Happy Fair Hill week! Now in its 31st year, the 2019 Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International is again hosting the U.S. Equestrian CCI4*-L and CCI3*-L Fall Eventing Championships along with the USEA Young Event Horse East Coast Championships presented by Dubarry of Ireland. A world-class field of some 40-odd horse-rider combinations are entered in the CCI4*-L.
EN stats guru Maggie Deatrick will be along after the first horse inspection with her “By the Numbers” breakdown and winner prediction, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, let’s sneak a peek!
Phillip Dutton has topped the podium more times than any other rider in this year’s field — in fact, the only rider who has won the event more times than him is five-time winner David O’Connor (1993, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2002). Phillip has won the event four times: 2007 and 2004 with The Foreman, 2000 with Drizzle, and 1996 with Sky’s Prospect. This year he has entered two horses, Fernhill Singapore and Z. Four titles is impressive, but it’s been a while … can he pull another one out this year?
Four riders in history have won the event twice — Boyd Martin (2011 and 2009), Hannah Sue Burnett (2012 and 2010), Karen O’Connor (2003 and 1989), and Mark Weissbecker (1994 and 1998). Hannah Sue, who took the title in 2012 with Harbour Pilot and in 2010 with St. Barths, will be on the hunt for a hat trick this year with the inexperienced Lukeswell. Boyd was originally entered but withdrew his horses after breaking his pelvis at Plantation Field — take it easy and get well soon, Boyd!
We have one more former Fair Hill champion in this year’s field in Jennie Brannigan, who won in 2014 with Cambalda. She has entered Twilightslastgleam and will also compete FE Celestino and Joie de Vivre in the 5 Year-Old division and both Keepsake and Kismet in the 4 Year-Old division.
In addition to past Fair Hill winners, the entry roster is a who’s-who of other Team USA veterans. Team stalwart Buck Davidson has a Fair Hill win in his DNA, so to speak. Bruce Davidson Sr. won Fair Hill in 1992 with Eagle Lion, but FHI is a title that has eluded his son thus far. He came close last year, finishing third with Archie Rocks; this year he has entered Erroll Gobey, Copper Beach, and Jak My Style in the CCI4*-L, as well as Cerafino D in the 5 Year-Old class.
Pan Am Games team gold medalists Lynn Symansky, who also won the individual silver, and Doug Payne, who finished just outside the individual medals in fourth place, are entered. Lynn, who has twice represented the U.S. at WEG, is taking aim at this year’s FHI with Under Suspection. Doug will have a busy week, competing Vandiver in the CCI4*-L, Cascor in the CCI3*-L, Camarillo in the 5 Year-Old Young Event Horse division, and three horses in the 4 year-old Young Event Horse division, including Quiberon, Red Right Return, and Hannah Moor.
Joining them are U.S. Olympic veterans Lauren Kieffer and Clark Montgomery, teammates at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Lauren, who is also a Pan Am Games team gold medalist, has entered D.A. Duras, while Clark will be riding Caribbean Soul. Other team riders include Will Coleman, a veteran of the 2012 London Olympics and 2018 WEG, who has entered Don Dante.
Two-time Olympic and four-time WEG veteran Jessica Phoenix of Canada two horses entered in the CCI4*-L: Bogue Sound and Watson GS. She also will be competing Humble GS in the CCI3-L*. Two-time Olympic Silver medalist and WEG medalist Clayton Fredericks of Australia will be competing FE Stormtrooper and FE Always In Time.
A WIDE-OPEN FIELD
Of course, the field is wide open and there are plenty of pairs to keep your eye on. Some pairs, like Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights who just won Plantation Field International CCI4*-S in September, are on a hot streak. There are Fair Hill veterans who are in the hunt for a personal best finish this year, and rookies with the potential to surprise and impress.
Who has the most shots per capita of winning this year? Beyond those already mentioned, Nilson Moreira da Silva and Allison Springer both have two horses entered apiece.
Historically speaking, west coast riders have done well for themselves when they come east for Fair Hill — quite the haul. Frankie Theriot-Stutes and Chatwin won in 2018, Tamie Smith and Mai Baum won in 2015, Amy Tryon and Coal Creek won in 2008, and Gina Miles and McKinlaigh won in 2006. This year’s west coast contingent is represented by Mallory Hogan with Clarissa Purisima, Lauren Billys with Castle Larchfield Purdy, and Liza Horan with Lafite.
“We are delighted to have so many top names in the sport returning to our world-class three-day event,” said Trish Gilbert, President of Fair Hill International. “With such a high-caliber list of entries, all of the divisions are guaranteed to be thrilling to say the least!”
Best of luck to all, Abby Powell will be bringing us all the latest all week, so keep it locked here!