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Dutton and The Foreman Ahead at Fair Hill
Elkton, MD, USA
by Amber Heintzberger
Photo: Anthony Trollope/
Phillip Dutton (USA) and The Foreman
True Prospect Farm continues to rule the competition at the Dansko Fair Hill CCI*** in Elkton, Maryland. Today Phillip Dutton and Anne Jones' The Foreman were the second to last horse and rider combination to enter the arena and their score of 42.4 launched them into the lead ahead of Dutton's assistant trainer, Australian Boyd Martin aboard his own Yin Yang Yo, who scored 46.1 yesterday.

Representing New Zealand, Donna Smith was supposed to ride Clifton Kudos yesterday, but a migraine kept her out of the arena. Today she was back in the saddle to pilot Jacqueline Mars' Rocket to third place on a score of 46.7. Becky Holder and Courageous Comet are fourth with 47.8

A number of strong performances were on display today for the crowd that showed up in spite of inclement weather. Woodburn, who was in second with Dutton yesterday, dropped to ninth place, and Dutton is also tied for 24th with August Vettorino's Match Play II. Martin rode his second horse, Neville Bardos, in a downpour and ended up tied for eleventh (52.4), a score that Martin laughed is an improvement over his scores in sunny weather.

The Foreman is an experienced four-star horse but has been sidelined much of this year with a splint. He has only been to two competitions in 2007, which put the brakes on Dutton's plans to qualify the gelding for the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong.

"It's exciting to have the Foreman here," said Dutton. "We're counting our blessings. He had a niggling splint and this year has been very frustrating. I give all my credit to the little guy for going out today and trying hard; this arena has a lot of atmosphere and he's a nervous Thoroughbred but he went in and really tried."

Silva Martin, a Grand Prix dressage rider from Germany who is married to Boyd Martin, trains Dutton in dressage. He also works with Mara Dean and US Coach Captain Mark Phillips.

"Everyone wants to get to the Olympics," commented Dutton. "First you have to qualify, then you have to have the good performances and get selected."

Headed for the slaughter yard following his career at the race track, Yin Yang Yo was saved from the dog food can by Martin, who bought the gelding for about $600 after a friend of his discovered the horse's jumping ability. Martin first brought Yin Yang Yo to the United States last year, when he competed at the Rolex Kentucky CCI****. The gelding missed Rolex this spring due to a hoof injury and like the Foreman is playing catch-up after having time off. Martin does wish to qualify for the Olympic Games in hopes of making the Australian team for the first time.

Looking forward to tomorrow's cross-country test, the riders agreed that the course, designed by Derek diGrazia, is a good test over challenging terrain. "There are quite a few fences in the first couple of minutes," pointed out Dutton. "The challenge will be not to wear the horses out at the beginning. It's a good fair course that should encourage forward riding."

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