The many riders who traveled the long road from California to Allentown, N.J., for the Jersey Fresh CCI and CIC have little to regret of their transcontinental journey so far. After the dressage phase at the Horse Park of New Jersey, which began yesterday afternoon, May 6, and concluded today, the West Coast contingent is running the table.
Tiana Coudray, Ojai, Calif., and Ringwood Magister are leading the California field in the CCI***, scoring a 36.8 to top second- and third-placed Auburn, Calif., neighbors Alexandra Slusher and Kristi Nunnink by more than 16 points.
Slusher, who’s coming off a CIC*** victory at Twin Rivers (Calif.), rode Last Call into second on a 53.6, while Nunnink, who’s bounced quickly back after a fall from another horse at the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** two weeks ago, took third with a 55.8 aboard Corner Street.
Colin Davidson, Purcellville, Va., stands fourth with Draco (56.2), while another west coaster, Leigh Mesher, of Redmond, Wash., placed fifth with Mar De Amor (57.0).
In the CCI**, James Alliston, who moved from Pennsylvania to California last August, took the top billing on a 44.1. Riding India McEvoy’s Jumbo’s Jake, he narrowly edged out Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda (44.3).
“India’s going to take over again for the summer, but she’s at vet school this spring, so it’s hard for her to go away for the big events,” said Alliston, who’s set up his training business in the San Francisco Bay area.
Alliston and McEvoy had planned for the experienced Jumbo’s Jake to run in the CCI*** here, but his qualifications weren’t in order, so they dropped him back to the two-star at the last minute.
“He’s been doing the advanced test, so he was wanting to throw the [flying lead] changes in during the warm-up, so I was happy he didn’t do that in the ring,” said Alliston. “But he’s got a real good record with India in the dressage, so she was helping me warm up and get the best out of him. He’s always very quiet, and he’s obviously a very beautiful mover.”
Brannigan, who’s originally from San Diego, Calif., but now works for Phillip Dutton in West Grove, Pa., was kicking herself for a costly mistake with “Ping,” but the margin of .2 points between second and first place could be easily made up tomorrow. Brannigan forgot the transition from trot to walk at C, which was the only glitch in her otherwise pleasant and fluid test.
Jessica Pye and Lightning Bound came out of the first phase tied for third with Doug Payne aboard Happy Valley (50.0). Canadian Joelle Baskerville and Malibu stand fifth on a 54.8.
In the CIC***, Dutton took the lead with an energetic test aboard Truluck. The bay Thoroughbred gelding, with whom Dutton earned the individual silver medal at the 2007 Pan American Games (Brazil) and placed fourth at the 2009 Land Rover Burghley CCI**** (England), looked fit and full of running as he entered the arena as the second horse to go this morning.
A few bobbles, including “Milo’s” reluctance to walk, kept Dutton’s score from being lower, but no one in the division proved capable of besting his 51.2. Indian rider Imtiaz Anees of Moreland, Ga., came closest, putting in an elegant, relaxed test with Interwin for a 52.5.
Solid tests for Canadian rider Peter Barry with Kilrodan Abbott (55.0) and Kate Hicks with Belmont II (56.7) put them in third and fourth, respectively.
Hannah Sue Burnett put in a nice performance with St. Barths, but silly mistakes, like Burnett forgetting the halt and rein-back and “Nike” bobbling near the end of the extended canter and switching leads behind, put them in fifth with a 57.3.