Elkton, Md.-Oct. 16
Boyd Martin went into the ring for show jumping in the Dansko Fair Hill CCI*** knowing that a clean round would be hard to get. Only eight riders before him had put in double-clear trips over Sally Ike’s challenging course. But Martin and Ying Yang Yo rose to the occasion, leaving all the rails in the cups—just barely. They finished on a score of 52.0 penalties.
“There were four different rails that bounced out of the cups and back in!” said announcer Brian O’Connor at the end of the pair’s round.
“It was a typical Ying Yang Yo round where we bumped and thumped a few rails, but luck was on my side today, and he got away with a clean round,” Martin admitted. “I’m elated to win this prestigious event, and I’m really happy for the horse and the owner [Faye Woolf].
“Part of me was sad to win the way he won it,” Boyd continued. “Part of me admired Jan [Byyny]’s comeback, and when she had a rail down, I didn’t know whether to be happy or sad. Jan’s had such a phenomenal comeback, and part of me wanted her to win.”
Overnight leaders Jan Byyny, Purcellville, Va., and Inmidair had two rails down, including one at the second fence where Byyny nearly came unseated. This is Byyny’s first three-star since suffering a life-threatening fall in early 2010.
“I’m just lucky that I didn’t fall off at the second fence because then I wouldn’t be here at all,” Byyny said in the press conference after her round. “It could have been worse. I have a great horse, and my nerves were pretty in check. I was happy with the first jump, and I thought, ‘Yeah, let’s go.’ Then I thought he would leave for the second fence, and maybe I didn’t have enough leg, and he didn’t. The rest was kind of messy, but he’s a great horse and a really good jumper. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.”
Becky Holder, Chattahoochee Hills, Ga., and Can’t Fire Me had one rail, but it was still good enough for second (56.2 penalties).
“I’m really, really happy with him today,” said Holder. “I’m extremely grateful to all of my owners, my wonderful husband [Tom Holder], and Phil and Melissa Town who believed in me when the horse was a bit of rogue and an unknown factor. Anyone would have told me I was crazy when I laid out the plan for this year, and they stood behind me all the way.”
All of the top three riders in the CCI*** were seated on ex-racehorses. “Thomas,” a 15-year-old Thoroughbred, came off the track in Australia, while Inmidair raced in New Zealand. Can’t Fire Me, a 12-year-old Thoroughbred, raced in the United States before starting his eventing career.
“This is the toughest three-star anywhere in the world,” said Martin, West Grove, Pa. “Look at the top three here; they’re all racehorses. They were all born to run, and it’s no coincidence that the first, second and third are Thoroughbreds because it’s such a grueling endurance test. I think all three of us are on phenomenal athletes, and it’s great to see that this sport still caters to and applauds these types of horses.”
Martin also won the Fair Hill CCI*** in 2009 aboard Neville Bardos, his partner at this year’s Burghley Land Rover Horse Trials in England. Neville finished seventh there in September after narrowly surviving the barn fire at Phillip Dutton’s True Prospect Farm earlier in the year.
Holly Payne’s Madeleine picked up the award for best-conditioned horse in the three-star. Peter Atkins, riding HJ Hampton for Australia, was the highest-placed foreign rider in 11th place.
Trading Aces Cashes In A Win
Kylie Lyman smiles a lot already, but she’ll be doing it even more for a little while. Lyman, riding Trading Aces, won the CCI** and finished ninth aboard Garrison Flash. Trading Aces jumped one of only 15 double-clear rounds.
“I’m just super happy,” she said. “I had a great time with both horses. [Trading Aces] was perfect. He didn’t put a foot wrong all weekend. Today I tried to just let him do his job, and he jumped great. It’s hard not to smile on him, but, yeah, now it’ll be permanent.”
Trading Aces, a 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse (Coevers Diamond Boy—Ballyvannon Beauty VII) owned by Joan Nichols, started eventing at novice last spring. Lyman, West Hartford, Vt., started riding him two years ago, and she trains with Bobby Costello and Buck Davidson.
“The owners and I found him two years ago in Ireland,” she said. “He had literally come in from the field. We fell in love with him the second he came out the stall. He’s been everything we hoped he would be. He loves his job, and he rewards you for doing everything right.”
Kadi Eykamp and Double Rivers Really Cool were second after cross-country, but two rails down dropped them to fifth. Colleen Rutledge and Dillon jumped flawlessly to move up from sixth to second. Canada’s Kendal Lehari and Totally Frank rounded out the top three.
Dillon, a 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, was originally slated to compete in the CCI*** at Fair Hill but after a rough summer and fall, Rutledge dropped him down a level.
“He picked up and gave me everything he had this weekend,” she said. “I’m completely proud of him. He jumped fantastically today. The footing yesterday was some of the toughest I’ve had to go in, and the fact that he came in today and exploded everywhere—I was so thrilled with him. We had three really good phases all weekend, and I’m so happy to put all three together in the same weekend.”