Elkton, Md.—Oct. 12
The first 31 of 61 CCI** combinations completed dressage today at the Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International, and Tamra Smith took a commanding lead on Sunsprite Syrius, scoring a 40.9 to lead ahead of Allison Springer and Lord Willing who scored a 48.3.
Smith traveled from her base in California to Fair Hill, with a stop in Aiken, S.C., for the Stable View Horse Trials, with four horses total across both the CCI** and CCI***.
The 9-year-old Trakehner gelding, owned by Sunsprite Warmbloods, has never finished out of the top two in international competition, except for this summer when he competed at his first CCI** at Rebecca Farm and was eliminated at the final horse inspection after stepping on himself on cross-country.
“That’s why we brought him here—because you can’t replicate Fair Hill anywhere in the country when you’re dealing with two- and three-stars. We’re gonna find out what he’s made of. I think he’s up for the challenge,” said Smith.
Save for a slight distraction when the crowd cheered for a rider coming out of the arena next to theirs, “Syrius” put in a strong test according to Smith.
“He was great. It’s cold, and the wind was kind of up when I was going, but he’s always been a very consistent, workmanlike horse. I just can’t break into the 30s! I was really hoping,” she said with a smile.
Smith credited some eyes on the ground by Cecily Brown this week for her performance.
“He just went in and did everything—nailed his halts. I had a few things that could have been better, but overall I thought the test was really consistent,” she said.
Smith took a look at Derek Di Grazia’s cross-country course and feels ready for the challenge. She’s happy to be back at Fair Hill after winning the CCI*** in 2015 with Mai Baum.
“It’s really big and technical,” she said of the course. “The first water’s a big brush into water. I think that’s going to ride tough. I think more so than it has in the past. I think from a boldness standpoint it really sets the tone. From there the coffin’s tough. I think the time looks like it’s going to be very hard to make. There are a lot of roll backs, so if you’re not efficient there’s going to be places where you’ll lose time. It’s not an easy flow and that will be fatiguing on the horse. But we couldn’t have asked for a better rain over night and earlier in the week, so I think the ground’s going to be good enough.
“It’s a little surreal actually,” she said of being back. “I haven’t been here for a couple of years, but I love this place. I hope it ends as good as it’s starting.”
The Chronicle’s Lindsay Berreth will be at the Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International all weekend posting all the news and great photos on www.coth.com. Also don’t forget to follow the Chronicle on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @Chronofhorse.