Clayton Fredericks’ April Fools Day international cross-country track left no place for foolin’ around today in the final phase of the Galway Downs International’s CCI divisions.
Tamie Smith retained her two spots atop the leaderboard — with the seasoned veteran Mai Baum edging Danito out of a lead he’d carried from dressage and after both show jumped double clear last night. While both horses made it look easy, it was not, Tamie asserted. “The course rode very difficult and technical and very reactive. There wasn’t any part where you could count on something riding like you’d planned it.”
The Bank and Double Houses at 13ABC, the Land Rover Mission Viejo Water Complex at 18 ABCD and the Brush Ditch-Pig Hut-Angle Brush at 21ABC were especially challenging.
Even with her “old, trusted partner,” Tamie admitted she was a bit nervous because Alexandra Ahearn’s 17-year-old German Sport Horse had not run since their World Equestrian Games Team Silver outing in September and the course “was riding way harder than I anticipated.”
Tamie considered the 6:19 optimal time “unmakeable” and, indeed, she and Mai Baum were the closest to it. Their 9.2 time penalties bumped up their 22.2 dressage score and they won on a 31.4, ahead of Danito’s 34.8, which included 14 time penalties.
“I went for it with both horses and I really tried to go faster with Danito,” Tamie reported. “He’s more of a long format horse. I can ride Mai Baum a little faster because he sets himself up for the jumps so well. Danito is not quite as careful and he’s a bit strong, so that’s part of it. But, both were awesome and I’m thrilled.”
Tamie’s roster of four horses in the 4* required schedule adjustments that interspersed Advanced rounds with her last two rides. Her third round, on the Elliot V Partnership’s 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood, ended badly coming out of the Land Rover Mission Viejo Water Complex. Elliot missed the 2nd angled roll-top, dumping Tamie in the dirt to her own and the crowd’s dismay. Horse and rider were unhurt, Tamie popped up and helped the fence judge replant the flag and headed back to ready Danito for his run.
Today’s 4* cross-country was ideal prep for Mai Baum and Danito going into the Kentucky 5* later this month, Tamie said. Whereas for Elliot V, it showed that the Kentucky 4*-S may be the better option for this stage in his development.
Marc Grandia and Team Rebecca’s 13-year-old Holsteiner, Campari FFF, moved up into 3rd with 19.2 time penalties to end on a 53.5. Katy Robinson and her own Thoroughbred Outrageous Dance had the biggest jump up the standings — their 12.8 time penalties boosted them from 9th into 4th.
Regalla Regal in the 3*
Taren Hoffos’ steady progress with Regalla leaped forward today when they crossed the finish line as the winners of their first CCI3*. They were victors in the 2* here two years ago, and Taren was thrilled with the performance of her mother Carolyn Hoffos’ 12-year-old Oldenburg.
The unusual circumstance of show jumping and cross-country on the same day worked out well for the pair. “She tends to get better the longer she goes, so I appreciated the format because it allowed me to leave the start box with a really rideable horse from the beginning.” Once out of the box, it was “insane how good she was,” especially in the courage and adjustability departments.
“She’s such a beast. She’s so brave,” Taren raved. “She’s really good at being bold at fences then coming back.” That adjustability was crucial in many places — the Ditch Wall at 7, the CWD Rails, Ditch and Brush at 10ABC, the Bank and House at 13AB, among them. “If I can give her a confident ride, she really trusts me. There were a lot of fences out there we’d never seen before and she was so good.”
Regalla’s show jumping and dressage were helped by a schooling show Galway Downs hosted the previous weekend, Taren said. Because of ring changes due to Thursday’s heavy rains, 3* jumping took place in the same ring they’d competed in last week, which helped. “She’s a really good jumper and she was a lot more forward than in our previous rounds at Intermediate.”
Taren offered praise to the organizers from the perspective of having staged events at her family’s Copper Meadows facility. “Man, this winter has been so rough for us all with the rain. One thing that’s so great about Robert (Kellerhouse) is that he and his team are so adaptable.
“With the switching of the arenas to get us the very best footing possible, the whole team is constantly thinking about what’s best for the horse,” she continued. “It’s all for the horse and they did a great job with communications, letting us all know what was going on.”
