Great Britain’s Leslie Law has come away with the top ribbon in five of his last six starts with Fleeceworks Mystere du Val, so it was no surprise to see him atop the leaderboard after dressage at the Dansko Fair Hill CCI*** with a score of 43.5 on Oct. 17 in Elkton, Md.
But Kim Severson stalked him just .4 points behind with Tipperary Liadhnan, and Will Coleman wasn’t far off in third place aboard Twizzel (45.9). Amy Tryon grabbed fourth place with Coal Creek (47.0) over Corinne Ashton and Dobbin (47.2).
Asked how he felt about the cross-country course, Law replied, “It’s big enough, isn’t it?”
Law hasn’t ridden at Fair Hill before. “I know riders that have ridden here say that the terrain’s quite testing,” he said. “That’s all going to take its toll. I think on the whole everything’s very nice and very jumpable, but it’s going to be the cumulative effect of the jumping efforts. I don’t think there’s any one jumping effort that really stands out and makes you say, ‘Whoa.’ ”
Beatrice and Guy Rey-Herme’s 8-year-old Selle Francais gelding was a bit green at the Jersey Fresh CCI*** (N.J.) this spring according to Law. He led the dressage but had a run-out on cross-country. “He’s had a good summer, but he is young and still relatively inexperienced,” said Law. “He could need another year at three-star level. We’ll see.”
Inexperience was on Severson’s mind as well when she chose to enter “Paddy” at Fair Hill. Although the 11-year-old Irish Draught Horse contested the Rolex Kentucky four-star this spring and finished fifth, he didn’t start eventing until three years ago when Severson got the ride.
“I thought a lot about it, and I talked to a lot of people,” she said. “I think the terrain here and the base that it gives the horses in the long term is something that he lacks a little bit. That’s a big factor in coming here.”
Coleman, who won the Plantation CIC*** (Pa.) a month ago with Twizzel, said he felt lucky to be competing at all with the 12-year-old Westphalian gelding. Two years ago Twizzel was injured at Fair Hill, and they discovered a massive cyst in his shoulder that required surgery.
He echoed Law and Severson’s sentiments about the difficulty of the course. “You’d feel good taking any horse that’s jumped around here to Kentucky,” he said.
In the inaugural Fair Hill two-star, Molly Rosin and Havarah’s Charly led the way (46.2) after dressage over Kelly Prather with Ballinakill Glory (46.6) and Law aboard Quintus 54 (47.5).
Rosin is originally from California, but is now based in Oxford, Pa., and trains with Boyd and Silva Martin. Like Coleman, she won her last outing at the Plantation CIC**.
Prather, Petaluma, Calif., actually dropped her horse down a level after attempting the three-star at Fair Hill last year and retiring. Prather said her horse went out on course with boot rubs that affected her way of going, and she pulled up after a few problems on course because the 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare did not feel like herself.
“She’s a really talented horse, so we just backed it down a little bit, because we just wanted both of us to get some confidence back,” said Prather.
Boyd Martin and Remington XXV will lead off cross-country in the two-star at 8:30 a.m., while the three-star begins at 12:40 with Jane Sleeper and UN.
For full results visit http://www.fairhillinternational.com/fhiresults.html