Elkton, MD – As expected, Derek Di Grazia’s challenging cross country courses were extremely influential Saturday at the Dansko Fair Hill International CCI. The leaderboards in both the two- and three-stars saw great fluctuation in the second phase of the USEF National Eventing Championships. Hannah Sue Burnett was able to maintain her lead following the dressage with the classy Harbour Pilot; she will head into the show jumping on Sunday looking to secure her second CCI3* National Title. In the two-star Jennie Brannigan and Indie vaulted themselves into the lead on the strength of a double clear effort.
USEF National Three-Star Eventing Championship
Di Grazia’s 27 obstacle CCI3* course saw only four combinations finish within the time allowed of ten minutes and a total of 17 riders completed without jumping penalties. Of the 32 entries that started the course, three were eliminated and six retired and two competitors withdrew prior to cross country.
Burnett (The Plains, VA) and Jacqueline Mars’ Harbour Pilot cruised effortlessly around Di Grazia’s grueling track as one of the few double clears in the three-star. The nine-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding displayed the scopey jump and ground-covering gallop that helped him claim Team Gold and Individual Silver with his 26-year-old rider last year at the Pan American Games.
Today was the first day that she has asked her horses (she also produced a double clear in the CCI2* with Neaopolitan Holding Co. LLC’s Danio) to make the time but felt that Harbour Pilot answered all the questions.
“My goal was to go out and get a rhythm and not pick in front of the fences,” said Burnett. “William has a very lofty gallop, so I don’t feel like I’m going very fast but he’s solid in the reins and everything you look for in an event horse.”
Burnett began riding the gelding as a young horse and is thrilled with his progression over the years.
“He came through really well today. I was really impressed with how he really stepped up. Every time you move him up he just keeps answering the questions, which is pretty impressive.”
The pair will head into the show jumping with a rail in hand on a score of 43.
Maintaining her second place after the dressage was Marilyn Little (Frederick, MD) who expertly piloted Raylyn Farms’ seven-year-old Wurrtemberg gelding RF Smoke on the Water to a clear jumping round. The pair was the penultimate combination to go Saturday adding just 3.6 time faults to stand on a two-day score of 48.4.
“Going second-to-last the ground did get torn up but they did have plenty of purchase,” said Little, who also sits second in National Championship competition. “I think they (the horses) came out of this more confidently. It’s great at this time of year to have them challenged but confident.”
Little also is in fourth place with her first ride of the day Raylyn Farms’ RF Demeter on a score of 56.6.
Lying third in both the CCI3* and the National Title hunt is Phillip Dutton (West Grove, PA) with Team Rebecca LLC’s Fernhill Eagle. The five-time Olympian and Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team member heads into the show jumping on a score of 46.2 after producing a double clear round with the 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding. They rose from 11th place after the dressage.
USEF National Two-Star Eventing Championship
In the CCI2* four competitors produced double-clear rounds, with a total of 40 combinations adding no jumping penalties. A total of 61 set out on the 22 obstacle course with a time allowed of eight minutes and eleven seconds; two were eliminated and two more elected to retire. Only one combination chose to withdraw after the dressage.
Brannigan (West Grove, PA) and Nina Gardner’s seven-year-old Anglo-European gelding was the second pair of the day to produce a faultless round. The pair rose from equal fifth-place in the dressage by utilizing Indie’s natural speed.
“He moved up to Intermediate late last year. He felt more confident as the year went on,” said Brannigan. “He’s quite a quick horse so the time felt easy.”
Brannigan spent last week competing on the U.S. Nations Cup Team at the Military Boekelo CCIO3* with Gardner’s Cambalda thanks to a Land Rover Competition and Training Grant. She competed alongside Dutton, who also serves as her coach, at Boekelo and applied lessons learned in Holland this weekend.
“The last two weeks has been a huge education for me. Phillip said to me at Boekelo to ride like it was the last cross country course of my career,” said Brannigan. “Indie needs that ride as well. He needs a little more encouragement and that kind of ride.”
Brannigan heads into the show jumping on a score of 43.9.
In second place after the dressage are the Individual Gold medalists from the summer’s Adequan/FEI North American Junior & Young Rider Championships presented by Gotham North, Connor Husain and Piece of Hope. Husain (Great Falls, VA) and the 13-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding he owns in conjunction with his parents Leslie and Najaf Husain finished just two seconds over the time allowed adding .8 time faults to their dressage score.
Husain stood tied with Brannigan in fifth after the first phase.
“I really wanted this to be a good end to this season,” said the James Madison University student. “And it’s been great.”
Dutton also heads into the CCI2* show jumping in third place with Tom Tierney and Ann Jones’ Fernhill Fugitive. The 7-year-old Warmblood gelding added just two time faults to rise from seventh place, they have a two-day total of 46.2.
Sunday’s Horse Inspection will take place at 8am ET tomorrow and the CCI2* will jump first beginning at 10am.
For results, visit: http://www.evententries.com/livescoring/15135.html.
By Helen Murray
For more information about the Dansko Fair Hill International CCI, visit: http://www.fairhillinternational.com/.
Follow the 2012 Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team here.