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Sun, 2012-10-21 18:01

Husain and Burnett Crowned Champions of Fair Hill International

Authored By: USEA
Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot completing a double clean show jumping round to finish on their dressage score and secure the victory in the CCI3* division.
Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot completing a double clean show jumping round to finish on their dressage score and secure the victory in the CCI3* division.

The biggest names in U.S. eventing were entered in this weekend’s Fair Hill International CCI2*, but youth prevailed as 19-year-old college student, Connor Husain, beat the veteran crowd to take the top spot in the division. Connor started the weekend in a tie for fifth on his and his mom’s Piece of Hope, a 13-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding, and when they added only .8 time penalties on the cross-country course they jumped up to second place. The finished their climb up the leaderboard today by leaving all of the jumps in the cups to put the pressure on the overnight leaders, Jennie Brannigan and Indie. When Jennie lowered a rail in the double, Connor was assured the victory.

“It is unreal,” said Connor. “It is absolutely amazing, I am so lucky. I don’t even know how to describe it, it is so surreal. I have been working towards this for a long time, and it’s just amazing to have this all come together in one weekend.”

Going into show jumping today Connor said he thought “Holy crap, I am going into Fair Hill show jumping. But I had to put the nerves aside and the course rode really well and Bruno was jumping great. I think that I have messed up enough times in the past that I have just learned to breathe and relax. I was nervous, but I just thought about my plan and rode to it. Jimmy Wofford told me today to just have a video of my ride in my head and make sure to do the exact same.”

Connor only has Bruno and one other young Thoroughbred to ride on a daily basis and being a full time college student he doesn’t get as much time in the tack as Professional riders. “That is the biggest struggle I have had with my jumping is being able to school enough because I don’t want to run Bruno into the ground.”

Connor purchased Bruno only about a year ago. “I looked for some horses in America after my old horse did a suspensory right before Young Riders, but nothing we vetted passed so we flew over to Germany to Elmar Lesch’s place, and I was really just looking for a two-star horse to go to Young Riders in the next two or three years before I aged out. Bruno actually wasn’t for sale, but I was over there and they saw me ride and thought it would be a really good match, and I fell in love with him.”

Clayton Fredericks rose up from fourth to conclude his weekend in second with Hayley Parker’s 9-year-old gelding Pigrela Des Cabanes with only 2.8 cross-country time added to his dressage score throughout the weekend.

“He is a very nice horse, but he isn’t really a ride for me,” said Phillip. “He is a horse I am preparing for a South African girl – Hayley Parker, so we were really here just to get a qualification and a top ten finish. To be second I was very pleased.”

“I have ridden this horse a few times, and I always have a rail down so Hayley sent me a text this morning and she said that if you whisper in his ear that it is important to jump clear today he will do it. Anyway when he knocked a few in the practice ring I whispered in his ear ‘it’s important today mate’ and he jumped a lovely round.”

Fair Hill was Clayton’s first American event outside of Rolex Kentucky CCI4*. “I really enjoyed the experience here. Everyone had sort of warned me that it was a physically challenging course for the horses, but it gave me a good feel for how the American sport is and it was good.”

The last pair to enter the ring in the CCI2*, Jennie Brannigan and Nina Gardner’s Indie had a lot of pressure after the previous few horses had jumped clear. Unfortunately the atmosphere was a bit much for the 7-year-old and he pulled the rail heading into the double in front of the VIP tent.

“To be honest I just wanted the horse to go out and have a good round,” said Jennie. “Indie is very green and very spooky and so I figured that Connor would jump a clear round, so I just wanted the horse to go in and have a good round. But in the end if you would have told me that we would have told me that we would have been third out of this big a field I am happy with the result none the less.”

