Nicholas Cwick doesn’t normally go for time, but after winning the dressage in the Olympic format Galway Downs CCI** on Friday, he decided he’d better go for it with Asterix.
“I wasn’t sure he was fit enough,” admitted Cwick. He’s aiming for a three-star in the spring and planned to just use Galway as preparation. But it turned out that the 8-year-old Oldenburg was fitter than he thought. “He was so fresh in the warm-up, and I was getting run off with in the first 10 jumps,” said Cwick.
Seven of the 20 riders in the short format two-star made it around clean and under the time on Michael Etherington-Smith’s course. Jolie Sexson held onto second with Killian O’Connor by adding no points to her score. Tiana Coudray moved into third after her clean round on King Street.
The coffin at fences 5 and 6 caused a fair number of problems in the two-star as did Mike’s Mounds, two narrow brush fences on hillocks, at 20ab.
The traditional format riders didn’t fair as well in the CCI**. Only one rider, 18-year-old Josh Barnacle and Florestan du Serin made it around without any jump penalties.
“It’s the first time this horse has gone the speed at intermediate,” said Barnacle. He chose to ride in the long format because he prefers it and felt that the steeplechase got “Flo” fired up to make time.
The 12-year-old Selle Francais gelding was supposed to compete at the Fair Hill CCI*** in 2004, but an injury on the trip there forced them to turn around and give him a long lay-up instead.
Debbie Rosen had held first and second after dressage, but a fall with Philippa at fence 20 shook her confidence. Neither Rosen nor Philippa were injured, and Rosen returned to ride Quito 10. A refusal at 5 moved them down to second.
A few of the two-star riders will be kicking themselves tonight. David Koss, son of international rider Vicky Koss, took the wrong first fence on course with Candy.
Marc Grandia managed to jump fence 8c twice with I Spy. It was a water combination with three elements. The first jump was a table and then riders could run up a hill, over a log at the top, down into the water and left out over 8c. Or they could go to the right of the mound and into the water over a log combination, 8b and c. Grandia jumped the logs and continued on out over the other 8c, thus getting eliminated for jumping the same fence twice.
In the one-star divisions, there were hardly any problems and the scores barely changed. The top 20 horses ran clear and within the time in the traditional format CCI*.
Fiona Dodson, a young rider from La Canada, Calif., held onto first with Happy Go Lucky III. This was her first three-day with steeplechase.
“I wanted to do one before they left for good,” said the 17-year-old. She ran a short format one-star at the North American Young Riders’ Championships in Virginia this summer with “Leo,” but it didn’t go well, and they failed to finish.
Dodson seemed surprised to still be in the lead after cross-country, but she waxed enthusiastic about the format. “I didn’t have time to get nervous because there wasn’t really a warm-up,” she said. “He did really well on the steeplechase and came in two seconds fast.”
But she’ll have stiff competition in the show jumping because less than two points separates the top four. Barbara Crabo and Eveready are in second with Fiona Graham on San Salvador and Crabo’s second ride, Victoria’s Electra, in third and fourth.
Robyn Fisher kept he lead in the one star without steeplechase. Her mount, 9-year-old Hosteiner Lady Calido, was a broodmare in Germany until the spring of 2004.
“She loves her new job,” said Fisher with a grin.
The stops were spread out for the one-star riders with John Kelly on Fringe Benefit and Laurel Stone on Original Prankster being eliminated for refusals.
Auburn Excell had an exciting ride through the Galway Lake when she parted company with Kilkenny Gold, and he galloped off to explore the cross-country on his own. She was able to remount and continue though with no apparent harm. Amanda Volk also fell in the water at fence 13 when her horse stumbled, but they also were able to continue.