Action-Packed Year Leads Holly Jacks-Smither to Top-Five Finish in Plantation Field International Horse Trials CCI 4*-S

Holly Jacks-Smither of Hillsburg, ON, and More Inspiration earned fifth place at the Plantation Field International Horse Trials, held Sept. 17-20, 2020, in Unionville, PA.
Photo Credit: AK Dragoo Photography

Holly co-owns the 15-year-old Thoroughbred gelding sired by Inspired Prospect with her husband, Bruce Smither. Together, the duo made the 2020 National Team Program (NTP) Eventing Development Squad after an impressive 2019 season that ended with a notable 12th place finish in the Les Étoiles de Pau CCI 5*-L in France.

“Both times I’ve gone to Europe, I’ve come back [to North America] and had personal bests,” said Holly, who also crossed the pond with Morris in 2015 for the CICO 3*-NC in Aachen, GER. “When you get back from Europe, where you’re competing against the world’s best, you have a different kind of confidence in your horse’s riding and it makes you step up your game.”

Holly returned home flying high from her latest European adventure, ready to tackle the North American circuit with Morris. Reality struck with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic just several months later.

Holly explained, “My plan was to go to [the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event] with Morris this spring but when Kentucky didn’t go, I thought, ‘What do I do with him?’ He’s a 15-year-old horse that’s been going advanced for six years. You don’t really want to put a horse like that on the shelf because they don’t really come back. But I had [EC High Performance Director] James Hood and EC get behind me and make it happen.”

Holly successfully changed tactics for 2020, entering Morris in the Red Hills Horse Trials CCI 4*-S in Tallahassee, FL, and MARS Great Meadow International CCI 4*-S in The Plains, VA, before setting her sights on Plantation Field.

“It always takes Morris an event to get going,” commented Holly. “He hadn’t really run since Red Hills, where I went slowly on purpose, and then I scratched him in the show jumping at Great Meadow because of the footing. But he was incredible this weekend, he came out ready to compete.”

And compete they did, starting off at Plantation Field on 37.30 penalties after the dressage phase on Sept 18. A double-clear show jumping effort on Sept. 19, plus a clear cross-country round limited to 2.40 time penalties the following day, facilitated Holly’s tenacious climb up the ladder from 35th to fifth place, where she and Morris ended on a final score of 39.70 penalty points.

Tragically, one of Holly’s students, Zara Buren, passed away following an accident while trail riding several days later. Holly’s memories with the up-and-coming eventer are now serving as a source of inspiration and strength as she and Morris plan to #rideforZara for the rest of their 2020 season.

Holly’s fellow Canadian, Shelby Brost, a resident of Ocala, FL, also earned a spot on the Planation Field leaderboard in the CCI 2*-S division. She and RHF Peterzano (Perigueux x Now or Never), the eight-year-old Hanoverian gelding that Shelby co-owns with Wayne Brost, placed seventh on a final score of 40.6 penalties.

Great results for the maple leaf were also achieved that weekend at the Burnham Market International in Norfolk, GBR. There, Michael Winter of Cirencester, GBR, and El Mundo (Numero Uno x Calvaro F.C.), the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding that he co-owns with Emma Winter and Jonathan Nelson, challenged the CCI 4*-L division. The 2020 NTP Eventing National Squad combination ended on a final score of 34.00 penalty points for eighth place.

Impressive international level results kept rolling in for Canadians at the Stable View Oktoberfest Horse Trials in Aiken, SC, held from Sept. 24-27. Karl Slezak of Tottenham, ON, scored his second top-10 CCI 4*-S placing of the 2020 season with his Lima 2019 Pan American Games and 2020 NTP Eventing Development Squad partner, Fernhill Wishes (Chacoa x Gildawn Diamond), the 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding that he co-owns with Kirk Hoppner. The pair placed seventh on a final score of 38.3 penalties. Canadian Waylon Roberts, who resides in Cartersville, GA, was less than a penalty point behind with his 2020 NTP Eventing National Squad mount, Lancaster, whom he trained as a three-year-old and now co-owns with John and Michelle Koppin. Waylon and the 13-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding finished in ninth place on 39.2 penalties.

