Best Seller has lead at Fair Hill

October 30, 1994|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

FAIR HALL — FAIR HILL -- Mark Weissbecker of Richmond, Mass., moved to the lead at the completion of the second phase of the Fair Hill International Three-Day Event yesterday at the Fair Hill Natural Resources Center in Cecil County.

The 40-year-old horseman, aboard the 8-year-old California-bred thoroughbred gelding, Best Seller, moved up to the top spot after placing fifth of the 63 competitors in dressage on Friday.

Weissbecker, who finished 20th at Fair Hill last year, said he and Best Seller "raced around like gangbusters" during the steeplechase and cross country phases of yesterday's 14- to 15-mile speed and endurance test.

"Last year it was pouring down rain and we had trouble making a couple of the turns," Weissbecker said. "But yesterday the weather was clear and beautiful and the horse was attentive and feeling good."

The pair incurred only 2.4 time penalties and no jumping faults and are 7.6 points ahead of runner-up Deanna Hines of Millwood, Va., going into today's final stadium jumping phase.

Of the 63 original competitors, 39 remain in the competition going into this morning's final veterinary inspection. Four entrants withdrew after the dressage phase and two retired yesterday before heading onto the last part of the grueling cross country course over fences. Eighteen horses were eliminated on the cross country course.

Wall Street, a 14-year-old thoroughbred gelding, collapsed and died at the completion of the cross-country course.

Catherine Kohn, president of the Fair Hill event's veterinary commission, said the horse had elevated heart and respiratory rates, plus a temperature.

Wall Street was ridden by Candy Matsukado of Beaverton, Ore., and had placed ninth in dressage.

Todd Trewin on Sandscript said he started his cross country phase right after Wall Street collapsed. Trewin fell from Sandscript after his horse hooked his shoulder jumping onto the bank of the water bounce. "I hopped right back on him and he finished the course brilliantly," Trewin said. However, the time and lost rider penalties moved Sandscript to 31st in the placings and probably cost the horse his ranking in the year-end top 10 North American Horse of the Year standings.

David O'Connor, last year's Fair Hill winner, had two horses, Giltex and Lightfoot, in the top 10 placings after dressage on Friday. But O'Connor had bad luck on the cross country course. He had falls with both horses, retiring Giltex and dropping to 34th place with Lightfoot.

The Fair Hill event concludes today with Cones in the driving division starting at 9 a.m. and the Stadium Jumping for the riders beginning at 1 p.m.

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