Aiken, South Carolina – Sept. 24, 2020 – CCI4*-S eventing competition kicked off at Oktoberfest Thursday morning at Stable View in Aiken, South Carolina with 40 horse and rider pairs trotting down the centerline with hopes of taking the early lead in the three-day competition. It was a long afternoon in the sandbox with the first 4* rider entering the ring at 9:30 a.m. and the last rider saluting the judge well after 3:30 p.m. In addition to the 4* competition, Oktoberfest is also offering CCI3* and CCI2* competition through Saturday, as well as the non-FEI Beginner Novice through Preliminary divisions Saturday and Sunday.
The early pathfinder in the CSI4* competition was Doug Payne (USA) aboard his own Quantum Leap. Payne and the 9-year-old Rheinland-Pfalz Saar put in a solid effort securing a score of 26.80, an all-time-best for the duo to-date. Following just behind Payne was Colleen Rutledge (USA) and longtime partner, Covert Rights. Rutledge and the 14-year-old Thoroughbred cross gelding who she co-owns with FSG Inc. had their dancing shoes on Thursday, but settled just behind Payne on a score of 27.10.
Payne’s lead aboard Quantum Leap would hold throughout the day until shortly after lunch when Matthew Flynn (USA) would dance down the centerline with the 11-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Merry Go Round Farm, Wizzerd. Their performance would take the lead on a score of 25.90. Unfortunately for Flynn, Payne was ready to regain his spot on the leaderboard. Shortly after Flynn’s leading score, Payne would re-enter the ring, this time aboard his 2019 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day-Event fifth place finishing mount, Vandiver, co-owned by Payne Debi Crowley. The duo would deliver an impeccable test solidifying a hard to beat score of 24.30.
Try as they might throughout the afternoon, the remaining competitors could not top Payne and the 16-year-old Trakehner gelding’s score. Rounding out the top three were Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp (USA) and Fernhill By Night who are sitting in second on a very close 24.50, with Flynn and Wizzerd holding tightly to their third place ranking.
Regarding the day’s performances, Mark Weissbecker, member of the 4* Ground Jury, stated, “the overall quality of the horses was consistently excellent. The riders set a high standard and we were overall quite pleased. The scores are so close among the top of the leaderboard, so the jumping phases will be so important to the final outcome.”
CCI4* competition resumes tomorrow at Stable View with Stadium starting at 9:00 a.m., followed by cross-country on Saturday immediately following the conclusion of the CCI2* cross-country. While there is no live stream available from Oktoberfest this year, stay tuned to Phelps Sports for the latest and greatest from South Carolina all weekend long.