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Fourth Fair Hill Win for Dutton
Elkton, MD, USA
by Amber Heintzberger
Photos: Anthony Trollope/StockImageServices.com

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Phillip Dutton (USA) and The Foreman
It was a head to head competition all the way to the end between Phillip Dutton (USA) and Boyd Martin (AUS) at the Fair Hill CCI*** in Elkton, Maryland October 18-21, 2007 as Dutton galloped home with his fourth win at this event. The two riders, both based at Dutton's True Prospect Farm in West Grove, Pennsylvania, started out with Dutton in first and ninth and Martin in second and eleventh. After cross-country they held first, second, third and fourth positions and stayed put for the final placings despite a rail down from each of their leading horses.

In winning the event Dutton claimed the USEF National Fall CCI*** Eventing Championship with Ann Jones' The Foreman (46.4) and placed third on Acorn Hill Farms' Woodburn (50.9). Martin, who was the Leading Foreign Rider, finished second on his own Ying Yang Yo (50.5) and fourth on Neville Bardos (52.4), owned by the Windurra Partnership. Both Neville Bardos and Woodburn finished the event on their dressage scores.

Regarding his assistant trainer Dutton joked dryly, "He rode all right," then grinned and added, "It's rewarding that he's improving and his horses are improving…it also raises my standard to have Boyd at my place."

Martin said that today's show jumping course was big and tough and technical. He said that he rode a few lines differently than he walked it after watching some other riders and realizing that he could still make the time taking wider turns.

"Ying Yang Yo is still young, just eight years old and the good thing is he never gives up," said Martin. "He tries his heart out. If he gets too wound up it's hard to keep him balanced but he'd never had a rail until today and he's never had a time fault on cross-country."

Karen O'Connor started out with a bummer of a morning when Mandiba, owned by Joan Goswell, was spun at the soundness jog. He started out sound but spooked and clipped himself during the trot-up and cut his fetlock. On re-inspection the ground jury and chief veterinarian decided not to pass the horse. The Foreman was also held for reinspection and Craig Thompson withdrew Orion when he was held for reinspection.

"It was obvious he'd just done it because it was trickling blood," said O'Connor. "He hit a nerve so it was sore but he improved as he jogged again. I was disappointed in the decision of the ground jury, because it wouldn't have affected him five hours later in the jumping. The final inspecting ion one aspect of the sport; you can't appeal it, you just have to get on with it."

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Boyd Martin (AUS) and Ying Yang Yo
There should be some consolation in the fact that as of Thursday, Hugh Knows is hers to ride for the long term. She and the ten-year-old Irish gelding placed fifth overall (56.9), adding just 1.2 time faults to their dressage score this weekend.

A gorgeous big bay, Hugh Knows has been in training with O'Connor since last December while his owner Katherine Bruenig finished college and decided what to do after graduating. Fair Hill has been the goal all along, but Bruenig, who is smaller than O'Connor, decided to sell the big gelding, so last week Jacqueline Mars decided to purchase him. He was vetted on Monday and the money changed hands Thursday, just as the competition began.

"We're delighted with his performance this week," said O'Connor. "He's big and galloping and fun to ride. Mrs. Mars owned Prince Panache but she hasn't had a top horse for a while so it should be fun for her." If all goes well O'Connor said that she would like to take him to Kentucky next spring.

O'Connor earned the Leading Lady Rider award for her efforts; she also placed 25th with Upstage. Allstar was withdrawn from the competition due to a puncture wound in his stifle sustained on cross-country. "I would never present a horse that I didn't feel would pass the soundness inspection," she noted. "This was the first time in my career I had a horse fail the trot-up."

It was a challenging event and while cross-country and stadium took their toll, with scattered refusals, time faults and rails, everyone was safe and sound in the end. After the two falls yesterday Becky Holder has a possible cracked rib after her fall with Courageous Comet and Melissa Hunsberger's Just For Fun is home and resting in his stall after being examined at the New Bolton Center. Aside from a brief downpour during dressage the weather has been perfect, the footing was in good shape and there was plenty of excitement to keep spectators on their toes.


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