The first day of dressage kicked off today at the Dutta Corp Fair Hill International starting with the CCI2*, and Bobby Meyerhoff and Almanac delivered a decisive personal best of 26.3 to lead. Their scores at two-star level have steadily dropped closer to the sub-30 barrier all season, and today they finally cracked it.
Almanac, a 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding (As Di Volare X Fuerst Aphrodites R, by Fuerst Gothard) Bobby owns with Gail Dady, is better known as “Maniac” because of his off-the-wall personality. Bred in Middleburg, Virginia to be a show jumper, his spooky nature rendered him nearly unrideable.
“You couldn’t get on him unless two people were holding him,” Bobby said. “You had to get both feet in the stirrups without touching his back. If you touched his back — you were going to be on the ground.”
While Maniac came to Bobby to be sold, he decided to try eventing the horse instead. Through patience and persistence, Bobby has built a partnership with Maniac. They have finished in the top 10 in their last three consecutive starts at two-star level, including finishing fourth in the horse’s CCI2* debut at Jersey Fresh.
“It does make our bond a little stronger because he knows I’m his rider,” Bobby said. “He just keeps climbing up the ladder. I think the world of the horse. He’s got all these quirks and he’s really weird, but he has all the talent to go to the top. It’s just a matter of can we do it.”
Caroline Martin and Cristano Z sit in second place on 26.4 — just one-tenth of a point off the lead. Costly bobbles like executing a flying change in the counter canter and a jig in the turn on the haunches kept them from topping the leaderboard, but Caroline said she has the big picture in mind for this horse.
“I think he’s one of the best horses I have in my barn,” Caroline said. “He gets a bit nervous in the ring because he tries his heart out, but I was happy with the relaxation. He’s going to be really good one day — it’s just a process.”
Following falls on cross country at the Advanced level this year, Caroline stepped the horse back to the one-star and two-star levels to solidify their partnership. Cristano Z won the Plantation Field CIC* last month and finished ninth in the CIC2* at Morven Park in their final prep run for Fair Hill.
Jenny Caras and her own Trendy Fernhill scored a personal best of 26.6 as the final pair to go today to sit in third place in the horse’s debut at the level. “Joey,” a 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (ARS Vivendi X Cruseings Girl, by Cruising), most recently finished 11th in the CIC2* at Stable View in his final prep run for Fair Hill.
“The atmosphere didn’t faze him. He was the same horse in the arena as he is at home,” Jenny said. “I had one mistake on my part when I didn’t to a half halt where I should have, and we had a little canter in the trot work. He tried his heart out. He’s a big horse, so it’s about getting him stronger and fit to the flatwork and being able to hold the uphill balance through the test.”
Looking to the rest of the CCI2* leaderboard, Will Faudree and Michel 233, an 8-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Mighty Magic X First Lady, by Federweisser) owned by Jennifer Mosing and Sterling Silver Stables, sit fourth on 27.1.
Chris Talley and Sandro’s Star, a 10-year-old Oldenburg stallion (Sagnol X Poetic Patter xx, by Nostalgia’s Star xx) owned by Hannah Salazar, sit fifth on 28.3.
Click here to view full scores in the CCI2* following the first day of dressage. CCI2* dressage continues tomorrow at 9 a.m. EST, and CCI3* dressage also starts at 9 a.m. CCI3* dressage will be available to watch on demand tomorrow afternoon on USEF Network.
Fair Hill also hosts the USEA Young Event Horse East Coast Championships, which kicked off today with dressage and conformation. Tim Bourke and his own Quality Obsession, a Dutch Warmblood mare by Zambeesi, lead the 5-year-old Championships on a score of 24.19. Courtney Cooper and her own R River Star, an Irish Sport Horse gelding (Riverman X R Star), lead the 4-year-old Championships on 24.75.
The jumping phase for the YEH Championships will be held tomorrow starting at 8 a.m. with the 4-year-olds, followed by the 5-year-olds at 10:15 a.m. Click here to view full YEH scores.
If you missed EN’s preview of Derek di Grazia’s CCI3* cross country course, click here for a fence-by-fence tour. While temperatures are chilly here in Elkton, Maryland, we have a mercifully dry forecast that should make for perfect going on Saturday. Stay tuned for much more from Fair Hill. Go Eventing.