October 19, 2012 -- The USEF National Two-Star Eventing Championships got underway Thursday as the first half of the CCI2* performed their dressage test at the Dansko Fair Hill International CCI. Twenty-nine competitors rode in front of the Ground Jury of Ulrich Schmitz and Gretchen Butts on a beautiful yet breezy autumn day as the final combination before the lunch break Susan Beebee and Wolf set the standard on the first day scoring 40.8, to lead the CCI2* and the National Championship.
Beebee (Southern Pines, N.C.) presented a lovely, accurate test with her own nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. The pair were rewarded for expressive and ground covering trotwork and a particularly beautiful medium. Their impressive effort was only slightly marred by a mistake in the second turn on the haunches and a small amount of tension in the walk.
"Anything with Wolf is a great day," said a pleased Beebee. "In this ring they always pick-up and he's always great here."
The pair is widely known for its proficiency in the first phase and was the leader following the dressage in last year's CCI2* Championship at Fair Hill. Beebee was happy with the way the gelding has improved in the last 12 months but believes there is still more to come.
"Certainly he's more confirmed (than last year), he's just in the phase that he's improving the strength and compression part and he's not always so sure about that. But he's tons of fun and tries so hard," said Beebee. "He's still only at 80% but it's a step-up for sure."
Lying second in both the CCI2* and in National Championship competition is Danielle Ditching (Roswell, Ga.) and her own The Graduate.The 14-year-old Sachsen-Anhaltiner gelding ?produced a flowing, forward test to score 41.14.
The Graduate is the first horse Ditching has not produced herself from the beginning and still feels as though they are still getting to know one another despite having completed some Advanced Horse Trials this year.
"He's still a relatively new horse to me. I'm still learning the buttons and what makes him tick," said Ditching. "He came out feeling great and the wind lifted him up a bit."
Currently in third place in CCI2* competition is Clayton Fredericks of Australia with Hayley and Pat Parker's Pigrela Des Cabanes with a score of 43.6.
For results visit; http://www.evententries.com/livescoring/15135.html
Competition continues Friday; Canada's Dasha Ivandaeva and Autorytet will be the first CCI2* competitor in the ring at 9:15am ET. CCI3* competition also gets underway at 9:15am with Marilyn Little and RF Demeter.
For more information about the Dansko Fair Hill International CCI visit; http://www.fairhillinternational.com/.
Follow the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team here.