The Dutta Corp/USEF CCI 4*-L Eventing National Championship podium has rearranged after Cross-Country, with the same trio of horse-and-rider pairs holding onto top three spots ahead of jumping competition on Sunday. Woods Baughman (USA) and C’est La Vie are the new pair to beat, adding nothing to their Dressage score after blazing around the Cross-Country course in nine minutes and 36 seconds. Will Coleman (USA) and Chin Tonic HS added 7.6 time penalties to their 26 for a total score of 33.6 for the 2012 Holsteiner gelding (Chin Champ x Wilderra) owned by Hyperion Stud LLC, while Sharon White (USA) and Claus 63, her own 2012 Holsteiner gelding (Catoo x Levisto), sit at 35.9 points for third place after adding six time penalties to their score.
Baughman and the 2008 Hanoverian gelding (Contendro I x Aarking xx) owned in partnership with James Baughman Jr. and Kim Baughman were the solo pair to navigate the Captain Mark Phillips (GBR) course design without time faults. Jumping clear was an accomplishment that only nine entries managed, with five horses picking up 20 penalties and seven competitors failing to complete the course. In short: competition was stiff, and Baughman arrived at the base of the infamous hill with four jumps to conquer and an unsure sense of his time, he reported.
“He was fantastic. I mean, he’s a total powerhouse on course. I set him up for the important combinations, and everywhere else, I just let him run. And then we got to the end of the course, we had that big hill and I wasn’t exactly sure of my time, because I had that hold on course.” Baughman chose to see what his ride had left in the tank as they powered up the hill for the last few obstacles, and “as I headed to the hill, I decided not to take any chances, and I just dropped the reins and let him run.”
Baughman and C’est La Vie have been in almost this exact scenario before heading into Show Jumping in Tryon Stadium, which Baughman thinks bodes well for their round – as long as C’est La Vie remains relaxed.
“He’s a pretty solid jumper, so that always helps you feel a little bit more comfortable. It gives us a bit of confidence knowing how he’ll react to that big ring. And the real plan is just to help him stay relaxed and easygoing into tomorrow because he can get pretty uptight pretty fast. And then,” Baughman explained, “he stops his back and can have one behind. It’s just [a matter of] keeping him relaxed through the night and happy in the morning, and we’ll give it our best shot tomorrow.”
For Baughman, the biggest difference between this year’s 4*-L championship contest and last year’s was the orientation of the Cross-Country course, which started at the top of the hill in 2020. “It was definitely interesting doing the course the other way around this year,” he concluded. “It had a much different feel than last year, because the hill going down in the beginning kind of set the pace early.” The route had a completely different feeling when topographically reversed, he revealed. “This year, knowing that it was kind of lurking over you the whole way around the course, that you’re gonna have to run [up it] at the end, really, you had to be ready, and a bit ahead of your markers with enough force to actually keep coming. It was a completely different style.”
Sitting on a score of 29.2 after posting a double-clear Show Jumping round in Tryon Stadium, Phillip Dutton (USA) and Z hope to keep their Dressage score for the win in CCI 4*-S competition at the Dutta Corp Tryon International Three-Day Event. In the duo’s first competition outing since Tokyo, Dutton and the 2008 Zangersheide gelding (Asca x Babouche VH Gehucht Z) owned by Evie Dutton, Ann Jones, Suzanne Lacy, Caroline Morgan, Simon Roosevelt, and Thomas Tierney are feeling happy to be back to competition. Colleen Rutledge (USA) and Covert Rights, the 2006 Thoroughbred cross gelding (BFF Incognito x Covert Operation) owned in partnership with FSG Inc., have moved up into the reserve slot after posting a double-clear to keep their score of 31.4. Lynn Symansky remains on the podium with RF Cool Play, dropping one rail to sit on a score of 32.2 with the 2008 German Warmblood gelding (Condors Champion x Radscha) owned by the Donner Syndicate, LLC.
Dutton noted that not only was it Z’s first time competing since Tokyo, but his first time off the farm at all since arriving home:
“I’m really pleased with him. It’s his first run back since Tokyo, and it’s actually his first time off the farm since Tokyo, so I wasn’t quite sure how it was going to be. He was pretty relaxed yesterday, and I just sort of opted for a quiet and easy test. I thought he should jump pretty well today, so I was very pleased with him.”
