Emilee Libby very much wanted to protect the Galway Downs International Horse Trials CCI4*-S lead in what would be her biggest win with the 10-year-old Jakobi, and two major distractions didn’t stand in their way.
First, Libby noticed runners-up Tamra Smith and Wembley circle late on their course as she approached the startbox. Once underway, the loudspeaker announced that Frankie Thieriot Stutes and Chatwin had parted company. “It was actually more nerve-wracking,” said the 31-year-old Libby. “I was worried whether she was OK.” (Thieriot Stutes and Chatwin are both fine.)
Jakobi, however, gave her no additional distractions as they sailed around Jay Hambly’s track. He’s a powerful athlete whose energy in Saturday’s clear show jumping round had given Libby pause as to whether she could manage it on cross-country. “He was with me on course, my half halts were working and he was moving off my leg,” she reported. With her training business based at Galway Downs, she is careful to keep cross-country schooling to a minimum so that Jakobi is freshly impressed with the obstacles in competition. A new bit arrangement is working well at this level, too. “I’m usually not a fan of gag bits, but he is going really well in a simple rope cavesson with a gag. I think he prefers the poll pressure and he was listening really well through the whole track.”
As a junior, Libby was something of a child prodigy: first one-star at 14; first two-star at 16; first Kentucky four-star at 19; plus three North American Young Riders Championship appearances. She credits coach Buck Davidson for much of her success and is grateful to work with USET Chef d’Equipe Erik Duvander this week at Galway toward her hopes of more team competition. “The whole team aspect is a lot of fun for me.”
And, after several red ribbons in major competitions, “I’m finally not the bridesmaid!”
It’s possible that Pandora’s petite size made it easier for James Alliston to navigate the sharp right turn he opted for after the BarnMaster 4ABC combination, which took them through some low hanging branches. “That was a bit stupid!” Alliston said, describing the smooth rest of the course as “a testament to the mare’s confidence and bravery.” The gamble contributed to crossing through the flags four seconds under the 6:30 time limit to finish second on a 38.60. That pleased both Alliston and Pandora’s many fans. “Everywhere we go, people call out 'Good luck Pandora!' It’s kind of cool.”
“James told me not to make that turn,” laughed third-place finisher Sabrina Glaser, who traveled from British Columbia with five horses and several students to gain much-appreciated international mileage. Having had a high fault show jumping round Saturday, she was surprised to learn of her third-place finish with Rembrandt after Sunday’s cross-country. “I saw Jimmy (Alliston) do it and we had some time to make up, so I had to make some tough decisions. I pulled on the right rein and kept my head down.” It wasn’t their smoothest outing, Sabrina acknowledged, but not bad at all considering it was only their second time running after four months riding in an indoor ring through Canada’s winter.
Young Rider Mallory Hogan and Clarissa Purisima had some time penalties but moved up to fourth in her first four-star adventure. Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 slipped to fifth after a refusal, while dressage leader Frankie Thieriot Stutes and Chatwin had a slip mid-course and parted company. Along with a refusal that Tamra Smith attributed to inattentiveness, on her part and Wembley’s, she jumped the wrong first fence and was eliminated after completing the whole course.
“Otherwise, he jumped all of the hard parts great,” Smith said. “It’s kind of the smack in the head we needed before Badminton Horse Trials,” which awaits the powerhouse pair in early May.
CCI4*-S awarded ribbons to sixth place, with the winner receiving $1,000 in prize money; $500 and $50 gift certificates from Devoucoux and Ride On Video, respectively; three photographs from Marcus Greene Outdoor Photography; and one bottle of APF Pro. Second place received a $750 prize and a $50 SmartPak gift certificate; third earned $600 in prize money and Flair Equine Nasal Strip; and fourth, a $450 prize. Fifth and sixth place finishers received $200 and $100 respectively. All ribbon winners earned coveted Galway Downs swag: wine glasses, beer steins, caps, etc.
Smith Takes the CCI3*-S
As predicted, Tamra Smith and Mai Baum’s 21.9 dressage score remained unbeatable, and a new star in her big string, Danito, stayed in second, both having clear cross-country rounds. Erin Kellerhouse and Woodford Reserve did the same to stay in the third spot. “I knew I probably had 10 seconds in hand,” said Smith of Mai Baum’s and her own calm demeanor heading out of on course. “He covers the ground really well and I knew if I just kept it smooth, we’d be fine. Actually, with all my horses, when things are going right, if you’re smooth, you’re also fast.”
