The final phase of the FEI CIC 3* proved no match for Phillip Dutton (USA) and Z, as the pair maintained their lead following yesterday's cross-country phase to finish competition in top form at The Fork at TIEC Presented by Lucky Clays Farm and FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 (WEG) Eventing Test Event at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC). The winning pair finished on a score of 28, ahead of Kim Severson (USA) aboard Cooley Cross Border who secured a final score of 32.10, followed by Sharon White (USA), piloting Cooley On Show, to collect third place after the three phases and finishing on a 32.90.
"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."
Dutton competed two other horses throughout the weekend in the FEI CIC 3* division, but it was the 2008 Zangersheide gelding (Asca x Bellabouche) owned by T. Tierney, S. Roosevelt, S. Lacy, A. Jones, and C. Moran who ultimately ended the competition in the winner's circle. "Coming here is great experience for him," Dutton explained. "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."
Second place finisher Kim Severson, of Charlottesville, VA, went into Sunday's show jumping phase just trailing the top four, but rocketed to second place standing after a clean round on Cooley Cross Border.
Severson's run on cross-country impacted the duo's score slightly, but proved to help their standings after moving back to second place following their show jumping round, a position they held following the first phase of dressage. "He was good yesterday," she noted of the Cross Syndicate owned 2007 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Diamond Roller x Whos Diaz). "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."
The week served as a WEG Test Event and riders caught a glimpse of what is to come this September. Dutton, who has competed successfully at six WEGs, is eyeing a spot on the United States Eventing Team in five short months. He concluded, "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. 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."