Richland, MI - Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot never flinched in the face of the pressure of leading the Mandatory Outing for the 2011 Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team at the Richland Park CIC and Horse Trials. They added nothing to their dressage score on the cross country and successfully defended their lead.
"It was one of my best rounds ever, on any horse," said Burnett. "I built on my speed as I went, I didn't have the intention to run him really hard but it was at intermediate speed. I just picked up a good rhythm at the first fence and I built on it. All of the combinations rode like gymnastics. I picked up the speed at the last two fences."
Harbour Pilot, an 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse and homebred of Jacqueline Mars, continues to live up to the expectation of all that have been involved in his career. Part of David and Karen O'Connor's program since he was a born, he has been ridden by Burnett since last spring. Burnett serves as an assistant trainer in their program, and she rode Harbour Pilot to a second-place finish in the CCI2* at the Bromont CCI in June. Their performance earned them one of 15 spots on the USEF Short List for the Land Rover Eventing Team for the 2011 Pan American Games.
"He's really grown up," said Burnett. "After Bromont, he thought he was Superman. This is actually his first run since Bromont. He's so good on the cross country so he doesn't have to run a lot. I am so happy for Ms. Mars and the O'Connors as they produced him, it is nice that they can produce something of his quality."
Fourteen of the 15 horses are contesting the Mandatory Outing (Boyd Martin and Cold Harbor were excused from the competition as Martin prepares for next week's CCI4* at Burghley Horse Trials) and 13 of the starters jumped clear rounds. Four horses made the time, but Shannon Lilley and The Lilley Group's Ballingowan Pizzaz picked up .4 of a penalty for being one second slow. Lilley and the 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding head into Sunday's show jumping on 47.1, less than a point in front of fellow Californian Tamra Smith. Smith and Leigh Mesher's Mar de Amor sit third on their dressage mark of 47.8.
The Mandatory Outing was run over the Advanced cross country course, and for many of these horses the track included some of the toughest questions they have faced. Designed by Ian Stark, it required forward riding all the way around, and the much discussed bounce into the first water at fence seven rode better than many anticipated. Only Smith and Mar de Amor elected to take the option.
One rail separates the top four horses, so there will be plenty of pressure tomorrow, not only to determine the winner, but also to help the USEF Selectors determine who is most suitable to ride on the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team in Guadalajara.
Buck Davidson is leading the CIC 3* on Carl and Cassandra Segal's 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games veteran, BallyNoe Castle RM, after a rock-solid round - one second under the optimum time. He is on the same score as Jennie Brannigan and Nina Gardner's Cambalda, who flew around the cross country, to finish faster, but further from the optimum time which is how the tie is broken. Phillip Dutton lies third and fourth on Ben and William Penn, respectively.
For more information please visit http://www.richlandpark.com, and for live results, please visit http://www.evententries.com/livescoring/14784.html.
Read more about all of the Short-listed riders here: http://www.usefnetwork.com/news/7500/2011/8/25/mandatory_outing_for_the_2011_land.aspx
Photo: Hannah Sue Burnett and Harbour Pilot. www.stockimageservices.com