Mar 29, 2024

Tamie Smith the Star So Far at Galway Downs International Horse Trials CCI4*-S

By Kim F. Miller - Edited Press Release
Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Sherry Stewart photo

Temecula, Calif.—March 28— Tamie Smith and her 2023 Land Rover Kentucky CCI5*-L champion partner Mai Baum established a distant lead in dressage at the Galway Downs CCI4*-S on Thursday, scoring a 23.0.

With a rainy weekend forecast causing dressage and show jumping to be held on the same day in this division, Smith and the 18-year-old German Sport Horse gelding (Loredano 2 x Ramira) held that lead by easily clearing the jumps within the time allowed.

Emilee Libby and Natalia Valente's 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Singapore x Tovita) Toska sit second, also clear in stadium jumping, to retain their 32.2 dressage score.

Smith occupies two more top-5 spots going into Friday's cross-country finalé. Kynan is third after today's two phases, with a 34.7, and Elliot V, is fourth on a 36, after 1.5 time faults in show jumping.

"I think that was his best dressage ever," Tamie said of Mai Baum's effort.

Ground Jury president and judge Sandy Phillips concurred. "It was wonderful to see," she said of their test. "That is the picture we are looking for, with uphill self-carriage and in balance. When I talk about balance at the four-star level, we want to see engagement of the hindquarters, so the horse can lift the front end."

"Lexus," who's owned by Alex Ahearn, Ellen Ahearn, and Eric Markell, showed a performance that reflected both a continuation of Smith's program—in which she works with several dressage luminaries—and an extra dose of forward emphasis, courtesy of Scottish eventing legend Ian Stark. "I know not everybody would think of Ian for the flat work, but he really helped with the forward for all my horses," said Smith.

"I have a dressage background, and I think we can tend to ride almost with a little bit of a backwards feeling," shecontinued. "Today Lexus was really forward and in front of my leg." In short, "We're just right with each other."

That was true for show jumping, too, over Marc Donovan's track. This was Lexus' first eventing competition after earning individual third and team silver at CHIO Aachen (Germany) last July. He prepped at show jumping and dressage competitions this year, and "was happy to be out here and running around" back in the eventing realm.

Lexus goes next to the Defender Kentucky Three Day Event in April to run the CCI4*-S as a prep to peaking, hopefully, in Paris for the Olympics. "It's about doing whatever is best for each horse," Smith explained. "Paris is going to be a very big test. I think some horses need to run a long format before, and some don't. I think it's best for Lexus not to."

Smith was equally thrilled with Kynan, and Elliot V, both Dutch Warmbloods, and with two new horses. The Irish Sport Horse, Sumas Tina Turner, and the Selle Français stallion, Pierre's Farceur du Bochard, are second and fourth in the CCI3*-S after dressage.

Asked about her deep string of high-quality horses, Tamie said, "I'm just going to keep enjoying it! It was a longer time that I had really difficult horses!"

Libby described Toska's test as crossing a new threshold in rideability. "We've been drilling the dressage more this last month," she said. "I realized she can do 3, 4, 5 days of dressage in a row and get better. Sometimes a horse can get annoyed or tired of it, but she's getting stronger, and we're putting those pieces together. She is starting to mentally come back to earth for me."

Clean show jumping looked to be a breeze for the mare. Libby hopes that Toska will retain her new level of rideability over Clayton Fredericks' cross-country course. "Basically, though, she knows her job. I just need to point her in the right direction," she said.

Organizer Robert Kellerhouse's crew, Galway's officials, and exhibitors are adept at working around the weather. With rains forecast to hit Saturday, this year's event became even shorter. The three-star and four-star were condensed to Thursday and Friday, and the CCI1*-S and Parker Equine CCI2*-S will hold all three phases on Friday.

The 14-horse CCI3*-S field did dressage this afternoon, with Taren Hoffos and Regalla sitting first on a 32.0 score. The pack is close. Smith and Sumas Tina Turner are second on a 32.6, and Megan McIver and Elle sit third on a 32.7.

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