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Boyd Martin Claims his First CCI*** Win at Fair Hill International
Elkton, MD, USA
by Amber Heintzberger
Boyd Martin and Neville Bardos
Only a few months after getting FEI permission to represent the United States in international competition, Aussie transplant Boyd Martin, 30, of West Grove, PA has won the USEF fall eventing championship at the Fair Hill International CCI*** riding his scrappy Australian thoroughbred gelding, Neville Bardos. It was the first time that Martin has won a CCI***, and he also finished sixth riding Remington XXV, owned by Ron and Densey Juvonen.

Martin and "Neville" were fourth at Fair Hill a couple of years ago but minor injuries have kept the chestnut gelding out of the limelight since he placed 9th at the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** last year. He started out in 15th place after dressage but the horrendously wet and muddy conditions suited the horse and he was the only one to finish cross-country under the optimum time, which rocketed him into the lead as others withdrew and added time faults.

"He's a tough mongrel of a horse, a lot of the horses here today were not fancy show ponies - if you saw them as people they'd be barflies", said Martin of the select group of horses that conquered yesterday's cross-country course. "When it comes down to a gladiator style fight, you get the tough horses and riders, the ones who can man up when things aren't perfect."

Karen O'Connor finished second riding Mandiba and joked, "Mandiba is a tough prep school kid - he's pretty and shiny but he definitely has some grunt. I think Boyd's right in that if you have tough conditions you're going to learn a lot about your horse."

Kelly Sult, 23 of Erie, PA finished third on Hollywood, followed by Phillip Dutton who dropped from a tie for second into 4th place with two rails down on Kheops du Quesnay.
Hannah Sue Burnett and St. Barths
In the CCI** yesterday Hannah Sue Burnett was feeling a little disappointed that she was in fifteenth place after dressage, and her coach David O'Connor pulled her aside and gave her a pep talk, encouraging her to aim for a top five finish. With her spirits boosted Burnett cruised around the cross-country course to take the lead, and today she finished the job and won the CCI two-star championship.

There was a moment of confusion as she got a bad distance to the final fence and the rails hung in the air in front of her horse, threatening to trip him as he crossed the finish line, but St. Barths stayed on his toes and his rider shoved her feet back in the stirrups and made it through the flags to take the win.

St. Barths is owned by Karen and David O'Connor's longtime supporter Dick Thompson whose wife Vita passed away last year. A trophy in her memory the Sea Horse Farm Perpetual Trophy was presented to the owner of the winning horse of the two-star, so Mr. Thompson stepped forward to award himself the trophy in his wife's memory.

Burnett, 23, also earned the national young adult title, and St. Barths won best conditioned horse as well as the Mid-Atlantic Horse Rescue's award for the best-placed American-bred Thoroughbred.

Commenting on her ride she said, Show jumping is my favorite phase and I felt confident in my horse because he's a good jumper. I wasn't really nervous but it caught up with me at the last fence!"

Doug Payne and Running Order jumped a clear round to finish second. "We were tied for 8th coming into cross-country and I figured I had a good shot- the conditions were to his benefit," said Payne of his young Irish horse. "I didn't think he'd be ready to do as well as he has. He'll probably do one more two-star, he's only done four intermediates so he'll probably do Jersey in the spring before he moves up."

Canadian rider Rebecca Howard was the highest-placed foreign rider in both the two and three-star competitions at the Dansko Fair Hill international three-day event.

"I'm overall really happy with my horse, he was great all weekend, I'm obviously disappointed [to go from second to third place]; I don't think I've ever had a rail with him. I changed some equipment; yesterday the mouthpiece on his bit broke from the side on cross-country and I didn't realize it until we got home, so today I rode in just snaffle - it was just a twisted snaffle on cross-country. I only realized it in the cool-out yesterday and it really rubbed his mouth. He was really keen and very good this morning though."

Riddle Master is the horse I am trying to get qualified for next year - this horse is a year behind him.

She explained, "Riddle Master is a Canadian sport horse bred in Ontario, owned by Jean Watson and Caroline Badgley, they've bred horses for years, he's by Rodero. He's just eight and I started riding him for them as a 6-year-old, this is his first season at three-star. He's a fantastic jumper and cross-country horse; flat has been his difficult phase for sure, but I was happy with his test this weekend,. I hope to make the World Games team next year - he won't be ready for Rolex so he'll be a little green but I'd like to do Bromont with him next year and go from there. He's a fun horse."

As an aside she said, "Yesterday Riddle Master carried on with a flag stuck in his tail - he jumped a couple of jumps with it caught in the hair and then it fell out before the water - he didn't miss a beat so I didn't realize it. Unfortunately he lost a chunk of his tail, which is sad!"

After the final ground jury inspection this morning, 36 horses show jumped in the CCI** division and 37 in the CCI***. The juries accepted every horse presented. Three horses were withdrawn before the show jumping, however.

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