May 17, 2024

Tommy Greengard and That’s Me Z Top Galway Downs Preliminary Challenge

By Kim F. Miller - Edited Press Release
Tommy Greengard and That's Me Z. Tina Fitch Photography photo

Young professional Tommy Greengard and That’s Me Z added this year’s Galway Downs Preliminary Challenge title to their two years of ongoing successes in the sport.

Launched in 2009, the Challenge is a West Coast fixture on the spring eventing circuit, giving horses and riders a step-up opportunity with slightly more difficult dressage and show jumping demands.

Equally important, the Challenge showcases its stars in front of a full VIP Pavilion in the buzzy party atmosphere of the Grand Prix Arena. It’s great for testing horses in an exciting environment and it’s festive and fun for exhibitors and fans.

The Preliminary Challenge ran concurrent with the Galway Downs Spring Horse Trials, May 10-12 at the Galway Downs Equestrian Center in Southern California’s Temecula Valley Wine Country. A lovely Mother's Day brunch carried the celebratory vibe into Sunday.

Greengard rides for Chocolate Horse Farm, and he and Chocolate Horse’s owner Andrea Pfeiffer own “Z” together. The pair splashed onto the scene in 2022 as the top scorers, nationally, in the USEA Young Event Horse 5-Year-Old Championships and haven’t looked back.

With Intermediate mileage under Z’s belt already, the Challenge’s questions were easily answered in all three phases. After their 27.7 dressage start from judges Michelle Henry and Carolyn Lindholm, the pair was flawless the rest of the way over cross-country designed by Rob Mobley and Alessandra Allen-Shin and show jumping designed by Chris Barnard.

The bigger priority was giving the 7-year-old Zangersheide more exposure to the Saturday night lights and atmosphere of the show jumping finalé. Neither that, nor the first time show jumping after cross-country, phased the talented horse. “He’s always been a very confident, special horse to bring along,” Tommy said of their two years together.

The Challenge has consistently offered $15,000 in cash and prizes and emphasized special awards presentations and parties to mark the achievements of all.

This year, exhibitors received gifts from Devoucoux, RevitaVet, and the Arma line from Shires Equestrian. Devoucoux and CWD provided the top horse and rider a generous basket of approximately $1,500 worth of bridles, reins, martingale, show boots, etc.

A Third Win

Greengard first rode in the Preliminary Challenge four years ago, and this year marks his third win. His own four-star partner, Joshua MBF, was his first winning ride, and another Young Event Horse superstar owned by the Chocolate Horse partners and Leonardo Diterma, was also crowned champ with Tommy in the irons.

This year, Greengard also finished sixth with I’m All In, a 6-year-old German Sport Horse that is newer to the level.

“It’s huge to get this level of atmosphere,” he remarked. “It’s great for any event horse. We love the Preliminary Challenge, and we encourage everybody to do it.”

Greengard refuses to “get all balled up about” about future plans, but the hope for Z is the FEI WBFSH Eventing World Championships for Young Horses in France this fall. It’s a long ways off, he emphasized, but next steps include additional three-star mileage in Washington state and at Rebecca Farm (Kalispell, Montana) this summer. Receiving the USET Foundation’s Amanda Pirie Warrington Grant this year is making extra preparation possible.

Chocolate Horse Farm’s enthusiasm for the Challenge led to six stablemates entering the line-up. One of them is 2023 USEF Eventing Young Rider Championship team silver medalist Greylin Booth, who finished third overall and as the top rider.

Booth and Quick Quinn, a 7-year-old Holsteiner, stayed on their 33.8 dressage score. (she and professional Bec Braitling tied on that final score, with the closest to optimum cross-country time breaking the tie in Booth's favor.)

“It was so fun,” said Booth, a high school junior who also finished 11th with Modesto RE. “Both of my horses are coming 7, and we picked the Preliminary Challenge for its format. We knew it would be a good experience to show jump in that amount of atmosphere, and the dressage test is harder than anything I’d experienced.”

She loved the “incredibly fun, open” cross-country track. “Quinn is so brave and honest, and I was able to let him go in some of the stretches, and he still had energy for show jumping. I am really pleased with how well he handled the atmosphere and focused on his job.”

As for her own nerves in that environment, Booth said she benefited from a similar experience during last fall’s USEF Eventing Young Riders Championship, presented by USEA. Breath work and visualization techniques have been a big help, too. Above all, Pfeiffer and Greengard and the Chocolate Horse team have prepared her and her horses for confident progress.

The Galway Downs CCI2*-L this fall is penciled in for both of Booth's horses. “I’m super excited about that, and I also believe in letting the horses tell me what they want to do so we ensure good experiences.”

Braitling, the California-based Australian rider, took fourth place overall with Elliot V, one of two horses she rode in the Challenge for friend Tamie Smith.

A Warrior Rises

Southern California professional and Galway Downs regular Auburn Excell Brady rode the 7-year-old BSP Boudica to top horse honors. Like all three top finishers, they added nothing to their dressage effort; in this case a 29.5.

Brady was thrilled with the Dutch Warmblood mare’s outing from the sand box to show jumping.

“This dressage test is more stop and go, and for a horse like her, it’s kind of ‘in your face.’ Except for not working on the rein back enough, I’m pleased that I’d actually gotten her to where she knew what things were happening. She was confident and not put off by me," she said.

This pair has come a long way since Boudica came to Brady in the fall of 2022 as a sales horse. “She was never an easy ride, but I finally started getting along with her.” A “come to Jesus” lesson with Ian Stark last summer helped turn the tide, she reported.

At the suggestion of Brady’s husband, the mare’s name was changed to that of a notorious Celtic warrior. “Maybe I’m superstitious, but I think that might have helped, too!” she said.

Competing regularly at Galway Downs helped put the mare at ease. And, fellow professional Taren Hoffos gave advice—“stop pulling on her”—that paid off over cross-country, Brady added.

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Quick Links: June 15-16

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.

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