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Boyd Martin Leads International Field at Fair Hill
Elkton, MD, USA
by Amber Heintzberger
Photo: Anthony Trollope/
Boyd Martin (AUS) and Yin Yang Yo
Australian rider Boyd Martin rode a forward test on his own Yin Yang Yo (46.1) to top the first day field of 36 horses at the Dansko Fair Hill CCI*** in Elkton, Maryland. There are 76 entries in all this year, with riders representing nine countries. True Prospect Farm, located just 20 minutes from Fair Hill is dominating the competition: Martin is the assistant trainer to Phillip Dutton, who is second on Acorn Hill Farm's Woodburn (50.9). Their student Cayla Kitayama is third on Esker Riada (53.9). With Martin's wife Silva performing today's test ride on Kitayama's young horse Felix, it was a True Prospect day all around.

The morning dawned thick with fog, so the test ride was delayed and then the judges decided that visibility was so poor that the start of the competition should be delayed 30 minutes. In spite of these measures first rides took place in heavy fog, with somewhat better visibility than in the morning, and the mist did not clear until several horses had finished their tests.

Karen O'Connor was first in the ring on Upstage, who was a little tense. Dutton was second in on Woodburn who didn't seem to mind the decreased visibility in the arena. Martin was fourth in the ring, still veiled in the white stuff, and Kitayama rode just when things really cleared up.  None of the riders in the afternoon put any pressure on the top three.

Yin Yang Yo is a Thoroughbred gelding that Martin got off the track as a youngster. Martin, 27 moved to Pennsylvania from Australia at the end of last year just after he and Silva married. He is working as Dutton's assistant trainer as well as riding some of Dutton's and his own horses.  An experienced four-star competitor, he said that he hopes the move will help him gain the experience necessary to earn a spot on the Australian eventing team. Silva is a Grand Prix dressage trainer and competitor and is training Dutton and some of his and Boyd's students as well as pure dressage riders.

Dutton, who used to ride for Australia and now represents the USA, is an indomitable rider anyway, but since he and Woodburn are fresh off a win at the Wit's End CIC***-W in Ontario so they should be a pair to look out for this weekend. Tomorrow he will ride Match Play II, owned by August Vettorino and The Foreman, owned by Ann Jones. Earlier this year Dutton claimed Individual Silver and Team Gold medals at the Pan-American Games in Brazil riding Ann Jones' TruLuck. He also placed second at Rolex Kentucky riding Connaught.

Kitayama moved from California to study at Villanova University in Philadelphia and then began training with Dutton and the Martins. Esker Riada was formerly ridden by Werner Geven of the Netherlands, who competed the gelding at the World Equestrian Games in Aachen.

The competition continues tomorrow with the remainder of the dressage phase. Additionally the Dansko Fair Hill International Festival in the Country includes a Combined Driving event, of which the dressage takes place tomorrow.

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