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Dutton and Martin Still Tops at Fair Hill
Elkton, MD, USA
by Amber Heintzberger
Photo: Anthony Trollope/
Boyd Martin (AUS) and Ying Yang Yo
It's a good thing for the US that Phillip Dutton changed nationalities last year and is riding for the this country now, or it would be an Australian whitewash the Fair Hill CCI*** in Elkton, Maryland. Dutton is first on Ann Jones' Australian Thoroughbred gelding The Foreman (42.4) and third on Acorn Hill Farms' New Zealand-bred Woodburn (50.90), both horses having gone double clear around Derek diGrazia's cross-country course. Australian Boyd Martin, Dutton's assistant trainer, is second on his own Ying Yang Yo, and fourth on Neville Bardos (52.4), both Australian Thoroughbred geldings.

Both The Foreman and Ying Yang Yo have had time off this year due to injuries and their riders are now trying to earn qualifying scores for the Olympic Games next year. In 2005 The Foreman placed second at both the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** and at the Burghley CCI**** (UK), so he has already proven that he has what it takes - now he just needs the scores to prove he can still do it.

On making the time on course Martin said, "The first horse got a little tired at eight minutes so I had to back off a bit. The secret today was not killing the horse in the first two to three minutes, so I was building speed as I went along."

Karen O'Connor had refusals on each of her first two horses out, but her third ride, Mandiba put in one of the few double clear rounds of the day, moving up from 15th to fifth place. She nearly repeated this performance on th Hugh Knows, but added 1.2 time penalties - still good enough to move up from 21st place to seventh overall. Upstage is tied for 31st and Allstar is in 34th.

Cayla Kitayama, a student of Dutton and Martin, went double clear on Esker Riada to move up from a tie for sixteenth place into sixth. Selena O'Hanlon is the leading Canadian rider, in eighth place (59.8) on Columbo. O'Hanlon blazed around the course in daredevil style to make the enormous leap from a tie for 31st place.

For a few riders the course looked like a breeze, but many competitors had problems. Donna Smith was in third place after dressage but retired Rocket after a couple of refusals.

Seven horses out of 76 starters finished within the time allowed. Six horses withdrew, eleven retired and seven horses were eliminated. Fences five, a sunken road, and eighteen, the double corners, were the main culprits in catching horses out, but the faults were spread around.

Two horses in a row fell at fence 18: Becky Holder and Courageous Comet, then Melissa Hunsberger's Just For Fun. Comet hopped right up but Holder took a few minutes to recover and was taken to hospital to get checked out; Hunsberger's horse was favoring a foreleg so he was taken off the course in the horse ambulance and transported to the University of Pennsylvania's Large Animal Hospital at New Bolton Center for examination.

Several horses were held during these incidents including the Foreman, who was in the warm-up area. "It's never ideal to get held," said Dutton. "It didn't do The Foreman that much good - he didn't feel 'going' in the beginning, and he was down on his minute markers because of that so I had to catch up. It took him a while to get in the swing of things."

He continued, "I wasn't too chancy with The Foreman but he gallops well. I was down six or eight seconds but I was confident I could pick it up. It's nice in that situation to have a Thoroughbred that can bring it home for you."

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