With six horses starting the CCI3*-S, plus Wembley in the CCI4*-S, and a full stable of Next Level Eventing students to coach with partner Heather Morris, Smith had a busy weekend. Gatorade and a regular fitness routine powered her through. “I typically ride 10 horses a day and go to the gym five or six days, so I’m in pretty good shape for this.”
Ruth Bley’s Danito has finished on his dressage score almost every outing since Smith got the ride last July. “He’s greener than Lexus (Mai Baum), but he’s going to give him a run for his money.”
Erin Kellerhouse was thrilled with this latest chapter in Woodford Reserve’s progress. She’s had the 8-year-old since the end of his 4-year-old year and “he’s been a pleasure to bring along at every step.” They were clean and well under the time on cross-country to stay on their 27.30 dressage score for third.
CCI3*-S awarded ribbons to 12th place, with the top prize of $1,000, $500 and $50 gift certificates from Voltaire Design and Ride On Video; three photographs from Marcus Greene Outdoor Photography; and one bottle of APF Pro. The runner-up received $750 in prize money and a $50 SmartPak gift certificate. Third place received a $600 prize and a Flair Equine Nasal Strip; fourth earned $450; and fifth, $200. Plus, all were gifted Galway Downs branded goodies.
Pellegrini Makes It A CCI2*-S Victory
Excess excitement led to RF Eloquence not getting through the starting gate until several seconds after the clock started ticking. Yet 15-year-old Meg Pellegrini didn’t get frazzled even with the lead at stake. “It was important to me that he was confident and happy, so if he hadn’t wanted to get in the box any longer, I would have stopped worrying about the time.” The seasoned campaigner got right down to business after that and Pellegrini was thrilled with their trip. Even a lost shoe somewhere mid-course went unnoticed by horse or rider until someone retrieved it later.
James Alliston earned another red ribbon with Cassio’s Picasso, a 7-year-old Paint Trakehner who is attracting attention for his athletic abilities and his good looks. “He moves and jumps really well and has a really nice temperament – all the bits,” along with two foals on the way and growing interest in his breeding services.
Lilly Linder and Tucker Too stayed in the third spot they’d held after show jumping, and Pellegrini and her longtime partner Ganymede finished in the fourth seed they attained after dressage.
CCI2*-S awarded ribbons to 12th, with the winner receiving a Devoucoux saddle, plus $1,000 in prize money, a $50 Ride On Video gift certificate, three photographs from Marcus Green Outdoor Photography, and one bottle of APF Pro. The runner-up earned a $750 prize and a $50 SmartPak gift certificate. Third received a $600 prize and Flair Equine Nasal Strip; fourth, $450; fifth, $200; and $100 for sixth through eighth finishers. These winners went home with Galway Downs swag, too.
Just as riders regularly thanked Galway’s all-important volunteers and wished their fellow competitors good luck, exhibitors consistency praised the Galway Downs organizers and the venue itself for staging a high-quality event. Whether preparing for the Land Rover Kentucky in April or a graduation from the Beginner Novice ranks, riders echoed comments like those of Canadian four-star competitor Sabrina Glaser. “They are doing an incredible job!”
Overall entries were up significantly over last year’s event, with Californians competing with top contenders from throughout the Northwest and Arizona. Especially strong turn-outs in the CCI3*-S and CCI2*-S divisions are positive trends for the West Coast eventing scene and signal a strong 2019 for the region.
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While Great Britain has a strong lead in the team competition at Tokyo 2020 after the second session of dressage, the USA has climbed up two places to ninth courtesy of Phillip Dutton’s score of 30.5 on Z.
The world number one Oliver Townend has put Great Britain in gold medal position after the first of three sessions of dressage at the Tokyo Olympics.
Second into the arena, Townend delivered an extremely accurate performance and did not waste a mark on the flea-bitten grey 14-year-old Ballaghmor Class to score 23.6 - the fifth-best mark by a British rider at an Olympics, according to EquiRatings.
It’s the turn of the world’s best eventing athletes to stand under the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games spotlight over the next few days as all but one of the horses presented at this morning’s horse inspection at Baji Koen Equestrian Park were confirmed for action by the Ground Jury.