so fun when you get to sit on a horse like that.”

Leading the CCI3*-S is amateur Dan Kreitl and Kay Dixon’s Carmango on a score of 25.5, marking his best score since 2021. Kreitl has been riding the 11-year-old Westfalian gelding for the last three years. This time last year, the pair competed at CHIO Aachen, but after a short break due to a minor injury, Carmango and Kreitl are once again moving back up the levels with big plans to head to Boekelo in the fall. 

“He’s such a fun horse, he tries so hard,” Kreitl said. “We’ve done some four stars and some fun big events with him, and then he had a minor injury last fall, and so it’s fun to get him back out and have him feeling fresh and getting him in the ring again.” 

“He’s 11 this year, and he’s just a lot stronger, and it’s a whole lot easier for him, and then, way easier for me,” Kreitl said. “So it’s been fun to have him from a four year old and see him grow through the years and how he’s progressed.” 

The riders in the USEF Eventing Young Rider Championships were full of smiles after their final salute, bringing new enthusiasm and excitement to the ring. Lizzie Hoff is leading the CCI3*YRC-S with her own HSH Limited Edition (Sibon W x Tinirana Velvet). Hoff has ridden the nine-year-old Irish Sport Horse for the entirety of his FEI career, bringing him up through the levels herself. 

“I was really happy with my ride today,” Hoff said. “He’s a very big horse so it can be a little harder in the dressage to get him round. He was very relaxed, which is something that we’re always striving for with him. But he went in and focused and did his job and I was really happy with him.”

The Young Rider Championships have been particularly festive this year with an Opening Ceremony that ended with a water balloon fight and hobby horse races. Originally from Seattle, Hoff is currently based with Caroline Pamukcu on the East coast. This is her third year in the Championships, but this year Hoff is the only rider from Area VII. 

“I’m a bit sad to not have my friends with me,” Hoff said. “But it’s also a really good opportunity for me to meet people out east. The girls that I’m on the mixed team with are really nice.”

William Coleman is currently leading the CCI2*-S with Meg Pellegrini’s Box Como (Jaguar Mail x Box Compris, by Iowa 960). The six-year-old Swedish Warmblood is in his first year of FEI competition, having completed the CCI1* in Tryon, North Carolina in May. 

“He was great,” Coleman said. “I continue to be impressed by that horse. He’s a horse that’s owned by the Pellegrinis, and actually he’s a horse for Meg, but I’m sort of just helping them produce it. He’s quite a careful jumper, and I think he just might benefit from being with me for a little bit, but he’s for sure, going to be a horse for Meg. She rides him quite a bit as well, but he’s just a really quality animal. He’s actually Swedish bred, but he’s by Jaguar Mail, so he’s got a French or half French pedigree, but he’s a lovely horse, and he’s getting better and better. He’s just a six year old, so I think we have high hopes for him.”

In order to beat the worst of the heat, the CCI4*-S will show jump and then run cross country first thing in the morning. “The heat is so aggressive here today, I did a small, shorter warm up in the morning while it was still cool. Then I did like a short 15 minute warm-up before heading into the ring,” Phoenix said. “I think that the organizers are doing such an exceptional job at keeping the horses out of the heat of the day. So I think whatever we need to do to best accommodate these horses is definitely important. I commend them for what they’re doing.”

The course builders have been out on course with aggravators and sprinklers to ensure the ground is horse-friendly. “The aggravators basically shake the ground and break up the dirt, so it’s softer, much nicer for the horses,” course designer Ian Stark said. 

As CCI2*-S leader William Coleman said, “All credit to Ian, Tyson [Rementer], Carolyn Mackintosh and the whole team here. I just am always impressed at the effort they put in for their event. You know, we’ve not been blessed with a lot of rain anywhere here in the mid-atlantic for the summer, but they’re doing what they can. The course looks nice. It’s pretty challenging given the nature of the place, so I think it’ll be a pretty stiff test.”

Ian Stark’s cross country courses make full use of the hills and dales of Frederick County, Maryland. The CCI4*-S is a rollercoaster of a course, with riders going down a hill and immediately back up just after fence four. Riders are looking forward to tackling the challenging course, which starts off friendly with two galloping fences and a triple bar at fence four. 

Current CCI4*-S leader Jessica Phoenix had not walked the course yet at the time of publication, but filled us in on the discussion back at the barns. “Word on the street is that it’s quite intricate, and there’s a lot of serious combinations,” Phoenix said. “I’m really looking forward to getting out there and walking it.”

Young riders in the CCI3*-S division will tackle 25 different questions, which also make use of the terrain on site and twists and turns through the fields that comprise Loch Moy farm. Division leader Lizzie Hoff is looking forward to the challenge. “[HSH Limited Edition] is a big horse and it’s a twisty course, so it might be tough to keep up with the time with trying to make the turns and everything. But, he’s done a few three stars now, so I’m pretty confident in his experience at the level.”

Kreitl plans to take the course slow and steady. “I think I’m going to take it easy with the heat and just kind of gallop at a nice, comfortable pace. Our plan for tomorrow is just to do the best we can in the show jumping, and then have a smooth and steady cross country round.”

The CCI3*-S leader is returning to the Maryland Horse Trials after four years. “It’s great to be back. It’s a wonderful facility, and super nice people. It’s a fun event.”

“I want to thank the committee for what they’re doing at the show. It is a beautiful event, and you can tell how much heart went into it,” CCI4*-S leader Phoenix said. “It’s just been really fun to come down here and see the facility. It’s a great venue, and you can tell how much they really care about it.”

Tomorrow begins at 8 a.m. with show jumping for the CCI4*-S, followed consecutively by cross country. All FEI levels, excepting the Young Rider divisions will show jump tomorrow between 8 a.m. and 1:55 p.m. Cross country will run concurrently with show jumping from 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. The Young Rider divisions will run cross country starting at 10 a.m. before finishing up with show jumping on Sunday, followed by an awards ceremony. 

Current Division Leaders:

CCI4*-S: Jessica Phoenix and Tugce (30.9)

CCI3*-S: Dan Kreitl and Carmango (25.5)

CCI2*-S: Will Coleman and Box Como (25.5)

CCI1*-S: Melissa Baumann and Arden Calliope (29.1)

CCI3YRC-S: Lizzie Hoff and HSH Limited Edition (30.8)

CCI2YRC-S: Annabelle Sprague and Da Vinci Code (23.6)

CCI1YRC-S: Adelyn Rinehart and Corona Life (26.0)

CCI3YRC-S Leading Team: Area II

CCI2YRC-S Leading Team: Area I/V/III


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