Monday, May. 27, 2024

Dutton Defends His Title At Wit’s End

He's claimed the first two consecutive World Cup qualifying events offered at the Ontario venue.

For the second consecutive year, Phillip Dutton claimed the win at the Wit’s End CIC-W*** in Mansfield, Ont. Last year he won the event riding Truluck, and this year, Sept. 28-30, he partnered with Acorn Hill Farm’s handsome, chestnut New Zealand Thoroughbred gelding Woodburn.


He’s claimed the first two consecutive World Cup qualifying events offered at the Ontario venue.

For the second consecutive year, Phillip Dutton claimed the win at the Wit’s End CIC-W*** in Mansfield, Ont. Last year he won the event riding Truluck, and this year, Sept. 28-30, he partnered with Acorn Hill Farm’s handsome, chestnut New Zealand Thoroughbred gelding Woodburn.

The pair stood third after dressage, but Dutton’s famously expert cross-country abilities propelled the pair into the lead with one of the fastest times of the day.

Emily Beshear, of Somerset, Va., previously competed Woodburn (Hereford The Wake—Princess Heights), but she gave up her job riding Acorn Hill’s horses to have carpal tunnel surgery. She is now running her own farm with husband Jeff Beshear, a veterinarian.

With the win in a World Cup qualifying class, Dutton now hopes to compete his new partner in the FEI World Cup Finals next year, and the Olympic Games in Hong Kong are also a possibility.

“Once you get a horse to this level you’re really looking on to the Olympics and major competitions,” said Dutton, who has represented Australia at three Olympics and four World Championships.

Now a U.S. citizen, he won individual silver and team gold medals at the Pan American Games in Brazil this summer, riding Annie Jones’ and Shannon Stimson’s Truluck.
“We’re all trying to get these horses prepared and ready for the Olympics next year,” he said. “I’d like to make the trip to the World Cup. There’s a lot to do in a year and make sure the horse is in the right place.”

Dutton, who is riding five horses that belong to Acorn Hill, was quick to give credit to Beshear for her hard work with them.

Dutton, of West Grove, Pa., also finished 14th in the CIC*** riding Match Play II, by Mark Todd’s stallion May Hill.

The English Thoroughbred, who belongs to August and Joyce Vettorino, had a green stop at the second element of the double corners on cross-country, which Dutton said taught him a valuable lesson.

Tough Terrain

David O’Connor’s cross-country course played a large part in deciding the outcome at Wit’s End. Out of 25 horses three were withdrawn, one was eliminated and one was retired. Seven of the horses that completed had jumping faults.

The hilly terrain with sandy footing slowed the horses down, and no one finished within the time. Dressage leader Darren Chiacchia, riding Timothy Holekamp’s Windfall II, added 24 time faults to their dressage score of 43.4. Dutton and Woodburn had 18 time faults, moving up from third to first place. Will Coleman III stayed in second riding Kiki du Manoir, a Selle Francais gelding owned by Tivoli Farms, adding 20.4 time faults to his dressage score of 43.7.


Dutton and Coleman each had one rail down in show jumping, and Chiacchia had two rails down. Clark Montgomery finished fourth riding Up Spirit, followed by the recent advanced champion from the Wellpride American Eventing Championships (Ill.), Corinne Ashton riding Dobbin.

Wit’s End: Bigger And Better

This was the first year that Wit’s End served as a World Cup qualifier, and farm owners Jo Young and Bill McKeen, both officials in international eventing, have their sights firmly set on making Wit’s End a top destination for international riders.

This year they offered $20,000 in prize money, which attracted a large field of notable competitors, and the date makes it a desirable warm-up for the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.), which begins 21⁄2 weeks after Wit’s End. Next year a three-star is slated for June at Bromont, Que., but in 2007 Wit’s End was the only three-star offered in Canada.

Technical Delegate Trish Gilbert said, “Everything went very well this weekend. With growth will come improvement. It’s still in the growing year and has improved since last year, and I think it will continue to do so.”

Jo Young said that FEI officials want to see fewer World Cup qualifiers in the future, perhaps one or two in each country.

“We’re hoping if we’ve done a good enough job they’ll keep us. Probably nobody has the same degree of insanity that we do!” she added with a laugh.

The challenging show jumping course was set in an undulating field on sandy turf, and more than half of the horses had a rail or more down. Many horses seemed to be feeling the effects of the previous day’s efforts.

Coleman said, “The course rode tougher than it walked.”

Chiacchia plans to take both Windfall II and Better I Do It, owned by Adrienne Iorio-Borden, to the new CCI**** at Pau, France in October.

Samantha Taylor, a British Columbia native who has lived in the United States for the past five years, was the top Canadian rider, finishing ninth on Livewire.


The 9-year-old, Canadian Thoroughbred gelding lived up to his name with the fastest trip around the cross-country course, finishing with 17.2 time faults. Taylor, 24, bought “Toddy” in British Columbia as a 5-year-old and then moved to the United States, where she currently trains with Pierre St. Jacques in dressage, as well as David O’Connor and Dutton.

She has competed Toddy at the CCI***s at Jersey Fresh (N.J.) and Fair Hill (Md.) and plans to take him to Fair Hill again this fall.

Just recovering from a broken collarbone, Karen O’Connor, The Plains, Va., piloted three horses around Wit’s End and won the advanced horse trials on her longtime partner Upstage, who led from start to finish.

Rowland’s Winning
Streak Continues
In the CCI*, which boasted 39 entries, Leahona Rowland of Slocan, B.C., and Orangeville, Ont., rose to the top riding Lois Brown’s R’Kameo to finish on her dressage score of 45.7.

Rowland moved east five years ago to spend a year working for Canadian team member Penny Rowland (no relation) and then worked for Peter Gray the next year. She now teaches and trains in Orangeville, Ont., and has been riding R’Kameo, a 10-year-old homebred, Hanoverian-Thoroughbred, for Brown since the mare was young and green.

“I bred her to carry me into my dotage lolloping around the field,” said Brown with a laugh. “She jumped out of the field three times before she was weaned. Breeding horses, you never know what you’ll get; I never expected to end up with a horse like her.”

After R’Kameo’s winning show jumping round, Brown said, “We were all in tears of course. We have a phenomenal support group. The woman who caught her when she was born is here watching.”

“She’s lovely to ride,” said Rowland of R’Kameo. “She has her moments—she is an opinionated mare—but she has come a long way. Her best dressage yet was this weekend, and she was great cross-country and made the time with no problem. Her feet hardly touch the ground; I’ve only had cross-country penalties with her once, for going too fast.”

R’Kameo has been competing at the intermediate level and has won nine events in a row now. Rowland previously rode Upolu, the mare that claimed two gold medals with Jessica DiGenova at the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships.

Rowland competed to the advanced level before she sold Upolu and started riding R’Kameo, who will now have some time to rest on her laurels while Rowland spends the next year working in England as eventing superstar William Fox-Pitt’s head rider.

Amber Heintzberger




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