America’s Phillip Dutton and Z proved to be no match as the topped the CIC*** at The Fork at TIEC Presented by Lucky Clays Farm and FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 (WEG) Eventing Test Event at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC).
The pair maintained their lead following cross-country phase to finish on a score of 28, ahead of Kim Severson (USA) aboard Cooley Cross Border (32.1 followed by Sharon White (USA) piloting Cooley On Show to third (32.90).
“You never quite know how tight the time is going to be,” said Dutton of the show-jumping course. “It’s an advantage going at the end and realising the lines you have to take to shave the time. My guy is not at his best if I open him up too much toward the jump, so I had to cut the turns, shorten him at the jumps, and rock him back just a bit. Everybody said they were worried that I wasn’t going to make the time, but here we are.”
Dutton competed two other horses throughout the weekend in the FEI CIC 3* division, but it was the 2008 Zangersheide gelding owned by T. Tierney, S. Roosevelt, S. Lacy, A. Jones, and C. Moran who ultimately ended the competition in the winner’s circle. “Coming here is great experience for him,” Dutton explained. “He’s an up-and-coming horse and I’m trying to help him understand what to do in every phase, as that’s my job to educate him. The cool part of it for me is seeing him produced. Getting to this level and then hopefully the next level, and being confident and having enough skills that he’s going to be able to succeed.”
Second place finisher Kim Severson went into Sunday’s show jumping phase just trailing the top four, but rocketed to second place standing after a clean round on Cooley Cross Border.
Severson’s run on cross-country impacted the duo’s score slightly, but proved to help their standings after moving back to second place following their show jumping round, a position they held following the first phase of dressage. “He was good yesterday,” she noted of the Cross Syndicate owned 2007 Irish Sport Horse gelding. “He started out jumping pretty high and I was a little careful because I just wanted to make sure that I gave him a good ride. After the water he really picked up and got faster. I didn’t give him the greatest ride into that first set of corners. That stride going in makes that two really long, but he fought for it and he was really good. Down there on cross-country, he’s so much fun. You can just gallop and he’ll do it if he can do it. He’s such a nice horse.”
Sharon White and Cooley On Show, her own 2007 Irish Sport Horse gelding saw a positive shift in their overall placement, as they climbed up the ranks from eleventh to third by the end of the weekend. She said: “He’s a fabulous horse and he’s strong in all phases. He’s definitely getting better. He loves the sport and he loves competing, so he’s definitely a good competitor no matter what. My job was to not get in the way and let him be who he wants to be. He really enjoys all three phases. His dressage is getting stronger, cross-country is fun with him. He’s got such a big stride and a lot of scope. With the show jumping, I thought it was really interesting that the time was so tight and scores were tight. That was a bit of a challenge and we just wanted to see if we could do it.”
The week served as a WEG Test Event and riders caught a glimpse of what is to come this September. Dutton, who has competed successfully at six WEGs, is eyeing a spot on the United States Eventing Team in five months. He concluded, “I certainly think that there’s a home field advantage having the Games here, and for us to be here and know the venue and get comfortable with it. There are some disadvantages with having the Games at home, with distractions and what else, so we might as well make the most of being able to get use out of this venue ahead of time and feel comfortable when the team gets here for September.”
The Advanced-A Division saw Lynn Symansky and Under Suspection return to the top position as the weekend came to a close, jumping out of second place to finish on a score of 37.50, while Leslie Law of Ocala, FL, achieved second place aboard Voltaire de Tre, scoring 38.60. Symansky also rounded out third place honors with 44.60 aboard Donner.
Lauren Kieffer and Veronica stole the Advanced-B Division, finishing their final show jumping phase on a score of 36.90 – the pair are entered for Badminton in May. Leslie Law and The Apprentice earned second place honors after finishing with 47 penalties, and third place was awarded to Boyd Martin of Cochranville, PA, with Steady Eddie, on 47.10.