Friday, October 18, 2013

Reflections from Winners Past

It's our 25th Anniversary this year, and to celebrate we've organized lots of fun special touches at The Dutta Corp Fair Hill International (incidentally, it's also Dutta's 25th anniversary!).  From our special logo, to the FHI museum, to great photos of past winners in the program, to our awesome Welcome Party last night in the Fair Hill Club tent, we've got lots of way for you to help us celebrate.

Andrea took some photos from the Welcome Party last night, which I will pepper in here and try to make some sense of for you.  And Chelsea Vecciarelli gathered lots of great insights from past riders and owners, which I will share with you here.
Full house at last night's party!

Ann Jones (Owner - The Foreman)

Winner 2004 and 2007
Ridden by Phillip Dutton
1. The Foreman doesn’t have any special breeding. He came from Charles Town racetrack. He is a little horse with a big heart, although, he is a little quirky and a bit of a lunatic. He won’t retire or fox hunt–he totally blew up and wouldn’t deal with it. Today, my 19 year-old granddaughter is riding him and, well, they are about the same age.  He's 19, I believe. And he seems to know the difference between Phillip riding him and my granddaughter. He takes care of her.
2. Regarding Fair Hill International:  It’s a great venue and I’ve enjoyed being involved over the years. I also have horse going this year. I'm looking forward to the event.

Jimmy Wofford says a few words

Phillip Dutton
4 wins - 2 on The Foreman
1996 Sky's Prospect (Nina Gardner)
2000 Drizzle (Mr and Mrs. Vettorino)
2004 and 2007 The Foreman (Ann Jones)
1. Fair Hill is always a prestigious event so to win it a few times was very rewarding
2. -Drizzle.  Was imported by Amanda Warrington and ridden by her.  Sarah Cousins then rode him before his owner Augie Vettorino sent him to me.  I'd just come back from the Sydney Olympics so I didn't have a lot of time to get to know him
3. -Sky's Prospect-  Nina Gardner bought him off Jack Fisher and brought him along to preliminary level.  Nina sent him to me after that.  He was a very fast reliable Cross Country horse
4. -The Foreman. He was pretty green the first year he won.  "Chip" is a great USA TB that loves the sport and really tried hard in each phase.  After this win he went on to be 2nd at Rolex and Burghley in the one year.  His other win came after coming back from an injury .
5. The organizers of Fair Hill have made a huge impact on the sport in the USA by hosting this event.  The highlight of the event is always the experience horses and riders gain from riding over the cross country course and the Fair Hill terrain.

Long line for yummy food

Hannah Burnett
2012 Harbour Pilot (Jacqueline Mars)
2010 St. Barths (Mr. Richard Thompson)
1. It's an amazing feeling to win Fair Hill. One of my favorite moments is being in the VIP tent after winning on St Barths with Dick Thompson and getting pictures with the trophy. Being blessed enough to win twice is beyond words.
2. Both Harbour Pilot (William) and St Barths (Nike) are extremely special to me. Besides being amazing athletes and true winners at heart, they have the best owners the sport has ever seen with Jacqueline Mars and Richard Thompson. These horses have proven that anything is possible with the support and love that owners and a great team behind you give.
3. Thank you to all the staff and volunteers that make Fair Hill one of the very best 3-days in the world.

Recognizing owner Nina Gardner for her long-time support of Fair Hill International

Nina Gardner - Owner
1996 - Sky's Prospect
Rider - Phillip Dutton
1. Sky is a failed race horse by Tanks Prospect out of First and Ten. I bought him from Jack Fisher who was very impressed with his jumping ability and was about to train him as a timber horse. I bought him thinking that he would become a field hunter for my husband, but in the process of "remaking" him, I fell in love with his temperament. Two weeks after I bought him we started competing in combined training; meanwhile we were cubbing with Green Spring Hounds. Sky is a very kind gentleman. He hunted on the buckle any place in the field, and, in fact, became a Masters horse after he retired from eventing. He wants to please and always gives his best effort. He was a successful preliminary competitor when Phillip Dutton took over his ride. Sky's biggest accomplishment was going clean around Burghley. He was on Australia's short list for the '96 Atlanta Olympics, but was injured in the final competition before the Olympics. Later that year he won FHI with no time or jumping penalties on cross country. He won the Green Spring Hunter Pace, fast time, beating a legendary timber horse, Ivory Poacher.
2. Sky is retired now in Glyndon MD at our daughter's farm where he is our grandchildren's favorite. He lives outside all year round with our other retirees and is the boss of the herd.
3. The main change is the new main arena. Also, a significant difference between then and now is elimination of the the classic format.
4. Yes I will be attending this year with two horses in the 3* and one in the YEH 5 yr old class.
5. FHI is and has been a great local opportunity. We have attended regularly since its beginnings when we lived in MD.

