March 21, 2008

Clark Montgomery is the first name on the 2008 FEI Eventing World Cup leaderboard after kicking off the new season with a win at Tallahassee, Florida (USA), on Up Spirit last weekend.

There were 25 starters in the dressage, led by Corinne Ashton on Dobbin (43 penalties), but she was eliminated across country. Montgomery, 26, rose from third to take the lead at this point, adding 12.8 penalties, the second fastest time, to his dressage score of 44.7. Alison Springer and Arthur remained in second place, with 20 time penalties to add to 43.4.

There were eight clears from the 22 starters around Mark Phillips's (GBR) course at Red Hills, so called for the local red earth, and constructed by new builder Eric Bull. The fastest time, of 9.4, was recorded by Selena O'Hanlon on Colombo. The course winds around the horticulture park and arboretum owned by ecologist Colin Phipps.

The top three all had two stadium rails down apiece, so Montgomery maintained his overnight lead, though Karen O'Connor, third after cross-country on Allstar, moved up a place when Springer clocked an additional 4 time penalties.

The weekend was saddened by two horse fatalities (one in the FEI competition and one in the national competition) and the serious fall which befell Athens Olympian Darren Chiacchia in a preceding national preliminary class. More information