Heartwood Perpetual Trophy – Overall Winner:  Connor Husain
USEF Combined Training Trophy: Connor Husain
Seahorse Farm Perpetual Trophy – Owner of Winning Horse:  Najaf Leslie & Connor Husain
USEF National Young Rider Championship:  Connor Husain
USEF National 22-24 Year-old Champion:  Danielle Dichting
Jonathan R.  Burton Trophy to USEF National Young Champion (6 & 7 year olds): Jennie Brannigan on Indie
Mid-Atlantic Horse Rescue Trophy – highest placing American Thoroughbred:  Holly Payne on Santino
Leading Foreign Rider:  Clayton Fredericks
Fitness Award:  Clark Montgomery on Garrison Flash
Best Presentation Award:  Elinor MacPhail
Sportsmanship Award:  Sharon White


Red coats decorated the field in the CCI3* this afternoon, with top-level international riders demonstrating careful accuracy in the showjumping phase of the competition. Coming out on top was Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot, a 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Jacqueline Mars. This was Hannah Sue's third win at the Fair Hill International as she had won both the CCI2* and CCI3* with Dick Thompson's St. Barths. Hannah said that despite the pressure of being the overnight leader, she had simple goals going into the final leg of the competition. “Basically I just wanted to give him a really good ride,” said Burnett. “Just find good distances and help him out as much as I could, but I was really impressed with how he jumped.”

Burnett had a rough start to her competitive year with Harbour Pilot, but did some serious problem solving over the summer to improve their show jumping. “I did a lot more jumping than I usually do,” she said. “My first big horse was really lame all the time so I didn’t jump very much to protect him for the horse shows. But William needs to jump a lot and I need to practice on him, so I worked on that a lot this summer and went to some jumper shows.”

As a three-time champion at Fair Hill, Burnett seems to have found somewhat of a good luck charm in the competition. The venue has come to hold a special place in Burnett’s heart due to its connection to the late Dick Thompson, owner of Burnett’s mount, St. Barths. “The first day I got here I walked up to the main arena and it really reminded me of Dick Thompson,” she said. “His sons are here, Rick and Jim, and I just went and saw them before I show jumped. It really brought back a lot of memories, so I’d say that’s the most special thing about this place for me.”

Marilyn Little held on to the second place position today with the lovely gray, RF Smoke On The Water, while also coming in fourth on her second mount, RF Demeter.

“I was thrilled that they were both pretty close to the top,” said Little. “Smoke is only seven and he was quite tired today so I was really pleased to see him put in such a good effort. It says a lot about the horse and I can trust him more and more in the show jumping with each event. And the chestnut mare, Demeter, I just cant say enough about her. She hasn’t had a run since June, and this is normally her weakest phase, so for her to come out and make an effort like that having not been in the ring in five months was a big feat. I’m really pleased with her.”

Finally, climbing up the leaderboard from tenth after dressage into the third place position was Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Eagle. Phillip described the horse’s jumping style as “unorthodox” and admitted that their partnership is somewhat unique. “Eagle and I have sort of a love-hate relationship,” said Dutton. “He’s a bit of a cranky horse. He doesn’t like too many people or doing things but he’s pretty proud of himself today.”

Overall, Fair Hill saw one of the most successful weekends in its history, and undoubtedly saw some of the finest weather in years. All horse and rider pairs were able to stay safe, and all learned from the complex challenges the international competition set before them. 

The Fair Hill Bronze – Overall Winner:  Hannah Sue Burnett
USEF Guy V. Henry Memorial Trophy:  Hannah Sue Burnett
The Gladstone Trophy – to the highest place US Horse by the USET:  Hannah Sue Burnett on Harbour Pilot
USEF National Under 25 year old Champion:  Lindsey Oaks
USEF National Owner/Rider Championship:  Marilyn Little-Meredith on RF Smoke on the Water
The Beale Wright Morris Memorial Trophy – leading lady rider:  Hannah Sue Burnett
The Linda Moore Trophy to the highest placed foreign rider:  Kelly List
The Markham Trophy:  Alexandra Green
The Welcome Here Farm Trophy to the highest placed American TB Mare:  Holly Payne on Madeline
The Amanda Warrington Memorial Trophy to the highest placed entry in their first 3-star:  Lindsey Oaks
The Edward Johnson Memorial Trophy to the highest placed Adult Amateur:  Meghan O’Donoghue
Fitness Award:  Laine Ashker on Anthony Patch
Best Presentation Award:  Leslie Chelstrom
Sportsmanship Award:  Katie Ruppel


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