Pau, France - Fifty combinations went forward to the final phase of competition at the 2013 Les Étoiles de Pau CCI4* on Sunday to tackle Bernard Basque's 13 obstacle track. Rails fell throughout the day and proved costly as those that could produce clear rounds climbed the leaderboard. Five U.S. combinations headed into the show jumping phase at Pau and at the end of competition three Americans had landed in the top 15.
Overnight leaders William Fox-Pitt and Seacookie TSF of Great Britain added four faults for a single rail down to finish on a score of 45.5 to clinch victory by .5 penalties over France's Maxime Livio and Cathar de Gamel. Fox-Pitt also collected third place honors with Cool Mountain on a score of 46.2.
Leading the way for the United States were Land Rover Competition Grant recipients Phillip Dutton (West Grove, Pa.) and the Mr. Medicott Syndicate's Mr. Medicott. The pair which added just .4 penalties on the cross country to their seventh placed dressage score entered the final phase in fourth place. Despite incurring eight faults for two rails down the combination maintained their fourth place position to finish on a score of 52.6.
"He jumped well. I feel bad that I had two fences down; he is a horse that can definitely jump a clear round but it was a very difficult track," said Dutton who had the dubious honor of following Livio into the ring after the French rider went clear. "Not to make excuses but I followed the Frenchman into the arena and the crowd went ballistic and he (Mr. Medicott) was a handful after that. If I were to do it over again, I would have taken a little more time."
The Olympic and FEI World Equestrian Games veteran only began riding Mr. Medicott in June but has quickly forged a partnership with him. The talented 14-year-old Irish Sport gelding had been ridden at the 2008 Olympic Games and 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games by Germany's Frank Ostholt as well as partnering with Karen O'Connor to a ninth place finish at the 2012 Olympic Games. Therefore, Dutton has put a priority on getting to know the veteran horse, as well as having the gelding get acquainted with his style of riding.
"Looking back on the weekend on the whole I'm quite pleased. Coming here if I knew I would be fourth I would have been very excited." With his fourth place finish this weekend Mr. Medicott now has three top 10 finishes at Pau, with Ostholt the gelding was third in 2008 and 10th in 2011.
Clark Montgomery (Wiltshire, UK) and Jessica Montgomery, Carole Montgomery, Janet Higgins, and Elizabeth Smith's Universe headed into the show lying in ninth place after a double clear cross country round. The Land Rover Competition Grant recipients incurred eight faults for rolling two poles on Sunday to drop one place in the standings, finishing 10th on a score of 60.
Montgomery and the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding complete their 2013 campaign with two top 30 CCI4* finishes. In addition to their 10th place finish at Pau, the pair was 27th at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials in Universe's first attempt at the level.
Lynn Symansky and her own Donner travelled to Pau after having been awarded a Jacqueline B. Mars Competition and Training Grant and gained valuable experience over the weekend. The 2011 Pan American Games Team Gold medalists rose from 38th after the dressage on the strength of a double clear round on the cross country, they headed into the show jumping in 12th place. Two rails down meant they added eight faults to their total to finish on an overall score of 61.3 in 13th place in their first European competition.
Land Rover Competition Grant recipients, Marilyn Little (Frederick, Md.) and Raylyn Farms and Team Demeter 's RF Demeter headed into the final phase of competition lying in 11th but 16 faults dropped them down the order. The 11-year-old Oldenburg mare rolled four rails to finish on a final total of 68.8 in 18th place.
Michael Pollard (Dalton, Ga.) and Carl Bouckaert's 15-year-old Thoroughbred gelding Mensa were the sole U.S. pair to jump in the first session of the day producing an eight fault effort, the Land Rover Competition Grant recipients finished on an overall score of 108 in 43rd place.
Learn more about the Les Étoiles de Pau CCI4*, visit www.event-pau.fr/en/homepage/.
For start times and results, click here.
Follow the 2013 Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team here.