May 27, 2017

LaBraque and Kellerhouse Top Preliminary Challenge Divisions After Dressage

By Woodside Horse Trials - Press Release
Leslie LaBraque and Falkonet let the Preliminary Challenge Rider division. Photo Courtesy of Woodside.

The Spring Event at Woodside was buzzing with activity today as competitors took to the dressage arenas to earn their first scores of the weekend, including the forty-seven entrants in the Preliminary Challenge, which is presented this year by CWD, Devoucoux, Equine Insurance of California, CANTER, CARMA, and Professional’s Choice. At the end of the day, Leslie LaBraque and Erin Kellerhouse lead the rider and horse divisions, respectively.

Leslie LaBraque and her own Falkonet, an 18-year-old Thoroughbred, danced into to lead of the Preliminary Challenge Rider division after earning a score of 30.2 this morning from judges Wayne Quarles and Helen Brettell.

“I was shocked actually. I went off course twice!” LaBraque said in disbelief. “The second time I just completely lost focus, but in my mind I was like, ‘just do good on the other stuff.’" 

Despite the two bobbles, the rest of their test warranted impressive marks. “He is a show off. At home he’s a slug. He just goes through the motions, but as soon as he gets to the venue he perks up and he really puts on a ‘look at me’ kind of attitude,” she continued.

LaBraque and “Falco” have been successful together at this level, but this is their first attempt at the Preliminary Challenge. “I got Falco two years ago. He was owned by professionals, and I’m an amateur. My goal was to do the Prelim Challenge and to do a one-star, so I’m living my dream right now!” she smiled. 

Second place goes to Mallory Hogan and her own Clarissa Purisima after their test produced a score of 31.4. 

“I was really happy with her,” Hogan smiled. “I was a little concerned as to how she would handle the environment for her first time being in that big ring, but she went in and she was really focused. I asked her to do her job and she was really on task. I’m so proud of her.”

Also Preliminary Challenge first-timers, Hogan and “Clarissa,” a 9-year-old Holsteiner mare (Limmerick I x Briza), are using this weekend to prepare for the upcoming North American Junior & Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC). “I’ve always watched [The Preliminary Challenge] here, and I’ve always known it for being this fun experience where there’s a lot more pressure and there’s a lot more atmosphere, which is always cool to experience especially before going to a big show,” she explained.

Alyssa Schaefer and Fuego round out the top three in the rider division. The 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Furst Romancier x Stanzie), who is owned by Schaefer, sits on a mark of 33 going into tomorrow’s jumping phases. 

Erin Kellerhouse and Woodford Reserve lead Preliminary Challenge Horse division after dressage. Photo courtesy of Woodside.

In the horse division, Erin Kellerhouse piloted her own Woodford Reserve to the top spot in the today after posting a score of 24.4.  

“He was very business like he went in there and did his job. He was just a good boy and with me every second,” Kellerhouse reflected on “Woody’s” performance. “I thought his medium trot was really nice, and he’s always relaxed in the free walk. The reinback was the only part that I didn’t like. He’s a little offended by it. He doesn’t understand why he has to back up.”

Kellerhouse moved the 6-year-old Irish Sport Horse up to Preliminary earlier this year, and so far he’s handled the challenges of this level with ease. “It’s his third Prelim, so it will be a lot of course for him. I’m definitely going to have to ride. He’s pretty honest and wants to do the job, he just needs a little time to think about it. If I ride him well and give him a good set up, he’ll be good,” she affirmed.

Rebecca Braitling and Santana II follow in second place. Though this is only their first show together, they earned an impressive 25.4, which is a personal best for the 7-year-old Oldenburg. 

Braitling got the ride just recently as the mare’s owner, Lauren Burnell, is pregnant. Despite their lack of experience together, all the pieces fell into place today. “She was perfect. It had a little bit more atmosphere today it felt like with the wind next to the tent,” Braitling explained.

With dressage in the rear view, she looks forward to the cross country phase with her new ride. “It looks tough out there. They’re using the coffin from the one-star. I’ve schooled her and I’ve jumped her, so I’m pretty confident. She’s a smart mare. I’m excited to see what she’s got,” Braitling continued.

James Alliston and Helen Bouscaren’s Baron are placed third after earning a score of 26.6 this afternoon.

Click here for scores.

Both these divisions will take on Ian Stark’s cross country course tomorrow beginning with the rider division at 8:00 am. To take a look at what they’re up against, check out a course walk on the Woodside Facebook page.

The Preliminary Challenge culminates tomorrow night with the show jumping finale in the Grand Prix Arena. The top ten from each division will jump in reverse order each aiming for a piece of the $15,000 purse.

The best seats in the house are available with the purchase of a Gala Dinner ticket. Reservations ensure that fans, family and friends won’t miss a second of the action, and once our champions are crowned, enjoy drinks, dinner and dancing. Dinner tickets are available for $60 per person or $550 for a table of 10. The Gala Dinner sells out each year, so don’t wait, reserve your tickets today at  

Competitors and spectators are invited to an exclusive opportunity to test drive the brand new Maserati Levante thanks to Gold Medal Sponsor Maserati Silicon Valley. The Levante is the first SUV in the brand’s more than one hundred year history. Test drives are available to be scheduled from 10 am - 3 pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday by appointment only. Please email Theresa at [email protected] to reserve your drive today! 

In addition to the Preliminary Challenge, The Spring Event at Woodside also boasts Beginner Novice through Advanced divisions. Spectators are invited tomorrow for an exciting day of cross country and show jumping for a charge of $10 per car, which includes parking and a program.

The Woodside Preliminary Challenge offers two divisions: the Horse division is open to riders of any level of experience on horses that have not competed at the Intermediate level or above from 2009 to 2017; the Rider division is open to all horses with riders who have not competed at the Intermediate level or above from 2009 to 2017. Horses and riders must achieve two qualifying results at the Preliminary level as a pair in order to compete.

The top pair in each Preliminary Challenge division will be awarded a custom-made saddle. The winner of the Horse division will go home with a JRD Saddle, and the winner of the Rider division will win a Devoucoux saddle.

CANTER and CARMA proudly sponsor the Preliminary Challenge OTTB High Point Award, to be given to the highest placed off-track Thoroughbred. 

The Event at Woodside is excited to welcome CWD, Devoucoux, Equine Insurance of California, CANTER, CARMA and Professional’s Choice as the 2017 Presenting Sponsors of the Spring Event.

Maserati/Ferrari Silicon Valley, Mattioli Automotive group and Sunsprite Warmbloods are the Gold Medal Sponsors.

Silver Medal Sponsors are: JRD Saddles, Majyk Equipe, SmartPak and Voltaire Design.

Bronze Medal Sponsors are: Auburn Laboratories, Inc., Geranium, Ride On Video, Shires Equestrian Products, Tipperary Equestrian and Triple Crown Nutrition.

Friend Sponsors include American Medical Response and Eventing Training Online.

To learn more about The Event at Woodside, please visit

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