Three-time Olympian Boyd Martin became the first American event rider to win a five-star since 2008 when he piloted On Cue to victory at the inaugural Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill in the USA (14-17 October).
Britain’s Oliver Townend finished second riding Cooley Master Class, ahead of UK-based New Zealand rider Tim Price on Xavier Faer.
These riders occupied first and second respectively overnight, but both rolled a showjump on the final day to slip behind Boyd.
“Coming into this thing, I thought I had a chance just because she was really good at Kentucky this year and was sort of my back-up horse for the Olympics and was fit for that.
“So I knew there was a chance but that it would be very, very competitive,” said Boyd, whose last top-level title came way back in 2003 on home soil in Australia.
Boyd moved to the USA in 2007 and began riding under the American flag in 2009. Since that 2003 victory, he has started at more than 40 five-stars (previously 4*), but never won — until today.
“I would have been happy with third or second, but winning is a great privilege,” said Boyd.
“[Oliver and Tim] are two riders that I’ve sort of idolised and looked up to, and I learned a bit from their mentality and their championship ideology.
“Today was On Cue’s day, and it’s great to win it.”
‘Some days aren’t your days’
Oliver, who was a part of the gold medal-winning British Olympic eventing team in Tokyo earlier this year, led the first and second phases but rolled the fourth showjump to finish second — just 0.1 of a penalty behind Boyd.
“We always have a conclusion with a few words between myself and Karyn [Shuter], who runs the show with me. When I got off, we said we were very happy with how our horse jumped,” said Oliver. “We’re very happy with Boyd, too. Some days are your days, and some days aren’t your days. Today was Boyd’s day.
“It does show people that we are normal people, and that you can make it to the pinnacle of the sport,” Townend added. “That’s the message I want to get out to any kid that’s thinking, ‘I can’t do it. I’m not from a wealthy background.’
“You can make it to the top of the sport, and it is very possible. I’m very proud of Boyd, Tim, and myself to have worked hard and thankfully be once again sat [on top].”
Tim Price said: “I’ve just been so grateful to have another competition at this level, even in its early five-star stages. I’m excited to see what comes in the future here.
“I brought a horse that I felt was going to be very capable of the cross-country,” continued Tim. “That’s the place where you can really fall out of a competition or stay in the competition, so I felt with a course-designer like Ian Stark and from the reputation I’ve heard this place has with its undulations, I brought a horse that could go around.
“I’m very pleased with the result and just to be up here again with these boys.”
The Maryland 5 Star was running for the first time at the newly constructed Fair Hill Special Event Zone in Elkton, Maryland (Cecil County) and had a prize pot of US$300,000
Main photo: Oliver Townend and Cooley Master Class. Credit: Shannon Brinkman