Kelly Prather Finishes on Dressage Score to win CCI** Championship at the Dansko Fair Hill International
Elkton, MD – It’s nice to be right about a horse, and Amy Tryon proved to the world what she always knew about Coal Creek. He lived up to Tryon’s expectations when he jumped up from sixth after the cross country to win the 2008 USEF National CCI*** Eventing Championship at the Dansko Fair Hill International on the strength of his clear show jumping round.
“He was fantastic, I was thrilled,” said Tryon of Coal Creek. “He’s kind of an old soul. He’s an introvert, he’s one of those do-gooders, he never does anything wrong. I’ve never doubted his genuineness or his ability to try even though I knew he was short on experience.”
In the 8-year-old Thoroughbred gelding’s first test at this level, Coal Creek slowly progressed up through the standings to finish on top after the three phases. Tryon (who also won the Jersey Fresh CCI*** in May on Leyland) represented the US at this summer’s Olympic Games, so Coal Creek spent much of the year on the back burner – ticking over thanks to Tryon’s back-up team in Duvall, WA.
“We’ve all been in this sport long enough that we’ve been humbled by it,” said Tryon, who is a US Team veteran. “You don’t want to let your horses, yourself or your owners down. I couldn’t be happier to have two 8-year-olds both winning a three-star this year.”
Owned by Kathryn and Tim Sullivan, Coal Creek scored 47.0 in the dressage, picked up four time faults on the cross country but jumped around beautifully in the main arena over Sally Ike’s show jumping track to move up to the top of the leaderboard.
Ike’s course proved troublesome for many of the competitors, especially the last line which consisted of a triple bar, one stride to a vertical, one stride to another vertical and then a bending line to a liverpool. The middle element of the triple and the last fence came down consistently all day. Five managed clear rounds.
Overnight leader Corinne Ashton, riding her own Dobbin, was one of the many that was a victim of the last fence. They looked like they were going to finish on their dressage score and take home the title until the liverpool caught them out. But Ashton and the 14-year-old Thoroughbred gelding still had their best finish to date, just behind Tryon, on a score of 51.2.
“It’s going to be a long ride home,” said Ashton, who will drive back to Princeton, MA tonight. “I’m a little disappointed, if I could do it again, I would have found more room to the last fence. I was in a little bit of a hurry to get to the finish line – it’s hard to get everything right over three days. I’m fine about being second but I’d be better about being first. He looked after me, but it was so close.”
Ashton only has this one horse at the top level of the sport. She and Dobbin have progressed through the levels together and have finally achieved the result Ashton always knew they were capable of.
“My plans are to go to Aiken in the winter,” said Ashton of the next step. “I’m going to escape from the cold for a couple of months. Obviously we all plan to try to go to Rolex. I’d like to do it again and I’d like to stay on next year.”
Will Coleman was another who looked poised to jump a clear round on Tivoli Farm’s Twizzel. The 13-year-old Westphalian gelding jumped impressively around the course, kicking up behind over the fences and never looking in danger of getting near a rail. But they too were victims of the liverpool, and Twizzel and Coleman (who also had two in the top 10 in the CCI**) had to settle for third on a score of 51.9.
“The CCI*** course rode like a much more technical course,” said Coleman about comparing the two show jumping courses. “There were a few things that were more related. Its different jumping a horse that has jumped clean and fast around a three star versus one who has jumped clean and fast around a two-star. In that respect it will always ride a bit tougher.”
The Gordonsville, VA rider had to ride very deliberately in the show jumping to compensate for how hard the horse was trying. He had the last fence down in front, as Twizzel’s effort behind made it difficult to keep him careful in front.
“He was trying really hard behind around the course,” said Coleman. “I was having to hold him off the front rail more and more and I think it was a snow ball rolling down a hill a little bit. It was hard to keep his front end off the rails but I’m thrilled with him. He went really well and he seems to have come out of it well.”
Prather Rises to the Top of the CCI**
Kelly Prather chased Molly Rosin for three days in the USEF National CCI** Eventing Championship and today – in the show jumping ring – she finally caught her. The 24-year-old Californian rode the 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare, Ballinakill Glory, to a foot perfect performance finishing on her dressage score of 46.6. Rosin had a very expensive rail on Havarah’s Charly to wind up fourth, moving Will Coleman and Nevada Bay and Sinead Halpin and Manior de Carneville to second and third respectively.
“My horse had a great go and it was really nice,” said Prather, who rides for Andrea Pfeiffer. “She jumped great and now we get to go home and get ready for next year. She’s a great jumper, every time she jumps well it does a lot for my confidence.”
Clear rounds were infrequent until the final group of riders. Will Faudree jumped clear on Pawlow and set off a streak of five clear rounds, Boyd Martin and Remington XXV followed suit, followed by Halpin and then Coleman. Prather put her Fair Hill International demons to rest after having trouble last year attempting her first CCI*** with Ballinakill Glory after jumping immaculately throughout the weekend. Prather has produced the horse from the beginning after finding her as a three-year-old in Ireland.
“She had been sat on two days sat on when I got her,” said Prather. I was working in Ireland for two years and I found her there. Andrea Pfeifer bought her for me, I work and ride for her.”
The trip from California took two and half days, but after a two day layover in Virginia, Ballinakill Glory was not worse for the adventure.
“Luckily she’s a great traveler,” said Prather. “Coming from California where the divisions are tiny, it is a good challenge to come and ride in these bigger divisions. I want to come out here and compete more – but I love California.”
Halpin and Coleman were both tied on a score of 49.7, but Coleman and Nanki Doubleday’s 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood/Thoroughbred cross were closer to the optimum time on the cross country which broke the tie after the both jumped clear over Sally Ike’s course.
Coleman, who has done a lot of show jumping in his 25 years, liked the track.
“It was a good course, nice to see they build it to size,” said Coleman. “You hate a course that no one has rails on, a lot of the lines were a little bit repetitive but there were some good questions.”
Coleman and Nevada Bay have completed two CCI**s in 2008 and Coleman is looking forward to moving the scopey horse up to the next level in 2009.
“I think he’ll go CCI*** next year,” said Coleman. “This was his first year at Intermediate but I’d like to get him to a three star next year, down the road we’d like to see him as a horse for the World Equestrian Games.”
Despite having to settle for third, Halpin was pleased with the result in such a big field. 76 horses started the competition, and Manoir du Carneville’s future looked questionable in January when he sustained an injury to an extensor tendon. The 9-year-old Selle Francais gelding (who is owned by the Cogdell Carraig Syndicate) showed no ill effects of his injury.
“It feels great to be third, you felt like anyone in the top 10 did a really did a good job,” said Halpin, who just returned home from more than a year in England working for William Fox-Pitt. “I’m proud of my horse, he was great. He got better and better. He always tries to be careful but he’s not always the most orthodox. He jumped the first fence well and then got better and better. I got to ride a lot of horses (in the UK) and so many different horses helped me in a pressure situation.”
Halpin is back in Virginia where she works with David and Karen O’Connor and is looking forward to rebuilding her training and sales business with all the experience of her overseas trip behind her.