By the Numbers: Fair Hill International CCI4*-L

The 2019 Dutta Corp Fair Hill International Three-Day is now upon us and while we have seen quite a lot of dry weather in the region over the past month, the skies opened up yesterday. This should leave us with good footing for cross country day, with weather that promises to be lovely. This will be the final year that the cross country runs on this side of Gallagher Road, with a brand new course and brand new name next year for the 5*.

Derek di Grazia will be designing the cross-country for the final time after two decades of work here. If you see him, be sure to thank him for his efforts in making Fair Hill the standard in the U.S. at the CCI4*-L level, and if you’re itching to run his course design as a prep for Kentucky (or Tokyo!), take a trip up to Bromont in the summer. Marc Donovan comes forward to design the show jumping for the second year running.

Dressage for the 4* starts at 2 p.m. EST today, and you can watch live on USEF Network.

The Field 

  • The leader after dressage has won the event for the last four consecutive runnings.
  • The lowest dressage score of the competition has been an average of 27.17 over the last half-decade, compared to 28.86 world-wide and 26.43 in western Europe over the same time period.
  • Although Fair Hill’s 5-year cross country completion rate (75.3%) and inside the time rate (13.5%) is comparable to world-wide 5-year 4*-L rates (77.3% and 12.9% respectively), the cross country clear rate at Fair Hill (65.5%) is significantly higher compared to the world-wide clear rate (59.8%)
  • At least one rider has made the time on cross country for the last five years. Fourteen made the time in 2016. Only three winners since 2012 have made the time on cross country.
  • With a combination of plenty of horses used to pushing the pace and a fast surface to run on Saturday, look for a large number of horses to make the time.
  • Competitors have incurred an average of 0.99 rails at Fair Hill since 2014 while world-wide competitors incur an average of 1.47 rails at this level.
  • Only one winner since 2012, Jan Byyny with Inmidair, were able to absorb a rail and still win the division. Two other winners, Tamie Smith with Mai Baum and Selena O’Hanlon with Foxwood High, have won with clean rounds but incurred show jumping time penalties.
  • At least one competitor has finished on their dressage score every year for the last four years, with 2014 being the last year that no FODS occurred. A high of seven pairs obtained an FOD in 2016.

Dressage Divas

Lynn Symansky and Under Suspection. Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

  • Lynn Symansky and Under Suspection have scored over 70% in five of their eight A/4* starts in the last two years; their personal best of 25.0 as a pair was scored only two outings ago at Great Meadow 4*-S. With a slot in the morning of day two, they’ll need to really impress if they want to hold the lead through the remainder of the division.
  • Doug Payne and Vandiver have also performed exceptionally well over the 2018/19 seasons, scoring over 70% in four of six A/4* tests over that time period. These two will have an advantage over others on the list with a ride time in the last quarter of the division.
  • Lauren Kieffer and D.A. Duras clocked in a very strong 26.0 in their 4* last outing at Great Meadow, a sign that the horse is returning to the form we saw mid-2017 when he broke 75% at Little Downham Advanced in England. A slot in the first quarter of the division will work against them though.
  • Covert Rights hasn’t scored below 70% yet this season, with four consecutive marks in the 20s leading the way to four top-three finishes. Their hot streak will need to hold through an early morning session ride time, but expect to see a top mark from this horse and Colleen Rutledge tomorrow.

Cross Country Machines

Phillip Dutton and Z. Photo by Shelby Allen.

