Elkton, Md. – Oct. 18
Tamra Smith is running out of words to describe Mai Baum. “Phenomenal,” “unbelievable,” “unreal.”
But the most obvious word this weekend at the Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International CCI*** was “rideable.”
After taking the ride on in February, the pair had a get-to-know-you period, but have been nearly unstoppable at the three-star level this summer. They capped off their amazing season by winning the biggest CCI*** in the country this weekend, leading from start to finish, and showing how strong their partnership is, especially on a rollercoaster day for Smith. The win was emotional as she learned she lost a close friend, Dylan Morris, brother to her best friend Heather Morris, to cancer earlier in the day. She battled tears back as she finished her ride.
“It’s been such a pleasure because I have ridden a lot of difficult type horses throughout my career and some that maybe didn’t have the talent that they needed to do the level, but it’s what I had,” she said. “He’s got everything. He’s the whole package, and it’s an unbelievable feeling to be sitting on him. I can’t even explain it. It’s unreal. I’m blown away every time I ride him.”
Only seven pairs jumped double-clear over Sally Ike’s show jumping course today, and Smith was one of many who had time faults. She picked up 2.
“He was super. He’s normally pretty spooky in the ring, and he wasn’t at all. He just went in there and was all business,” she said. “I was really proud of the ride. He jumped fantastic. He jumped his guts out.”
She credited homework with grand prix jumper Susie Hutchison and time spent in the jumper ring with their improvement as a pair.
“He just needed to get a bit more seasoned at it and more comfortable,” she said. She admitted that going last was actually not as nerve-wracking as she would have though.
“Today was a different pressure,” she said. “I didn’t really feel pressure about going last today. I’ve gotten a lot of experience going last on him, and I’m really confident in his ability to jump clean. I just wanted to go in there and have a good round. Oddly enough, I didn’t feel the pressure you would typically feel in that situation.”
Now that they’ve won a plane ride to a European competition from title sponsor The Dutta Corp., Smith is pondering a CCI*** next year.
“We’ve talked about not knowing if he’s ready to do a four-star and taking him to do a three-star in Europe,” she said. “I’m not certain where that is, because the spring is hard with Saumur and Tattersalls, and it’s kind of late in the summer. I’d really like to go back to Boekelo. I kind of have a bone to pick with them. I’d love to go back there. I think he’d be a competitive horse there.”
Phillip Dutton and Mighty Nice. Photo by Lindsay Berreth.
Phillip Dutton kept the pressure on Smith as the second to last to go on Mighty Nice, and they put in a good clear with 2 time faults in a tough phase.
“I probably had the luckiest round,” said Dutton. “The show jumping’s been a bit tough for us, but he left it up, and I’m pleased for him. It’s one of those things where we take every event and I’m grateful. He hit his stifle at Kentucky and didn’t get to finish, and he got to finish here. He’s got a lot of improving still ahead of him, but he’s a great horse and I’m lucky to have him.”
Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border. Photo by Lindsay Berreth.
Kim Severson had a great finish with Cooley Cross Border in his first CCI***. They jumped up to third with a double-clear.
“He seems to really like Fair Hill. He’s stepped up to the plate the two times he’s been here. It’s pretty amazing,” she said. “His dressage was very good for him. He got most of his changes, which is huge for us. Yesterday he was unreal, and I actually gave him a decent ride, which I don’t say very often! I actually rode the horse well, so he appreciated that. And today he was pretty spectacular. He’s just a lovely, lovely horse, and the mistakes he’s had have been just green misunderstanding mistakes. He’s not a naughty, bad horse by any means. He’s a wonderful horse.”
Will Coleman and Tight Lines. Photo by Lindsay Berreth.
If you Google “tight lines,” UrbanDictionary.com tells you it’s a term meaning “so cool” or “bad ass.”
Those terms would accurately describe Will Coleman’s grey Tight Lines, who led the CCI** from start to finish, clinching the win today with a double-clear show jumping round.
The French-bred Thoroughbred had a hard rub at the last when they couldn’t afford a rail ahead of Phillip Dutton and Z, but it stayed up.
“It probably wasn’t the smoothest round I’ve ever had on him, but he left them up,” said Coleman. “He tried really hard—I think he was a little bit nervous when he went in. It was probably the worst possible course for him. It was all left turns and long distances. He’s hard to turn left for whatever reason. But he left them up, so how can I be unhappy?”
Coleman got the ride on the horse last year after a group of his owners, The Conair Syndicate, put together some money to buy him a couple of new up and coming horses after his three-star horse Conair died tragically at The Fork (N.C.) in 2014.
“Any time you win a three-day event I think it’s a big deal, especially at the two-star level and up,” said Coleman. “This particular one has eluded me for a number of years. I’ve been second and fourth and third in the two-star and the three-star, but I’ve never won it. So personally it’s an accomplishment. For this group, they really have had to go through the ups and downs of being an event horse owner and had to endure arguably the worst of the downs when we lost ‘Joey’. They were incredibly humbling and gracious about it. They picked me up when I was down and helped us get back on our feet again and I’m thrilled for them. I hope it’s a taste of what’s to come.”
Phillip Dutton and Z. Photo by Lindsay Berreth.
Dutton and Z stayed in second with a clear round in the horse’s first CCI**, while Matt Flynn and Get Lucky moved up to third from fifth with a clear.
“The best thing I learned is that he’s got endurance,” said Dutton of the weekend. “You never quite know that until you get to an 8-minute course or more. I’d only done horse trials on him [since he was imported this summer]. I knew he was going to be smart on the flat and he’s a great jumper and a good galloper, but I wasn’t quite sure—he’d never been tested over a long course. I’ve got confidence that he’s going to have endurance for the next couple of levels. He’s always been a good jumper, so if he has one down, it’s my fault.”
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