The West Coast's sole CCI4*-L will take place this weekend at the Galway Downs International Event in Temecula, California, kicking off this afternoon with the first horse inspection for the FEI levels. The only other CCI4*-L in the United States will be held in two weeks at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Tryon, North Carolina. This is the 10th year that Galway has offered a CCI4*-L. Galway will also be hosting the West Coast leg of the Adequan USEF Futures Team Challenge and the USEF CCI3*-L National Championships. Get ready for the weekend by listening to the USEA Official Podcast's preview show.
There are a total of 418 horses entered to compete across all the levels being offered at Galway this weekend. Of those 418, 34 are in the CCI2*-L, 14 are in the CCI3*-L, and 12 are in the CCI4*-L.
Unique to Galway Downs is the Modified-Training Challenge, Training-Novice Challenge, and Novice-Beginner Novice Challenge. These three challenges are modeled after the popular Preliminary Challenge, held at the Woodside Horse Trials in the spring. There are 50 entrants in the Modified-Training Challenge, 28 in the Training-Novice Challenge, and 18 in the Novice-Beginner Novice Challenge. Challenge riders make up 23 percent - nearly a quarter - of the total number of riders for the weekend.
Once again, Tamie Smith wins the award for the busiest rider of the weekend with seven rides over the course of the weekend, six of which are in the FEI divisions - two each in the CCI2*-L, CCI3*-L, and CCI4*-L.
This is the 10th year that Galway Downs will offer a CCI4*-L - the first time was in 2010. The largest field this division has drawn was 36 in 2011. 2019 saw the smallest field - just six competitors - and in 2018 the division wasn't offered due to lack of entries.
Phillip Dutton is the only winner from previous years returning to compete this year. In 2015, he won aboard Fernhill Fugitive. Can he add another win to his record with Fernhill Singapore (Singapore x Reidellia), Ann Jones, Thomas Tierney, and David Vos' 11-year-old KWPN gelding?
There are three riders who each have two rides apiece, making up 50 percent of the division. Boyd Martin will compete Long Island T and Luke 140, Tamie Smith will ride Passepartout and No App for That, and Rebecca Brown will ride Dassett Choice and Fernhill Fortitude.
Martin's two mounts both just posted top-five finishes in the Advanced at Morven Park. This is the first time out at the CCI4*-L level for Luke 140 (Landos x Omega VI), the Luke 140 Syndicate's 9-year-old Holsteiner gelding, while Long Island T (Ludwig Von Bayern x Haupstsbuch Highlight), the Long Island T Syndicate's 14-year-old Oldenburg/Thoroughbred gelding, is proven at the level, although he hasn't completed a CCI4*-L since 2018 when he was second in the CCI3* (now CCI4*-L) at Fair Hill International.
The more experienced of Brown's two mounts is Fernhill Fortitude (Courage II x Misty Matilda), a 16-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding who previously competed through the four-star level with Jenny Caras. This will be Brown and "Forty's" first outing together at the CCI4*-L level.
Brown has been producing her other mount, the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Dassett Choice (Caricello x Vilja), up the levels since 2014. This will be his first CCI4*-L.
Smith's two horses in the CCI4*-L, Kaylawna Smith-Cook's 11-year-old German Sport Horse gelding Passepartout (Pasco x Preschel) and her own 9-year-old Thoroughbred gelding No App For That (Chelokee x No Approval) are both making their first attempt at the CCI4*-L level after successful finishes at the CCI4*-S level with Smith earlier this year.
In addition to Dutton and Martin, there is one other competitor who made the trek from the East Coast to compete at Galway. Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Quicksilver (Womanizer x Kylemore Crystal), The Monster Partnership's 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, traveled from her home base in Lexington, Kentucky with the help of the USET Foundation Jacqueline B. Mars National Competition & Training Grant to compete in the CCI4*-L at Galway.
