Fair Hill, MD -Favorable conditions and experienced riders bolstered the leaderboard in the cross country phase of both the CCI** and CCI*** at The Dutta Corporation Fair Hill International Fall Eventing Championships on Saturday.
In the CCI**, William Coleman III of Gordonsville, VA on Tight Lines, owned by the Conair Syndicate, will head into Sunday's show jumping phase on a score of 42.5 penalties, adding nothing to their overnight lead. Dutton and his CCI** mount 'Z' moved up from third in dressage to second with 45.3 penalties following a quick and fault-free cross country round. Alison Springer and Cascani moved up from fourth to the top three with a combined score of 46.1 penalties.
Coleman thought "Phish" as he is affectionately called, was a true superstar. "He was great. He's an incredibly fast horse," said Coleman. "I never had one that builds in speed the whole way around like he does. He truly gets faster as he goes, which is good and bad. He was great, he settled down a lot, he's much more rideable than he was earlier in the year and he just seems to be getting better and better. I'm thrilled with him. I thought he was just a star."
The course proved to be challenging for a number of competitors but Coleman thought it provided a nice foundation for the horses. "I thought it was a good test," said Coleman. "The time wasn't a huge issue, certainly not for me but it seemed like for everyone it wasn't an issue, but I thought he [DiGrazia] had really good questions. I think it does prepare your horse for the next level and if you are planning on moving up in the spring, which I am with him, I think it does set you up well and I think that's the point of what he tries to do with this course every year."
Springer, hailing from Upperville, VA celebrated her birthday on Saturday with a double clear on Cascani, owned by Mary Ann Ghadban. "It was fantastic, I am really excited. He's a new horse for me this year. I got him in March," said Springer. "I am so excited about him. He's just changed so much over the summer and he's a great horse. It felt really nice, just a fun ride around. He felt full of gallop at the end and jumped well and really stepped up."
For more information on this year's Fair Hill www.fairhillinternational.com.