A showdown at the Galway corral is shaping up as top eventers prepare for the Galway Downs International Horse Trials, March 29-31, 2019, in Temecula, California.
Good friends Tamie Smith and Frankie Thieriot Stutes, both on US Equestrian’s Pre-Elite Training list, finished one and two last year and will morph into fierce competitors as they face off in the international’s top division. It’s a strong field in the West’s first CCI4*-S (Short) since the FEI elevated the starring system for international competition. Athletes include long-reigning Galway champ James Alliston and the hot-streaking mare Pandora and USEA Emerging Athletes U25 star Mallory Hogan on her longtime partner Clarrissa Purisima.
Set in the heart of Temecula Valley wine country, the action unfurls under the keen eye of USET Eventing High Performance Director Erik Duvander. He’s out West scouting prospects for this year’s Pan Am Games, next year’s Olympics, and future U.S. team consideration.
Lauren Billys brings a small herd of horses from Northern California, including her 2016 Olympic partner Castle Larchfield Purdy at the CCI3*-S level, plus two CCI2*-S entries. Olympic course designer Derek DiGrazia and his wife Bea have two up-and-comers from the famous Ringwood Irish Sporthorse line campaigning in Open Intermediate.
With competition from CCI4*-S to Beginner Novice, the Galway Downs International Horse Trials draws Olympians and newbies alike. New facility, stabling, and footing upgrades await riders already accustomed to a first-class competition venue. “Galway Downs has quickly become a premiere equestrian facility that Olympic hopefuls, previous Olympic riders and top professionals can compete at to prepare their horses and themselves for the world stage,” notes Tamie Smith. “Organizer Robert Kellerhouse and his team have worked tirelessly to make improvements to create a venue that is one of the best on the West Coast.”
Galway Downs has been receiving high praise from exhibitors for some time now. Ken Smith’s purchase of the 242-acre property in 2010 triggered significant investments in the special events and equestrian competition sites and riders are especially grateful. After this past fall’s Galway Downs International, exhibitor and Eventing Riders Association of North American president Shannon Lilley was thrilled with the improvements made at that time. “The guys did a tremendous job on the cross-country footing and the new warm-up ring and stadium jumping rings and footing are great.” Those and other upgrades “really make it a special atmosphere. It’s very good for the West Coast.”
In becoming a mecca for top equestrian sport in all disciplines, Galway Downs is harnessing the good work, good will, and generous support of many key players in the sport. Nilforushan Equisport Events, along with Footing Solutions USA, have brought fantastic footing through their sponsorship of the Grand Prix Arena and warm-up ring, and a new jumper ring and cross-country warm-up area. Becoming host of the entire six-week Adequan West Coast Dressage Festival is an additional source of upgrades, as is the ongoing hosting of equestrian competitions almost every weekend of the year.
Many of the most recent improvements are things “that you won’t notice until you notice,” said Kellerhouse. In the process of adding infrastructure that will expand the venue’s capacity to host bigger events, major upgrades to the power and water systems, RV facilities, and permanent and portable stabling have been underway all winter.
Galway Downs International Horse Trials competition begins Friday March 29 with dressage for all divisions. On Saturday, it’s show jumping for the upper levels (to accommodate the new “S” format) and cross-country for the lower levels. On Sunday, upper levels finish on cross-country and the national levels finish with show jumping. (Ride times available March 25 at www.galwaydowns.net). The course designer is Canada’s Jay Hambly, with an assist from the USA’s Bert Wood, familiar to many as the builder of many obstacles on Galway’s track. The all-important competitors party is set for Saturday at 6 p.m. in the Patrons Tent.
For more information on the Galway Downs International Horse Trials, visit www.galwaydowns.net.
Tamie Smith and Mai Baum were the highest placed combination of the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team at the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ The Netherlands hosted at the Military Boekelo CCIO4*-L in Enschede, the Netherlands, earning a final score of 31.9 for 11th place out of a competitive field of 97 starters. The Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team, comprised of Tamie Smith, Liz Halliday-Sharp, Jennie Brannigan and reserve Matt Flynn, was led under the guidance of Chef d’Equipe Erik Duvander.
Mya Poulos and Vanessa Stroh were the junior and adult amateur recipient of the award at the Otter Creek Farm Fall Horse Trials, September 13-15, 2019, which hosted the Area IV leg of the Charles Owen Technical Merit Award. The Charles Owen Technical Merit Award takes place in each of the 10 USEA Areas and rewards one junior and one adult amateur riders for their safe and effective cross-country riding.
The 2019 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention is only two months away! Multiple keynote speakers, three-day eventing inspired films, and a 60th anniversary celebration – the schedule is packed with special highlights that will make this year unforgettable. The 2019 USEA Annual Meeting & Convention is on Dec. 12-15 in Boston, Massachusetts at the Sheraton Boston Hotel.
In the thrilling finale to the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ 2019 series at Boekelo, The Netherlands today, Team Germany posted their fourth win of the season while league leaders Sweden held on to take the series title. However, some of the biggest smiles were on Swiss faces when they pulled Olympic qualification out of the bag.