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Canada's Stuart Black and Fleeceworks Starlight Light Up Plantation Fields
US Eventing Press Release
Unionville, Pennsylvania - Canadian three day eventing competitor Stuart Black riding Fleeceworks Starlight captured the Open Intermediate division of the Plantation Field Spring Horse Trials held April 10-11 in Unionville, Pennsylvania.
Originally from Orangeville, ON, and currently training in Bluemont, VA, Black took the early lead in the opening phase of dressage with a score of 31 penalty points. Despite incurring four penalty points for a dropped rail during the stadium phase, Black maintained his lead going into Sunday's challenging cross-country phase where he added just 2.8 time penalties to his score. Not only did the two-time Canadian Olympian win his division with a final score of 37.80 penalty points, Black also had the lowest overall score of all Open Intermediate competitors, divided into three separate divisions in order to accommodate the large number of entries.
Fleeceworks Starlight, a seven-year-old Holsteiner/thoroughbred-cross mare by Cavalier, was competing in only her second Intermediate level event, having placed second in her first outing two weeks earlier at Morven Park Spring Horse Trials in Leesburg, VA.
"She has been first or second in every event since I bought her," praised Black, who purchased the mare exactly one year ago from eventing competitor Jane Sleeper. "At Plantation Field, she had the best dressage score of all the intermediate competitors, and it is a big jump from preliminary to intermediate level dressage. She has handled it well, every week she gets better. She is getting stronger and carrying a more advanced frame. Sarah Spofford, an experienced dressage rider who trains in our area, has been helping me at home with my dressage and riding the horses while I have been away competing."
"Then, we had the very first fence down in show jumping," continued Black. "We had had a lot of rain so the footing was a bit deep and I think that surprised her, but then she adjusted herself. Over the cross-country, I went quickly but comfortably, and worked on jumping and turning. She is not the fastest mare, but Phillip Dutton has been helping me with my jumping and overall rideability, and it has really helped."
In addition to his victory with Fleeceworks Starlight, Black experienced déjà vu when he was back in the winner's circle with his former mount, Wolftown. Sold last winter to his student, Elena Weeks, who competed the American thoroughbred gelding at the intermediate level, Black has taken over the ride again as the owner's educational commitments have forced her offer Wolftown for sale. Black won the Open Intermediate Division 1 with a final score of 41.30 after adding only minimal time faults to his opening dressage score.
"Plantation Field was quite a bit tougher than Morven Park had been two weeks earlier and I think it caused a bit of trouble," remarked Black. "The footing was a bit deep from all the rain and the organizers did a good job of giving us an event. Because a lot of the cross-country course is built on the side of a hill, it is possible for them to remove the fences that are down in the flat areas, so they revised the beginning and the end of the course."
Black will next compete at the prestigious CCI**** Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event held April 21-25 in Lexington, KY. Black's long-time partner Midnight Magic is already qualified to compete at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens later this year and will run in the short-format at Rolex in the hopes of earning an Olympic berth with the Canadian Eventing Team. In preparation, Black and Midnight Magic competed in the CIC-W*** World Cup Qualifier division of the Red Hills Horse Trials in Tallahassee, FL, where they were the top Canadian combination, placing eleventh overall from a large field of 58 entries. Three weeks later, they were again the top Canadians, this time placing ninth from 69 starters in the CIC*** division of the Beaulieu North Georgia Classic in Chatsworth, GA.
"I was working on trying to put in a stronger dressage performance at North Georgia," said Black of his preparations with Midnight Magic, an 11-year-old black English thoroughbred gelding he owns in partnership with his sponsor, Mr. Elkins Wetherill. "At North Georgia, Midnight Magic once again proved that he can jump clear under pressure, moving up into the top ten. It was a huge division, and all of the best horses in the country were there, most of them using it as their final warm-up before Rolex."
Black will also have a new mount to compete at the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event. In partnership with Wetherill, he has purchased Fleeceworks Blackout, a nine-year-old black New Zealand thoroughbred gelding, from Kelli McMullen Temple, his teammate at the 1996 Olympic Games.
"We will be going for a conservative round together, hoping to get a qualifying score for Athens so that Fleeceworks Blackout can be a back-up to Midnight Magic," explained Black who will ride Fleeceworks Blackout in the regular CCI**** division at Rolex Kentucky.
Black, who battles Chron's disease, also noted, "I have been out of the picture a bit with my health problems as far as the Team is concerned for the last Olympic Games and World Championships, so it is nice to be back in the thick of things for Athens."
A veteran of the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games as well as the 1998 World Equestrian Games, Black is one of Canada's most accomplished three day eventing athletes. He became the first foreign competitor to win the prestigious Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event, claiming victory in 1992 aboard Von Perrier. Having enjoyed numerous top ten finishes since, Black hopes this year's Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event leads him to his third Olympic Games.
Fleeceworks, designers and manufacturers of high quality sheepskin products for equestrian use, sponsor three of Black's horses - Fleeceworks Pacific Storm, Fleeceworks Starlight and Fleeceworks Blackout. Fleeceworks also sponsors Fleeceworks Mullingar, a former mount of Black's who is now ridden by his wife and fellow international eventing competitor, Momi.
For more information, please visit www.fleeceworks.com