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Time a Major Factor at The Fork
Norwood, NC, USA
by Amber Heintzberger
Photo: StockImageServices.com

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Allison Springer and Arthur
A mere four seconds broke the tie between Allison Springer and Buck Davidson for the lead at The Fork CIC*** in Norwood, NC following the cross-country phase today. Springer and Arthur galloped around in 6:36 to lead the pack of 49 horses on 38.5 penalties with Davidson and Carl and Cassie Segal's My Boy Bobby close behind with 40.90. The results changed dramatically when several riders fell on course and Leslie Law, ranked fifth after dressage on Mystere du Val, withdrew from the competition.

Phillip Dutton and Woodburn moved up from fifth to third place and Michael Pollard, one of only two riders to finish clear and under the time, moved up from a tie for ninth to fourth riding Wonderful Will. Canadian Selena O'Hanlon is fifth on Colombo and Davidson rounds out the top six on his other three-star ride, Ballynocastle RM.  Two of Dutton's other rides, Tru Luck and Inmidair, usually ridden by Jan Byyny who is still sidelined after a fall at Pine Top, are both in the top ten.

There was a long pause in the action when several riders fell or retired in succession, all at different fences. Other than the five horses that retired or eliminated, there were only two refusals on course, while time was a major factor. Temperatures cooled slightly from yesterday and though it was a little dusty on the access roads, riders were pleased with the footing on course.

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Phillip Dutton and Waterfront
"Everything felt very easy," commented Springer after her ride. "The course was a little bit softer than last year but it was good; we had a better gallop around. I walked the prelim course too, the courses for all three levels had good changes, they did a really good job with the flow. The footing was excellent. This was a perfect last run before Kentucky, and that's what matters most."

Davidson was thrilled with all three of his horses; in addition to his three-star mounts he's also riding Titanium in the advanced division and is currently standing second. He said that "Reggie", or Ballynocastle RM, went in a new bit, a Pelham with a Segunda port, which he owes to Canadian rider Diana Burnett. He said that while My Boy Bobby felt a little green at The Fork last year, this time around he was straight to the fences and eager to go.

"My baby Titanium spooked and spun around in the warm-up, and they were already counting down so I was six seconds late starting, but he was fantastic on course," said Davidson. "All three of my horses feel ready to go to Kentucky or wherever we're going to go."

Davidson has his eye on the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in September; though he competed on the Pan-Am Games team for the U.S., this would be his first major competition with riders from all around the globe.

"Reggie and Bobbie are two proven horses," he reasoned. "I'd take either one of them to the WEG - Reggie's the best mover and Bobby has the best brain." Davidson rode all of his horses wearing blue and orange, the colors of his recently deceased grandmother, who was an avid horsewoman. "She always said, "Break on top and improve you position"; we can't do that at this point, but hopefully we can come from behind."

Phillip Dutton and Jan Byyny's Waterfront had a clean, fast run in the advanced to move up from a tie for 12th place to take the lead with 32.4. Davidson and Titanium are close behind with 33.0, followed by Bonnie Mosser and Merloch with 34. Only one rail separates the top six riders. Dutton is also placed 13th riding Connaught. With 41 entries in this division 34 will start tomorrow's show jumping.


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