  • It’s easy to overlook Phillip Dutton‘s ride Z after his troubles this year but this horse’s record across the country is fairly impeccable at the CCI4/5*-L formats. In five finishes, this horse has only once had time penalties, incurred at WEG last fall when Phillip was under team orders rather than running as an individual. He hasn’t been the fastest time of the day by any long shot, but he hasn’t needed to be; finishing within five seconds of optimum in all four of those outings is a sign of a master rider at work. The one question mark in this horse’s resume on this phase is the venue itself; in Z’s only Fair Hill start in 2016, Phillip took a tumble to end their competition.
  • Clark Montgomery is seeking his return to the 5* level with Caribbean Soul, a chestnut Thoroughbred mare who has finished either inside the optimum time or as the fastest time of the day in her last three starts at the A/4* level. This includes being bang on optimum time in the Rebecca Farm CCI4*-L, the only long format at the level this mare has yet run.
  • Erin Sylvester and Paddy the Caddy have completed three CCI4*-L divisions all within ten seconds of the optimum time. This includes a Fair Hill run in 2017 where they finished inside the optimum. They also have a clear round inside the time at Kentucky, another Derek di Grazia-designed long format.
  • Fylicia Barr and Galloway Sunrise don’t always bring all their turn of foot to bear on the course at hand, but have obtained four top-three finishes in nine finishes over the last two years when they do. This includes a win in the Jersey Fresh CCI4*-L in the spring, two top three placings at Plantation Field 4*-S, and a second place at Fair Hill Advanced in the spring of 2018.
  • Jenny Caras and Fernhill Fortitude have the CCI4*-L level down to a science; they’ve finished six events at this particular level, have finished inside the time or as the fastest ride at three of them while being within three seconds of optimum at another two. They’ve completed this event at Fair Hill three times now, with a cumulative total of one second over optimum time.
  • Covert Rights also has to be discussed. Colleen Rutledge is known as a rider with the ability to make the time, and she and Covert Rights have done that many, many times at the CCI4*-S level. Since 2015, they’ve been the fastest pace or made the time at 11 of 18 clean A/4*-S rounds and have been within 10 seconds of either optimum or the fastest time of the day on another four occasions. However the 4/5* long format has slowed them down considerably and they’ve made time at those levels only once … here at Fair Hill in 2017. With good turf, it’s likely for them to be back in more familiar territory of a fast and clear round this weekend.
  • There are several other horses with speed that can be mentioned; Il Vici (Arden Wildasin), Magnum’s Martini and Cash (Nilson Moreira da Silva), Serendipity (Brooke Massie), Michel 233 (Will Faudree), Under Suspection (Lynn Symansky), Jak My Style (Buck Davidson), and Honor Me (Lisa Marie Fergusson) are all horses who have shown the ability to make the pace, either at the CCI4*-L level or in their more recent short format events.

Show Jumping Powerhouses

Erin Sylvester and Paddy The Caddy. Photo by AK Dragoo Photography.

  • On show jumping day, Paddy the Caddy and Erin Sylvester are a pair who are a strong bet for a clear round; in four long format 4/5* completions, they’ve jumped four clear rounds with only one time penalty total.
  • Although Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me haven’t been able to replicate their form at the 5* level, at the 4*-L level, they are perfect. They have added nothing to their score on the final day in every completion at this level, including at Fair Hill in 2016.
  • Lynn Symansky and Under Suspection have only twice competed with stadium as the final phase, but have overall jumped clear in six of eight stadium rounds they have as a pair.
  • Lauren Kieffer and D.A. Duras have jumped clear in eight of ten A/4* stadium rounds since 2017; they’ve jumped clear in three of four rounds when stadium was the final phase, including a Fair Hill completion in the fall of 2016. This will be their first CCI4*-L start since then.
  • Jak My Style has jumped clear in two of three starts where cross-country was last with Buck Davidson in the irons, including Fair Hill in 2017.
  • Phillip Dutton has a pair of strong jumpers in both Z and Fernhill Singapore, who combined have jumped clear in 27 of 32 starts. Fernhill Singapore has jumped clear in eight of his nine starts at A/4*, but the only rail he incurred was when stadium occurred after cross country, under the lights, at the American Eventing Championships. Meanwhile Z was known for his prowess in this phase until earlier this year, jumping twelve consecutive clears at the level that included his first trip overseas to Tattersalls 4*-L, his first 5*, and the WEG. At Kentucky he ran into a hiccup, incurring two uncharacteristic rails and followed with three rails at Aachen but has since returned to form, jumping clear in his last three rounds including as a catch-ride under Boyd Martin at Plantation.
  • Young horses and riders who might impress in this phase include BGS Firecracker (Mia Farley) and Early Review CBF (Sydney Solomon), as well as horses under veteran riders like DonDante (Will Coleman).

PREDICTED WINNER: Lynn Symansky and Under Suspection

Lynn Symansky and Under Suspection. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Keep Your Eye On …

  • Phillip Dutton and Z
  • Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights
  • Buck Davidson and Jak My Style
  • Erin Sylvester and Paddy the Caddy
  • Doug Payne and Vandiver
  • Jenny Caras and Fernhill Fortitude
  • Clark Montgomery and Caribbean Soul
  • Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me

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