September 21, 2014--Maya Black and Doesn't Play Fair stormed around Mike Etherington-Smith's CIC3* cross-country course to clinch the win at Plantation Field International Horse Trials in fairytale fashion.
Both new to this level, Black and Doesn't Play Fair completed their first Advanced at Pine Top in February and have racked up impressive placings ever since, most notably a fifth-place finish at Bromont CCI3* in June.
Now they add a win in the prestigious Adequan USEA Gold Cup/PRO Tour Series to their growing list of accolades after jumping clear on cross country with just 3.6 time penalties to edge Buck Davidson and Copper Beech by .4 penalties.
"It's my first time to Plantation Field, and I've heard about it for many years, of course, so I feel lucky to be here, and it definitely lived up to expectations of being the Best. Event. Ever.," Black said. "It was quite a wonderful venue, and they've obviously put a lot of work into it over the years."
As for what she thought about her cross-country trip, Black said after falling at her last event at Richland Park Trials, she didn't set out to win. "Coming into the weekend, I wanted to have a good, confidence-building run for both of us on cross country.
"I wasn't going out there to make time, but I also wanted to see fitness-wise where he was with Fair Hill a month from now. There are pretty good hills here, and I wanted to let him run," Black said.
Davidson had one of two double clear trips in the division with Copper Beech, and he also jumped clear with Ballynoe Castle RM, who held the overnight lead and picked up 7.6 time penalties to finish in third place.
After returning home from the World Equestrian Games earlier this month, where the horse ultimately retired on cross country, Davidson said Ballynoe Castle RM was still raring to go, so he made the decision to run him here.
"I didn't kick him," Davidson said. "If I had made the time, it wouldn't have mattered. All that matters is when we came to the last fence, and he had his ears up. He had his ears up the whole way. He's a competitor, and he loved being here this weekend."
Davidson also had a good day in the CIC2*, winning with Be Mine on their dressage score of 42.4 after jumping double clear. The horse just started his eventing career in January and has proceeded to cruise through the levels, winning the Bromont CCI* in June and now taking the win here.
"I will eventually pull the reins back and not keep pushing him," Davidson said. "We'll leave him at Intermediate for a bit. Mentally, I almost think life was too easy for him (at the lower levels). He's a beautiful mover; the looks the part. ... But when it's too easy, he got himself into trouble, and therefore got me into trouble."
Will Faudree finished in second in the CIC2* with his new ride Caeleste, a 7-year-old Holsteiner mare previously ridden by Kitty King. This was just Faudree's fourth event with the mare, and he said he's extremely excited about her for the future.
Marilyn Little and RF West Indie finished third in the CIC2* on a score of 44.3, picking up 1.6 time penalties in the mare's debut at the level. She also finished in seventh place in the big 80-horse division with RF Quarterman.
The day concluded with the Advanced division running cross country, having already done show jumping earlier in the day. Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda ran away with the win, tasting victory by 18 points over Lillian Heard and Share Option thanks to a clear trip.
Brannigan has been galloping Cambalda at a racetrack to hone his fitness for the Dutta Corp Fair Hill International Horse Trials next month, and they ultimately put in the only double clear trip in the division to finish on 32.4.
Heard and Share Option are preparing for the Pau CCI4* in France next month, and they jumped clear with 2.4 time penalties to finish on 50.5. Sally Cousins and Westerly rounded out the top three with a clear trip and 7.2 time for a final score of 51.0.
In addition to an exciting day of cross country, spectators were treated to the PRO Bareback Puissance sponsored by Kevin Keane and Sports Medicine Associates. Justine Dutton and Casino Royale cleared 5'11" to win the $1,000 prize.