Jul 22, 2023

Cross-Country Shakes Up the Leaderboard at Rebecca Farm CCI4*-L

James Alliston and Karma. USEA/Hope Carlin photos

Kalispell, Mont.—July 22—Running earlier than expected due to peak heat, all 14 CCI4*-L riders came out of the start box at Rebecca Farm this morning, but not all of them crossed the finish. Buck Davidson, who was holding second place standing coming out of dressage yesterday, incurred a refusal and a fall from Business Class at what was arguably one of the most challenging aspects of the Ian Stark’s course—the Snake, which dropped into the water where a set of bounce logs led to a triple brush.

Davidson was up quickly and walked off course, but there was trouble peppered throughout the course. Jessica Phoenix retired on course with Isla GS as did Heather Gillette with Vincent Chase, both after single refusals, while Jennie Saville fell from FE Connory after the gelding slipped, but she was up and walking and went on to ride another horse later in the day.

Liz Halliday-Sharp kept her first-place standing with Cooley Moonshine, despite picking up 6.4 time penalties, but she’s since made the difficult decision to withdraw the gelding on account of both front shoes being pulled on course and some resulting soreness.

The 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Cobra x Kilpatrick Duchess), owned by The Monster Partnership, tackled a true four-star course with scrappy ability and a competitive spirit, never letting on that he lost some hardware along the way.

“He was perfect the whole way around—never took a bad step, never had a bad jump. I actually didn’t know he lost both shoes,” said Halliday-Sharp. “I’m very pleased with him. I don’t know if perhaps he stepped on a nail or something when he lost his shoe or what, but he’s quite sore now, and we need to look after him. He’s a spectacular horse. He’s gorgeous and generous, and he loves his job, and he’s very, very brave. It was a very good round, and I just tried to listen to my horse and give him a good ride around the course.”

The new leader, moving up to claim the top standing heading show jumping tomorrow is James Alliston aboard Karma, the 9-year-old Oldenburg mare (Escudo II x Travita), owned by Alliston Equestrian. They were one of two pairs to make the optimum time.

With a very neat and elegant entrance into and through the water complex, Alliston is beaming with pride for his careful jumper in her first ever CCI4*-L. “I had a nice start to the course; the first water is obviously very hard but she jumped that really well, so that gave me a lot of confidence for the rest of the round,” said Alliston. “Sometimes when there’s really big coffins she sort of really backs off—jumps in very lovely but then she really backs off at the ditch—so those sometimes ride a bit long for me. That was sort of the same here today, so I think I just need to practice that going forward. Other than that, she galloped really well and jumped really well and felt amazing really.”

With an eagerness to go, go, go, Karma perhaps found some respect for this long format event when Alliston noticed a maturity come over her as she dropped her head and settled into a rhythm of her own. “She was definitely like, all right, this is longer than I’m used to, and I never really had to push her, but definitely I could feel her sort of take a big breath around eight minutes.”

Madison Temkin and MVP Madbum.

Alliston is optimistic about his chances in tomorrow’s show jumping, and he’ll have 5.8 penalties in and over Madison Temkin and MVP Madbum, who moved up from 10th to second.

“She’s a really good jumper in general, but you know, she’s not gone this far before and so she’s bound to be a little bit tired,” said Alliston. “I’m just thrilled with her today, and we’ll try to jump one fence at a time, one step at a time tomorrow and see how we do.”

Making a huge leap forward on the leaderboard and securing second place standing is Madison Temkin aboard her own 10-year-old Thoroughbred mare MVP Madbum (Papa Clem x Dancing Stripes). They also made the optimum time Having ridden MVP Madbum since she was just a 2-year-old, this cross-country trip alongside yesterday’s dressage score of 38.4 feels like a win for Temkin, despite whatever tomorrow has in store.

“This is her fourth start at this level. She’s done an Advanced horse trial and two CCI4*-Ss, so you know, I came out of the box and just wanted to have a good ride around,” said Temkin. “I didn’t really have any intention of making the time, but she just kept coming. I think that’s a bit of the beauty of riding a Thoroughbred—I could just keep coming everywhere.”

And that’s been the name of the game from the beginning of this dynamic duo’s relationship. Temkin got MVP Madbum as a 2-year-old off the track, brought her along in the USEA Future Event Horse Program as a 3-year-old and continued that education through the Young Event Horse Program as a 4- and 5-year-old. “We really know each other inside and out, and she would jump through fire for me, and today I think she really solidified that.”

With her soaring surprise to the top two, Temkin is turning that spotlight completely toward her mare.

“It’s really icing on the cake for her to really crawl up the leaderboard like that. Dressage has been our weakest link forever for sure. Obviously to some people [a score of] 38 is not a big deal, but to me it is a really big deal because that was her first time breaking into the 30s at this level,” she said. “And she tries her absolute heart out. For her sake, I’m really glad she climbed up the leaderboard because she absolutely deserves that.”

Temkin is eager for tomorrow’s show jumping phase and aware that fatigue may be the common battle for every rider vying for a top position. “I think it’s going to be a bit of a different horse than I’m used to. She’s a uniquely incredible cross-country horse, and today she was really jumping across the jumps and really jumping across the tables so we’re just going to have to focus on switching her shape back to a show jump shape.”

Jessica Phoenix and Fluorescent Adolescent.

Making another impressive leaderboard leap is the 15-year-old piebald mare Canadian Sport Horse Fluorescent Adolescent (Amelia II x Ali Baba), owned by Makayla Rydzik and ridden by Jessica Phoenix.

“Fluorescent Adolescent just has a heart bigger than any other horse,” said Phoenix. “She has the will and desire to get through the flags at all costs. She’s been a really fun horse to bring up through the levels. One of my clients had actually ridden her through her young rider years. When it was time for her to move on from riding I was so excited to have the opportunity to start riding her and just developing her up through the four-star level, and still having Makayla involved very much just means the world to us.”

The pair are oozing with confidence going into the show jumping phase. Phoenix says, “Fluorescent Adolescent loves to jump clear, and she will do anything she can to leave all those rails up.”

Show jumping begins on Sunday at 3 p.m. MDT

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