Fair Hill, MD - - Tamra Smith of Murrieta, CA and William Coleman III of Gordonsville, VA came forward today on young first-timers to take the lead following the dressage portion of the Dutta Corporation Fair Hill International CCI *** and CCI** Championships at the Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area.
In the CCI*** Smith was pleased with Mai Baum's inaugural performance at the CCI*** level, scoring 38.5 penalties with the 9-year-old German Sport Horse gelding owned by Alex Ahearn. Mai Baum and Tamra Smith on top in the Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International CCI*** "He was phenomenal, he was great," said Smith. "He's just getting better and stronger and I am really pleased with how he felt. I had one little bobble, my second change [of lead] wasn't clean, but other than that everything else was super."
Jessica Phoenix, Ontario, CAN thought Pavarotti, owned by Don Good, gave her a wonderful birthday present with an "amazing" performance in dressage. The pair stands less than a point behind the CCI*** leaders Mai Baum and Tamie Smith with 39.2 penalties. "He was amazing. It is so much fun riding that horse," said Phoenix. "He is an incredible, competitive horse and I love every minute of riding him. Being able to do this on my birthday was really special. I was trying as hard as I could to catch Tamie and we almost did."
CCI** leader Coleman thought the hard work leading up to Fair Hill paid off scoring 42.5 penalties on Tight Lines, the 8-year-old grey French Thoroughbred owned by the Conair Syndicate. "It was probably the best test I have ever done on this horse. We've been working really hard on his dressage," said Coleman. "The horse looks the best he's ever looked and I couldn't be happier with him today. We had two tiny mistakes but he honestly did a great test and I was really proud of him."
Peter Barry, Quebec, CAN riding his own Oldenburg gelding Long Island T is currently second with 44.5 penalties.
Phillip Dutton of West Grove, PA stands third in both the CCI** and CCI***. His CCI** mount Z has 45.3 penalties and Mighty Nice stands on 43.5 penalties in the CCI***. Even though Mighty Nice is a seasoned eventer, this is the first time competing at the Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International. He is looking forward to taking the Irish Sport Horse on the cross country course Saturday. "It's going to be a good educational course for him. He's obviously done a few CCI**** before, but I think it's a great track and good fitness test. Fitness is going to play a part probably more so than a lot of the other courses we do, so that's also educational for all the horses and riders and I am looking forward to the day."
Coleman observed that the CCI** horses may find designer Derek DiGrazia's cross country course challenging: "You walk around and it starts out and I think everyone probably feels pretty good about the beginning and then it just kind of builds and builds and builds and at the last third, there are two or three very significant questions. With younger up and coming horses that you are going to see in the CCI** I think it is going to be important that the riders keep their horse on their game as they finish."
The exciting Cross Country phase begins at 9:15 a.m. on Saturday with CCI**. The CCI*** is scheduled to begin after lunch at 1:40 p.m.
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