Will Coleman Captures Inaugural Advanced Division at MARS Essex Horse Trials
It was a weekend of horsepower at the third edition of the MARS Essex Horse Trials at historic Moorland Farm in Far Hills, NJ, with more than 5,000 in attendance. U.S. Olympic veteran Will Coleman rode his longtime partner, Obos O’Reilly, to the win in the Advanced division. Coleman finished cross-country with no jumping and 6.40 time penalties for a three-phase score of 42.10 penalties on his 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse.
“My horse is like an old shoe. He just feels comfortable and familiar. He’s been with me since he was four years old. He’s been a wonderful horse for me and it’s great for him to get the win,” said Coleman. “It’s my first time competing here. I thought the event was wonderful. It has everything you want in a marquee event. It’s got atmosphere, a great cross country course, a beautiful turf and great going. I think it’s wonderful to go full circle back to this area and I hope it can continue for a long time to come. It’s such a special event.”
Following Thursday and Friday’s heavy rains, course designer Morgan Rowsell shortened the cross-country course to 19 fences to ensure optimum conditions for the competitors. “The course rode great,” said Coleman. “I think Morgan did an excellent job with the tracks and I think he deserves a lot of the credit.”
Missy Miller and Quinn catapulted from 30th place in the Advanced Division dressage to second with a final score of 59.80 penalties.
“It was such a great weekend. I love the Horse Trials here, they do such a great job,” said Miller. “My horse tried really hard all weekend. He is amazing. The course rode really well, the striding was great along with the combinations. It such a beautiful venue. I love to compete here.”
Local rider Megan Kepferle of Long Valley, NJ was third riding Anakin with an overall score of 61.50 penalties. Finishing fourth was Canadian Olympic veteran Jessica Phoenix with a score of 62.90 on Watson GS.