Just as in the 4*, nobody made the optimal time, in this case a 5:38, but Taren and Regalla’s 6:03 was quick enough to put them ahead of Tamie Smith and Kynan with the win on a 43.4. Also contesting his first 3*, Kynan answered every question and Tamie had the pedal down, but another division victory was not in the cards. “He’s so game and such a class horse,” she said of the Kynan Syndicate’s 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood.
Megan McIver and Elle made an impressive move from 13th position after dressage to third. The 11-year-old Holsteiner owned by Tally Chang was double clear in show jumping and had only 7.2 time faults on cross-country.
Linstedt & Lovely Lola Top 2*
Jordan Linstedt and Lovely Lola were wire-to-wire leaders, finishing on their dressage score of 26.9 to mark a milestone in a promising partnership. “She was phenomenal” said Jordan of the 9-year-old Hanoverian mare owned by the Lovas Partnership, LLC.
After clean show jumping, Lola was bold and confident all the way around cross-country. “I had to settle her in a few more places that maybe I’d like to, but she can have a little spook in her, so I was really happy that she jumped so boldly over all those ditches and into the water.”
It was a nice pick-up after the busy rider’s day started with a slip and horse and rider fall in the 3*. She and FE Friday were the first pair on course and it happened just after sailing through the imposing 13AB Bank and House. “He’s a big gangly guy, and there was visible dew on the grass. I probably should have been more cautious. It was very unfortunate. He’s a great cross-country horse and I think he could have finished in the top 3, but that’s the sport and it didn’t rattle me too much.”
19-year-old Gabriella Ringer finished as 2* reserve with the pride of “having a confident, sound, freshly-minted 2* horse” with her own Get Wild. She’s had the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding since he was 5 and she was 13 and it’s been a long, patient journey.
He started off “a bit buzzy in dressage” and ended “being brave and super over one of our biggest tracks. I could not be more proud of him.”
Gabriella was also proud to receive the inaugural Parker Equine Insurance Top Amateur Award in the 2* division, and to receive it from Parker Equine’s Donna Parker during the awards festivities.
Lauren Billys and her own Can Be Sweet, an 11-year-old German Warmblood, were third adding just .4 cross-country penalty for a 31
Kellerhouse Kind of Fun
At the end of the CCI phases of this event, Galway Downs organizer Robert Kellerhouse found himself in an unusual position — sitting still for a moment. “It was fun,” he concluded of an international odyssey that began with Thursday’s unforecast downpours which tested the mettle and adaptability of his staff, event officials and riders.
By “fun,” the 25-year organizing veteran means “it was rewarding to come up with a plan and have everyone trying to get to the same place, with no drama for the wrong reasons. It was a true team effort driven by focus and concentration, which is what you need to have a successful event under any circumstances.
Robert was thrilled with the level of support shown. “Having the USEF’s technical director and eventing chef d’equipe, Robert Costello, here is huge for the riders. We don’t have big numbers, but we have a nice concentration of top horses, top professionals bringing newer horses and a top young rider like Sophie Click. They’re all benefitting from riding Clayton Fredericks’ courses. He’s a next generation guy and that’s great.
“To be doing this for 25 years and have the ability to take the next steps, to work with the next generation of people pushing to take everything to the next level… that’s my kind of fun.”
Speaking of the improvements made throughout the 242-acre property, Robert is particularly pleased with landscaping, footing and terrain upgrades on the cross-country course. They help bring that part of the venue on par with the high quality of arenas and amenities made possible in a partnership with hunter/jumper event organizers Ali and Francie Nilforushan.
“I think the tide is turning in that people across the country are talking about Galway Downs as the place to be. They’re starting to realize that our country has good things to offer on both coasts–in large part because we’ve stepped up our game on so many fronts.”
Robert assures that even bigger things are in store for the Galway Downs International in the fall. But first there’s the Spring Horse Trials May 12-14, featuring the renowned Preliminary Challenge. This showcase event is newly relocated from Northern California and sure to attract contenders from throughout the West.
National Horse Trials divisions conclude on Sunday.
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