Apr 11, 2019

Billys and Castle Larchfield Purdy Set the Stage at Twin Rivers

By Jessica Duffy - USEA Staff
Lauren Billys and Castle Larchfield Purdy. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

“I was really proud of him. I think there are a lot of points to pick up but he’s just getting better each time we go out. I’m so thankful to be riding him.”

Last fall, The Purdy Syndicate, LLC’s 17-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding Castle Larchfield Purdy (Karistos x Hallo Purdy) underwent colic surgery. This weekend, after several months spent gradually returning to work, Purdy and rider Lauren Billys are back competing at the CCI4*-S for the first time since finishing fifth at The Event at Rebecca Farm last July. Purdy certainly showed that he’s ready for the challenge, laying down a score of 29.8 to take the early lead in the CCI4*-S at the Twin Rivers CCI and Horse Trials in Paso Robles, California.

USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

“There’s more work to be done, but he’s on his way,” Billys said following their dressage test this afternoon. “I just started riding Purdy back in January so it’s kind of a slow build to get his fitness back up and make him competitive at the level.”

After nearly losing her Pan American and Olympic partner, Billys expressed her gratitude at having the opportunity to continue competing with Purdy. “I wanted to go in there and be competitive, be present, and I wanted to have a real feeling of gratitude while I was riding him. I really thought we were going to lose him last fall, so to be able to show him and really enjoy my time with him makes you think about how lucky you are. I’m really lucky to be riding him at this level, because he really loves to show. I just want to honor him this weekend and ride him as best I can in all three phases. I feel like that’s how I can respect him the best.”

Derek di Grazia and Ringwood Justice (Ringwood Harley Carol x Ringwood Venus), his own 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, are sitting close behind Billys and Purdy on an overnight score of 32.5.

Derek di Grazia and Ringwood Justice. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

Leah Breakey and her own 10-year-old Canadian Warmblood gelding Master Class (Cree x Night Destiny xx) scored a 41.9, good enough for third place after the first phase of competition.

Leah Breakey and Master Class. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

Rounding out the class is Liza Horan and Lafite, her own 12-year-old Holsteiner gelding (Linaro x Sundrift Sandal). The pair sit in fourth place on a 44.8.

Liza Horan and Lafite. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.

Babbitt and 2 A.M. Command the CCI3*-S

Charlotte Babbitt and 2 A.M. (Sheraton x Regina K) are no strangers to the top of the leaderboard. Since their partnership began at the beginning of 2017, Babbitt and the 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding have finished outside of the top three only four times. The pair earned the Reserve Championship title at the 2017 Young Event Horse 5-Year-Old Championship, and last year won both the Woodside International CIC* and the Galway Downs International CCI*.

Charlotte Babbitt and 2 A.M. Elizabeth Thieriot Photo.

So, it comes as little surprise that the pair are once again atop the leaderboard in the CCI3*-S at Twin Rivers on a score of 33.6. “He’s pretty green at the level still – this is his third Intermediate,” Babbitt explained. “He’s pretty fancy on the flat but strength is a big component for him. He doesn’t really have the strength totally completed at the level but I think he’s really coming along and he tries so hard every time he goes into the arena.”

To work on increasing his fitness, Babbitt said they spent a lot of time on the hills. “He actually only flats really once a week, just so we don’t tire him out. Every day I ask him for a little bit more and just get what I can every day, continually progressing.”

Elizabeth Thieriot Photo.

Babbitt said that she has the North American Youth Championships set as a tentative goal for the summer season. “If this goes well he’ll run the Intermediate at Galway and if that goes well he’ll run the CCI3*-S at Aspen in June. If he runs all those well maybe we’ll go for the three-star, but if he takes a step back then he’ll just go and have a confident round around the two-star.”

“It’s new for both of us – I’ve never competed at the level, so this is the first level I’ve moved him up to as well as myself so it’s new for both of us. But, it’s a learning journey with a really awesome horse.”

Tied for second place in the CCI3*-S are Michlynn Sterling and Hunter’s Bolero (Fandango x High Hopes), her own 15-year-old Trakehner gelding, and Jess Hargrave and Regenmann, her own 12-year-old Trakehner gelding, on a score of 34.3.

Competition at Twin Rivers resumes tomorrow morning bright and early at 8:00 a.m. with dressage for all remaining divisions with show jumping beginning at 1:30 p.m. for the CCI3*-S, CCI4*-S, Advanced, and Intermediate divisions.

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