A familiar face at Eventing competitions of all levels at TIEC, Dutton chose to bring Z to the venue for a tune up run at a venue that was familiar and would provide a good experience for his “special horse,” providing Dutton a chance to check in with himself as well. “It’s always good to have him with me. Honestly, since Tokyo was in early August, I felt it was a good thing for him to get back into proper work. It’s also good for me in my training to have some goals! We’re not too far off of it, and I think it’s been a good exercise to bring him here and finish the year off.”
Buck Davidson Jr. (USA) had four faults on course with DHI Showman, the 2014 Selle Francais gelding (Elvis Ter Putte x Vigo D’Arsouilles) owned by Sami Crandell, to lose his first-phase lead, but still sits in third place with a score of 30.1 to keep a podium spot and within a rail’s reach of Dan Kreitl (USA), who now holds the top position with Carmango after maintaining their Dressage score of 27.5. Ariel Grald (USA) and Forrest Gump 124, the 2011 Hanoverian gelding (Fuerst Nymphenburg x Amerigo Vespucci XX) owned by Anne Eldridge, also added nothing to their total to walk into Tryon Stadium on their Dressage score of 27.7.
Kreitl and the 2013 Westphalian gelding (Chirivell x Templer GL XX) owned by Kay Dixon went double-clear after a less-than-best Dressage test, and Kreitl, under the guidance of coach Sharon White, contested his first-ever long-format Cross-Country tracks.
“It was a super fun day. I’ve never done a long – a two or a three-star long – so I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, going the extra minutes, and this place has a brutal hill at the end. But both horses felt great, and it was a really fun course,” he recapped. “I’m super proud of the horses; they felt really good throughout the whole course and tried really hard.”
Kreitl just took up the reins again in September from Sharon White, who was keeping Kreitl’s horses in competition shape while he dealt with “one of those curveballs thrown at us in life that we didn’t anticipate,” he shared. In reality, it was a few curveballs: “My wife was perfectly healthy. Then, they found out she had stage four cancer, and then our baby was born prematurely. So, it was a pretty rough summer and the horses actually spent pretty much the whole summer with Sharon, and I would just fly in to compete with them.”
The ability to continue competing is a privilege that Kreitl takes seriously, thanks to the support of his family around him, he emphasized. “I brought them back to Indiana in September, once my wife was doing a little bit better and got through her surgery, and the baby was home from the hospital. She’s just started chemo, and my family and our support team at home has been awesome – both of our families. When I’m gone, they step in.
“It definitely takes a village in our case, to make it work. I’m really thankful for my family and my wife; I mean, they’re not horse people at all and think we’re all crazy as eventers,” Kreitl laughed. “So, it’s nice to have them behind us totally. Obviously, my wife and family come first, but when we have the pieces in place, they’re totally happy for me to get to go out and pursue a goal.”
Though 78 entries stepped into the starting box to challenge Captain Mark Phillips’ (GBR) course design for the CCI 2*-L division, it was Tik Maynard’s (CAN) and Galileo’s lead from the moment they crossed the finish line adding nothing to their 21.4 from Dressage. Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp (USA) and Quite Nice 11, the 2011 Holsteiner gelding (Quadros 3 x Caretino 2) owned by Emilie Mudd, also produced a double clear to maintain their 24.7-point reserve placing. Skyler Decker (USA) and Cooley Monsoon, her own 2008 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Ramiro B x Krakatan), hold third place on a score of 27.7, improving from fourth place after Dressage.
The CCI 2*-L time allowed was markedly easier to make than the CCI 4*-L marker, by comparison, but no amount of clear and double-clear rounds could shake Maynard’s already venue-wide leading score. The pressure is now on Maynard to keep his 3.3 point lead over the Chris Barnard (USA) Show Jumping phase in Tryon Stadium on Sunday.
Maynard and the 2011 Dutch Warmblood gelding (San Remo x Rousseau) owned by Richard Maynard have been focusing specifically on the Dressage phase, he shared, but Galileo was originally sourced as a Jumping mount:
“He’s a pretty nice moving horse. My dad got him as a jumping horse, but he came from a Dressage background.” After COVID-19 forced Maynard’s dad to remain in Canada for a while, the horse passed to Tik and they started fine-tuning their dancing shoes. “He’s always been capable of getting these scores, but it’s just a matter of being good enough to ride him. I’ve been working a lot on Dressage, and lately I’ve been working with Karen O’Connor, who’s been really helpful for me figuring out how to ride him.”
