The Carolina International is always one of the first big internationals of the season and gives us a chance to look at some of the US horses coming through to the top levels of the sport. Last year we called it right with Doug Payne and Vandiver taking top spot. 43 combinations lining up in the CCI4*-S in 2019 – let’s see if we can find the ones to watch.
It won’t be decided today. Dressage gets underway today but it is unlikely to be decided this early. Looking at the last few winners here:
When looking to identify the Carolina winner, the trick is to look for horses that can make the time and can jump. Sounds a bit obvious but four of the last five winners have all finished on their dressage score (FOD) and three of those four were the only horse in the class to do it:
The dressage score record was set here last season by Kim Severson on Cooley Cross Border (20.8). CCB is miles out in front, with Liz Halliday (Fernhill By Night, 27.0, 2018) and Jan Byyny (Inmidair, 27.0, 2014) next on the list. We are not expecting a new dressage record but Liz will have two shots at it with both Fernhill By Night and the exciting Deniro Z both lining up. The only other one we are really expecting to up around that level will be Colero and Felix Vogg. The key is starting on a sub 30 score to stay a key player.
The show jumping clear rate in the Carolina CCI4*-S over 5 seasons is 31%. This is about standard for this level – the global average over the same time period is 29%. The Carolina winner of this class has never had a show jumping penalty so let’s turn to the ones who can jump.
Danger Mouse (Caroline Martin) has jumped 7 clears (from 10 international runs) in this phase since the start of last season (more than any other in the class). With an average dressage of 30.8 over the same period, they could be close going into the final day. When we look at how this field have got on at this level, Vandiver (Doug Payne) comes out on top with 9 clear jumping rounds (from 16 CCI4*-S). A tenth would likely make him favourite to retain his 2018 crown heading into Saturday. Vandiver is also three from three jumping at Carolina.
Fernhill by Night is just one behind him on 8 clears but from 27 runs which makes that a little less impressive. Deniro Z was clear on his only previous visit here in this class and I am expecting him to lead the way for Liz by Saturday. Ones to watch out for include Sharon White and Cooley on Show and Buck and Copper Beach.
It will be won and lost here, possibly just on time. The XC jumping clear rate in the 4*-S class at Carolina is 73% however 2018 produced the lowest XCJ clear rate of any 4*-S class held at Carolina, 63%.
The usual names all have nice records at Carolina – Buck Davidson and Phillip Dutton each have 12 XC Jumping Clear at Carolina CCI4*-S, more than anyone else. Boyd Martin has gone cross country eight times in the CCI4*-S and has never had a jumping fault.
From a speed point of view though, and it is going to be important, Vandiver and Doug stand out again. They made the time last year and average just 2.4 penalties from three runs here. With Covert Rights moved out of this class, Vandiver’s three rounds inside the time at this level is more than any other horse in the field. My money is on Doug becoming the first double Carolina champion.
Top 5 EquiRatings Model (Sam Watson):
Top 5 EquiRatings Model #2 (Sean Murray):
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