Buck Davidson and Petite Flower had a chance to take the Dutta Corp Fair Hill International CCI3* lead as one of the final pairs to go, but trouble late on course took them out of the running, with Boyd Martin and Master Frisky’s clear round and 2 time penalties proving enough to hold onto their lead on a score of 45.4.
Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda came into Fair Hill looking to settle unfinished business after falling victim to the double corners in the Dutta Farm Yard last year. The look on her face as she conquered that combination today sums up the entire way she rode the course — forward and aggressive, which is exactly the type of riding Derek di Grazia’s track rewarded. The clear trip and 1.2 time moved them from fourth up to second on 48.2.
Caitlin Silliman and Catch A Star also set out of the start box with something to prove, as they’ve had their fair share of struggles on cross country this year. But you wouldn’t have known it today as they made quick work of the course, jumping clear with just .8 time penalties to move from 15th place all the way up to third.
Though Buck ran into trouble with Petite Flower, he’s enjoying a spot in the top five on The Apprentice, who jumped clear as the second horse out with 8.4 time to drop from second to fourth place on 52.4. And Kevin Keane and Fernhill Flutter were the only combination to make the time all day, with their double clear shooting them up the leaderboard from 19th to fifth place on 52.8.
Allison Springer and Copycat Chloe showed their partnership is continuing to develop in the right direction, putting in a cracking round with just .4 time to move from 22nd to sixth place on 54.8. Caroline Martin and Quantum Solace put in a dominant round, jumping clear with 2 time to rise from 24th to seventh.
Jon Holling had a fantastic day, sitting inside the top 10 with both Zatopek B and Proper Timing, jumping clear and picking up 6.8 and 10 time, respectively, to sit in eighth and ninth places. And Holly Payne and Never OutFoxed win the Biggest Mover Award, with their clear round and .4 time moving them from 42nd all the way up to 10th.
Thirty-one pairs in all jumped clear, with just Kevin and Fernhill Flutter making the optimum time of 10 minutes. Kendal Lehari pulled up Totally Frank between fences 21 and 22 when it seemed like the horse suddenly went sore. Katy Groesbeck retired Oz the Tin Man after a refusal at fence 5. Will Coleman retired OBOS O’Reilly about halfway around the course, and Buck retired Petite Flower after two refusals at fence 21.
Lizzie Snow called it a day with Coal Creek after he slipped into the ditch under the angled brush at 15a, which was later removed from the course because the footing was deteriorating early in the order of go. That combination caused a number of problems, with Werner Geven falling from Vilas County there prior to 15a being removed from the course.
Mackenna Shea and Landioso and Avery Klunick and In It To Win It parted ways at 15b after 15a had been removed from the course. Holly Payne fell from Santino at the first fence, Maya Black fell from Doesn’t Play Fair at the Chesapeake Water, and Cody Sturgess fell from Imperial Melody at the Sneaky Snake. Cody was reportedly taken to a local hospital with an ankle injury, and we have not yet received word on his condition.
Kyle Carter and Conaghy’s Courage received a technical elimination after he missed fence 13 and jumped fence 14. Jimmie Schramm and Bellamy were unfortunately eliminated after a drive by the B element at the first water and two more at fence 6, the Haunted Hill. Lauren Ferguson withdrew Mainway’s Dry Ice before cross country started.
That’s a wrap on cross country day at Fair Hill. Stay tuned for the full press conference report with comments from the top three in both the CCI3* and CCI2* — click here for the CCI2* report if you missed it — as well as more photos and video. And you can relive all the action with our live updates. Go Eventing.