Temecula, Calif., March 30
James Alliston might be from Great Britain originally, but it’s clear there’s another place he feels right at home—Galway Downs. After winning the CCI*** and CCI* here last November, Alliston came back with five horses for this event. He’s currently leading the CIC*** aboard Jumbo’s Jake, leading the advanced aboard Parker II, sitting third in the CIC*** with Tivoli and third in the advanced with Ballingowan Pizazz.
“I’m pretty tired now,” admitted Alliston at the end of his long day. “With the three-star jumping as well it was quite busy. It seemed like I was on all day.”
But Alliston made the most of all those rides. Though he only got on Jumbo’s Jake a few minutes before dressage, the 14-year-old Irish Sporthorse (Jumbo—Lake Princess) earned just 45.6 penalties for the lead in the CIC***.
“I trotted around for five minutes and went straight in,” said Alliston, 27. “It’s remarkable a horse that fit can go in and behave as well as he did. It could have been better, but he’s always really relaxed and lets you ride every point. It’s really a testament to his temperament. In the dressage, touch wood, he’s never let me down. He’s always a cool dude, always relaxed. You can ride him as hard as you like, and he’ll never go crazy like some of the others.”
All of the CIC divisions also did their show jumping today and will run cross-country tomorrow in reverse order of standing. While Joe Lombardo’s CIC*** show jumping course wasn’t quite as influential as the CIC** course, there were still only four double-clear trips in the three-star. Jumbo’s Jake had one of them, and Alliston put in another aboard Tivoli, a 12-year-old Dutch Warmblood (Guidam—Zacharia, Roeland) owned by Alliston and Chuck and Peggy Moore.
“[Jake] is a very careful horse and he’s pretty reliable in that phase too,” said Alliston. “You just have to keep your leg on and keep him motivated. I thought it was a big and square course. I think it’s much easier to show jump first if you have a horse who’s not so careful. If you have one that jumps good then I don’t think it makes a big difference. I don’t think it really matters for Jake. But it makes it very exciting tomorrow; people know what they have to do. I quite like it.”
Parker and Jumbo’s Jake, owned by India McEvoy, are aimed for the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** next. They both completed the event last year.
Alliston, Castro Valley, Calif., sat on Ballingowan Pizazz—part of the gold medal-winning Pan American Games (Mexico) team from last year—for the first time on Wednesday. Regular rider Shannon Lilley is out for several months after having emergency back surgery.
“They want to get him qualified to do a three-star at some point,” said Alliston. “Shannon asked me if I’d ride him. He’s a pretty nice horse, obviously, so I jumped at the chance. He has an unbelievable trot on him. I found it hard to sit today.”
Jolie Wentworth and her longtime partner Killian O'Connor trotted into second in the three-star after dressage with 47.1 penalties. One rail in show jumping kept them in second place, and they’ll start cross-country tomorrow with a score of 51.1. Wentworth is also 10th aboard GoodKnight, but she’s using this event as a combined test for that horse.
“He’s coming back from a two-year hiatus,” said Wentworth of Killian O’Connor. “We would like to take him to Rolex but I have to get a qualifying score here. There’s a bit of pressure to get that done. I’m trying to take it one day at a time and just go through each phase the best I can. I also am just going, ‘Well, this, is the goal, but it’s not the end of the world if I don’t make it.’ It’s not the worst thing. There’s always another show.”
Wentworth, 30, took a tumble off Killian O’Connor, who completed Rolex in 2009, at the Twin Rivers (Calif.) spring event but got special permission to run the CIC*** at Galway.
“I had a staph infection, and I literally couldn’t close my leg. It’s awful because it’s the only cross-country penalty I’ve ever had on him. I really just fell off,” said Wentworth, of Martinez, Calif.
GoodKnight will run the CIC*** at The Fork (N.C.) next weekend, and Wentworth hopes to take him to Rolex as well.
Neither Alliston nor Wentworth had walked Ian Stark’s entire CIC*** course yet.
“I walked the intermediate track this morning and that’s hard enough,” said Wentworth. “So I’ve seen quite a bit of the three-star. It’s quite steep. I think it’ll be difficult.”
Oz The Tin Man Has Plenty Of Heart In CIC**
Katherine Groesbeck was happy with Oz The Tin Man after their dressage test placed them third with 55.0 penalties. But she was thrilled with the horse after his show jumping round—one of only two double-clears in the CIC**—moved the pair up to first before cross-country.
“I was ecstatic! I can not even believe how well he jumped,” said Groesbeck. “Areas he maybe shouldn’t have jumped so clean, he gave it that extra oomph. He has a really big heart, and he proves it more and more all the time.”
Many horses had rails down in the one-stride line along the VIP tent.
“You could see horses were getting sucked down into it,” said Groesbeck, 22. “I don’t know if it’s because the rails were black or what. When I went in I made sure we trotted by it, and I gave him plenty of time to look around. He didn’t seem to be spooking at it, so I just kept my leg on.”
Oz The Tin Man, a 15-year-old Anglo Arabian (Sidi Of Magic—Regal Batim), was bred by Katherine’s mother, Teresa Groesbeck. Katherine is aiming "Wort" for the Rebecca Farms CIC*** in Montana later this year.
“My dad started him under saddle, and I started seriously eventing him four or five years ago,” said Katherine, of Los Angeles, Calif.
The only other double-clear of the day in the CIC** belonged to Kaitlin Veltkamp aboard Flashpoint D. Three rails down dropped dressage leaders Teresa Harcourt and Bonza Twist of Fate to third.
Stark also designed the CIC** and CIC* cross-country courses.
"I think there are definitely some questions that will require serious riding," said Katherine. "Ian always has great courses that ride very forward. It's not for dummies. You have to be a good pilot and your horse has to be honest."
Results available on EventingScores.