Rio Olympic Bronze medalist Phillip Dutton proved experience is everything after earning the lead the CIC***, CIC** and CIC* divisions at Fair Hill International’s April HT and CIC with Mr Candyman, Fernhill Singapore and The Manager, respectively.
A dressage score of 48.9 gave Dutton and Anne Jones, Bridget Coleman, Caroline Moran and Thomas Tierney’s Mr Candyman third place to start the CIC*** this morning. “The horse was working well and the three-star test is becoming pretty easy for him now. He seems to get better week after week,” Dutton said of the 10-year-old Holsteiner’s (Canto x Montara) dressage test.
A double clear show jumping round later in the afternoon boosted the pair into the lead. “It was a good course with time that was hard to get so there was a little bit of pressure to keep moving along,” he said. “I just constantly focused on the time the whole way around not making too wide of turns to be as efficient as possible.”
Dutton also earned third place with his second ride in the division, Z. The 9-year-old Belgian Warmblood (Asca x Bellabouche) owned by Thomas Tierney, Simon Roosevelt, Suzanne Lacy, Anne Jones and Caroline Moran also had a faultless trip around the show jumping to carry 50.9 penalty points into tomorrow’s cross-country. “Z started out well. He probably didn’t canter as good as he can do, but it’s all a good experience for him. It’s good to be in the Fair Hill main arena a little bit more atmosphere for the horses,” he continued.
Second place is currently held by Ryan Wood and Summit Sporthorse’s Powell. “He’s always good,” Wood said of the stunning 11-year-old Oldenburg (Pablito x Dinara) who earned a score of 46.7 on the flat. “I had a good feel on him. I made a couple of pilot errors and we had one late change and that was a little costly, which was a shame. Everything else was pretty much on the money.”
Despite one rail down in the show jumping, the 11-year-old Oldenburg (Pablito x Dinara) remains in second on a two-phase score of 50.70. “He’s jumping great. Time was very tight in that ring, so I was a little bit chancy at number six. It had a little bit of a false ground line with a wall set behind and I paid for it there, but he was wanting to leave the jumps up,” Wood said.
Both the CIC** and CIC* divisions also kicked off their competition with the dressage phase. Dutton’s dominance continued to include the CIC** division, which he leads with Sue Foley, Thomas Tierney and Ann Fernhill Singapore. The 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Singapore x Riedellia) posted a dressage score of 42.7, a personal best for this pair.
“He’s a young horse for this level and he’s a beautiful mover,” Dutton said. “It’s usually a case of trying to get him to behave and concentrate for the whole test. He certainly wasn’t perfect, but he’s a work in progress and I’m excited for his future.”
In his first two-star, Hannah Salzar’s Sandro’s Star follows in second place with Chris Talley in the tack. The 9-year-old Oldenburg stallion by Sagnol holds a current score of 46.4. Third place in this group goes to Elena Hengel and her own Say I Do, a 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse on a 47.3.
Dutton finished his sweep of the international division taking the lead in the CIC* with Ann Jones’ The Manager (The Cliff’s Edge x Misty Sabin). This event is the 7-year-old Thoroughbred’s second two-star, where he currently holds a score of 44.5. He’s followed in second place by Daniel Clasing aboard his own MW Gangster's Game, a 7-year-old Anglo European gelding (Solitair x Fernhill City Girl), who is tied with Alexandra Tett and her own Quiproquo des Vatys, a 13-year-old Selle Francias (Joeris x Betelee du Rocher). Both pairs carry a score of 44.8.
This weekend’s competition now also includes a combined test of dressage and show jumping, which provides an excellent preparatory opportunity for competitors headed to the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event at the end of the month. Riders in this division performed CCI4* Test A, the same dressage test they will execute in Kentucky, for judges Marilyn Payne and Yulia Novitskaya. Seven competitors filled this division, including tied winners Matt Brown with Super Socks BCF and Colleen Rutledge on Covert Rights.
Three-star competitors will take on Derek di Grazia’s cross-country track tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. on the Gallaher side of the venue. Two-star pairs continue the competition with show jumping in the Foxcatcher ring starting at 10:30 a.m. followed by cross-country in the Sawmill Field at 12:40 p.m. The one-star combinations follow with show jumping at 12:48 p.m. and cross-country at 2:58 p.m.