Boyd Martin and Contestor Clinch $50,000 Devon Arena Eventing Competition
For the third year in a row, the popular $50,000 Devon Arena Eventing competition, sponsored by Douglas and Cynthia Howe and Salt Works, showcased top-level eventing in a unique class that incorporates two of the three elements of three-day eventing: cross-country and show jumping. A packed crowd looked on as a record 33 entries turned out to challenge famed course designer Captain Mark Philips’ tracks, where ultimately Boyd Martin (USA) and Denise Lahey’s Contestor took home the top prize after dominating two rounds of competition, while defending champions Chris Talley and Sandro’s Star finished with reserve honors and Buck Davidson and Carlevo rounded out the top three.
Former Olympic eventer from Great Britain, Philips designed the technical first round course, which utilized both the Dixon Oval and Wheeler Ring. The 26-obstacle course challenged horse-and-rider combinations to navigate typical elements found on a cross-country course, including skinny brushes, tables and corner obstacles, while also tackling stadium fences. Operating under a two-round format, the first round set a time-allowed of two minutes and 38 seconds, which posed an issue for 17 combinations. Following round one, the top 12 athletes returned to the Dixon Oval to complete 15 more obstacles in a jump-off round.
Entering the ring first in round two was Talley with Hannah Salazaar’s Faramund. The pair, starting the round carrying 2 time faults from round one, finished the second round with four faults, leaving the field wide open for the remaining 11 competitors. Entering the ring seven trips later, Martin and Contestor tackled the course with ease to take over the lead with zero combined faults and a time of 73.30 seconds. Talley, returning to the ring three trips later with his second mount qualified for the jump-off, Sandro’s Star, came just shy of Martin’s time in 73.94 seconds. As last to go, Davidson and Carlevo LLC’s Carlevo also came close to both Martin’s and Talley’s time, but missed the mark by over a second in 74.92 seconds.
Martin, a two-time Olympian, and the 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding have been partnered together since 2014. The gelding was bred and raised by longtime friend and owner for Martin, Lahey of Stony Brook Farm. First spotting the horse as a three-year-old, Martin knew he eventually wanted the flashy chestnut gelding on his string. The pair had a successful 2018 season at the CIC2* level, winning the Bromont CIC Three-Day Event together in August 2018. The Austrailian native, who now represents the United States, looks to compete at the Mars Essex Horse Trials in Far Hills, NJ, in June with Contestor.
Finishing in second place was Talley and Hannah Salazar’s Sandro’s Star. The impressive 11-year-old Oldenburg is returning to the Dixon Oval as a proven champion, as the pair claimed the $50,000 Devon Arena Eventing title together in 2018. Since winning the title, the Pennsylvania native and the stallion are now competing at the CCI4*-L level. This year, Talley also made his debut at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event with an off-the-track Thoroughbred named Unmarked Bills.
Capturing third place was Davidson aboard the 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding, Carlevo. Davidson and Carlevo have competed around the globe together, including in Aachen, Germany, at the prestigious CHIO Aachen World Equestrian Festival.