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Suzy Pettman Elliott Takes the Lead at Fair Hill CCI***
Elkton, MD, USA
Photo: Anthony Trollope/
Loreen Kay (USA) and Russian
Canadian rider Suzy Pettman Elliot and Sambucca (55.7) took the lead in the initial day of dressage today at the Fair Hill CCI*** in Elkton, Maryland out of the first group of thirty competitors, followed by California Young Rider Loreen Kay on Russian (57.0) in second and a tie between Kristin Bond on Three Wishes II and Stuart Black on Fleeceworks Starlight, on a score of 60.0.

Elliott said that she was pleased with Sambucca, a 14-year-old Irish gelding, who has been mostly competing in a lot of horse trials at the intermediate level. He last competed at Fair Hill in 2004, when Elliott fell off at the last fence on cross-country. The year before that she was eliminated at the second to last fence. "Fair Hill hasn't been the luckiest event for me, but I hope the third time's a charm," she smiled. Since her trip east was delayed due to a broken down plane, leaving her and her horse stranded on the tarmac for hours before take-off, hopefully all of her bad luck is behind her.

After today's dressage, Elliott said, "It was a good test. He has big movement and it's hard to keep him balanced sometimes; he can be a bit hot, but today he was good."

Black was concerned over a discrepancy in scoring from the different judges this year and pointed out that last year at this event the same mare received a 37. The other riders agreed that this year's judging lacked consistency. "The ground jury commented that the test was hurried, and you have to trust in them and trust that the judging is correct, but they were all over the place," he said.

Loreen Kay, only 17 years old, is spending a year between high school and college training with Jimmy Wofford in Virginia. She and Russian recently placed second at the American Eventing Championship at advanced level, then went on to finish second at Morven Park. "After I trotted up yesterday I was so excited - it's official that I'm at my first three-star," she said. Feeling the pressure of such a big competition can be daunting, and Kay said that she has been working on staying calm and focused.

Kristen Bond was also happy with her horse's performance. He is young and only moved up to advanced at Millbrook this summer, having done two more advanced events since then.

Tomorrow she and Fleeceworks Blackout will do their dressage test. She purchased the experienced event horse last year after Emily Beshear competed him at the two-star level, and said that he gives her a lot of confidence.

Tomorrow 32 more horses perform dressage, including top Canadian riders Penny Rowland, Mike Winter, Hawley Bennett and Ian Roberts; Australian Phillip Dutton, who has been on a winning streak lately, and US standouts Bruce Davidson, and Karen O'Connor among others.

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