Phillip Dutton took victory in the CIC*** AT Red Hills International Horse Trials in Tallahassee this weekend, making his mark to claim at place on the USA Olympic Team.
At the end of the dressage, the lead was held by Hannah Sue Burnett riding Harbour Pilot, after gaining a score of 40.4 penalties. William, a 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding owned by Jacqueline B. Mars, sustained an injury at the 2014 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials. “Burghley was so exciting and then so disappointing when we didn’t get to jog up,” said Burnett. After giving him a soft 2015, he seems to be returning this year in top form. Burnett added: “Having him back in action and having him compete so well is just really cool. He is definitely happy to be here and excited. He’s grown up a lot in the year having some time off.”
Second after the dressage was Olympic contender Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Fugative with a score of 42.4. Afterwards he commented: “I think that is about the best he’s gone. He’s getting better and better. Timing his warm-up is pretty crucial. You do too much and he drops behind my leg and you don’t do enough and he’s not quite through enough. So we got that pretty right.”
Lying third after the dressage was Jennifer Brannigan with Catalina on a score of 44.4, who said: “I was pretty excited. I wasn’t exactly expecting to be sitting here, but I think in this company to have such a green horse step up to the plate is really exciting.”
Show jumping course designer William “Fuzzy” Mayo made sure Red Hills would not be a dressage competition, as there was a substantial shake up of the leader board during this phase. Among those caught out was dressage leader Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot. Burnett chalked the rail up to it being William’s first big event saying: “William is really excited to be here and he got a little flat. I tried to hold it together throughout the course and that last line got a bit strong. Hopefully we’ll have him really tuned up for Kentucky.”
For 2016 the competition featured a redesigned cross-country course running in the opposite direction as in the previous year, which received rave reviews from competitors and spectators alike. Despite course designer Mike Etherington-Smith’s many curveballs, the top three riders in the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series CIC3* division remained atop the leader board through it all.
Phillip Dutton secured the top spot adding only 0.8 cross-country penalties to his dressage score to finish on 43.2 penalties. Dutton and Fernhill Fugitive had the quickest ride around the new track and have made a great claim to be considered for a spot on Team USA for the 2016 Olympic Games. Out of their 22 total CIC/CCI starts, the pair has finished in the top ten in 16 of those competitions – a 73% hit rate.
“He’s not brilliant in any phase but he is good in all the phases. That’s what you have to be to be an event horse” said Dutton.
Jennifer Brannigan took second with the up-and-coming Catalina, who added 5.6 time penalties to finish on 50.0. This was the third run at this level for the Oldenburg mare, owned by Candace Kircher and Tim and Nina Gardner. “I have really, pretty much taken this horse and threw her in the deep end,” said Brannigan. “I knew that there would be a point at which she would be competitive amongst this quality and calibre of horses but I didn’t necessarily think that was going to be this weekend. I have always known she is a really nice horse but you know you go ok we are green at 13 and it is going to get there so I am just over the moon and elated.”
Unlike the CIC*** division, the Advanced division ran over three days during Red Hills. Day two featured cross-country and a familiar pair on the top of the leader board. In 2015 Lauren Kieffer managed to pull off a double victory by winning the Advanced division with Team Rebecca’s Veronica and the CIC*** division aboard Court and Kylie Ramsay’s Czechmate.
For 2016 Kieffer returned with a trailer load of contenders including Veronica and her Pan American Games partner Meadowbrook’s Scarlett fresh off of their victory at the $15,000 Ocala Horse Properties Eventing Prix.
While Kieffer’s rides in the CIC3* division might not have gone quite as planned with an involuntary dismount from her new ride D.A. Durras, her Advanced ride was a case of déjà vu from 2015.
Third after the dressage, Kieffer returned to the top of the pack with Team Rebecca’s Veronica taking over the lead as dressage leader Liz Haliday-Sharp with Fernhill By Night incurred 20 penalties on the cross country dropping them down to 8th.
Phillip Dutton riding Indian Mill, the former rider of Australian event rider Paul Tapner, were second after dressage. Despite dropping two poles in the show jumping and accumulating 17.2 time penalties on the cross country, they were able to retain third position overall.
CIC*: 1. Hannah Sue Burnett, Alonzo III; 2. Mike Huber, Russel’s Reserve; 3. Boyd Martin, Santos.
CIC**; 1. Clayton Fredericks, FE Bowman; 2. Caroline Martin, Effervescent; 3. Jessica Schultz, Lock N Load.
Open Intermediate; 1. Jennie Brannigan, Stella Artois; 2. Jennie Brannigain, Woodstock’s Little Nev; 3. Ryan Wood, Ruby.
Open Preliminary; 1. Alexander O’Neal, Get Real; 2. William Ward, Chico’s Dream Boy; 3. Jennie Brannigan, Twilightslastgleam
Preliminary Rider; 1. Lindsey Lanier, Fernhill Hustler; 2. Adelaide French, Rockview Mr Diamond; 3. Lindsey Lanier, Severance Pay.