Phillip Dutton and Mighty Nice jump to victory in the Adequan USEA Gold Cup & PRO Tour CIC3* at Red Hills.
Phillip Dutton kept his crown as the king of Red Hills with another win in the Adequan USEA Gold Cup & PRO Tour Series CIC3* after an exciting cross-country finish. Last year Phillip drove home from Red Hills in a brand new Mercedes thanks to his win aboard Jim and Arden Wildasin’s Mystery Whisper. This year he gets to trade the car in for another new one after winning today’s competition with Bruce Duchossois’ Mighty Nice, a 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (ARD Ohio x Sarazen). Phillip and ‘Happy’ are no strangers to the Tallahassee, Florida event having won the CIC2* in 2011 as well.
“I know Mighty Nice very well, but to tell you the truth a horse like Mystery Whisper is much more suited to a course like this then Mighty Nice,” said Phillip. “I didn’t actually set out thinking I was going to win although I did have it in the back of my mind when Marilyn had some time on [RF Smoke on the Water] I knew that I could win.”
Phillip finished the Hugh Lochore-designed course in six minutes and 34 seconds, eight seconds over the time allowed. Luckily the 3.2 penalties added to his dressage mark of 43 weren’t too many to grab the top spot as overnight leader, Marilyn Little garnered six penalties with RF Smoke on the Water to drop down to a score of 50.7.
“He can get pretty strong,” said Phillip, “so I thought I would set out quick-ish and then if everything was going all right I would keep going like that. It wasn’t a perfect round, but I don’t think it was a crazy round for him either.”
“He is a pretty cool horse. He is so confident in himself, bordering on being arrogant on the cross-country. He has a great sense of what he can do, and he is a huge horse, but very, very clever. He can pat the ground very easily and sort of grows an extra leg if I misjudge things a bit.”
Mighty Nice heads to The Fork H.T. in North Carolina next, and Phillip assures that he will have a nice quiet round there before heading to Kentucky. For his win in the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Division, Phillip takes home $500 in prize money, a 7-dose Adequan Gift Certificate, $350 in Nunn Finer Products, a $200 Point Two Certificate, a SmartPak Wellfleet Bridle, and a pair of FITS Breeches.
Marilyn Little headed into today’s finale of cross-country sitting in the top two spots, but time proved tough to make and cost her the win with Phoebe and Ray Manders’ RF Smoke on the Water, while a run-in with a tree aboard RF Demeter dropped them out of contention.
“Red Hills is notoriously hard to make the time on,” said Marilyn. “And I was a little bit behind coming up to the first water. I went to make it up a bit on the backside and he didn’t feel quite like himself, so I gave him a pat and said take a minute on the way to the steeplechase, so I couldn’t take advantage of that.”
“I was really pleased with the way that he went; I wish the result had been better, but it is what it is and I am really pleased with the horse.”
According to Marilyn, RF Demeter felt great on the first part of the course, but landed from fence six and locked onto a tree in her path. Despite Marilyn’s best efforts Demeter was determined to head towards the tree, and she tripped over the landscaping and sent Marilyn flying into the tree. Luckily both walked away unharmed from their foray into “Tree-Day Eventing.”
Rounding out the top three was the final pair of the CIC3*, Buck Davidson with Carl and Cassandra Segal’s Ballynoe Castle RM. When they left the start box, Buck and ‘Reggie’ still had a chance to win the division if they went clear inside the time. It wasn’t meant to be though and the pair earned 4.8 time penalties to settle for the yellow ribbon.
“I made so many mistakes throughout this event this weekend, I can’t even believe it,” said Buck. “I was on the best horse, and I didn’t do what I was supposed to do.”
“I think it was an exciting day for the crowd, with Reggie having a chance to win and being the last horse to go. I know the Segals loved it. I tried, but he obviously isn’t a Thoroughbred horse and isn’t the fastest horse, but he is honest as they come. I always feel that he is the best horse every single weekend, so I always feel like I let him down, but I got beat by two really good riders and two really good horses and you can’t win them all. I am very proud of Reggie and the other two that I rode.”
The only rider to make it home inside the time on the CIC3* course was Canadian, Selena O’Hanlon, who did so on two of her three mounts, A First Romance and Foxwood High.
The 33 horses and riders who completed the CIC3* are now qualified for the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Final at the Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships in Tyler, Texas.
The CIC2* also concluded today with the cross-country phase and time proved a bit easier to make as the top three pairs all crossed the finish line without any additional penalties. Jennie Brannigan, who also finished fourth in the CIC3*, rode Nina Gardner’s Indie to the win after overnight leader, Clayton Fredericks took a ducking in the Appalachia Water complex.
“I didn’t even look at my watch until I was crossing the finish line,” said Jennie. “And then I was like oh my god I made time at Red Hills. I had no idea.”
Jennie gave a lot of praise to her coach and boss Phillip Dutton and was thrilled with the successful finishes for both her horses and his. Both of the Gardners’ horses are aiming for spring three-days with Indie headed to Bromont CCI2* and Cambalda to the Rolex Kentucky CCI4*.
Marilyn continued her successful streak in the CIC2* by finishing second and third on Raylan Farms’ duo of 8-year-old mares, RF Azarah and RF Black Pearl. RF Azarah finished on her dressage score of 56.4 while RF Black Pearl added only a rail down yesterday – an impressive feat, considering Marilyn only rode the horse for the first time last week and had never jumped a cross-country fence with her before.
Julie Richards won the CIC* with Linda Crabtree’s Hanoverian stallion, San City, while Kyle Carter and Elizabeth New rounded out the top three with their mounts, FR’s Trust Fund and Uppercrust D.
The Advanced, Intermediate, and Preliminary divisions conclude with show jumping tomorrow to finish out another great year at Red Hills Horse Trials.
Authored By: Leslie Mintz
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