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Mike Winter and King Pin Bring Home the Money from The Fork
Norwood, NC, USA
by Amber Heintzberger
Photo: Anthony Trollope/StockImageServices.com

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Heidi White-Carty (USA) and Northern Spy
Member of the 2004 Canadian Olympic team, Mike Winter 6th overall in the CIC***-W at The Fork in Norwood, NC riding King Pin to bring home a pretty green ribbon and a nice big cheque. Winter also finished 19th on Wonderful Will, who recently won at Red Hills, but had a bit of a rough weekend this time around with a rail down yesterday and a glance-off at the corner today, which Winter put down to a "soft ride" on a horse that is less experienced at the three-star level.

In the CIC*** Winter placed fifth and sixth on Glen Morangie and Manhattan, respectively. Both of these young geldings belong to Mary Bess Sigman (nee Horton), whom is recovering from a broken back sustained on a young horse about a year ago.

"The younger horses were amazing - they needed this to qualify for Jersey Fresh and they were super," said Winter. "I'm lucky to have four horses that are classy and really meant to be at this level. It is also rewarding that I have ad something to do with all of these horses' careers coming up the levels."

Heidi White-Carty and Northern Spy proved victorious in the competitive CIC*** World Cup division and the Adequan USEA Gold Cup. Fourth after dressage, this was the only pair that jumped double clear in stadium jumping and on cross-country, which moved them into the top position. Time was a major factor in deciding the final standings, with overnight leader Mara Dean on High Patriot finishing fourth after adding 8 time faults to their score.

"The footing was good today," said White-Carty of the well-maintained turf. "They did a super job considering the conditions." Since the red clay on much of the event grounds turned into sticky muck after heavy rainfall yesterday there was some concern that the footing would not hold up, but Canadian Mike Winter later commented that it was probably the best footing he has ridden on in a while, since drought conditions in the southeast have left the ground hard for much of the spring season.

White-Carty also thought it was a good decision for organizers to remove two fences from the competition. "Most of us are here to build confidence for Rolex and we got that done," she said. "In an ideal world we wouldn't want that much rain but those were the conditions and that's real life."

In preparation for the Olympic year White-Carty has been attending team training sessions and working with Kim Severson. "That's helped a lot," she said. Of her successful competition she commented, "I was told it would be nice to be seen by the selectors here - now I can check that off the list!" She also noted that she has been working on her own fitness and nutrition, adding swimming and weight training to her busy riding schedule that includes galloping racehorses, and has been monitoring Northern Spy's health closely as well.

Clark Montgomery and Up Spirit, who won the Red Hills CIC*** three weeks ago, added only one time fault on stadium to finish on 50.70, in second place, followed by dressage leader Allison Springer on Arthur, who had a rail and six time faults yesterday and added another 4 time faults today.

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Mike Winter (CAN) and King Pin
"It feels great," said Montgomery, who leaves tomorrow for England where he plans to live, train and compete for an extended period. He said that he is looking forward to finding out how he and his horse stack up against the competition on the other side of the pond. He plans to compete Up Spirit at Saumur in France.

"He's only nine and he's been a funny horse - he was never a fast horse but at the last couple of competitions he's come out of the box really wanting to run. It's just confidence, I think. Now he is out of the box and ready to rock and roll."

Karen O'Connor was fifth on Jacqueline Mars' Hugh Knows, a gorgeous big bay gelding that has come along phenomenally in the past year. O'Connor also finished second in the CIC*** on Mandiba, in spite of two rails down yesterday and time faults on both stadium and cross-country. It was a nice ending to a day that started poorly when Allstar refused three times at the third fence on course, then O'Connor forgot to jump fence 6 and was eliminated from the competition with her superstar pony partner Theodore O'Connor.

British rider Leslie Law and Mystere Du Val (52.5) bounced back to win the CIC*** after losing their lead after dressage yesterday with a rail down. 5.6 time faults today did not keep them from coming back to claim the blue ribbon they nearly lost to O'Connor and Mandiba. Laine Ashker and Anthony Patch reaped the rewards of double clear stadium and cross-country by moving up from 8th after dressage to third place overall.

"It was a super cross-country course," commented Law, who was competing at The Fork for the first time. He will skip Kentucky but plans to take both of his three-star horses to Jersey Fresh where they will do their first CCI***. "This is a great venue for a very galloping type of track, and there is a great mixture of galloping and bold questions." Though about ten percent of the competitors withdrew before the cross-country phase, Law said, "I was always going to come out and see what it looked like. [Course designer] Mark [Phillips] had a hard time after Red Hills but he built a good track here and didn't back down, which he might have been apt to do."

Law also finished fourth on Troy and Ann Glaus' Private Heart (61.6), a 9-or-10-year-old Irish gelding. "I'm very happy with that horse - he ran well at Red Hills, where he placed third, and he came out bold here."

Noting his appreciation for the efforts of everyone at the Fork, he said, "So much credit has to go to Jim and his staff. They need a big pat on the back."

Bonnie Mosser and Merloch won the Advanced division with 5.8 time faults today. Phillip Dutton and Connaught added 4 time faults but jumped from seventh to second place when his assistant trainer Boyd Martin, playing it safe with Ying Yang Yo as he prepares for Kentucky, racked up 15.2 time faults to finish sixth (44.1). The top placings were tightly knit, and there was not much room for error. Julia Steinberg and her 14.3 hand Mr. Big made the awesome leap from 21st after dressage to 14th after stadium, finishing seventh in the end after placing one of only two double clear cross-country rounds in this division. John Williams and Carrick had a very steady round and added a modest 5.2 time faults to finish third overall.


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