Fair Hill, MD - October 18, 2015 - West Coast rider Tamra Smith of Murrieta, Calif. led the competition from the first day to the last, taking the CCI3* championship title on Mai Baum, owned by Alexandra Ahearn, at The Dutta Corporation Fair Hill International Eventing Championships on Sunday.
Olympic gold medalist Phillip Dutton of West Grove, Penn. and Mighty Nice were the Reserve Champions and Olympic silver medalist Kim Severson of Charlottesville, Va. and Cooley Cross Border were third.
"I was really proud of the ride and he jumped fantastic, he jumped his guts out," said Smith of the 9-year-old German Sport Horse gelding. "He's got everything, he's got the whole package and it's just an unbelievable feeling to be sitting on him. It's unreal and I'm blown away every time I ride him."
Smith came a long way for the victory, but she believes it was worth it.
"It seems like the East coast is a little bit not so friendly sometimes and it's definitely not the case at all. Everybody was phenomenal and they're just competitive. I have really enjoyed my stay and everybody's been absolutely gracious and wonderful to me."
Less than ten penalties separated the top four competitors. Riding in reverse order of merit, fourth place Severson and Cooley Cross Border, owned by the Cross Syndicate, were the first to go out of the four. They jumped a flawless round, finishing with a final score of 46.6.
"He seems to like Fair Hill. He's stepped up to the plate every time he's been here," said Severson. "Today he was pretty spectacular. He's just a lovely, lovely horse."
Boyd Martin of Cochranville, Penn. and Blackfoot Mystery came into the final phase in third place, but they had two expensive rails down for eight faults, dropping them down to sixth pace with 52.6 penalties. Martin also finished seventh on Cracker Jack with 54.2 and in 13th place on Welcome Shadow.
Dutton thought he had a rail down at the final combination on the Sally Ike-designed course, but the rub did not dislodge the rail. Dutton incurred only two time penalties on Mighty Nice with an overall score of 45.5.
He commented, "I probably had the luckiest round today. The show jumping has been a bit tough for us but anyway he left it up and I'm pleased for him," said Dutton. "He's a great horse and I'm lucky to have him."
Normally, the final rider would feel immense pressure with the championship title on the line, but not Smith. She and Mai Baum had a rail in hand, but they did not need the cushion as they jumped clear and picked up only two time penalties for an overall score of 40.5 penalties.
"I didn't really feel pressure about going last today," said Smith. "I've gotten a lot of experience going last on him and I'm really confident in his ability to jump clean. I just wanted to go in there and have a good round."
Smith and Mai Baum will be taking a host of awards back to California. As the overall winner, they receive the Fair Hill Bronze and The Dutta Corp presented Mai Baum with free plane travel to a European CCI*** event. As the winner of the USEF National CCI3* Championship, they were presented with the Guy V. Henry Memorial Trophy. Smith also received the Beale Wright Morris Memorial trophy awarded to the leading lady rider.
In the CCI2*, William Coleman III of Gordonsville, Va. and Tight Lines (pictured right), owned by the Conair Syndicate, took the championship title. Leading from beginning to end, the well-suited pair won on their dressage score of 42.5 penalties. Phillip Dutton and Z were Reserve Champions with a final score of 45.3. Matt Flynn of Reddick, FL and Get Lucky jumped up from eighth in dressage to finish third overall with 48.8 penalties.
"Anytime you win a three-day event I think it's a big deal, especially at the two-star level and up. This particular one has eluded me for a number of years. I've been second and fourth and third in the two-star and the three-star, but I've never won it. So personally it's an accomplishment," said Coleman.
The win is special not only for Coleman, but for the owners.
"For this group, they really have had to go through the ups and downs of being an event horse owner and had to endure arguably the worst of the downs," said Coleman of the owners. "They picked me up when I was down and helped us get back on our feet again and I'm thrilled for them. I hope it's a taste of what's to come."
Competition was fierce coming into the show jumping phase in the CCI2* as less than two rails separated the top five. Riders went in reverse order of merit and Flynn set the tone on Get Lucky going double clear. Doug Payne of Apex, N.C. and Lysander were fourth coming into the final day but had a rail down to drop two spots on 50.6 penalties. Allison Springer of Upperville, Va. and Cascani, owned by Mary Ann Ghadban, were next to go and had a rail down for four faults to end in fifth place on 50.1 penalties.
Phillip Dutton and Z, owned by Tom Tierney, Simon Roosevelt, Jacqueline Mars and Suzanne Lacy, went double clear to finish on their dressage score of 45.3 penalties, putting the pressure on overnight leader Coleman. Reserve Champion Dutton also received the Judy E. Thayer Memorial Trophy presented to the highest placed rider who currently resides in Chester County, Penn. His mount Z received the Jonathan R. Burton Trophy presented to the USEF Two-Star Young Horse Eventing National Championship for 6-7 year olds.
Coleman may have left all of the rails intact for his round, but he believed that it could have gone better.
"It probably wasn't the smoothest round I've ever had on him, but he left them up," said Coleman. "He tried really hard - I think he was a little bit nervous when he went in. It was probably the worst possible course for him. It was all left turns and long distances. He's hard to turn left for whatever reason. But he left them up, so how can I be unhappy?"
Coleman also won the Heartwood Perpetual Trophy presented to the overall winner of the CCI2* division and the USEF Combined Training Trophy given to the highest places U.S. rider. The Conair Syndicate was awarded the Sea Horse Farm Perpetual Trophy as the owner of Tight Lines, the winning horse in the CCI2*.
Canadian rider Waylon Roberts received the Palmaccio Trophy presented to the leading Foreign Rider award. Riding Bill Owen, owned by Kelly Plitz, Roberts jumped up from 11th in dressage to fourth overall, going clear in both cross country and show jumping to finish with a score of 49.8 penalties.
The Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International Festival in the Country benefits Union Hospital of Cecil County, in Elkton, MD. The hospital, whose mission is to enhance the health and well-being of the residents of Cecil County and its neighboring communities, has been caring for area families and neighbors for more than 100 years.
For more information on this year's Fair Hill, please call (410) 398-2111 or visit www.fairhillinternational.com.