This week's USEA Podcast is about all things Galway! The Galway Downs International Event is taking place this weekend starting on Wednesday, October 28 with the first horse inspection for the FEI levels. Nicole Brown is joined on the show by Galway Downs's cross-country course designer Clayton Fredericks for a chat about what riders can expect at Galway this weekend before she and Diarm Byrne of Equiratings discuss which pairs to watch this weekend.
For those who are not familiar, Fredericks provides an overview of what the venue at Galway Downs is like. It's unique as the course encircles a racetrack and the ground is predominantly flat with some interesting manufactured topography.
This is Fredericks first year designing courses at Galway Downs, but he already knows the venue quite well as he's been a competitor there on several occasions and is friends with Robert Kellerhouse, Galway Downs's organizer.
Fredericks comments a bit on how COVID-19 has affected his process as a course designer. One of the major hurdles has been the amount of time he's been able to spend preparing the courses, so he's been working closely with Bert Wood, who has been involved at Galway as a course designer for years and is the course designer for the lower levels at Galway this fall.
Brown asks Fredericks to share a bit about his philosophy as a course designer. He said he wants his courses to be challenging and focuses on trying to make the courses good for the horses in terms of flow and footing. You'll have to listen to find out if he gets more nervous designing courses or riding them!
Before signing off, Fredericks shares a bit about how his business, Fredericks Equestrian, has been doing during COVID-19, his 8-month old son born earlier this year, his plans for 2021 with his horses, and his teenage daughter, Ellie, who is living and competing in the UK.
Brown and Byrne start off their analysis of the field with a discussion about what it's taken to win at Galway Downs in the past. Byrne said a dressage score in around the 30 mark should set the riders up for success. He did say that, in the past, riders have needed to be fast on the cross-country to hold onto the top spot, but with a new course and course designer this year the cross-country phase may play a different role than in years past.
Phillip Dutton and Amber Levine have both won the CCI4*-L at Galway previously, and James Alliston has won the CCI4*-L a whopping three times on three different horses. Of those that have won the CCI4*-L, all but one have gone clear and inside the time on cross-country.
Byrne names both Dutton with Fernhill Singapore and Boyd Martin with Long Island T as ones to watch for at the top of the leaderboard this weekend, but said Martin's other mount, Luke 140, and Liz Halliday-Sharp with Cooley Quicksilver can't be discounted.
Halliday-Sharp and Tamie Smith will be leading the two teams for the Adequan USEF Futures Team Challenge this weekend. Team Erik is made up of Halliday-Sharp, Sophie Click, and Emilee Libby, and Team Leslie is made up of Smith, Charlotte Babbitt, and Rebecca Brown.
After deliberation, Brown and Bryne name their podium picks for the CCI4*-L - you'll have to listen in to see who they've chosen!