Sunday, Apr. 21, 2024

Ashton Tops Southern Pines Advanced


Corinne Ashton and Dobbin claimed their second win in as many events this year when they won the Adequan USEA Gold Cup advanced division at the Southern Pines Horse Trials in Raeford, N.C., on March 16-18.

Ashton, a mother of two daughters, 11 and 15, didn’t have ideal conditions leading up to the event. She traveled 15 hours from Princeton, Mass., where she works for Dover Saddlery.
PUBLISHED

ADVERTISEMENT


Corinne Ashton and Dobbin claimed their second win in as many events this year when they won the Adequan USEA Gold Cup advanced division at the Southern Pines Horse Trials in Raeford, N.C., on March 16-18.

Ashton, a mother of two daughters, 11 and 15, didn’t have ideal conditions leading up to the event. She traveled 15 hours from Princeton, Mass., where she works for Dover Saddlery.

“It’s a bit hard to live in the frozen north and compete at this level, but I have family there so I have to stay there,” said Ashton. “I did get to Aiken [S.C.] for a couple of weeks and won the intermediate at Pine Top [Ga.]. The last couple of weeks at home were miserable and icy so I didn’t do anything.”

Becky Holder, Mendota Heights, Minn., and her gray gelding Courageous Comet took the lead after dressage, which was ridden in a torrential downpour on Friday. It was so wet that many riders had a tough time just staying in the tack, but Holder, who bought a farm in Wadesboro, N.C., and has been training intensively in the U.S. Equestrian Federation high performance training sessions, still scored a respectable 25.4. Ashton and Dobbin were next in line with 30.4, followed closely by Allison Springer and Arthur (30.4), Will Faudree and Antigua (31.3) and Kristin Bachman and Gryffindor (31.7).

“He feels great this year,” said Holder. “He’s 11 and really coming into himself. I spent the winter doing lots of caveletti, jumping on the line and doing gymnastics to keep him strong. I’m trying to follow the jumper principle of getting him off the ground every day, even just hopping over little things. I have logs all over the farm, and we just go out and trot over them as part of his daily routine.”

Against The Clock

John Williams’ advanced cross-country course was hardly altered from last year’s Wellpride American Eventing Championship, which was challenging so early in the season but fit well in the schedule for riders planning to compete at the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** in April.

The sandy footing at the Carolina Horse Park held up impressively to the heavy rainfall on Friday and was ideal for cross-country on Saturday, which was cold and windy but dry. Time was the biggest factor on cross-country. When Holder went out for a “Sunday drive” on Comet, it caught up with her later. Her 15.2 time penalties dropped her to third place. Because it was Arthur’s first advanced, Springer also took her time and dropped to 13th. Ashton and Faudree moved into first and second, respectively, with Holder standing in third and Bachman in fourth.

As one of the first riders on course in advanced, Phillip Dutton said that the light was terrible, and he could hardly see the fences. After Julia Steinberg and Mr. Big went swimming in the Duck Pond, officials held the course until the sun came up higher.

ADVERTISEMENT

Ashton has owned Dobbin, 13, since he was a 4-year-old. “I’ve changed my riding so that I just leave him alone,” she said. “Before, I tried to help him by pulling on the reins, but now I don’t pull. He’s a wonderful athlete, and if I just direct him, he does it himself. He’s very fast and finishes as fresh as he starts. It’s great. You’re never too old to learn!”

On Sunday Marc Donovan’s show jumping track was technically challenging, but six of 22 advanced horses posted double-clear rounds. Ashton kept her cool with Dobbin and jumped around clear and in the time, and so did Holder, who moved up to second place. Bachman had one rail and Faudree had two rails but both stayed in the top placings, with Bachman finishing third and Faudree fourth.

“He knows his stuff, and he knew that today was stadium,” said Ashton of Dobbin. “I told him to pick his feet up and he did. I was a bit cautious to the first couple of fences, and then I thought, ‘I’d better get this show on the road!’ He’s naturally talented, and it feels even better crossing the finish line with nothing falling behind you.”

Dutton Wins CIC**

Southern Pines local Holly Hepp on Benwald, owned by Anne Hennessy, took the early lead in the Adequan USEA Gold Cup CIC** with a score of 47.1, but Hepp’s coach, Phillip Dutton, of West Grove, Pa., and Aiken, S.C., was close behind on Nina Gardner’s Loose ‘N Cool with 47.4.

Cross-country proved influential in this division: out of 13 entries two were eliminated, three retired and one faced mandatory retirement. Dutton flew around the course, adding only .4 time penalties, but Hepp and her relatively inexperienced horse took it easy, adding 9.2 time penalties to change places with Dutton.

Loose ‘N Cool earned the win after jumping around the show jumping with one rail down, in the middle of the triple, and in the time; Hepp posted a double-clear round.

Dutton said, “It was a great course. The rail was my fault. I went a bit wide to the combination and had to rush him at it. But the course was good for the horses and encouraged forward riding.”

Gardner had known Loose ‘N Cool since Dutton imported him from Australia as a baby and was impressed with his movement. When Audrey Evans purchased the horse, Gardner said that she was depressed that she hadn’t done it first. So when he became available a few weeks ago, she jumped at the opportunity to buy the 8-year-old, Australian Stock Horse gelding.
 
A longtime owner of Dutton’s horses and the former owner of his True Prospect Farm, Gardner hopes that her new acquisition will go on to do great things but recognizes that he still needs experience.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I hadn’t seen him go cross-country until yesterday, and he still looks like a bit of a baby,” she said. “I think he needs time to get seasoned at intermediate level, but thank God Phillip’s on him!”

While the advanced track was what Dutton expected, he said that the intermediate track was a little strong.

Dutton, who recently changed his citizenship from Australian to American, said, “I’m excited for him; I think he’s shaping up to be a nice horse. He’s quite green and laidback. I’m just getting him exposed to the bigger events, and he went really well this weekend.”

Hepp was excited by Benwald’s success. The 8-year-old gelding only started eventing in the spring of 2006, doing five preliminaries and then moving up to intermediate.

“The relationship just bloomed,” said Hepp. “He’s handled the move up and the questions so well. Radnor [CCI** (Pa.)] wasn’t even in our sights, but we went there last year and finished 15th. For a big Irish horse, he’s mentally very good in all three phases. I think his Irish background helped in the sloppy ring on Friday too!”

Hepp is planning to take Benwald to the Virginia CIC** in May, with the ultimate goal of competing him in the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.) in October.

Hepp liked the cross-country course, commenting, “It’s tough but there are good options. With the terrain here you’ve got to be on your game and be sharp. This event is great. Marc Donovan does a fantastic job on show jumping, and the cross-country is well built and true to each level. You get the max out of every level here; you can’t just canter around.”

Amber Heintzberger

Categories:

ADVERTISEMENT

EXPLORE MORE

Follow us on

Sections

Copyright © 2024 The Chronicle of the Horse