For CCI3* riders, experience served them well as they battled Eric Winter’s cross-country course on Saturday at the 2017 Galway Downs International Three-Day Event. James Alliston continues to lead the pack aboard Happenstance, followed by Ellen Doughty-Hume and Sir Oberon in second, and Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me in third.
Great Britain's James Alliston stayed firmly in control of the three-star division after a faultless run with Mary McKee’s Happenstance. Though it is their first CCI3* as a pair, their seperate experience at the level gave them all the skills for success.
“He felt really good. It was a strong course - a lot of angles, a lot of hard jumps really. I was delighted with how it went. I think I probably went a little too quickly which I shouldn’t have done. I think I was too far inside the time. I think I got a bit panicky because I started quite slowly and I was down a little bit on my minute markers and it was quite open at the end of the course. He was full of running. I let him go and he is quite fast," he said of the 11-year-old Holstiener.
Alliston achieved his lowest finishing score at this event in 2011 with Jumbo’s Jake (45.4), but he’s looking to beat that this weekend as he and Happenstance currently sit on a 43.3.
Ellen Doughty-Hume piloted her own Sir Oberon, a 15-year-old Holsteiner/Thoroughbred, without penalty to stand in second place. They started the weekend earning a 51.3 - 4.6 points below their dressage average - and a double clear cross-country run puts them on track for a best-ever CCI3* finishing score.
“We’ve been together about 10 years now. He’s been my first horse for a lot of stuff. We kind of went up the levels together. By this time, we know each other pretty well. This is our fifth year competing at the CCI3* level, so if I get him in a bad spot he knows kind of how to help me out, and I do the same for him,” Doughty-Hume said.
Honor Me is historically a fast cross-country horse, averaging only 5.6 time penalties at this level, and he continued that streak today coming home clear with Canada’s Lisa Marie Fergusson in the tack.
“The last year and a half he’s really come into himself as a cross-country horse, and been really reliable. It’s been so nice to walk a course and know that you’re looking through his ears because he just makes everything feel so doable,” Fergusson commented on her 11-year-old Welsh Sport Horse.
This event was Eric Winter’s first course designing experience in the United States, and many riders seeked out the experience to challenge themselves on a track laid out by the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trial’s course designer.
“I thought it was a great course, and that’s why I came out here is to ride Eric Winter’s course. I’d ridden Derek di Grazia a bunch and Mike [Etherington-Smith] and Ian Stark, and I love them all, but I wanted to do something a little different. He laid out a great course and Tally just ate it up,” Fergusson said, sharing her intentions of competing at Badminton's CCI4* next year.
The top three of the division were the only ones to finish without time penalties. Ecuador’s Ronald Zabala-Goetschel also ended the day with 16.4 time penalties aboard his own Wundermaske to earn a qualifying score toward their goal of the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, N.C.
A fast and clear cross-country round moved Helen Bouscaren and Ben into the leading position of the CCI2* division. The 8-year-old Oldenburg added nothing to his dressage score to remain on 45.9 points. She also sits in fifth position of the CCI3* with her own Ben.
“He’s technically green at the level, but he doesn’t feel green. He’s really professional and brave, and covers up my errors which is nice. Every fence he’s looking for the next jump, so it’s a nice feeling,” she said.
Second-placed Emilee Libby and third-placed Kim Liddell also pulled off faultless cross-country trips. Libby and Jakobi, an 8-year-old Belgian Warmblood, owned by the rider and Linda Libby, carry a score of 47.5 onto the show jumping phase.
Liddell moved from fifth to third after cross-country with her own Eye of the Storm. The 8-year-old Thoroughbred has a two-phase result of 51.6.
The top three of the CCI* remains unchanged with overnight leader Erin Kellerhouse out in front with her own Woodford Reserve. The talented 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse keeps on his dressage mark of 41.
James Alliston follows in second on a two-day result of 41.6 with Laura Boyer’s Pandora, a 6-year-old Swedish Warmblood. Rebecca Braitling and Lauren Burnell’s Santana II are in third with 43.7 points.
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.
The Training Three-Day concluded Saturday as riders tackled Marc Donovan's show jumping course. Overnight leaders Jordan Linstedt and Staccato left all the rails in their cups to seal the deal on their wire-to-wire win of the class. Staccato, an 8-year-old Hanoverian owned by Janine Jaro, finished on his dressage score of 27.1.
"This solidifies my plans of him coming out in the spring and going Preliminary and the track that I have for him to do a one-star," Jordan affirmed. "You want them to feel really easy before that move up. In the past he's maybe won some Trainings that it wasn't so easy, and this just felt exactly how you'd want it to feel before you move up. I came to give him the confidence before next year, and I think I did exactly that. He felt like a horse that came out each day better and better."
Mackenna Shea finished second aboard Judith McSwain's Fleecework's Ghost. The 5-year-old Irish Sport Horse finished on her dressage mark of 31.1. Amaya Davis piloted her own Evening Attire to a third place finish for a final result of 31.2.
For entries, ride times and scoring, click here.
Captured Moment Photography is the official show photographer this weekend at Galway Downs. To purchase photos, visit their booth in the trade fair, or visit their website www.capturedmomentphoto.com.
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.
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 $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.
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This article will be updated to include statements as they are released from upcoming USEA recognized events regarding actions they are taking due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).