Tamie Smith is making her trip across the country count at the Dutta Corp Fair Hill International, scoring 40.9 with Sunsprite Warmbloods’ Sunsprite Syrius to lead the CCI2* by more than seven marks at the halfway point of the division here in Elkton, Maryland.
“It’s cold and the wind was up when I was going, but he’s always been a very consistent, workmanlike horse,” Tamie said. “I had Cecily, Matt Brown’s wife, help me a little bit on the ground. Having somebody was really helpful. He went in and did everything and nailed his halts. Overall, I thought the test was really consistent.”
While we had beautiful weather yesterday for the first horse inspection, today dawned cold and rainy, which is more more in line with the weather we traditionally see for Fair Hill. The drop in temperature and electric atmosphere in the main arena combined to create a challenging environment for some horses.
Tamie said she had one hairy moment during her test when a spectator cheered loudly for a horse in the USEA Young Event Horse East Coast Championships, which were running in the other ring alongside the CCI2*.
“He’s really sound sensitive. He could buck me off at any time,” Tamie laughed, “but he went right back to work. I was really proud of him for not losing it in there.”
Sunsprite Syrius, a 9-year-old Trakehner (Titulus X Slytely Cinnamon xx, by Silent Fox xx), has an eye-popping FEI record, winning four of his eight completed international runs on the West Coast and never finishing lower than second place in the others.
Now he’s come east to take on the best in the country in the USEF National CCI2* Championships. “Syrius” led his CCI2* debut at Rebecca Farm over the summer, jumping clear and inside the time to remain on his dressage score of 40.0, but did not move on to show jumping due to studding himself on cross country.
“Thats why we brought him here,” Tamie said. “You can’t replicate Fair Hill anywhere in the country. We’re going to find out what he’s made of.”
Syrius will need to dig deep on Saturday, as course designer Derek di Grazia has once again built beefy tracks for both the CCI2* and CCI3*. Tamie, who won the CCI3* in 2015 with Mai Baum, also has two horses in the CCI3* in Fleeceworks Royal and Wembley.
“It’s really big and technical. The first water is a big brush into the water. I think that’s going to ride tough, more so than it has in the past. From a boldness standpoint, it really sets the tone. From there, the coffin is tough. I think the time looks like it’s going to be very hard to make,” Tamie said.
“There are a lot of rollbacks on the two-star track. If you’re not efficient, you’re going to lose time. It will be fatiguing. We couldn’t have asked for a better rain overnight and earlier in the week, so I think the ground will be good enough.”
Allison Springer and Lord Willing sit in second place in the CCI2* on 47.7. The 9-year-old Holsteiner (Lord Z X Legende IX, by Coriano) owned by the Lord Willing Syndicate won the Bromont CCI2* over the summer in his debut at the level.
“Liam” hasn’t place outside of the top five in his international appearances since then, finishing third in the Richland Park CIC2* and fourth in the Plantation Field CIC2* in the lead up to Fair Hill, so definitely keep your eye on him this weekend.
Kristen Bond and Enough Already, a 9-year-old KWPN (Winningmood Van de Arenberg X Zandora X Landor S) owned by Liz Bond, sit in third place on 49.7. “Drake” finished seventh in the Ocala CCI2* last year before Kristen took time out of the saddle to welcome her daughter, Berkley.
Kristen is starting her Fair Hill weekend off with a bang, as she’s also leading the USEA Young Event Horse East Coast Championships with her own Bea Ready on a score of 41.45%. In the 5-year-olds, Waylon Roberts and Wil Celtic Charlie lead on 43.36%. Stay tuned for our full YEH report!
Looking ahead to tomorrow’s action, 30 more horses will make their way down centerline for the conclusion of CCI2* dressage, with Wayne Quarles and Kellie Towers serving on the ground jury. Dressage for both the CCI2* and CCI3* starts at 9 a.m. EST. Jessica Phoenix and Bogue Sound will be first out in the CCI3*, with Rob Stevenson, Les Smith and Gretchen Butts on the ground jury.
If you’re just tuning it to EN, be sure to check out EN’s preview of Derek di Grazia’s cross country course here, plus a drone flyover video from Jamie Rees. Stay tuned for much more from Fair Hill! Go Eventing.