Jimmy Wofford "roasts" David O'Connor

David O'Conner
Most Wins - 5
1993 Wilton Fair (Wilton Fair Group)
1997 Giltedge (Jacqueline Mars)
1999 Rattle N' Hum (David Lenaburg)
2001 The Native (Jacqueline Mars)
2002 Custom Made (Xandarious LLC)
1. It's always been the cross country for a 3 star in the country. It's the most educational 3* for the horses that there is. And it's always been that way since day one. For a long time it was really only the professionals who won it, and I think that was a reflection of the quality of competition.
2. The course developments have followed the changes of where cross country has gone. Staying true and appropriate. Here at FHI, the weather plays a significant role. Not everybody gets to deal with mud. For example two or three years ago we ran all our students because we wanted them to know what the conditions were like. And of course the weekend of 1993 is a weekend we will talk about for the rest of our lives - the rain and muck.
3. Regarding this weekend:  You're seeing who the top 2* are horses are and from my point of view you’re looking for stars who are going to move up to and get a glimpse of what the future holds.
4. Thank you to all the people that have been involved over the 25 years. Fair Hill has truly grown and will continue to grow in the next 25 years. It puts our riders on the international playing field.

One of our "Silver Volunteers" Fran Loftus. who headed up the committee for the 25th Anniversary celebrations

Gina Miles
2006 - McKinlaigh
1. Winning Fair Hill in 2006 was very special to me and an important part of my career with McKinlaigh.
2. My first trip to Fair hill was in 2001. McKinlaigh was only seven years old and the two of us had only competed in 2 advanced events. As a competitor from the West Coast I was awestruck by the excitement and tradition of the festival. I was giddy when Bruce Davidson Sr. walked by and said hello. And I was absolutely thrilled to be competing alongside my idols and heroes that I had only read about in magazines. I had a full support crew there with me including my husband, my mother, my two-year-old son and my coach from California, Brian Sabo. My young advanced horse wasn't very good in dressage or very fast cross country but I did finish as the highest first time three-star rider and take home the Amanda Warrington trophy. We also got noticed by the selectors and made it onto the winter training list   That was a very special Fair hill for me.  Probably as much as the year that I won.
3. Fast forward to 2006. McKinlaigh and I now had several excellent achievements. We had been to the World Equestrian Games, finished third at the inaugural World Cup final in Pau, competed at Rolex three times and made a trip to Burghley. However, the two and a half years before our win at Fair Hill where marred by several setbacks. Two wind surgeries, surgery on an ankle and a pulmonary bleed on cross country at Rolex for McKinlaigh and a broken leg for me. Coming into this Fair Hill,  I now had a very young child and this time my support team was  important to stay behind with the baby. My mom being able to do that for me was a huge gift to give me the rest and concentration I needed.
4. Putting in three solid performances, McKinlaigh finished on top of the leaderboard. That win was definitely the turning point from our rough times leading forward to future successes and our Olympic silver.

During Jimmy's roast, Fran holds up a picture of Michael Tucker dressed in a cow costume, back when FHI used to be held on Halloween weekend.

Mark Weissbecker
1994 Best Seller (Birch Hill Farm)
1998 Brevity (Mr. & Mrs. Edward Linde)
1. I remember coming out of the show jumping arena in 1994 having jumped a clear round and clinching first place.  Mark Phillips walked up to me and said, "Well Mark, you finally got all your ducks in a row!"  It was nice to do a repeat performance on another of my off the track babies in 1998.
2. Both of these horses came to me directly from the track and so we learned everything together from the ground up.  The common link between them was their kind, quiet nature and natural aptitude to do what this sport requires.
3. Except for their quiet, willing nature they were quite different altogether.  Best Seller was extremely tall and long whereas Brevity was named such because he was a tiny, little package, "brief" as it were.  Best Seller was the "scopiest" horse I've ever ridden.  I was fortunate that he came along and taught me so much fairly early on as I needed to be much more accurate on little Brevity as the fences got bigger.  I was fortunate that both horses were "allergic to wood" and rarely did a rail come down.
4. Fair Hill is such a beautiful venue especially when the sun shines!  I remember once riding on show jumping day when sleet whitened the ground.
5. There is something about the low key, friendly atmosphere that makes this event unique.
Tim Dutta says a few words, with Trish Gilbert (who was one of FHI's founders and remains an integral part of the organization)
Art work displayed on the Fair Hill Club tent
Thank you to all who made the Welcome Party a success!  And a special thanks to Barbara Bateman and her Fair Hill Club tent crew - they were in full party mode and they are great hosts!

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