Happenstance’s relaxed disposition served Great Britain's James Alliston well today as chilly weather descended on the Temecula Valley. While cool breezes spooked a few of his competitors, Mary McKee’s 11-year-old Holsteiner remained calm, cool, and collected to earn a score of 43.3.
“When I cantered around the arena he was definitely a little sharper than I expected, but when he went in the ring to do his test, he relaxed and felt really really good,” Alliston commented. “He’s quite a relaxed horse in the dressage in general. He knows his job and he’s normally pretty workmanlike when he gets in the boards.”
For Alliston, who got the ride earlier this year, the goal for this weekend is to solidify their budding partnership, and a career best CCI3* dressage score puts him well on his way.
“He’s been a really successful horse before, so it’s just me forming a partnership with him. I feel like it’s just me trying to figure out how to ride him best really and press the right buttons. Although he’s sort of been out of the sport for a year and a bit, he is fairly established and proven that he can do all three phases pretty well, so it’s just figuring out what he likes and what he doesn’t like,” he said.
Second place in the division belongs to an elated Robyn Fisher. In their first CCI3*, she and her own Betawave, an 8-year-old Holsteiner, posted a result of 46.9 - their first time breaking into the 40s at an international event.
“I am on cloud nine,” Fisher beamed. “She’s been a really tough young horse to bring along, and today she showed that she is the horse we all thought she could be. There will still moments where she could’ve been steadier and more connected, but overall I’m just thrilled.
Australia’s Rebecca Braitling and Ecuador’s Ronald Zabala-Goetschel share third place on 49.5 penalties with Walterstown Don and Wundermaske, respectively.
Ronald Zabala-Goetschel traveled across the country to Galway Downs with hopes of qualifying for the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, N.C.. Their score of 49.5 is a personal best for this pair, accomplished with the focus on keeping the 14-year-old Hanoverian/Thoroughbred relaxed in the ring.
“It’s been a process of calming him down to teach him how to trust people. He knows everything about dressage and cross-country. Patch knows more than I do. There’s nothing I can teach him, I just want to keep him happy and sound,” he said.
Braitling has enjoyed the year spent aboard Walterstown Don, a 15-year-old Irish Sport Horse who was previously campaigned through the four-star level by Clayton Fredericks, while his owner, Lauren Burnell, has been pregnant with her first child.
“He’s just great. His medium and extended trots are so fun to ride, and his canter work was really good,” she said of her experienced partner. “It’s been really interesting for me because I’ve never gotten on a horse that’s been such a schoolmaster, so it’s been a little bit of a learning curve for me having to meet him in the middle a lot of the time. That’s been really fun.”
In their very first CCI2*, Jessie Hargrave and her own Regenmann have taken the lead after dressage. “He’s a good horse in the dressage usually, but he was extra good today,” Hargrave smiled. “We had some good lessons earlier this week when David [O’Connor] came down to to some coaching, so we got a couple tune ups, which was great. He’s a spooky horse, so a couple of flowerpots got him, but overall he was really really good.”
Looking toward to the cross-country, Hargrave is confident that her successes this year with the 10-year-old Trakehner will serve her well on course. “He’s had a really good season. I’ve had him since he was a 6-year-old and he started his eventing career with me and he’s had a really good lead up. I’m really pleased with him and he feels really fit to go gallop around the cross-country,” she said.
Second place belongs to Helen Bouscaren, who piloted her own Ebay to a score of 45.9. “He’s been a little nervy and bright the whole week, so I was happy to see when I came out today he was happy and focused and more rideable,” Helen remarked of the 8-year-old Oldenburg. “This is only his fourth time at this level, so technically he’s green, but he’s felt really good cross-country. Hopefully he feels that way tomorrow. It’s a big course, so there’s plenty to do!”
Emilee Libby and Linda Libby’s Jakobi round out the top three for the CCI2* division. They hold onto a score of 47.5 going into Saturday’s cross-country phase.
Cross country will be held on Saturday, starting at 9:30 a.m. with the CCI2*. The CCI3* will begin at 10:20 a.m. followed by the CCI* at 12:25 p.m.
Show jumping for the CCI divisions will be held on Sunday in Sycamore Field starting with the one-star division at 12:00 p.m. The classes will run in reverse order of standing to guarantee a thrilling finish.
In the Training Three-Day, Jordan Linstedt and Staccato kept hold of their lead. Janine Jaro’s 8-year-old Hanoverian had a faultless day, adding nothing to his dressage score (27.1)
"The horse is so talented - he's freakishly talented, but he's a little insecure. It's very much about the bond and trust with me, and I felt that out there 100 percent today," she said, noting that this is Staccato's second Training Three-Day after a completion at Rebecca Farm this summer. "I think here and Rebecca probably are the two easiest feeling cross-country courses I've ridden, and I think it's from doing [roads & tracks and steeplechase] before."
Meg Pellegrini and her own Ganymede moved their way into second place after a successful endurance day. They boast a two-phase score of 30.4. Mackenna Shea piloted Judith McSwain’s Fleecework’s Ghost into a third-place position after endurance day. The 5-year-old Irish Sport Horse added nothing to her dressage mark for a two-day score of 31.1.
Part of the United States Eventing Association’s Classic Series, a Training Three-Day gives today’s riders a chance to experience the origins of the sport. These riders will take on eventing in its traditional format, continuing with show jumping in reverse order of standing Saturday at 3:45 p.m.
For entries, ride times and scoring, click here.
Galway Downs is thrilled to welcome musical sensations LeAnn Rimes and Matt Ellis for a concert on Sunday evening following the conclusion of show jumping. General admission and Patron’s Passes offer access to the performance. Lee Koch will also perform for competitors and spectators on Saturday night following the conclusion of cross-country.
Spectators are welcomed and encouraged! Visitors can get a first-hand view of the sport while also enjoying a trade fair stocked with local vendors. Enjoy lunch from one of our many award winning food trucks offering everything from tacos to mediterranean cuisine. General admission tickets are $19 for Saturday and $29 for Sunday which includes access to LeAnn Rimes. Click here to purchase tickets.
To learn more about Galway Downs, please visit our website, www.galwaydowns.net.