Apr 01, 2023

Smith Stays Ahead Amid Schedule & Arena Adjustments at Galway Downs

By Kim F Miller - Edited Press Release
Tamie Smith and Danito. Tina Fitch photo

Temecula, Calif.March 31Sunshine was Friday's first star at Galway Downs International after Thursday's long afternoon of heavy rain, and Tamie Smith ended the day in her same starring role with the first, second, and third spots in the CCI4*-S after show jumping.

She's first with Ruth Bley's 14-year-old Hanoverian gelding Danito (Dancier x Wie Musik), second with Alexandra Ahearn, Ellen Ahearn, and Eric Markell's Mai Baum (Loredano 2 x Ramira), and third with Julianne Guariglia's 12-year-old Argentine Silla mare Solaguayre California (Casparo x Solaquayre Calandria). They all stay on their dressage scores of 21.8, 22.2, and 31.7 respectively.

"He was a little casual," Smith said of the hard knocks Danito gave the first two fences in Marc Donovan's show jumping course. "I was like, 'What are you doing? But, actually that's kind of normal. Danito thrives in the bigger atmospheres and the bigger tracks."

Drawing on her work with Australian show jumper Scott Keach, Smith added an extra stride before fence three to "get him back on his hind legs. He really jumped up and around it, and he was like, 'Oh, okay!' Then, he was in his element and he was great."

Smith credits Keach for giving her the tools needed to improve each of her horses' jumping skills, in their training and in the heat of the moment like today. Danito, Mai Baum ,and Solaguayre California were double clear and the 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood Elliot V (Zavall VDL x Vera R), owned by the Elliot V Partnership, had only a .8 time fault.

Mai Baum was "even more spectacular than normal" and "California" "jumped amazing once she got over being beside herself on the way to the first jump," shared Smith. Compared to her more seasoned stablemates, Smith notes that California struggles when show jumping comes before cross-country because of sheer excess energy.

Asked which horse's performance she was most pleased with, Smith named Elliot V, who's in sixth place with a 34.6. "He jumped like a million bucks," she said. "As I was jumping around, I was thinking that I could really go out show jumping with this one."

After The Rain Has Fallen

Uncertain schedules greeted the riders in the morning as the organizing team evaluated the arena surfaces following Thursday's freak downpours.

The CCI2*-S dressage scheduled to start Friday's action in the Grand Prix Arena was postponed in favor of letting the sun dry out the footing. As the day progressed, it was decided that only the CCI4*-S jumping would be staged and was moved to an adjacent arena, normally used as the warmup for the showcase ring.

Even though both large rings have the same footing material and endured the same amount of rain, "every arena is different," explained FEI Technical Delegate Andrew Temkin. "We recognized the Grand Prix arena was holding more water than was optimal. The best way to mitigate that was to postpone the two-star dressage, giving it more time to dry."

Making the decision was an "evolving process," Temkin added. "We evaluated every few hours, then made the decision at noon."

While riders respected and appreciated the organizer's caution, the uncertainty did "make for kind of a chaotic day," said Marc Grandia, whose double clear with Campari FFF (Camiros x Tanner) moves him up to fifth, on a 34.3. Owned by Team Rebecca LLC, the 13-year-old Holsteiner made easy work of a course Grandia summed up as "fun" with an effective 79-second time allowed.

"I'm riding three other horses, so the changes meant I was shifting around other things, but mainly we just have to go with the flow," Grandia said. "I have a lot of praise for [organizer] Robert [Kellerhouse] for making the right adjustments so that we had the best ground to jump on. The footing is really drying out well, and it was great today."

Sitting fourth in the CCI4*-S, Emilee Libby is thrilled with Toska (Singapore x Tovita), Natalie Valente's 14-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare. It's the mare's first outing at the level, and she was double clear on a 32.9. "She's the kind of horse that needs a challenge, and I think we're here," Libby observed. Today's biggest challenge for the mare was colorful, fresh-looking new fences.

"There were some very big, bright, beautiful jump designs in there that she hadn't seen before," she said. "She was a little more backed off than usual—not as in she wasn't going to jump, but she was big-eyed and jumped with her knees up to her chest."

Katy Robinson and the 11-year-old Thoroughbred Outrageous Dance (Outrageous Limit x I Wanna Dance) incurred 1.8 time penalties, but the crowd cared only for the spectacular riding Robinson did after a stirrup fell off her saddle somewhere around fence four, a triple bar spread.

"I didn't realize it was actually gone until I saw it lying in the ground on my way to jump six," Robinson said. With the crowd loudly in her corner, "I think I may have ridden better because I was so focused on staying in the middle of my horse and supporting him!"

Smith, Libby, and Robinson concurred that Saturday's cross-country will be up to four-star snuff in every way.

CCI2*-S and CCI3*-S Have Double-Duty Saturday

Getting the footing right involved pushing the two-star and three-star jumping to Saturday morning. It starts at 8 a.m. with the three-star contenders, with riders heading out on cross-country starting at 8:30 a.m. It's not ideal, especially for those riding multiple horses, but it's another thing the riders accepted as necessary.

Jordan Linstedt is one of those riders with multiple horses. "I'm a little stressed out about the three-star jumping and cross-country both tomorrow. With eight horses going through the day, that makes it challenging!"

After Thursday's dressage, Lindstedt and Kiran D'Souza's 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding FE Friday (Chin Champ x U-Careta) are third in the three-star, behind Smith and the Kynan Syndicate's 8-year-old Dutch Warmblood Kynan (Envoy x Danieta), and Karen O'Neal and Annika Asling's 9-year-old Westphalian gelding Clooney 14.

Counterbalancing tomorrow's worries for Lindstedt is her joy over her CCI2*-S dressage test with the Lovas Partnership's Lovely Lola. (Londontime x Hauptstutbuch Laetizia). The Washington-based rider and the 9-year-old Hanoverian earned a 26.9 to lead the division.

"She was a bit nervous and tense, I think because of the lighting and the late time, but she used it to her benefit in the form of expressiveness," Linstedt explained. "She's an extraordinary horse that I'm extremely fortunate to ride."

Friday's test was the latest fulfillment of predictions for big potential. Lola came into Linstedt's life at the insistence of the late Jean Moyer. "Jean found her in Europe and said, 'You just have to buy her,'" she said.

Linstedt's five-star partner RevitaVet Capato had recently been euthanized after a pasture accident. It was not an ideal time to buy a new prospect, but the Moyers, Bridget and Kevin Brewer, and Klaus and Teresa Giloi came together as the Lovas Partnership to make it possible.

Lauren Billys and her own Can Be Sweet (Candyman x Tres Belle), an 11-year-old German Sport Horse are second in the two-star on a 28.1, and Gabriella Ringer and her 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Get Wild (Plot Blue x Cantana) are third on a 29.8.

Saturday's Schedule

CCI3*-S Jumping starts a 8 a.m.

Cross-country starts at 8:30 a.m.

CCI2*-S Jumping starts at 9:30

Cross-country starts at 12:30

CCI4*-S Cross-country starts at 10:05

All Horse Trials divisions are running as scheduled, with some arena changes.

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