Elkton, Md.—Oct. 16
Nate Chambers headed out onto the three-star cross-country course at the Dansko Fair Hill International looking for redemption. Last year he had to pull up when Rolling Stone became exhausted in the heavy footing and pouring rain.
But the pair hasn’t had a cross-country penalty this year, and they stayed true to form by turning in another double-clean round to maintain the lead on 46.6 penalties over Hannah Burnett on St. Barths (49.4) and Phillip Dutton on Fernhill Eagle (53.0).
However, Chambers, 23, encountered an unexpected snafu in his plans when the horse and rider in front of him—J.B.’s Star and Jennifer Simmons—fell at fence 17, the Footbridge. Simmons had to be extricated from under her horse, and both were transported off the course, resulting in a hold of more than 30 minutes.
At press time Simmons had gone to Christiana Hospital in Newark, Del. She was alert and conscious. J.B.’s Star was stabilized and taken to the New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pa., where he was later euthanized.
Chambers was held after fence 15AB, the Chesapeake Water.
“Most importantly, I was wondering if Jen and the horse were all right,” he said. “I’ve known Jen for quite a while and live in the Middleburg, [Va.], area. Once I found out that she was OK, that relieved a lot of tension. It’s unfortunate when it happens, but you’ve got to stick to the game plan. When I got back on course, it was a little hard to get back in a rhythm. I was at my 6-minute marker. That’s basically a horse trials time. Waiting 30 or 40 minutes, I think he thought he was done.”
Despite the hold, Chambers found his rhythm, and “Rollie,” a 14-year-old Hessen gelding, finished full of running.
Burnett retained her second-placed dressage standing with a double-clear round on “Nike,” a 10-year-old Thoroughbred owned by Dick Thompson. The pair won the Fair Hill two-star last year, and the 24-year-old rider was pretty pumped up about her strong cross-country ride.
“It was really a good feeling going around,” she said. “The footing was great, and everything jumped really well and rode right to plan. He went around this really easily. Finishing was really exciting, kind of similar to last year.”
Of the 33 who started the three-star, 24 finished. Six riders finished clear and inside the time. Molly Rosin, who had been in third with Havarah’s Charly, was eliminated after incurring refusals at 7AB, the Farmyard Corners and 9AB, the Dansko Village. Kelli Temple, who had been in fourth with Axel Rose, fell at fence 13, Wayne’s Walls, which gave Dutton the opportunity to move up. Temple walked away from her fall, as did Casey McKissock, who fell from Special Blend at the same fence. Imtiaz Anees was the other rider to fall in the three-star—he took a tumble at fence 23B.
Multiple riders pulled up on course when it was clear things weren’t going their way. Kelly Sult, who placed third here last year here with Hollywood, retired after having two stops on course. Boyd Martin, who took on a last-minute catch ride on Armani IV from student Erin Sylvester, opted to walk home after incurring stops at fences 7 and 15, the Chesapeake Water.
Sylvester had a better day than her coach, holding onto second place aboard No Boundaries in the CCI** behind Clark Montgomery, who stands first with Loughan Glen and third with Universe.
“[Loughan Glen] is a bit heavier, a bit slower footed, a little bit slower minded,” said Montgomery. “He takes a little bit more help to get going once he lands, to get him to come back if you’re slowing down for something. The second horse is much smaller, a lot nippier, a lot quicker with his feet. You can be just a little bit more aggressive with him.”
Montgomery, Fairburn, Ga., imported Loughan Glen from Ireland two years ago as a 5-year-old. “He’d done some show jumping over there. The only thing he could do was walk and canter. When we finally got him to trot, it was pretty, but it was quite hard to get him to trot,” he said with a smile.
Montgomery started eventing the Irish Sport Horse gelding for Holly Becker and Kathryn Kraft a year ago in April, and he’s come up the ranks very quickly.
In the two-star, of the 56 horses that went out on course, 47 finished. Seven riders finished double clear. There was another long wait when Sharon White was transported off the course after her horse, Russian Roulette, fell at fence 9, the Elk Chapel Garden Rail. White sustained a broken hip, and Russian Roulette was uninjured.
Tik Maynard’s Sapphire also took a tumble in the two-star at fence 19, the Panda Trap. Both horse and rider were OK.
Four other riders popped out of the tack—Carol Kozlowski fell off Mr. Snuffleuffagus at fence 17, the Chesapeake Water. Nicole Parkin fell from Lexus at fence 7, the Steeplechase Bend. Meghan O’Donoghue fell from Pirate at fence 11, the Chesapeake Inlet, as did Buck Davidson off of L.A. Albert.
Two-star show jumping begins at 10:45 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 17 in reverse order of standings.