By Marcella Peyre-Ferry
Plantation Field International Horse Trials drew the best horses and riders in the country to Unionville, PA to compete in one, two, and three star CCI competition Sept 18 –20. This was the second year the event hosted the FEI level classes alongside the intermediate, preliminary and advanced horse trials. Adding to the drawing power of the event was $15,000 in prize money supported by PRO (Professional Riders Organization).
Plantation Field takes advantage of a picturesque setting in the rolling hills of Chester County's hunt country. The ruins of a stone bank barn have been artfully incorporated into one of the cross-country jumping complexes, where the remains of the barnyard provide part of the jump elements.
Chester County is home to many of the nations' top eventers, and the top award of the weekend did not have far to travel home, with the victory in the three-star going to Phillip Dutton of nearby West Grove, PA. Dutton was kept very busy all weekend, riding four horses in the three-star and finishing first, third and sixth on Inmidair, Waterfront, and Che Italica, respectively. He also won the Open Preliminary Sect. A Horse Trial on Young Man.
In the three-star, Inmidair was fifth after dressage, but Dutton showed how well he and his horses could handle a cross-country course. Three of his horses had clear rounds with no time faults. Inmidair moved up to first, Waterfront jumped from tenth to fourth, and Che Italica jumped from 17th to tenth.
Dutton's fourth ride in the three star, Kheops Du Quesnay, was well back in 32nd after dressage, but managed to move up to 24th on a clean cross country but with 6.8 time faults.
Dutton finished up with double clear rounds on all four horses on the stadium course, while other riders had trouble with knockdowns. As the others slipped back on faults, Dutton's horses were moved steadily upward to end with three of the top six places.
Going into the stadium course with a lead is no guarantee of a win even if you jump clean. Kim Severson had a fine dressage round in the one-star on Fantasy Impromptu, and followed by going clean in time on cross-country. With a score of 48.3 after two days, she had hold of first place by almost two points going into stadium, where she jumped clean, but cautiously, adding 5 time faults to her total. That opened the door for Rebecca Coffin-Vickery on Wizekrack, Boyd Martin on Minotaure du Passoir, and Caroline Fenkel on Dubya D Forty, who all had double clear rounds that moved them ahead of Severson, who ultimately finished fourth.
In the two-star, former UK Olympian Leslie Law won handily on Java. Law and Java were second after dressage, and stayed on a score of 47.50 by going clear cross country to take over the lead, followed by Lauren Kieffer on Ultra Tim at 53.80. Double clear rounds on stadium by the top five horses kept their standings intact. Local rider Courtney Cooper of Nottingham, PA also had a double clear on stadium, moving her up two places, to finish in sixth.
In the two day horse trials, father and son finished first and second in advanced, where Bruce Davidson on Jam won by a margin of just one point over second place Buck Davidson on Titanium.
Other Horse Trials winners for the weekend included Susie Beale on Isabella II in Open Intermediate A; Lauren Kieffer on Snooze Alarm in Open Intermediate B; Maya Studenman on Don Juanito in Open Preliminary B; Laura Roberts on Galway's Blazer in Young Rider Open Intermediate, and Emily Ban Gemeren riding Orange in Young Rider Open Preliminary.