Wicked rains waylaid winter riding plans in the Bay Area. However, exhibitors and fans at The Spring Event at Woodside benefit big time in the form of blooming wildflowers and vibrant green expanses at The Horse Park at Woodside. The venue for this May 24-26 eventing tradition is extra beautiful this year, showcasing upgrades that include spanking new show stabling and a gathering spot near the show office with inspiring views of the 272-acre property.
Situated a half-hour south of San Francisco, The Horse Park at Woodside also sports less obvious but equally appreciated improvements: new twists and turns on the Ian Stark-designed international cross-country course, doubled water capacity, and a new electrical transformer are a few examples.
As always, it’s the equestrians who shine brightest and The Spring Event’s entry list is already stacked. Many-time champ James Alliston brings five horses, including his golden girl Advanced star Pandora. Their stiff competition in this top division includes fellow 2019 hot streakers Derek DiGrazia and Ringwood Justice and Shannon Lilley and Greenfort Carnival, just to name a few. In the lower divisions, Andrea Baxter will be fresh from Land Rover Kentucky, and Tamie Smith from the Badminton Horse Trials, both aboard future superstars.
The Famous Preliminary Challenge
Along with competition from Intro and Beginner Novice divisions to Advanced, the Spring Event hosts the nationally renowned Preliminary Challenge. Offering a whopping $15,000 in prize money in both the horse and rider divisions, the Preliminary Challenge has delivered on its mission of prepping pairs for the international ranks for 11 years now. The unique format begins Friday, May 24 with dressage, then cross-country on Saturday morning.
Saturday evening, show jumping unfurls in a decked-out Grand Prix Arena surrounded by VIP and general admission seating. The top 10 pairs in each division jump in reverse order of their standings, which amps up the excitement. Gala seating is tented and heated and sells out at light-speed: dinner tickets are $60 each; tables of 10 are $550. Both are available now at www.woodsideeventing.com/tickets.
This year’s Preliminary Challenge may be especially tough: Bec Braitling, a Preliminary horse champion pilot in 2017, has three horses entered, including fast-rising star Dassett Ricochet. On the rider card, 15-year-old Meg Pellegrini has to be a favorite with RF Eloquence, her partner in CCI2* wins at Galway Downs and Twin Rivers earlier this season. Given the intensity of the competition, many pairs are preparing with the Preliminary Challenge Preview, part of the May 10-12 Galway Downs Spring Horse Trials in Southern California’s Temecula.
In addition to the $15,000 purse, the highest-placing Thoroughbred at the Spring Event at Woodside will be awarded the Preliminary Challenge High Point OTTB award, generously sponsored again this year by CANTER and CARMA. Both organizations are dedicated to finding second careers for Thoroughbreds when their racing days are done and the eventing world has seen many stars ascend through their efforts.
For more information on The Spring Event at Woodside, visit www.woodsideeventing.com.
All horses who presented this morning at the final horse inspection at the Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International Three-Day Event were accepted, but one notable horse wasn’t presented. D.A. Duras, Jacqueline Mars and Debbie Adam’s 11-year-old KWPN gelding (Numero Uno x Medoc) was withdrawn by Lauren Kieffer before the horse inspection. The pair were sitting in third place in the CCI4*-L so their withdrawal moves up the majority of the division.
The scoreboard was kept working at full tilt on cross-country today at The Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International as 24 of the 41 CCI4*-L starters picked up some sort of jump penalty on Derek di Grazia’s course. The leader position changed several times throughout the afternoon as 15 penalties were handed out by the ground jury, but Waylon Roberts and Lancaster kept their slate clean to take over the top spot.
Derek di Grazia’s cross-country courses at The Dutta Corp. Fair Hill International is the setting for all the action today in Elkton, Md. Here is what you need to know to follow along:
With 70 percent of the scores coming from the second day of the USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) East Coast Championships, the 4- and 5-year-olds had a big moment in front of them to impress the judges Chris Ryan and Sally Ike. The horses were judged over a set of show jumps (15 percent) then moved directly into the cross-country portion (30 percent) before finally showing off their gallop and earning an overall score for their jumping (15 percent) and general impression (10 percent).