Will Coleman and the Conair Syndicate’s Tight Lines executed a foot perfect cross country round under pressure late in the order of go at the Dutta Corp Fair Hill International to hold their overnight lead in the CCI2* on their dressage score of 42.5. The 8-year-old French Thoroughbred gelding Will imported from France last year made quick work of the course, delivering one of the 27 rounds clear and inside the time.
“He’s an incredibly fast horse. I’ve never had one that builds in speed like he does, but he truly gets faster as he goes, which is good and bad,” Will said. “But he was great. He settled down, and he was much more rideable than he was earlier in the year, and he just seems to get better and better. I’m thrilled with him. I thought he was just a star.”
With so many riders making the time, Will agreed that he didn’t think the optimum time of 8 minutes, 19 seconds was the most challenging aspect of Derek di Grazia’s course, but he also said he thought it was a good test overall.
“I thought (Derek) had really good quality questions. I think it does prepare your horse for the next level, and I think if you’re hoping to move up to the next level in the spring — which obviously I am with him — I think it does set you up well to do that. And I think that’s the point of what he tries to do with his course every year,” Will said.
“I think beyond that … I watched a lot in the morning because I went quite late, and it seemed like the problems were spread out all over. You get a big mix of horses in the two-star. Some are greener than others, but some of the more experienced combinations made it look pretty good. I thought it was a good track.”
Will and “Phish” won’t have a rail in hand for tomorrow’s show jumping, as Phillip Dutton and Z, a 7-year-old Zangersheide gelding owned by Tom Tierney, Simon Roosevelt, Jacqueline Mars and Suzanne Lacy, are sitting about three penalty points behind after also jumping clear and inside the time to move into second place on 45.3.
Phillip said after the round that Z handled his first CCI2* with ease. As for whether he’ll move the horse up to Advanced in the spring, Phillip said he’s not making that decision yet. “He’s a bit of a hard horse. He’s a 7-year-old, so I might give him a little bit more time,” Phillip said. “He’s not the most straightforward to the jumps, so I want to make him a little more easier to ride for me, not harder. I might give him another two-star.”
Allison Springer and Mary Ann Ghadban’s Cascani sit third on 46.1 thanks to a double clear, and it’s Allison’s birthday! This horse is a fairly new ride for her, as she only got him in March from Kelli Temple, and Allison said she was thrilled with how “Andy,” a 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding, handled the course.
“It was fantastic; I’m really excited … I did try to take him to Bromont probably a bit prematurely, and actually Phillip helped me a ton this summer with him, and I’m so excited about him. He’s just changed so much over the summer, and he’s a great horse. It felt really nice — just a fun ride around, and he felt full of gallop at the end and jumped well and really stepped up,” Allison said.
“I too am looking to move him up in the spring, and this is certainly a course that tests that. It’d be more of an Advanced course, so the people that are doing their first-time two-stars, that’s a big test, but it was great for the horses that you’re looking for something more in the spring.”
The rest of the top five in the CCI2* also added zero penalties to their dressage scores, which puts Doug Payne and his own and Kristin Michaloski’s Lysander in fourth place on 46.6 and Matt Flynn and Flynn Sport Horses’ Get Lucky in fifth place on 48.8. Z, Lysander and Get Lucky are all making their two-star debuts here at Fair Hill.
While 27 sounds like a high number of double clear rounds in this 71-horse field, it certainly wasn’t an easy day out there. It seemed to be feast or famine, with riders either storming around with fast, clear rounds or coming to grief at one of the combinations that quickly emerged as the biggest challenges on course.
The most trouble came at 7b at the Offset Brushes, the angled brush at 11b at the Cedar Cabin combination, and the brush corner at 18c in the Osage Orange Complex. The Chesapeake Water also caught out its fair share of horses and riders, and we saw a number of sticky rides over the chevron brush at 20c in the Springhouse Water.
Derek di Grazia’s track left little room for error, and riders sitting at the top of the leaderboard after cross country delivered the accurate rounds this course demanded. Even more impressive is the number of riders who delivered two or more double clear rounds. Kylie Dermody jumped clear and made the time on all three of her horses to put all of them inside the top 20: Da Vinci Code in 10th, Lup the Loop in 15th and Sacramento in 19th.
Four other riders jumped double clear rounds with two horses: Waylon Roberts with Bill Owen (7th) and Faolan (9th); Erin Sylvester with Paddy The Caddy (11th) and Campground (25th); Arden Wildasin with Kineo (14th) and Dusky Shadow (26th); and Sinead Halpin with Forrest Nymph (13th) and Grey Area (21st).
Congo Brazzaville C jumped out of his skin for Mara DePuy to come home clear with just 1.2 time penalties to move up to sixth place on 49.5, and Meghan O’Donoghue and Palm Crescent delivered an impressive double clear to move from equal 13th place up to eighth on 51.3. Nora Battig and Steppin’ Out win EN’s Biggest Mover Award, moving from 34th to 16th thanks to their double clear.
We’ve confirmed that all horses and riders that fell on course are OK sans cuts, bumps and bruises. Dasha Ivandaeva fell from DB Cooper at the Chesapeake Water after sitting in sixth place overnight and confirmed on Facebook that she is OK but heading to the local hospital to get a few stitches in her leg.
Sinead Halpin and Top Gun fell at the Chesapeake Water when “Gunnar” got hung up on the boat house and Sinead stepped off onto the jump. As mentioned above, she returned later in the division to jump double clear with Forrest Nymph and Grey Area. Siobhain O’Connor and Faux Indigo fell at the Osage Orange Complex but were both up and OK.
Tamie Smith was having a cracking round on Dempsey before they had a hard fall at the Springhouse Water. Both are OK, and she quickly bounced back and was out walking the CCI3* course, which she’ll tackle later this afternoon with overnight leader Mai Baum. You can get a full rundown of all the action on our live CCI2* updates at this link.
CCI3* cross country starts at 1:40 p.m., with Boyd Martin and Welcome Shadow heading out of the start box first. Sally is once again running live updates at this link, and I’m tweeting @eventingnation. We’re also posting photos to Instagram, and Maggie is out on course with Chinch and $20 Horse Tack Co. gift certificates for anyone who finds her! #ChaseTheChinch
Remember you can also listen to all the cross country action live on PRO Tour Radio! Click here to catch up on all of EN’s #DuttaFHI coverage so far, and keep it locked on EN for much more, including more CCI2* photos.