Lima 2019 Pan Am Games athlete and Merritt, BC, native, Dana Cooke represented Canada in the CCI 2*-S division, securing ninth on 35.6 penalties with Kingfisher Park’s nine-year-old Württemberger mare, Whole Lotta Rosie, with whom she is listed on the 2020 NTP Eventing Development Squad.

October welcomed CCI 4*-S level competition back to Canada with the MARS Bromont Three Day Event, which ran on Oct. 3 in Bromont, QC. Canadian Olympian Jessica Phoenix of Cannington, ON, secured her first win at the level with Wabbit (Line of Departure x Great Gladiator), the 10-year-old Thoroughbred gelding that she co-owns with Jim Phillips. Together, the 2020 NTP Eventing Development Squad combination scored 60.8 penalty points for first. Melissa Boutin and her 11-year-old Zweibrücker gelding, EWSZ Jalando (Daimler d’Adriers x Calando, came second with 71.5 penalties.

Action-Packed Year Leads Holly Jacks-Smither to Top-Five Finish in Plantation Field International Horse Trials CCI 4*-S

Canadian Olympian Jessica Phoenix of Cannington, ON, secured her first CCI 4*-S win with Wabbit at the MARS Bromont Three Day Event, which ran on Oct. 3 in Bromont, QC.
Photo: Cealy Tetley

In the CCI 3*-S division, Canadian Olympian Colleen Loach of Dunham, QC, took first (40.4 penalties) with her 2019 Lima Pan Am Games partner, FE Golden Eye (Goldfever 3 x Contendro I), an eight-year-old Hanoverian gelding that she co-owns with Peter Barry and Amanda Bernhard. Hanna Bundy of Toronto, ON, came second (61.8 penalties) with Lovely Assistant, (Colonel John x Silver Ghost), Juliana Hansen’s nine-year-old Thoroughbred mare. Third (44.9 penalties) went to Matthew Kidney of Woodlawn, ON, and his 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, Fuzion (Wamante x Damiro B), while Brooke Massie of Saint-Lazare, QC, and her 11-year-old Thoroughbred mare, Serendipity (Vibank x Naskra), took fourth (83.9 penalties).

The CCI 2*-S division also boasted an all-Canadian leaderboard. Holly returned to the start box with two different horses, nabbing first (34.7 penalties) with Candy King (Grafenstolz x Moothyeb), her 10-year-old British Sport Horse gelding, and sixth (53.4 penalties) with Big Pretty, the eight-year-old Thoroughbred mare that she co-owns with Mark Marquis. Makayla Rydzik of Janetville, ON, claimed second (40.2 penalties) with her 12-year-old Canadian Sport Horse mare, Fluorescent Adolescent (Gaudi x Ali Baba). Third (48.4 penalties) went to Cassandra Leblanc of Varennes, QC, and her 15-year-old gelding, Riffel, while Shannon Holmes of Carp, ON, slid into fourth (48.5 penalties) riding Kimberley Moriarity’s 13-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, Ten Lakes. Melissa made an appearance in the fifth spot (52.6 penalties), which she secured on her eight-year-old Trakehner mare, Obeah Dancer GS (Humble GS x Buddenbrock). Leah Vrieling of Wooldlawn, ON, wrapped things up in seventh place (58.1 penalties) riding Callie Evans’s 15-year-old Canadian Sport Horse mare, Glendening Avis (Ferrari GS x Adamo).

EC wishes to thank Sport Canada for its support of athletes through the Athlete Assistance Program.

Click on the following links for full results: Plantation Field International Horse Trials; Burnham Market International; Stable View Oktoberfest; MARS Bromont CCI Three Day Event.