Canada’s Jessica Phoenix and Watson GS currently 9th in CCI4*-L

Dressage took center stage on the blustery first day of The Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International Three-Day (FHI), with both FEI divisions and young horse classes kicking off the championship event. Will Coleman, of Charlottesville, Virginia, and Dondante (owned by Team Rebecca LLC and The Four-Star Eventing Group) sit atop the leaderboard in the CCI4*-L division after posting a 33.8. Lauren Kieffer and D.A. Duras (owned by the D.A. Duras Partnership) are close behind with a 35.4, while Alexandra Knowles and Katherine O’Brien’s Morswood round out the top three with a 36.3.

“He’s a greener horse. He’s a nine-year-old and this is his first long [format],” said Coleman of the Irish Sport Horse gelding, sired by Pacino. “The [windy] conditions were kind of challenging this afternoon and he’s a pretty spooky guy, so I’m proud of him. He’s not going to be mistaken for a dressage horse, but he tried very hard and I’m pleased with his improvement.”

“He’s got a lot of personality; he’s a hilarious horse,” added Coleman, who bought Dondante from Richard Sheane of Cooley Farm as a youngster and has produced him up the levels. “He’s huge, about 17.3! He wasn’t that when I got him. He grew a whole hand in the first year. He’s cool; he’s an honest horse. I can’t tell you how rewarding he’s been to train.”

By day’s end, two riders shared the top of the CCI3*-L leaderboard. Both Caitlin Silliman on Ally KGO (owned by Q-Brook Stables) and Holly Payne Caravella on CharmKing (owned by CharmKing LLC) earned a 29.8.

Payne Caravella, from Oldwick, New Jersey, was delighted with the 8-year-old Hosteiner gelding, sired by Cassito, who performed well during the gusty conditions. “I was concerned because he is a little noise-sensitive, and with the wind today I had taken him out for a gallop to take the edge off and he was actually a little too quiet in the ring. But I would rather have that any day than have him be explosive.”

Silliman was equally pleased with Ally KGO, an 8-year-old Trakehner mare by Hirtentanz *E* who competed in the YEH Championships at Fair Hill a few years ago. “She did both the four- and five-year-olds, so it gives you a bit of confidence when you go in the ring. She is quite a hot horse and with tough conditions today on a spooky, sharp one with the wind, the flags, the cross-country jumps, there was quite a bit of atmosphere in the ring. But she was a really good girl and was very focused and rideable today.”

After the first day of the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) East Coast Championships, presented by Dubarry of Ireland, Mike Pendleton leads the field in the five-year-old division with Butt’s Aria W (Nobre xx-Butt’s Grfin Avalon). The Hanoverian mare, owned by Brandy Randerman, earned a 24.59%. Joanie Morris rode The Admiral Partnership’s Thoroughbred gelding Betterthanexpected (Malibu Moon-The Best Day Ever) to a second-place finish for the day with 24.35. Erin Sylvester and Nicole Scherrer’s Thoroughbred mare Not Ours (Cherokee’s Boy-Ketubah) shares the third-place position with Andrea Davidson who rode Kathleen Cuca and Carl Segal’s Cerafino D.

In the four-year-old division, Maya Black partnered with Laurie Cameron’s Double Diamond C (Diacontinus-Lois Lane CBF) to top the class with a 24.87%. Payne Caravella and Mary Bancroft’s Dito 16 (Dr. Jackson D-Kassandra) are close behind with a 24.72% as is the third-placed Pendleton on Denise Lahey and Boyd Martin’s Esprit de Jaguar (Jaguar Mail-Rising Spirit) who sits on a 24.70%.

“He’s a complete joy to ride every day. He comes to work and he’s pretty focused on what you want to do for a 4 -year-old,” said Black, of the Hanoverian gelding.

Dressage continues Friday, October 18, as The Dutta Corp. FHI welcomes the second half of the CCI4*-L and CCI3*-L competitors, while the YEH horses perform a jumping evaluation in the Saw Mill Field to conclude their Championship. 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.