The 2018 Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International (FHI) was buzzing with excitement Thursday as International competitors and young horses performed their dressage tests. By day's end Bobby Meyerhoff led the way in The Dutta Corp./USEF CCI2* Eventing National Championship with his own Almanac.
Meyerhoff piloted the 9-year-old Hanoverian straight to the top of the leaderboard on a score of 26.3. Nicknamed “Maniac” in the stables for his occasional erratic behavior, Almanac impressed the judges, and his rider, with his relaxation despite the blustery weather.
“I had a specific plan with him and he warmed up really well,” he said. “Yesterday he was a bit fresh and I had to ride him down a little bit and get him where I wanted him, but today was really nice. He went in and did his job. He got a little tense here and there but he was able to keep it under wraps and stay content.”
Looking ahead to Saturday’s cross country test, Meyerhoff expects a challenge from designer Derek di Grazia. “It’s a nice course. I think there a lot of challenges. Derek has done a great job designing it to look straight forward, nice and pleasant, but knowing his courses and terrain, that’s not always how it goes. I think it’s going to be a good test.”
Only one tenth of a point behind, Caroline Martin is hot on their heels with her own Cristano Z. The 9-year-old Zangersheide earned a score of 26.4. Third place belongs to Jenny Caras and Fernhill Trendy, a 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse, on 27.1 points.
Talented youngsters also began their competition Thursday in the dressage and conformation portions of the USEA Young Event Horse East Coast Championships. Courtney Cooper and Neal Camens’ R River Star took center stage in the 4-year-old division, and Tim Bourke’s Quality Obsession topped the 5-year-old class.
Quality Obsession, a Dutch Warmblood mare by Zambessi, scored a 24.19% (out of 30%), but the highlight was her dazzling conformation score of 8.95% (out of 10%), which was the best of the day.
“The goal of this competition is to show off a horse for the future, so that’s what we went for,” Bourke said. “It’s a real horse-probably one of the best ones I have. This one is pretty special-real brave, good jumper. I’ve taken my time with her more than any other horse that I’ve ever had.”
The judging panel of Sally Ike, Lucinda Green and Chris Ryan awarded R River Star, an Irish Sport Horse/Dutch Warmblood (Riverman x R Star), a score of 24.75% to lead the 4-year-old division with Cooper in the tack.
Dressage continues throughout the day today as Dutta FHI welcomes the CCI3* riders and the second half of the CCI2* class, while the young event horses perform a jumping evaluation in the Saw Mill Field to conclude their Championship. The thrilling cross country phase will be held tomorrow, Saturday, October 20, and the show jumping finale takes place on Sunday, October 21.
USEF Network will broadcast the CCI3* cross-country live tomorrow, Saturday, October 20. Live streaming information is available here.