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Superstition lands 3rd top 10 5-star finish in US


Superstition made his third trip across the Atlantic in 18 months for the Maryland five-star, having previously finished 5th at Kentucky and 7th at Maryland in 2021. He’s no stranger to flying and quarantine and Jess, who’s becoming a dab hand at travelling horses overseas, travelled out in advance and was there to receive him into quarantine.


He'd had an uninterrupted preparation and arrived in the USA looking and feeling a million dollars. The event is really taking off – the organisers have invested so much in terms of facilities and in Ian Stark have one of the best course designers around. The terrain and country are ideal for a five-star event, and the whole team behind the event could not have been more welcoming.


Superstition’s owner, Mandy Gray, organised the same house that we stayed in together last year, so if all felt very familiar and like we were on home soil. Part of the fun of the big overseas events is the adventure and the togetherness of the team behind each horse. Mandy is an expert at logistics and looking after everyone, so we had a fun time exploring the restaurants and local sights in the days leading up to the event.


Superstition worked really well in the run up to the start of the competition and warmed up beautifully ahead of his test, before we were faced with one of the most bizarre situations I’ve ever experience. Another rider objected in a totally unfounded way about the timings of our warm-up.  This was rightly dismissed by the officials, but only once the TDs arrived, and in the ten minutes it took for them to get there we weren’t allowed into the (only) set of dressage practice boards, and by the time it was sorted it was too late and we’d missed our warm-up slot and had to go straight into the main arena for the test. It was a farcical situation, and on a very sharp horse meant that he was very unsettled going into the main arena. Whilst some of the work was to a very high quality, scoring several 9s in the trot work, he was the wrong side of boiling point and it was a case of holding it together rather than showing off what he’s really capable of. It was a huge disappointment for everyone involved, but most of all was upsetting for Superstition as it will have left a negative stain on his confidence.


The cross-country course had been completely re-routed with the start and finish both in new locations, despite 2021 being the inaugural running of the 5* event.  The course looked inviting with a lovely flow on good ground, but the main hill had been removed from the track. The course was big, bold and inviting - but more like a steeplechase course where you could gallop and jump in straight lines without the speed bumps we’re often faced with.


Superstition gave me another peach of a ride and cruised home without any pressure from the clock, finishing comfortably within himself, more than 20 seconds inside the optimum time.


With more than 50% of the field finishing without time penalties (including some with jumping faults) the cross-country was unfortunately something of a ‘non-event’ in terms of influence on the leaderboard, even more so than the previous year.  That said, it was a very rewarding course to ride around and Ian showed his usual horse-friendly flair; with a few tweaks it will no doubt create a really good competition next year.


Thankfully the show jumping was a decent track and clear rounds were very few and far between.  Superstition jumped his socks off to finish within the time and on his dressage score, putting the pressure on those who followed.  His faultless round resulted in him moving a further eight places up the leaderboard to finish in 7th place, making it his third five-star top-ten finish from as many starts. 


We all had a good trip back, with just a few days to prepare before Tenareze set off for the south of France for the final five-star of the year at Pau.


Arrival in quarrantine

First leg stretch at Fair Hill

Holding it together in the dressage


Making the cross country feel like child's play!


The team at work at the cross country finish


Ready for the final horse inspection

Superstition jumping his socks off to make a dramatic rise up the leaderboard

Superstition with his owner, Mandy, enjoying another top ten five star finish! 

Homeward bound with Jess by his side

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