It was a West Coast invasion Friday at the 2018 Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International with Californians sweeping international and young horse divisions. Frankie Thieriot Stutes leads The Dutta Corp./USEF CCI3* Eventing National Championship and Heather Morris took over The Dutta Corp./USEF CCI2* Eventing National Championship.
Three-star winners once already this year, Thieriot Stutes and The Chatwin Group's Chatwin (Contendro I x Oktav), a 10-year-old Oldenburg gelding, topped Friday's leaderboard on a score of 27.3.
"I feel really lucky to ride Chat every day, and this division and the people I'm sitting next to are world-class so it feels amazing for this moment, but after I walk out of here I'm focused on tomorrow. Tomorrow is an entirely different day," said Thieriot Stutes.
After almost a decade since her last Fair Hill International appearance, Thieriot Stutes, who is an amateur rider herself, has her former Advanced horse Fric Frac Berence on her mind as she and Chatwin take on this weekend's challenge.
"I hope to have a little bit of Fric with me when I leave the box tomorrow," she said. "This is a different year, and a different horse, but I hope [Chatwin] takes care of me tomorrow as Fric would."
Canadian Jessica Phoenix piloted Pavarotti (Pavarotti van de Helle x Fidelia), a 16-year-old Westphalian gelding owned by Don Good, into second place on a mark of 28.7. A seasoned competitor with multiple Olympic and World Championship appearances, Phoenix anticipates a healthy challenge from course designer Derek di Grazia.
"The course looks awesome tomorrow. I think it starts beautifully, those first six fences, and then it starts really coming at you. It gets you in to a nice rhythm and then the questions start coming and they don't stop until you get to the finish," Phoenix explained.
Caroline Martin and her own Danger Mouse landed in third. Martin and the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Kannan, earned a 29 -- a personal best for this pair.
The CCI2* division welcomed a new leader on day two of the competition in Heather Morris and Charlie Tango (Shannondale Sarco x Our Queen Bee), a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse owned by The Team Express Group. Their morning result of 22.9 remained untouched throughout the afternoon.
"He [Charlie Tango] was a really good boy today," Morris said. "He's pretty good in the atmosphere. He really excels in the canter work and we had a little bobble in the trot work so I had to make sure the canter work was perfect."
U.S. Olympian Boyd Martin found himself in second place with Christine Turner's On Cue (Cabri D'elle x On High). The 12-year-old Ango European mare carries 23.7 points into Saturday's cross country phase.
Anna Loschiavo and Melanie Loschiavo's Spartacus Q (Soleil Q x Laura Q) peaked at precisely the perfect moment for third place in the two-star. The 9-year-old Hanoverian sits on a score of 25.8.
Competitors take on the thrilling cross-country phase Saturday, October 20, beginning at 9:15 a.m., and the show jumping finale will take place Sunday, October 21.
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The United States Eventing Association (USEA) has approved additional modifications to the qualification period for the 2020 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds. The AEC is scheduled to take place August 25-30, 2020 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, and the USEA is doing everything possible to ensure a safe and successful Championship, while also ensuring fair opportunities for all.
This article will be updated to include statements as they are released from upcoming USEA recognized events regarding actions they are taking due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).