Holy Fair Hill. Derek Di Grazia’s CCI3* cross country course certainly lived up to the hype in an afternoon that totally turned the leader board upside down. With the dust settled, Jan Byyny and Inmidair are your new overnight leaders thanks to a clear trip with just two time penalties. I’m over the moon for Jan, who’s overcome so much to get to this point. JR is a tricky ride and known for his shenanigans in the little white box, and Jan handled him very well in the dressage yesterday for a solid score of 45.6 to sit in fifth place overnight. And they absolutely smoked the course today to finish as the only pair still in the 40s; they take a score of 47.6 into the show jumping tomorrow.
Will Coleman has to be thrilled with his new ride Conair, who delivered the first double clear trip of the afternoon in the CCI3*. That effort moved them from 12th up to second place, and they move forward on their dressage score of 50.2. The horse looked very good when I saw them through the tricky Dutta Farm Yard in the main arena, and he’s turning into a very exciting partner for Will. Doug Payne and Crown Talisman came into the day in second place overnight after a very good dressage test, and he gave Tali a slower, educational round to come home clear with 6.8 time penalties. They go into the show jumping in third place on a score of 50.4, and they’re certainly still within striking distance, as there’s just one rail separating the top three currently.
We saw just four double clear rounds today. In addition to Will and Conair, Kim Severson and Fernhill Fearless delivered an excellent double clear, moving them from 17th up into fourth place. And the story of the day has to be Ellen Doughty and Sir Oberon, who came here from Texas on a Land Rover Training Grant and put in a double clear trip to move from 21st to sixth place. Tim Bourke and Luckaun Quality also added no penalties to their dressage score and move all the way from 30th to eighth place in Tim’s first-ever three-star appearance. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to Libby Head and Sir Rockstar, who came home with just 0.4 time penalties to move from 32nd to 10th place.
Those huge leaps up the leader board for riders who delivered clear and fast trips sheds some light on just how much trouble the course caused today. Overnight leaders Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda had a stop at 13C in the Dutta Farm Yard, which was originally not scored as a stop but later added once the technical delegate conferred with the fence judges in the main arena. Katy Groesbeck and Oz the Tin Man had a bummer of a day, picking up stops at the keyhole at fence 13A in the Dutta Farm Yard and two more stops at the double angled brushes at fence 20, leading to elimination. And in a moment none of us expected, Sinead Halpin and Manoir De Carneville, who were sitting in fourth place after dressage, parted ways at the log drop at fence 21.
We unfortunately had one serious fall when Sally Cousins and Ideal Contini both went down at Rachel’s Walls at fence 16. There was quite a long hold on course as the medics attended to Sally, and she’s been transported to nearby Christiana hospital for further examination. She was reportedly talking to the medics at the scene of the accident, and we’re sending our best wishes to Sally. In all, just 25 riders made it around the CCI3* course, with only 15 of those being clear trips. Seven riders were eliminated on course, with three falling. The vast majority of the problems came in the Dutta Farm Yard, which I stayed at all day shooting lots of video. We’re about to have the press conference with the top riders in the CCI3* and CCI2*. Stay tuned for much more from Fair Hill.