Emotions ran as high as the show jumping fences in today's conclusion of the Galway Downs Fall International FEI divisions. New California resident Alexandra MacLeod won with Newmarket Jack, far surpassing her goal of simply making the time on cross-country. That double clear yesterday put MacLeod in third, and she repeated the double clears over Marc Donovan's show jumping course in front of a full house of fans. Clear show jumping is a norm for the 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Newmarket Jewel x Newmarket Chantepie), but what came next was brand new for MacLeod.
"It's all about what happens in the moment," said Clayton Fredericks of how yesterday's international cross-country tracks could be successfully navigated. There were many moments with many things happening on courses that fulfilled Fredericks' mandate to build them fully up to the international standard.
It wouldn't seem a California competition without Tokyo Olympic reserve rider Tamie Smith leading at least one international division. With four horses in the event, Tamie's final ride of the day, Judith McSwain's Fleeceworks Royal, was the one to put her atop, in this case of the CCI4*-L. Their 24.9 score from Ground Jury Christina Klingspor of Sweden and the USA's Marilyn Payne is a substantial lead heading into a Clayton Fredericks' cross-country track that's described as big, rigorous and fully up to the level.
After navigating a course full of what its designer, Clayton Fredericks, described as "serious angles and in-your-face-fences," Erin Kellerhouse and Woodford Reserve maintained their wire-to-wire lead in winning the Galway Downs CCI4*-S on a 30.1. Helen Alliston and Ebay and Emilee Libby and Jakobi also crossed the finish line double clear to hold their second and third positions for a ladies' sweep of the division.
Mid-50s temperatures, wind, a little rain, and new arenas for dressage gave an early season opportunity to test equine energy management and focus during Galway Downs International dressage and show jumping today.
Ninety-five contenders in three Challenge divisions took center stage yesterday with show jumping in the Grand Prix Arena as the final phase, just as the Galway Downs International contenders had done the previous afternoon. The fences were a tad lower, but the excitement was still high as national riders enjoyed an unusual spotlight.
Boyd Martin had only competed once at Galway Downs, many years ago and, by his own account, "I did terrible." After clear show jumping rounds in the CCI4*-L today secured the win on the Syndicate owned 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Landos x Omega VI) Luke 140 and third on Long Island T, Martin has a far more favorable impression to replace that bad memory.
Clayton Fredericks' Galway Downs International cross-country did not change the top rung of the CCI4*-L, CCI3*,-L, or CCI2*-L leaderboards, but there is evidence of the course proving difficult in the standings below that and in riders' reports.
The first CCI4*-L of 2020 officially got underway this week at Galway Downs International in Temecula, California. It is Boyd Martin and Luke 140, who topped the 12-pair field with a 29.40 from FEI ground jury members Sandy Phillips, Wayne Quarles, and Valerie Vizcarando-Pride.
The Galway Downs International Event starts on Halloween Thursday and ends on time-change Sunday, so there’s likely even more excitement than usual to be had this weekend. So much so that organizer Robert Kellerhouse commissioned a one-minute promotional video to help spread the word.