October 19, 2013 -- Clear rounds were at a premium over Derek di Grazia's testing cross country tracks on Saturday at The Dutta Corp Fair Hill International on a day that saw skilled and efficient riding rewarded. Jan Byyny with Inmidair and Sharon White with Under Suspection cruised around the scopey and technical CCI3* and CCI2* courses to fly into the lead of The Dutta Corp/USEF Three-Star Eventing National Championship and the USEF National Two Star Championship, respectively.
The Dutta Corp/USEF Three-Star Eventing National Championship
Di Grazia's 28 obstacle course proved to be extremely influential with 25 combinations galloping through the finish flags and only four of those were able to finish within the 10:03 time allowed. Eleven pairs were eliminated on the course with six retiring and three horses being withdrawn before the cross country.
Byyny (Purcellville, Va.) and her own and her parents Dick and Jo Bynny's 14-year-old New Zealand Thoroughbred gelding set out lying in fifth place and rose four places on the strength of a quick clear round. The veteran pair, which was held briefly on course after jumping the Chesapeake Water at 18 due to a fall by Nora Battig and Steppin' Out at fence 7 (both horse and rider were unharmed), finished just five seconds over the time to add 2 time faults to their score. The 2007 Pan American Games Team Gold medalist chose to take the long route at the influential Log Drop at 21 but still finished with one of the quickest rounds of the day due to Inmidair's easy galloping style.
"My horse is a pretty special horse. He's one of the most experienced horses in the field but he was still amazing," said Byyny. "I felt that it went to plan and I could ride my plan. It was a fantastic course."
Bynny and Inmidair led the Fair Hill CCI3* and USEF National Championship after the cross country in 2011 but eight faults in the show jumping meant the pair finished in third place. In 2013 they will look for redemption.
"He is a very naturally careful horse," said Byyny of Inmidair. "If I ride well and smart he should perform well."
Will Coleman (Charlottesville, Va.) and The Conair Syndicate's Conair produced a very tidy and neat effort on Saturday to be the first combination of the day to make the time in the CCI3* and rise to second place. The 2012 London Olympic Games veteran began riding the 10-year-old Anglo-European gelding two-and-a-half months ago but has quickly forged a partnership with the 2012 Blenheim CCI3* runner-up.
"You go out there and try to lay out the best ride possible; I knew it was possible to move-up," said Coleman of his approach on Saturday. "I don't know the horse particularly well. I tried to go out and ride a good first three-star with the horse."
They head into the show jumping in second place in both the National Championship and the CCI3*, within a rail of Byyny, on a score of 50.2.
Doug Payne (Pottersville, N.J.) and Larry and Amelia Ross' and his own Crown Talisman added 6.8 time faults to their second place dressage score to stand in third place after the cross country on a score of 50.4.
The two Land Rover Competition Grant recipients, Ellen Doughty and Katherine Groesbeck, experienced mixed fortunes over di Grazia's course. Doughty (Heartland, Texas) on her own 11-year-old Holsteiner gelding, Sir Oberon, produced a double clear effort to remain on their dressage score of 53.6 to climb 15 places stand in sixth place after two phases. Groesbeck (Temecula, Calif.) will ride her own 16-year-old Anglo-Arabian gelding, Oz The Tin Man, were third following the dressage but incurred trouble over the course and were subsequently eliminated at fence 20.
Dressage leaders Jennie Brannigan (West Grove, Pa.) and Nina Gardner's Cambalda incurred 20 jumping penalties at 13abc, The Dutta Corporation Farm Yard, and 12 time penalties to stand 16th heading into Sunday.
USEF National Two Star Championship
The leaderboard of both the National Championship and CCI2* saw a great shake-up as di Grazia's 23 obstacle track caused problems throughout the morning session. Eleven combinations were able to produce clear rounds within the 8:20 optimum time with 11 being eliminated on course, a further seven retiring, and five withdrawing prior to the start of cross country.
White (Summit Point, W.V.) and Mary Ann Ghadban's nine-year-old Holsteiner mare produced a flawless round on di Grazia's difficult track to raise one place following the dressage. The impressive pair made lightwork of the undulating course to finish within the time allowed they will head into the jumping phase on a score of 43.9.
Under Suspection was produced by Germany Olympic Gold medalist Dirk Schrade to the two-star level and White has quickly built a rapport with scopey mare she only began riding in April.
"She was amazing everywhere, I realized I was along for the ride and I enjoyed it immensely," White believes it is extremely important for a rider to be able to quickly alter their plan and thinks it is a huge part of cross country riding. "You can have different plans, you can plan to do a line in three or four (strides) and you can change it up," said White of her cross country methodology.
White also rode Sheri Weber's Wundermaske in the CCI3* producing another clear round and just adding 1.6 time penalties to stand in seventh place on a score of 57.6.
"I had a great day," said White.
Allie Blyskal-Sacksen (Landennberg, Pa.) and her own Sparrow's Nio produced a quick clear round on Saturday to rise from eighth following the dressage to stand in second place in both the National Championship and CCI2*. The 15.3hh 10-year-old Connemara/Thoroughbred gelding produced the quickest round of the day to maintain their score of 47.8.
"I've had him for about three years," said Blyskal-Sacksen of Sparrow's Nio. "I wanted to go around and show everyone the little pony could do it. I didn't plan to go that fast but I was really happy with him."
Lying third in the USEF National Two Star Championship and fifth in the CCI2* is Danielle Dichting (Roswell, Ga.) and her own 15-year-old Sachsen-Anhaltiner gelding, The Graduate, on a score of 50 after jumping clear and just adding 2.8 time faults to their dressage score.
Dressage leaders Boyd Martin and the Pancho Villa Syndicate's Pancho Villa incurred two run-outs on the course to add 40 jumping faults and 15.2 time faults to their dressage score. They stand in 39th place on a score of 96.6 after the cross country.
To learn more about The Dutta Corp Fair Hill International visit http://www.fairhillinternational.com/fhi-cci/
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