Canadian Hawley Bennett-Awad is bringing forward her 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games partner, her own and the Jollybo Syndicate's 16-year-old British Sport Horse mare Jollybo (Jumbo x Polly Coldunnell), for her first FEI competition since finishing in the top 20 at the Kentucky Three-Day Event in 2019.
Erin Kellerhouse and Woodford Reserve (Tinaranas Inspector x Laharns Laughton), her 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, have been on a roll the last 12 months - they have not finished outside the top three at any of their competitions and were third and second in their last two CCI4*-S events. This will be Kellerhouse and Woodford Reserve's first CCI4*-L.
Chloe Smyth and Linda Paine's 10-year-old Holsteiner/Thoroughbred gelding Stag Party (Blauer Vogel 1 x Qtrapastree) just won the Advanced division at Woodside International and will be aiming for their first CCI4*-L completion this weekend.
Emilee Libby and Jakobi completed their first CCI4*-L in 2018 at Fair Hill and were seventh in their second CCI4*-L at Bromont in 2019. So far this year, they haven't finished outside of the top five.
Halliday-Sharp and Smith will be leading the two teams for the Adequan USEF Futures Team Challenge at Galway Downs this weekend. Team Erik is made up of Halliday-Sharp, Libby, and Sophie Click, and Team Leslie is made up of Smith, Brown, and Charlotte Babbitt.
Wayne Quarles (USA) will serve as Galway's Technical Delegate, assisted by Wendy Wergeles (USA).
The President of the Ground Jury for the CCI4*-L and CCI3*-L is Christina Klingspor (SWE) alongside ground jury members Sandy Phillips (GBR) and Valerie Vizcarrondo (USA). Vizcarrondo is the PGJ for the CCI2*-L with Bea di Grazia (USA). Robyn Fisher is the PGJ for the horse trials, and horse trials dressage will be judged by Axel Steiner, Bonnie Baumgartner, and Carolyn Lindholm.
Clayton Fredericks (AUS) is taking over as course designer at Galway for the CCI4*-L and CCI3*-L from Jay Hambly. Bert Wood will once again design the courses for the CCI2*-L and the horse trials.
All show jumping tracks will be designed again this year by Marc Donovan.
Like all other events taking place this year, Galway will be observing the USEF COVID-19 Action Plan guidelines and procedures - anyone on site at the event is asked to wear a mask at all times.
Ride On Video will be live streaming portions of the event for viewers to enjoy from the comfort of their couch! More details can be found here.
Check out this interview with course designer Clayton Fredericks!
The Competition Schedule
Wednesday, October 28
4:00 p.m. - First Horse Inspection (CCI2*-L, CCI3*-L, CCI4*-L)
Preparing for your first horse trial and not sure what is expected of you at each level? Over the course of the next few Rule Refreshers, we will be diving into each level and the performance expectations of each phase. Want to better prepare yourself or your students for their first competition or a move-up? The USEA Eventing Handbook by the Levels is a free resource to all USEA members that outlines clear and consistent guidelines for riders and trainers to refer to when navigating their way through the competition levels.
What happens to a dream deferred? Steve and Vicki Sukup wouldn’t know, because frankly, that’s not their style. Steve is the president and CEO of family-owned Sukup Manufacturing, and also happens to be the co-owner of another Iowan delight—Mo Donegal, the Belmont Stakes winner who was dressed in white carnations earlier this month. Steve and his wife Vicki also have another equine connection who is pretty well known in the eventing world: Elisa Wallace.
Anyone who has ever gone from driving a runaround to taking the wheel of a Ferrari can testify that that there are cars—and then, there are cars. Ben Noonan had a similar epiphany on horseback when he went from riding a trail horse over cross-country fences to riding an eventer. “I didn’t really understand why everyone liked eventing so much,” said Ben, now 18 and on the cusp of a professional career, “until I was riding an event horse.”
From the tadpole division at the local starter horse trials through the CCI5* at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day, equestrian competition brings people together. At every level, horse shows can expand community and foster growth for the sport of eventing.
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