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Leslie Law Leads CIC*** at The Fork
Norwood, NC, USA
by Amber Heintzberger
Photo: Anthony Trollope/
Leslie Law and Mystere du Val
Leslie Law was the first rider in the ring today at the CIC*** at The Fork in Norwood, NC. He and Fleeceworks Mystere du Val scored a 36.9 that would lock down the front runner position for today.  Karen O'Connor and Mandiba scored 43.7,  giving Law a rail to spare in tomorrow's rescheduled show jumping phase, which was switched with cross-country after heavy storms were predicted for tomorrow. So far the weather is cool and overcast but dry, so time will tell whether the move was a smart one.  Amy Tryon and Coal Creek are third (51.6) in this division.

"I'm obviously delighted," said Law, the reigning Olympic Individual Gold Medalist, who rides for Great Britain. "The horse went very well. He's a lovely horse and has put in some good tests all year. First to go is always a difficult draw but you just go out and do your best." Mystere du Val is an 8-year-old Selle Francais gelding owned by owned by Beatrice and Gui Rey-Herme of R.H. Equine.

Law is also riding Private Heart, owned by Toronto Blue Jays baseball player Troy Glaus and his wife Ann, who an accomplished rider and takes lessons from Law.  "He's a lovely horse and puts in a great effort," said Law. "He's come a long way in the last 12 months. I think every partnership takes some time, and he's getting to know me better. He was recently third at the CIC*** at Red Hills."

Law's wife, Canadian Lesley Grant is also competing on her horse Timber Spirit, who was laid up for a while last year. He is running intermediate and she plans to take him to Jersey Fresh, with her eye on the Olympics this summer. "Lesley had a great day - they're putting in some great results," said Law."

36 horses are entered in the CIC***, with no less than five Olympians in the division. With the Rolex Kentucky three-day event fast approaching, riders are hoping to give their horses solid warm-up runs to warm up for the four-star competition.  Some opted to give their horses a little easier weekend before Kentucky and entered the advanced horse trials. Even though 17 more horses competed today in that division, Australian Boyd Martin maintained his overnight lead on a score of 27.9 riding Ying Yang Yo, an Australian Thoroughbred gelding owned in partnership with Faye Woolf. Michael Pollard on Kate Luce's Tia Lusso and Bonnie Mosser on her own Merloch are still tied for second on 28.3.

Even though his wife Silva is a Grand Prix dressage rider and trainer, Boyd said that this winter he has had to work on his own, since she took her horses to Wellington and he went to Aiken for the eventing. "I've been on my own for the first time in a few years so I've had to think for myself instead of having the luxury of being told what to do," he said. "It was sort of sink or swim."

Martin works as Phillip Dutton's assistant trainer, so he receives instruction from Dutton too but said that the winter was busy with a lot of horses to ride and clients to teach. "Being Australian over here, I don't have access to the training sessions and other amenities that come with being on the elite squad," said Martin. "I'm lucky that I work with Phillip." He has also learned from Dutton's adaptable style. "Silva has a more classical, exact German approach. Phillip is a master at getting the most out of different types of horses."

Both Ying Yang Yo and Neville Bardos, who is placed seventh in the World Cup division, are off-the-track Thoroughbreds from Australia. "Ying Yang Yo is starting to feel more relaxed in the ring," said Martin. "When I first brought him over here in 2006 I think he was a little shell shocked by the change of environment and I was still green as a competitor. In the past few months I've developed my riding and I feel a lot more seasoned now."

Looking ahead Martin thinks that the change in schedule will suit Ying Yang Yo, but that Neville, who is "always a bit fresher" will be harder to jump without having been around cross-country beforehand.

Bonnie Mosser is pleased with Merloch but said that this was not his best test ever, since he missed a flying change and broke in the extended trot. "I definitely gave away some serious points, but his canter work is improving," she reasoned. "He ran intermediate at Southern Pines and our next event is Kentucky. I'm only running the two events so I was not going to save the speed for Kentucky - but now since the ground is wet I'll just jump each jump individually and see how it goes. He's been great. It's a young partnership for me, and it's still improving."

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