TRYON, N.C.--With a fence in hand, Phillip Dutton of West Grove, Pa., on Z jumped clean on April 8 to keep the lead they had earned on cross country day to win The Fork at Tryon International Equestrian Center, which was also the World Equestrian Games Eventing Test Event.
Dutton finished on a score of 28, ahead of Kim Severson on Cooley Cross Border with a final score of 32.10, followed by third placed Sharon White on Cooley On Show, who finished on 32.90.
Dutton also placed fifth on I'm Sew Ready.
After the cross country, he had been first on Z, third on I'm Sew Ready and fourth on Fernhill Cubalawn, but I'm Sew Ready had a fence down in Stadium Jumping to drop to fifth, and Fernhill Cubalawn was withdrawn before the horse inspection Sunday morning.
With clean jumping rounds Sunday, Severson moved up to second from fifth after cross country, White moved up from seventh and Marilyn Little on RF Scandalous moved up from eighth to fourth.
Jordan Linstedt on Revitavet Capato had been second after cross country but had five fences down plus four time faults on Sunday to drop to 22nd.
"You never quite know how tight the time is going to be," said Dutton of the show-jumping course. "It's an advantage going at the end and realizing the lines you have to take to shave the time. My guy is not at his best if I open him up too much toward the jump, so I had to cut the turns, shorten him at the jumps, and rock him back just a bit. Everybody said they were worried that I wasn't going to make the time, but here we are."
"COMING HERE is great experience for him," Dutton said of Z, who is owned by T. Tierney, S. Roosevelt, S. Lacy, A. Jones, and C. Moran. "He's an up-and-coming horse and I'm trying to help him understand what to do in every phase, as that's my job to educate him. The cool part of it for me is seeing him produced. Getting to this level and then hopefully the next level, and being confident and having enough skills that he's going to be able to succeed."
After the cross country, Dutton described his rides.
"The goal was to step things up a bit from what I've been doing as far as speed goes," said Dutton of his ride on Z.. "I thought the course in general rode well. It's golf course terrain, so you're working all of the time with your lines and the different elements of up and down."
"I've always known he was a freak!" said Dutton. "He just loves to jump. He's only getting better and better. It's kind of fun to be a part of his (hopefully) long career."
"He's point and shoot, and he's just as good as my other horses," said Dutton. "We've had one fall in which he over jumped in the water a few years ago, so we've learned from that. He's not a horse that I want to ride aggressively all of the time, since he trusts me and if I say 'really go,' he really goes. I just have to make sure I don't override him."
Dutton plans to run the gelding one more time at Fair Hill International on April 14,15, in a combined training outing before heading to the Land Rover Kentucky Three Day Event at the end of April, where the horse will contest his first FEI CCI 4* event.
"He's on target," stated Dutton. "I was pleased with the way he settled yesterday because the weakest part is the tension with him, so that was kind of a load off of my mind. We'll run him next weekend to just get him in the ring one more time, but you never know if you have a four star horse until you run a four star course."
I'm Sew Ready galloped around the cross-country phase with ease.
"He can get strong before the fences, but it was a good run for him," said Dutton. "I've still got him to go a bit faster, he's not naturally that fast. This is his last run before Kentucky, so I'm pleased with him."
Durron has several strong prospects as potential selections come September, but Dutton hasn't decided who he thinks will come out on top during the process.
"I think that the horses usually work it out for you," he said. "I will just try to get the best out of all of them and see where it ends up."
SEVERSON, of Charlottesville, Va., was second after dressage, dropped to fifth after cross country and moved back into second with a clean round Sunday.
"He was good yesterday," Severson said of Cooley Cross Border. who is owned by the Cross Syndicate. "He started out jumping pretty high, and I was a little careful because I just wanted to make sure that I gave him a good ride. After the water he really picked up and got faster. I didn't give him the greatest ride into that first set of corners. That stride going in makes that two really long, but he fought for it and he was really good. Down there on cross-country, he's so much fun. You can just gallop, and he'll do it if he can do it. He's such a nice horse."
White of Summit Point, W. Va., on her own Cooley On Show climbed from 11th to third by the end of the weekend.
"He's a fabulous horse, and he's strong in all phases," said White. "He's definitely getting better. He loves the sport, and he loves competing, so he's definitely a good competitor no matter what. My job was to not get in the way and let him be who he wants to be. He really enjoys all three phases. His dressage is getting stronger, cross-country is fun with him. He's got such a big stride and a lot of scope."
"With the show jumping, I thought it was really interesting that the time was so tight and scores were tight," said White. That was a bit of a challenge and we just wanted to see if we could do it."
The week served as a WEG Test Event. and riders caught a glimpse of what is to come this September.
"I think that it showed (Saturday) with even a straightforward course that the time is hard to make, and that's going to only be the first seven minutes," said Dutton, who is currently ranked fourth on the FEI World Eventing Athlete Rankings. "The horse needs to be fit and rideable. You want to ride through this terrain and not have to always be shortening up, so you want a nice, balanced, rideable horse. It's going to be a good test."
"I certainly think that there's a home field advantage having the Games here, and for us to be here and know the venue and get comfortable with it," said Dutton. "There are some disadvantages with having the Games at home, with distractions and what else, so we might as well make the most of being able to get use out of this venue ahead of time and feel comfortable when the team gets here for September."
In the Advanced-A Division, Lynn Symansky of Middleburg, Va., and Under Suspection returnED to the top as the weekend came to a close, jumping out of second place to finish on a score of 37.50, with Leslie Law of Ocala, Fla., second on Voltaire de Tre, scoring 38.60. Symansky also was third with 44.60 aboard Donner.
Lauren Kieffer of Middleburg, Va.,, and Veronica won the Advanced-B Division, finishing their final show jumping phase on a score of 36.90.
Law and The Apprentice were second after finishing with 47 penalties, and in third was Boyd Martin of Cochranville, Pa.,, with Steady Eddie, on 47.10.