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Surefire Win for Stuart Black at Surefire Horse Trials

It was a surefire win for American eventing athlete Stuart Black as he rode Fleeceworks Pacific Storm to victory at the Surefire Horse Trials II in Purcellville, Virginia.

In the one-day event held Sunday, July 24, Black opened the dressage phase with an impressive score of 29.50 penalty points to place second in the Open Intermediate, Division C, standings. With the show jumping held next in the order of the three-phase test, Black guided Fleeceworks Pacific Storm to a clear round, despite being the first rider on course, to move into the lead. In the final cross-country phase where Black was again the pathfinder, he incurred just five time penalties to claim the win with a final score of 34.50 penalty points to best second-placed finisher, Canadian Olympian Mike Winter.

“It was his first time out this season, and he just went back into the dressage ring and was very confident and quiet,” said Black of his big nine-year-old Canadian-bred gelding. “The show jumping was hard going with a big course, but I just needed to ride forward to my fences and he jumped super. The cross-country course was deceptive as it was quite easy in parts but then there were two big fences that really sorted everyone out. At those two tests, he paid attention, was very rideable, and jumped fantastic. The ground was quite hard, so I took it a little bit easier than I normally would have and yet I still had one of the fastest times of the day.”

Black purchased Fleeceworks Pacific Storm, a Westphalian/Thoroughbred-cross by Pacific Sunset, a son of famous show jumping stallion, Polydor, in the fall of 2002 from owner and breeder Barbara Marks after seeing him in a clinic he was conducting in British Columbia. The pair have been partnered together for almost three years now and, in 2004, won the CIC** Red Hills Horse Trials in Florida and the Advanced Division of the Wayne Horse Trials in Illinois. An injury kept Fleeceworks Pacific Storm out of competition until now, but he clearly proved that he has returned to his winning ways with the Surefire Horse Trials victory.

A two-time Canadian Olympian, Black became an American citizen in the fall of 2004 and was selected by the United States Equestrian Federation’s High Performance Committee to participate in its training program. In June, he traveled to Germany to compete in the CCI**** Luhmühlen Three Day Event with another mount, Fleeceworks Starlight, his eight-year-old Holsteiner/Thoroughbred-cross mare. Sired by the well-known show jumping sire, Cavalier, Fleeceworks Starlight was named the ‘Intermediate Horse of the Year’ and the ‘Mare of the Year’ for 2004 by the United States Eventing Association.

“It was my first time being a part of the U.S. system, they funded the trip and gave you a chance to work with the entire team,” noted Black who credits his success at Surefire Horse Trials to a training session with U.S. Eventing Team coach Captain Mark Phillips held one week before his win. “The whole experience was a fact-finding mission to see where Starlight stands for next year, and it was great to know that she could jump clean around a four-star course.”

“I am lucky to have the two horses, they are both of high quality,” continued Black, who is based in Bluemont, VA, where he operates a training and sales business with his wife, Momi, also an international eventing competitor. “Pacific Storm is actually a year older than the mare but he got behind in his training due to the year off. They are both hopefuls for the World Equestrian Games next year in Germany.”

In preparation for the 2006 season, Black plans to compete with Fleeceworks Pacific Storm at the CIC*** Poplar Place Horse Trials held in Georgia in September before aiming for October’s CCI*** Fair Hill International where he finished third last year.

Fleeceworks, designers and manufacturers of high quality sheepskin products for equestrian use, sponsor both Fleeceworks Pacific Storm and Fleeceworks Starlight. For more information, please visit www.fleeceworks.com.

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