With $15,000 and an exciting list of prizes on the line, riders in the Preliminary Challenge at the Spring Event at Woodside completed their first phase of competition today.
Leading the Prelim Challenge Horse division after dressage on his sixth birthday is the flashy paint gelding Project Runway, owned and ridden by Maxance McManamy. In front of quite the array of tents and spectators, the pair put in a flawless test to give them the edge on Robyn Fisher and the Stallion Claire De Lune who sit in second place going into Derek di Grazia’s technical cross-country course tomorrow.
Max was pleased with the way her young gelding handled the atmosphere in the large size court the test was performed in, saying “he was all business, and put in a very relaxed, consistent test today. I think this particular test was good for him because it was very busy and kept him thinking the entire time.”
With the day McManamy had, she should be very pleased. She not only leads the Horse division of the Prelim Challenge, but also currently sits atop the Advanced Division on her bay mount Beacon Hill.
Competition in the Prelim Challenge Rider Division was impressive as well, as Lauren Billys’ and her Irish Sport Horse Ballingowan Ginger put in the lowest score of the day to take the lead. Billys’ main goal for the day was to “have fun and improve on a few specifics.” The pair did just that, putting in one of their best tests of the season, receiving a combined 29.4 penalties from the pair of judges, to sit in front of second place Victoria Howe. Lauren remarked that her mare “came out and was really up and forward from the beginning.”
Tomorrow’s cross-country course looks to be about accuracy, containing a lot of technical combinations, which will require riders to be very precise. With the scoring being extremely tight in both divisions, the Prelim Challenge should come down to the wire again this year, in front of what is sure to be a packed house.
Stadium is set to wrap things up tomorrow evening, as horse and rider combinations encounter a very exciting atmosphere as they compete in the Bay Arena, alongside a tent full of dining spectators. Local wines, beer and soft drinks will be served while competition culminates, with a specially catered dinner following the awards ceremony. Over 300 people are expected to attend the Gala dinner to watch this climactic finish, benefiting construction of the cross-country course at the Horse Park of Woodside.