On Cross-Country, Maynard found the courses “big, and galloping. Both my horses were a little tired coming up the hill at the end, with that big hill right at the end. But both horses jumped everything fantastic, and just got a little tired. I hope they’ve got enough left in the tank for tomorrow!”
With Galileo, Maynard hopes to avoid a repeat of 2020’s heartbreaking last rail. “I was in a very similar position last year in the 2*-L, and I had the last rail down. If I hadn’t, I would have won it. I’m hoping that I can stop history from repeating itself and I can keep them all up!” Halliday-Sharp, who won over Maynard in 2020, is “hot on my tail,” Maynard mentioned. “I think Liz is currently second and fourth in my division, so hot on my tail there. The goal is to try to jump clear!”
“We’ve got the whole team here: my wife is here, my three-year-old son, and my mother, and Sinead’s mom is here. We have Kat, a great girl helping us, so we have a great team here this weekend. It’s been really fun, almost like a little vacation. We’re all staying in a house together on the showgrounds, so it’s been pretty fun.” Maynard and family enjoy the resort and competition aspects of the venue, from the weather to the amenities and beyond. “We love coming here, and the setting is beautiful with the hills, and walking along the creek to the warm up. The weather’s been great. It’s been a little chilly, but I don’t mind that, so I’m happy to have a little cooler weather. So, it’s been really fun.”
The Adequan® CCI 1*-L Division saw a speedy clear from Chloe Johnson (USA) and Chilli Bean to keep their lead after Cross-Country, holding a score of 26.3 ahead of Show Jumping competition. Just a point behind, Boyd Martin (USA) and Gestalt, the 2012 Mecklenburger gelding (Gloriosus 1 x Colander 2) owned by Sherry Pound, still sit in second place with a 27.3, and Crockett Miller (USA) improved to third with Mr. Panda, her own 2013 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Abbeyfield Comet x Nigrasine), double clear for a score of 28.3.
Johnson and her own 2011 New Zealand Sport Horse mare (Chilli Morning x Steal the Show) have “just really clicked” in the last month, she relayed. “I came out of the [Dressage] ring knowing that it was just the best test we had put down, I think ever. She really perked up right before we went in, and I just knew it was going to be a great ride. She was super responsive, and super kind. She’s just such an amazing horse.”
The great feeling continued into the next phase, Johnson recalled. “Cross-country today was absolutely perfect. She was super brave at everything, and didn’t hesitate. She came off the course feeling like she wanted to run it again! She was just absolutely amazing.”
Johnson gained the ride on Chilli last October from Joe Meyer, whose mom Gay bred the talented mare. “I’m so thankful to them for giving me the opportunity to ride her. She’s absolutely amazing,” Johnson reiterated. “She’s been running the Prelim really consistently. We just had a bit of a bobble at her last 2*-L, so we wanted to take a step down and get a positive experience. So, we’re hoping to get some good two-stars in the spring and then probably move up to Intermediate next summer or fall.”
Johnson, who rides for Area Five, is part of the Adequan®/USEF Eventing Youth Team Challenge East Coast Finals competition, joining forces with athletes from Areas Three and Seven to form her team. “I just love being on such a great team with such awesome nice people. It’s been amazing being here with the Area Five team. Everyone’s so friendly in the barns, and has been so willing to help out.”
Johnson gives the most credit to the people surrounding the young riders and supporting their successes. “Our team coordinator [Stephanie Rhymers] has been incredible. She’s been managing all of us so well. She’s been introducing us to a lot of new people, so we’ve been making new friends, and my trainer, Rebecca Brown, the Area Five trainer, is just putting so much effort into getting us all around and helping get us all where we need to be, and taking care of all of us.”
Though she last competed at the venue in 2016 and 2017 for the American Eventing Championships, Johnson concluded that the feeling of competing at Tryon is always special no matter the event: “It’s just such a wonderful experience to be at a big venue. It’s just the atmosphere. It’s so welcoming, yet you know you’re in something big. It’s nice having all these shops and all these restaurants so close, too. And, the footing and all of the arenas are absolutely incredible!”
How to Watch
Tune in to the live stream from The Dutta Corp Tryon International Three-Day Event on USEF Network now through Sunday, Nov. 14.
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