Will Coleman watched the CCI2* course for awhile this morning while the first riders took their turns. He watched each fence and each turn, taking mental notes about the tricky questions and formulating a plan.
That plan certainly paid off as Will laid down a flawless round under immense pressure — he had not one rail to spare to clinch the win — to take home the spoils in the Dutta Corp Fair Hill International. The 8-year-old French Thoroughbred gelding owned by the Conair Syndicate laid down the gauntlet in the dressage, earning a 42.5 to take the lead and never let it go.
“It probably wasn’t the smoothest round I’ve ever had on him but he left them up,” Will said. “He tried really hard, I think he was a little bit nervous when he went in and it was probably the worst possible course for him — it was all left turns and long distances. He’s hard to turn left for whatever reason, I don’t know why. He was great.”It was a glimpse into the future of sorts for Will and his team, who really saw the potential of this young horse in his performance this weekend. It was also a weekend of personal and professional achievement for Will. The Conair Syndicate has been through the lowest of the lows following the sudden loss of Conair last year, and it has meant a lot to Will that this team of supporters has stuck by his side.
“Anytime you win a three-day event, it’s a big deal, especially at the two star level and up,” Will said. “This one has eluded me for a number of years. I’ve been second and third and fourth in the two star and the three star here but I’ve never won it so personally I think it’s an accomplishment. But for this group, they’ve really had to go through a lot of the ups and downs of being an event horse owner and had to endure arguably the worst of the downs when we lost (Conair). They were just humbling and gracious about it, they come to pick me up when I was down and helped me get back on my feet and I’m thrilled for them. It’s a taste of what’s to come.”
Sally Ike’s course was tricky, and the early morning light made for even more difficulty for many. The first fence, a brown vertical, came down often, as did penultimate and final fences. Just under half of the field of 55 jumped clear within the time, and the pressure cooker intensified as we got closer to the top of the division.Jumping for no worse than second, Phillip Dutton and Z put in a foot perfect round professionally piloted by Phillip to do everything they could to steal the win from Will. Z is another finishing on his dressage score (45.3) in his first CCI2* — and only his third FEI event with Phillip in the irons.
Phillip said yesterday that he thought the partnership with this horse owned by Tom Tierney, Simon Roosevelt, Jaccqueline Mars and Suzanne Lacy is still maturing, but he certainly gave us a glimpse of the future this weekend.Allison Springer unfortunately lowered one rail — an expensive penalty today — opening the door for Matt Flynn and Get Lucky to move up into third place overall thanks to their double clear round. Matt and the 7-year-old Dutch gelding owned by Flynn Sport Horses LLC hunted the top of the board all weekend, moving from eighth to fifth after cross country and finally into third to end the weekend.
“I imported him as 5-year-old — he was doing some show jumping in Holland,” Matt said. “He was really good this weekend. This is his first year at Intermediate and he won Millbrook and he jumped great today.”
Waylon Roberts was also a mover this weekend, moving from 11th after dressage with Bill Owen to ultimately finish in fourth place. The top four in this division all added nothing to their dressage scores.I was super impressed with Palm Crescent, who was piloted by Meghan O’Donoghue to a seventh place finish. Palm Crescent is a 9-year-old OTTB gelding owned by Chase and Darcie Shipka and campaigned in 2014 by Chase. This is a super talented horse with a careful hind end who also ended on his dressage score after steadily moving up the ranks.
Kylie Dermody finished her stellar weekend with a big bang, bringing home all three of her horses home with just one time penalty between them all to finish in the top 20. Kylie’s not had the rides on these horses for all that long, making this weekend all the more impressive. She’ll finish the weekend with DaVinci Code (9th), Lup the Loop (13th), and Sacramento (19th).
A few other awards were also handed out during the prize giving: the Jonathan R. Burton Trophy for the USEF Two-Star Young Horse Eventing National Championship for 6- and 7-year old horses as well as the John H. Fritz Trophy for the USEF Two-Star Young Rider Eventing National Championship.
Z took home the Jonathan R. Burton Trophy with Get Lucky as the reserve and Adrian Jones won the John H. Fritz Trophy with Madeline Backus as the reserve. Kristin Buffamoyer and Jim were awarded the Best Presentation Award.
The CCI2* competition has been tough from the start, and it truly was a hard fought battle to get to the top of the rankings. Congratulations to all! I will continue to add photos tonight so keep checking back as I got almost everyone.