Elkton, Md.—Oct. 15
Scores were tight throughout the weekend at the Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International CCI***, and when Canadian Selena O’Hanlon added 1.6 time penalties on cross-country yesterday with Foxwood High, she narrowly lost her dressage lead to Colleen Rutledge and Covert Rights.
But heading into today’s show jumping, Rutledge only had one rail in hand. When she dropped three, the win was O’Hanlon’s.
O’Hanlon did have three time penalties, but it was enough to secure the win on 44.0. Will Coleman was the top-placed U.S. rider on The Conair Syndicate’s Tight Lines in second (46.3), and as a result was named the U.S. Equestrian Federation National Three-Star champion.
Boyd Martin and Christine Turner’s Tsetserleg moved into third with one of seven double clear rounds over Sally Ike’s course
“It feels exhilarating,” said O’Hanlon of the win. “I’m super excited for this horse at this level. It was a personal best all the way through. I couldn’t have asked for more from him. Today I got a little worried because he started show jumping by Braille, which leads to rails usually, so I took the time it took to have a clear round. That was my goal. I’m glad it all worked out in the end.”
Owned by John and Judy Rumble, who were there to see “Woody,” win, the 14-year-old Canadian Sport Horse gelding did tap a few rails, but they stayed in the cups.
O’Hanlon said she’s been working on verticals and turns with the Millar family in Canada.
“Verticals are our nemesis. He keeps jumping the oxers better and better. Speed—time has always been a big question for this horse. He’s got a big step,” she said. “When I first started eventing him I couldn’t fit the strides in without choking him, so I left them out. Now I can fit the strides in, but I’m still jumping the verticals flat. I’m starting to work on tight turns and the tightest line possible. I was determined to get a clear round today at the cost of the time, and I will work on that at home.”
Coleman was thrilled with “Phish,” who had four rails down in the CCI*** last year, but won the CCI** in 2015.
“He was great. He was magic yesterday on the cross-country. I was thrilled with how he ran. He made it feel like it was well within his capabilities. Today he just tried his heart out. I think his biggest attribute is that he gives 100 percent all the time. He’s not the simplest, but he’s really trying. As long as you can harness that in the right way he can do some good things. I just try to reproduce it now over and over again,” he said.
While not the easiest show jumper, Coleman and Phish spent the summer working with Richard Picken and competed in a few jumper shows.
“I think the practice of going in the ring has been really good. I had four down here last year after doing a double-clear on cross-country, and he went double-clear this year and finished on it. It’s a testament to our progress. I think we still have some things to clean up, but I like my program with Richard,” he said.
Martin could hardly believe he was in the press conference considering his partnership with “Thomas” is only 18 months old.
“To be quite honest I didn’t think much of the horse [when he first came to the barn,]” he said. “He just doesn’t wow you at home, but when you get to a competition all of a sudden he grows to about 17.2 and jumps as high as you want to jump and moves like Totilas. We saw that this weekend. I think he’s a real proper four-star horse. The biggest thing is that he’s such a trier. He’s a gutsy trier. He’s by Windfall and bred by Tim Holekamp. This weekend he just impressed me in every phase. I think I’ve got myself a new exciting four-star horse for the future.”
Martin said he went a little slower on cross-country yesterday because it was the first real test for them as a pair, but he was still happy with the result.
“In hindsight I could have been 20 seconds faster, but in saying that, I never in my wildest dreams expected to be sitting here on Sunday afternoon,” he said. “It proved to me that he’s got the endurance and the gallop and the stamina for the big time CCIs.”