April 8—Norwood, N.C.
Phillip Dutton kept his lead at The Fork CIC*** after his show jumping round, despite Mystery Whisper almost unseating him at the second fence.
“He exploded more than I thought he was going to, and I sort of lost my balance. I was a little bit embarrassed,” Dutton said. He stayed in the saddle and finished the round clean, securing his second three-star win this year, one month after his victory at the Red Hills CIC*** (Fla.) in March.
He said the gelding, a 12-year-old Warmblood (Richmeed Medallion—Socialite, Salute), improved the most in the cross-country phase since Red Hills, but he emphasized that they are still getting acquainted as a team. After the dressage test on Friday, Dutton was tied for first, but he took the lead by himself after Saturday’s cross-country.
Marilyn Little-Meredith went into the day in second place on RF Demeter, but a knocked rail left her with a third-placed score of 49.0 behind Canada's Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master.
“It’s a little disappointing to get the rail,” Little-Meredith said, adding that the mare, a 10-year-old Oldenburg (Rubin-Royal—Patricia, Kanudos XX), was careful and confident throughout the course. Even though she had one rail down, she cited clear improvement in the mare’s jumping since they competed at Red Hills.
In second place in the three-star, Howard jumped clean to end the weekend on her dressage score of 45.6, but the round was not as accurate as she had hoped. She said she resorted to some of her back-up plans in the arena, but the 10-year-old gelding answered the questions well.
Earlier in the day, Karen O’Connor took first and second place in the two-star event. Mandiba placed first with a score of 48.9, followed by RF Amber Eyes (52.7). Both horses jumped double-clear rounds in the show jumping.
Mandiba, a 13-year-old Irish Sport Horse owned by Joan Goswell, is coming back from a long recovery after breaking six ribs at the 2011 Badminton Horse Trials (England). O’Connor said if the gelding moves up to the three- or four-star level, it will be a long time in the future.
“It’s all about the horse and what will make him feel good about himself,” she said, noting that she is content to compete him at the two-star level indefinitely.
Little-Meredith rode RF Smoke On The Water to a third-placed finish in the two-star with a score of 53.9. They finished on their dressage score with no faults in either cross-country or jumping.
In the advanced, test A, division Michael Pollard rode Schoensgreen Hanni with to a final score of 31.3, keeping their top place from cross-country. Pollard said "Hanni" gave him a “confident, clear round” after a 12th-placed finish at Red Hills last month.
“I’d wanted to redeem myself a little,” Pollard said. He had three rails down at Red Hills and time faults on cross-country.
In the advanced, test B, division, Allison Springer and Arthur maintained their top placing to end the competition on their dressage score of 22.7.
Springer said the course today gave her good practice for the course she and her Irish Sport Horse cross will encounter at the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** in a few weeks with several rollbacks. Although she said they have a lot to work on in all three phases, she was pleased with the focused, deliberate approach Arthur took to the jumping course.
Springer was followed by Sinead Halpin riding Manoir De Carneville, who also ended on her dressage score (24.0).