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Mike Winter Leading Canadian in CIC*** and CIC***-W at The Fork
Norwood, NC, USA
by Amber Heintzberger
Photo: Anthony Trollope/StockImageServices.com

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Mike Winter and King Pin
Mike Winter has a fantastic string of horses going at the moment, and the proof is in the standings. He and King Pin, owned by The King Pin Syndicate, are just 6.3 points behind the leader to stand 8th in the CIC***-W and with two horses owned by Mary Bess Sigman (nee Horton), he is 7th on Glen Morangie and 10th on Manhattan in the CIC*** . Sher Schwartz's Wonderful Will, who recently won at Red Hills, is 21st in the CIC***.

After organizers changed the schedule at the event due to inclement weather and pushed cross-country to the end of the event, riders sloshed their way through stadium jumping today at The Fork Horse Trials and CIC***-W in Norwood, NC.  Rain continued to fall throughout the day but the competition continued without incident.

"King Pin had a really good dressage test," he said. "He's fun to ride. I've made a few adjustments in show jumping - he's going in a snaffle and I took off the running martingale and I feel like he's more free in the jumping now. I was very happy with the way he went today."

Winter is riding Sigman's horses since she broke her back riding a young horse a little over a year ago. Just yesterday she had the "hardware" taken out of her back and she is hoping to ride again soon. Meanwhile Winter has worked on getting her horses qualified at the three-star level.

"It's nice to have a string of such nice horses," he said. "Glen exceeded my expectations. I'm thrilled that he's started coming into himself and not making me do the work for him. Manhattan show jumped well - he's so careful and has a good jump in him."

He continued, "Will didn't have a great mark in the dressage; I think the judges are looking for a really true upper-level frame and I think I rode him a bit rounder and lower than they are looking for, but I think I can make that adjustment. I overrode the Liverpool with him today and came around on two wheels to the next fence and had a rail. We got him off the track as a three-year-old and I rode him over his first jump. Emma showed him for a while. He's 11 this year and we've had a lot of success with him."

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Mara Dean and High Patriot
Winter is also happy that his wife Emma is back in the US after spending the past 17 months in her native England getting her green card sorted out. "It's been too long that our family has been apart," said Mike. "We went back and forth quite a bit and we're adults and could deal with it but for Amelia (their daughter), she was so confused. I'm happy for Emma and myself but especially for Amelia."

Mara Dean and High Patriot are the new leaders in the CIC***-W after dressage leader Allison Springer's Arthur had a rail down. Springer tried to take the inside turn after the in-and-out, turning in the air to make the tight distance. Arthur was caught off guard and didn't quite regain his balance, bringing the next jump on course down. Dean (47.10) jumped around clear and Springer dropped to third place (48.40), just behind Heidi White on Northern Spy (48.10). With such a tight grouping there will no room for error on tomorrow's challenging cross-country course; and if it keeps raining riders will have to consider the wet footing when they are thinking about making the time on course.

Dean said, "I always think it's tough when they switch cross-country and show jumping; the horses are prepped for cross-country. But today it was great to jump on prepared footing."

Considering recent incidents in the sport of eventing such as the fall of Darren Chiacchia at Red Hills (FL) there is an extreme emphasis on safety. "Rider responsibility is quite strong, and a lot of it is what you feel on the day," commented USEF President David O'Connor during this evening's riders meeting. "In the future there will be a lot more of what we call "dolphins caught in the shark's net" - officials will have to make a call that benefits the future of the sport. It may not work to your benefit at the time but you have to accept it. That is the reality of where we are - these guys are not going to take their job lightly."

In the regular three-star overnight leader Leslie Law had two rails down riding Mystere du Val, an 8-year-old Selle Francais gelding owned by owned by Beatrice and Gui Rey-Herme of R.H. Equine. Karen O'Connor took the lead with Mandiba and Amy Tryon is third on her handsome Leyland.

Mandiba is a 16.2h, bay, Irish Thoroughbred gelding, born in 2000 and imported from Ireland in 2004. He is by Master Imp, and is out of High Dolly, both Irish Thoroughbreds. Mandiba is owned by Joan Goswell, of Valencia, PA. In 2005 he won the Training Championship at the AEC and in 2006 he was the Intermediate Champion at the AEC.

In the advanced division Boyd Martin and Ying Yang Yo added one time fault to their dressage score of 27.9 which allowed Bonnie Mosser and Merloch to take the lead after posting a double clear round. Mosser was tied for second with Michael Pollard on Tia Lusso but three rails and ten time faults knocked him down the leaderboard to 19th place. Heather Morris and the handsome and athletic Genial are third with 29.6.

Martin led a course walk sponsored by Bit of Britain and said, "It looks like a fantastic course for getting ready for Kentucky. The designer and builders did a terrific job of not terrifying the horses, especially into the water jumps - all three water jumps have gentle jumps in. I think it will be good for getting the horses bulletproof for Kentucky."

The competition begins at 9:00 tomorrow morning with Preliminary cross-country.


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