At the end of a busy day wrapping up the dressage phase of The Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International Three-Day (FHI), two new riders took over the top of the leaderboards. Mara DePuy and Congo Brazzaville Z moved into first in The Dutta Corp./USEF CCI4*-L Eventing National Championship with their 28.6, while Alexa Gartenberg and Louis M claimed the pinnacle position in The Dutta Corp./USEF CCI3*-L Eventing National Championship on a 25.9.

“We both know each other pretty well,” said DePuy of the 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. The pair have picked up several top-10 placings this year, and though DePuy is well-known for her flatwork skills, she’s been working closely with renowned dressage trainer James Burtwell. “We’re just starting to get better, but it takes awhile.”

DePuy, who resides in Round Hill, Virginia, represented the U.S. team at the 1996 Olympic Games and the 2007 Pan American Games, and sees true potential with Congo, whom she’s partnered with since he was a 6-year-old. “He’s a horse that’s brought me back to the top level again. I thought I was ready to give up at the top level and Congo is a pretty special horse and fun to ride, so we’re going to keep going.”

Phillip Dutton, another U.S. team member and past Fair Hill champion, slid into second place with Z, his 2018 World Equestrian Games partner. “I was really pleased with how he went. He kept the lid on things,” said Dutton after his test on the 11-year-old Hanoverian-cross gelding, owned by the Z Partnership. Dutton, who’s based out of West Grove, Pennsylvania, has won this division four times since 1996.

After picking up back-to-back wins this fall at Plantation Field CCI4*-S and Morven Park CCI4*-S, Colleen Rutledge and her homebred Covert Rights once again found themselves back in the limelight, as they sit in third place on a 30.7 heading into Saturday’s cross-country phase. The 13-year-old Thoroughbred-cross has had success at the CCI5* level, and Rutledge was glad to have her long-time partner coming back to the top of his game after overcoming frustrating injuries over the past few years. “Horses are horses,” said Rutledge. “There are always ups and downs. I’m just so pleased he’s come back as well as he has. I have fun on him every day.”

In the CCI3*-L, sophomore college student Gartenberg, of Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, took over the lead with Louis M, a 14-year-old veteran she bought last year to gain miles at the top levels. “This year has been about getting me more experience at the three-star short level. This is my first three-star long, so I’m really happy to have him show me the ropes. He was perfect today. He comes out every day in a suit and tie ready to work so he’s really taught the proper way of riding dressage.”

Twenty-three-year-old rising star Woods Baughman holds onto the runner-up position aboard C’est La Vie 135 after finishing their day with a 27.6. “He’s just so much fun,” said Baughman, who works as five-star eventer Sharon White’s assistant trainer. “You can just sit there and ask and he gives you what he’s got. Just enjoy it.”

Rounding out the top three in the CCI3*-L is Canadian Olympian Colleen Loach and Vermont, a 7-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Peter Barry. “He can be very emotional, so I was happy with the way he held himself together. He kept his composure and allowed me to ride him. So, I was pretty happy with the results considering the weather,” said Loach, who earned a 28.6 during the blustery conditions on Friday afternoon. “Our partnership has steadily grown. He trusts me now and I think that’s a big deal for him. He’s a bit insecure at times and when he trusts his rider, he’s impressive.”

The USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) East Coast Championships, presented by Dubarry of Ireland, wrapped up their competition with the jumping phases. Sixty-three horses competed throughout the week, making it the largest finals in the program’s history.

Courtney Cooper, who won the four-year-old championship last year, reclaimed her title with the Dare to Dream Team’s Excel Star Time to Shine (Luidam-Lismore Bella) after earning a total score of 91.30. “He’s a real horse for the future, and we are excited about him,” said Cooper of the Irish Sport Horse gelding she imported. “He has tons of scope. He’s a big, leggy, rangy, good-looking horse and he’s built well. There wasn’t anything not to like.”

Maya Black and Laurie Cameron’s Hanoverian gelding Double Diamond C (Diacontinus-Lois Lane CBF) finished their weekend as Reserve Champions in the class after earning an 88.22. “He was really super. He went out there and did what I expected him to do–jumped around and was very professional and rideable. He is one of those horses that doesn’t over exude himself too much. He jumps well but I think he’ll be one in a few years when the jumps get bigger, he will be even more impressive.”

Doug Payne and Jane Dudinsky’s Holsteiner mare Hannah Moor (Mr Wizard-Rainshadow) finished their weekend in third place with a score of 87.43.

In the five-year-old division, Jennie Brannigan guided Alyssa Phillips’ FE Celestino (Ce-Martin – Antigone). “I feel very lucky to be able to compete him this weekend. He really is a lovely horse,” said Brannigan of the Mecklenberg gelding. “It was a big ask to do this and I was very impressed on how he handled [the atmosphere] this week.”

Erin Sylvester rode Nicole Scherrer’s Thoroughbred gelding Not Ours (Cherokee’s Boy-Ketubah) to the Reserve Championship. “I’m excited to see what she does after this (FHI),” said Sylvester of the talented mare who the owner rescued from a kill pen as a youngster. “She hasn’t been to that many other shows with this much atmosphere. It’s the best she’s ever been at a show.”

Joanie Morris and The Admiral Partnership’s Betterthanexpected, a Thoroughbred gelding by Malibu Moon whom she owns with family and friends, took third on a score of 88.4. “He’s a funny horse–very quiet for a Thoroughbred,” said Morris. “He was just awesome-a total pro.”
The exciting cross-country phase will be held Saturday, October 19, and the show jumping finale is on Sunday, October 20.

Live scores for the FEI divisions can be found here.

USEF Network will broadcast the CCI4*-L division throughout the week. Live streaming information is available at this link.