The popular Preliminary Challenge drew big crowds and nail-biting competition for the 10th consecutive year at The Spring Event at Woodside. Of the 41 pairs vying for their piece of the $15,000 purse, it was Preliminary Challenge debutants Jordan Linstedt and Kristen Stevenson who ultimately came out on top.
Riders jumped in reverse order of standing Saturday evening and the anticipation was palpable as each pair carefully navigated Chris Barnard’s technical track. Rails were costly as less than five points separated the top ten in both the horse and rider division.
Stevenson found herself in the lead of the rider division after producing a double clear cross-country round Saturday morning with her and Larry Stevenson’s Caison. By the evening, she was the very last rider to enter the Grand Prix Arena, but she rose to the challenge with a penalty free final phase to finish on her dressage score of 30.1.
“It was really nerve wracking,” she described. “The horse is a really good show jumper, and my coach just told me to go in and ride how I know how to ride and he was so good.”
While the victory—and the winner’s check—were sweet, conquering the cross-country course with the 10-year-old Hanoverian was even sweeter. “Just going through cross-country was such a big deal with this horse. We struggled a little bit this season, and that clear round was really emotional for me. He was just so good,” she smiled.
Zoe Zeller and her own Tristan steadily climbed the rankings throughout the weekend, moving from ninth to fifth before finally landing in second, adding nothing to their dressage score across the jumping phases. The 12-year-old Holsteiner concludes the weekend on a score of 32.
Whitney Tucker Billeter, who began the competition in 12th place, also found herself climbing with her own Karvaleo. They finished with a score of 33.5 with no additional jumping penalties added. Their third place result was an overwhelming success for the 7-year-old Irish Sport Horse who started his eventing career with Tucker Billeter only last year.
Washington-based rider Jordan Linstedt has been thoughtfully producing Janine Jaro’s Staccato through the levels and their Preliminary Challenge win confirms all belief in the 9-year-old Hanoverian. After sharing the dressage lead in the horse division, Staccato’s foot perfect cross-country performance had them ahead going into the final show jumping phase where he lit up in front of the electric crowd.
“He was fantastic. He jumped out of his skin the whole way around. It’s nerve wracking going in there because you never know—you could get unlucky and have a silly rail come down, but he jumped his heart out all the way around. And after jumping cross-country this morning, you’re not ever quite sure what you’re going to have either, but he felt like a million bucks,” she said. The pair end the weekend on a result of 28.8.
Though Linstedt has extensive experience competing across North America, she was in unfamiliar territory as a Preliminary Challenge first-timer, but she asserts that this competition environment is the perfect opportunity for an up-and-coming horse like Staccato.
“I think going in with a big atmosphere like this is important in producing a horse for the upper level stuff,” she explained. “He’s fully capable of winning every time; it’s just having everything line up. And as you’re producing him you don’t know quite what you’re going to get, but he’s there and all the pieces are there. It’s fun having them all come together.”
Tamra Smith piloted Luisa Southworth’s Elliot-V into second place in the division. She and the 9-year-old Dutch Warmblood delivered a double clear effort in the final phase to finish on 29.1 points. Smith is followed in third by close friend Heather Morris, who finished on on 29.4 points with Classic’s Mojah, a 9-year-old Oldenburg owned by Megan N. Sykes.
Hosted at the beautiful Horse Park at Woodside, the Preliminary Challenge is the only event of its kind, offering a world class competitive environment tailored for horses and riders who have not competed above the Preliminary level. Dubbed the “Preliminary Olympics,” this unique competition is the highlight of the spring event, giving both horses unmatched opportunity for atmosphere and prize money.
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 2018 Presenting Sponsors of the Spring Event.
Sunsprite Warmbloods returns as a Gold Medal Sponsor.
Silver Medal Sponsors are: SmartPak and Voltaire Design.
Bronze Medal Sponsors are: Auburn Laboratories, Inc., Geranium, Ride On Video, Western Saddlery, and Triple Crown Nutrition.
Eventing Training Online is a Friend Level Sponsor.
To learn more about The Event at Woodside, please visit www.woodsideeventing.com.
To purchase tickets for the Gala Dinner, please visit www.woodsideeventing.com/tickets.
To learn more about eventing, please visit the U.S. Eventing Association’s website at www.useventing.com.
Are you following along with the action from home this weekend? Or maybe you're competing at an event and need information fast. Either way, we’ve got you covered! Check out the USEA’s Weekend Quick Links for links to information including the prize list, ride times, live scores, and more for all the events running this weekend.
It is with great disappointment and regret, which we know will be shared by many, that we announce the cancellation of the 2021 Badminton Horse Trials which was due to be held “behind closed doors” between May 5 and May 9. This cancellation also includes the BE90 and BE100 Championships (May 4 and 5).
We've got another Team Talk update for you listeners this week! Nicole Brown is joined once again by USEF Eventing High Performance Director Erik Duvander and USEF Managing Director for Eventing Jenni Autry to talk about the U.S. eventing team's path forward to Tokyo.
My name is Tayah Fuller and I’m 14 years old. “On course” to me is a phrase that makes my heart pump fast and my excitement go wild. There is no better feeling than galloping through a field or flying over cross-country jumps with my heart thrumming along, especially when it is with my best friend. You see, I was born with a congenital heart murmur. While it has never really affected my athletic abilities, the one time that I notice it is when I am riding through a cross-country course with my horse.