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Dutton Pulls Ahead at Wits End
Mansfield, ON, Canada
by Amber Heintzberger
Photos: Anthony Trollope/StockImageServices.com

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Phillip Dutton (USA) and Woodburn
The hilly terrain took its toll on competitors in the CIC-W*** at Wits End Horse Trials in Mansfield, Ontario today. Dressage leader Darren Chiacchia and his longtime partner Windfall II, owned by Timothy Holekamp, added 24 time penalties and dropped to third place. Even with 18 time faults Phillip Dutton and Acorn Hill Farm's Woodburn moved into the lead, followed by William Coleman on Kiki du Manoir. If Dutton wins this year it will be a repeat of his 2006 victory riding Tru Luck.

"Because it's a World Cup qualifier there was an extra loop at the beginning of the course," he said. "It was a bit hard to get them riding forward to the jumps because of the terrain but it was a well designed course." Dutton has only been riding Woodburn for a few months, having taken over Acorn Hill's horses after Emily Beshear took a break to have carpal tunnel surgery. "I have five Acorn Hill horses and this is my third event on Woodburn," he said. "Emily did a lot of work on the horse." Dutton said that he has his sights set on the Olympic Games in Hong Kong next year and hopes that both horses he is riding will rise to the challenge.

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William Coleman (USA) and Kiki du Manior
Even though the terrain was a challenge, the course itself proved very rideable. There were a couple of stops and Kristin Bond retired on course but there were no major mishaps. Dutton had a refusal on his first ride, Match Play II at the second element of a double corners, but said that it was a green mistake in which he jumped in too big and stumbled on landing and that the horse probably learned from the error. Chiacchia and Better I Do It had a good round and are in sixth place after cross-country.

Young Rider Kelly List, 20, is the highest-placed Canadian in riding her nine-year-old Canadian Thoroughbred gelding Minstral. This is her first three-star and she is hoping to qualify for the CCI*** at Fair Hill (MD) next month. List purchased Minstral in British Columbia a couple years ago where the gelding had worked cattle and competed at the preliminary level. They rose up the ranks to advanced together.

Chiacchia may have lost his lead in the three-star but he stepped into first in the Open Preliminary riding Lorenzo, a young horse that was imported from the Netherlands where he competed as a show jumper. Chiacchia's other horse, Hanno is in second place in the same division.

In the CCI* overnight leader Brandon McMechan took it easy with Ryder's Juliet, commenting that he was concerned about the mare's fitness on the hills. He dropped to sixth place with Leohana Rowland and R'Kameo taking the lead and said that he wished he had gone out a little faster since the mare was still going strong at the end of his round.

The competition concludes with stadium jumping tomorrow, the final deciding factor in distributing the $20,000 prize money up for grabs this weekend. The final horse inspection begins at 8:00am.


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