After 25 combinations — more than 40% of the field — made the time in the CCI2* at the Dutta Corp Fair Hill International, the question remained whether the clock would prove as catchable when the CCI3* combinations took to the course later in the afternoon here in Elkton, Maryland.
As always, Derek di Grazia’s three-star course shook up the leaderboard, with just four of the 36 starters (11%) making the optimum time of 10 minutes. Colleen Rutledge and her Maryland homebred Covert Rights, an 11-year-old Clydesdale/Thoroughbred (BFF Incognito X Let’s Get It Right, by Covert Operation), flew home clear and 12 seconds inside the time to take the lead on their dressage score of 39.8.
“He’s just the most fun on cross country because you don’t have to tug,” Colleen said. “You don’t have to do anything. You just point him at the fences and he rolls with it. That makes him so incredibly fast because I don’t have to worry about slowing down to the fences. He’ll bring himself back. That is probably one of the most fun cross country runs I’ve had in a long time.”
Selena O’Hanlon and John and Judy Rumble’s Foxwood High, a 14-year-old Canadian Sport Horse (Rio Bronco W X Evita II), led after dressage on a personal best score of 39.4 and picked up 1.6 time penalties on cross country to slip to second place on 41.0.
“He was on form full of running right to the end,” Selena said. “The easy galloping fences in between where I should have just been able to gallop out of stride, I ended up wasting too much time at just straight forward galloping fences.”
Will Coleman and Tight Lines, a 10-year-old French Thoroughbred (Urgeon X Merindole, by Tel Quel) owned by the Con Air Syndicate, won the CCI2* here at Fair Hill in 2015 and is poised for a top finish in the CCI3* this year thanks to jumping one of the four clear rounds inside the time to sit third on 46.3.
“He never lacks run or gallop. He’s an animal out there. Most of the trick is getting him to be rideable and settle; I thought he did a pretty good job of that here. It was a hard course. I thought it was a really proper test,” Will said.
“It’s a testament to the cross country riding in this country how well it rode today, because I do think it was a difficult three-star. I have ridden in a lot of three-stars around the world, and I would put Fair Hill at the very top in terms of difficulty. I think we’re building something positive here in this country. I think this event plays a huge part in that, and I hope we can continue it.”
Looking to the rest of the CCI3* leaderboard, Canada is having a fantastic competition so far, taking two of the positions inside the top five. Waylon Roberts and Kelecyn Cognac, a 14-year-old Thoroughbred owned by Anthony Connolly and Skye Levely, made the time to move from 14th to fourth on 46.6.
Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg, a 10-year-old Trakehner (Windfall X Thabana, by Buddenbrock) owned by Christine Turner, jumped clear with 1.2 time penalties to round out the top five on 47.5. Click here to view full scores for the CCI3*.
Erin Sylvester and Frank McEntee’s Paddy the Caddy, winners of the Rebecca Farm CCI3* over the summer, were the only other pair to make the time. The 10-year-old Irish Thoroughbred (Azamore X Slamy) moved up to seventh place on 48.2.
The CCI3* definitely caused its fair share of drama. Five riders fell from their horses, but we thankfully have no major injuries to report. Will Coleman and Boris O’Hara fell at fence 20 and were thankfully up on their feet right away. Click here to relive all the action in EN’s live updates.
The final horse inspection is at 8 a.m. EST tomorrow, with the CCI2* trotting up first, followed by the CCI3*. Show jumping for the CCI3* is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. EST. Stay tuned for much more from Fair Hill. Go Eventing.