Riders were hunting every last point in Friday’s dressage phase at the $15,000 Preliminary Challenge. By day’s end at The Spring Event at Woodside, three leaders edged ahead: Jennifer Salinger in the rider division and James Alliston and Jordan Linstedt tied in the horse division.
Jennifer Salinger took control of the Preliminary Challenge rider division aboard Isabella Dowen’s Lasse 73. The 17-year-old Oldenburg earned a 29.7 to edge to the top of the 25-entry class.
“The test felt super. He is a wonderfully experienced horse that I’ve been lucky enough to take over the ride as his owner is headed to college in the fall. He gives you a confident feeling—for a lot if the test I got to sit there and enjoy it,” she said.
Salinger took over the ride only a few weeks ago, so this competition is a big test for the budding partnership, and for her own riding career as this is her debut at the Preliminary Challenge. Salinger is also in 21st with her second entry, Cool Running.
“I felt the pressure on the first horse. This is the first time I’ve ridden two horses at an event, and it was helpful to decompress and get on the second horse,” she explained. “[The Preliminary Challenge] seems like such a great way to gain atmosphere and exposure still at the Preliminary level—not quite FEI pressure, but that same feeling. The Lasse 73 horse is new to me, but he lights up in such a good way that I have to just convince myself to let him teach me a few things.”
Krista Stevenson holds second place in the division with her own and Larry Stevenson’s Caison. The 10-year-old Hanoverian earned a score of 30.1. Charlotte Babbit and her own 2 A.M., a 6-year-old Dutch Warmblood, follow in third on 30.2 points after back-to-back wins at the level this spring.
The first two pairs in the ring for the horse division, Alliston and Linstedt both sit on 28.8 points with Lilly and Staccato, respectively.
Lilly was imported by Kelly Maddox with a planned hunter/jumper career, but it wasn’t long before Alliston, who shares a facility with Maddox, saw her potential as an event horse. “She doesn’t really go like a hunter. She’s quite forward and keen to the jumps,” he explained of the 9-year-old Oldenburg. “We worked out a deal where I will be in on partnership with the horse. This is her first year doing [eventing], and she’s really nice.”
Now under Alliston and Maddox’s shared ownership, Lilly has enjoyed a smooth transition to the sport with a win already at Preliminary in preparation for the Challenge. “She’s really really fancy—a beautiful mover. She can sort of be a bit sharp jumping, but in general for the dressage she’s quite workmanlike. I thought she was really good,” Alliston said.
Looking ahead to Saturday’s jumping phases, Alliston is excited to explore the mare’s potential. “By nature she’s very brave, but she’s green. She’s done show jumping in Germany, but it’s different after they’ve done cross country, right? It’s sort of a different sport. I’m learning with her and seeing how she gets on, but I’m excited for her. I think she likes it so hopefully she can do some big things down the line.”
Staccato, a 9-year-old Hanoverian owned by Janine Jaro, made his move up to the Preliminary level this spring on the east coast with Linstedt. With two wins under his belt so far, he grows in experience with every competition.
“Staccato felt super. He tends to feel very good in the dressage, and I thought he put in a really nice test. I think overall he’s definitely a very consistent horse and he was very consistent throughout the whole test. No major bobbles; everything flowed from beginning to end. He was quite forward in front of my leg,” Linstedt said.
“I spent time on the east coast this spring, and had some really good help from several guys back there,” she continued, crediting John Zoppati and Clayton Fredericks for their coaching on the flat. “It’s kind of stepping it up a little bit with him, and I feel like that really carried through today to get some impressive work out of him. I think there’s still so much more in there, so it’s just really fun to work with him and produce him.”
Tamra Smith follows the tied pair in third with Luisa Southworth’s Elliot-V. The duo earned a 29.1, a personal best for the 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood.
The scores in the horse division are tightly bunched, with less than five points separating the top ten in the horse division and less than a rail separating the top ten of the rider division. This puts the pressure is on for Saturday’s jumping phases.
Cross country begins Saturday at 8:00 a.m. followed by the show jumping finale beginning at 4:45 p.m.
The best view of the final phase is from the new, heated ringside tent for Saturday’s Gala Dinner. Only a few tickets remain, so be sure to grab yours before they sell out to enjoy dinner, drinks, and dancing beginning at 5 p.m. Dinner tickets are available for $60 per person or $550 for a table of 10. Reserve your tickets now at www.woodsideeventing.com/tickets.
The Woodside Preliminary Challenge offers two divisions: the Horse division is open to riders of any level of experience on horses that have not competed at the Intermediate level or above from 2010 to 2018; the Rider division is open to all horses with riders who have not competed at the Intermediate level or above from 2010 to 2018. Horses and riders must achieve two qualifying results at the Preliminary level as a pair in order to compete.
CANTER and CARMA proudly sponsor the Preliminary Challenge OTTB High Point Award, to be given to the highest placed off-track Thoroughbred.
The Event at Woodside is excited to welcome CWD, Devoucoux, Equine Insurance of California, CANTER, CARMA, and Professional’s Choice as the 2018 Presenting Sponsors of the Spring Event.
Sunsprite Warmbloods returns as a Gold Medal Sponsor.
Silver Medal Sponsors are: SmartPak and Voltaire Design.
Bronze Medal Sponsors are: Auburn Laboratories, Inc., Geranium, Ride On Video, Western Saddlery, and Triple Crown Nutrition.
Eventing Training Online is a Friend Level Sponsor.
To learn more about The Event at Woodside, please visit www.woodsideeventing.com.
To purchase tickets for the Gala Dinner, please visit www.woodsideeventing.com/tickets.
To learn more about eventing, please visit the U.S. Eventing Association’s website at www.useventing.com.
To learn more about the Horse Park at Woodside or the Woodside Horse Trials, go to horsepark.org. To learn more about eventing, visit the U.S. Eventing Association’s website (www.useventing.com). For Press Credentials, please contact the press officers.
Bellamy, an Oldenburg/Thoroughbred gelding of unknown breeding, came to Tamra Smith’s farm in Southern California with his mane half-way down his neck and filled with burrs. Bellamy had been sitting in a field for a little over a year after unseating several riders in a row and Smith, known for being good with tricky horses, agreed to take him on.
Pan Am Games team gold medalist Tamra Smith and Mai Baum and five-star pairs Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 and Frankie Thieriot Stutes and Chatwin headline a strong Advanced field when Twin Rivers begins an exciting season of eventing competition this weekend.
The USEA Future Event Horse (FEH) and Young Event Horse (YEH) programs have around 30 qualifying competitions each, and youngsters around the country are about to begin their seasons aimed at Championships.