Davidson and Springer Tied for Lead at The Fork
Norwood, NC, USA
by Amber Heintzberger
Will Coleman and Twizzel are hot on the heels of Davidson and Springer, followed by Mara Dean and Nicki Henley. Leslie Law and Fleeceworks Mystere du Val, who finished second at The Fork last year, are ranked fourth.
Davidson felt that Bobby did everything he asked in the arena, and performed a steady test. "I've got my best jumper here, and if I come close to the time tomorrow on cross-country I'll be happy," he said. "It's a nice course - I think it flows a little better than last year and isn't quite as busy." Davidson is also placed 13th riding Ballynoe Castle RM.
Sadly, Davidson's grandmother, the venerable Mrs. Hannum, passed away over the weekend. He said that he plans to wear her orange and blue colors on cross-country tomorrow in her memory. "One of the last things that she said to me was to kick on and try to win this thing, and that's what I'm going to do," he said.
A member of the team training list, Springer has been working hard over the winter on the quality of Arthur's gaits and was pleased with her big rangy chestnut. She said, "I thought the quality of his trot and canter was very good and he was very rideable. I need to work on my walk more and I over schooled the canter transitions in the morning, but he's been such a joy to ride. I really want a great final run before Kentucky."
Temperatures soared to the mid-80's, unseasonably warm for spring in the Carolinas, and coats were excused in today's dressage. The ground is on the firm side and Springer said that she hopes the organizers aerovate some more to soften things up for tomorrow's cross-country phase. "The courses are beautifully designed and built," she commented.
Springer's other upper-level horse, "Burger", is coming back from an injury and she said that she and a friend took the two horses for a two-hour hack today, enjoying the beautiful property at The Fork Farm, which is also a nature preserve. Last night they enjoyed shooting clay pigeons at the farm's shooting range.
Both Springer and Davidson expressed their enthusiasm for the development of the Professional Riders Organization, which is a sponsor of the event. Only a year ago riders held a press conference at The Fork to introduce "PRO" to the public and Davidson said, "It's great to see how far PRO has come in a year - for us to be able to sponsor a division is just what we want to do. So far in my opinion it has exceeded expectations."
In the advanced horse trials Olympic veteran Becky Holder and Courageous Comet, fresh off a win at Southern Pines II a couple of weeks ago, took the early lead with an impressively low score of 23.7, setting the bar for the rest of the field. Mara Dean is second with 27.3 riding High Patriot, followed by Phillip Dutton and last year's Rolex Kentucky champion, Connaught. With these and many more top-tier horses and riders in the field, tomorrow will be an exciting day for eventing enthusiasts in North Carolina.
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