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November 7, 2004

Lawrence Lets It Rip On Cross-Country

A clean jump over the "Equinox" means you've finished a CCI**.

Jamie Lawrence showed her elders how cross-country should be ridden today in the Galway Downs CCI**, Temecula, Calif. Lawrence, 17, rode the only double clear round on Malik and moved up from fourth place to first.

Close behind her is Stephanie Cooper on Kaelen. Riding in her first three-day in seven years and Kaelen's first three-day ever left Cooper thrilled just to be taking part in the event.

The difficult course made use of every bit of the limited terrain and used the Galway Downs track for the steeplechase. "[Kaelen] was a little confused at running the racetrack backwards," joked Cooper about her off-the-track Thoroughbred.

The rest of the competitors had a more difficult time on the relentless two star course. Stops were plentiful at the numerous combinations, but no one fence caused significant problems and there were few falls. Jil Walton was poised to move into first on Truly Triton when an unfortunate stop at fence 17, the Berm, put them in fourth. "I fell asleep at the wheel," she said. "One little pull when I should have kicked!"

Sarah Green and Aramis parted company at the fence 11, the Corner Question, but continued on course after Aramis was returned from the stabling area. The leader after dressage, Kristin Bachman on Gryffindor withdrew before cross-country.

Six riders chose to run in the CCI** without steeplechase but they didn't fare much better. Vicki Koss moved into first aboard Ben Cruise with a clear round and time penalties moved David Acord from first to second but no other rider had a clean round and only Debbie Rosen completed.

Nicholas Cwick had bad luck with both his horses, when stops caused him to retire Rowdy early in the course and then a bauble in the water momentarily confused him and caused him to miss part B at fence 16 with Asterix. Jolie Sexson opted to retire after she had some steering errors that resulted in refusals.

Walton had better luck on her ride in the one star, Indego. "I'm on a catch ride and I'm winning and I'm really proud of myself," she said laughingly. Walton got the ride from her student, Jennifer Taxay, and only jumped Indego once before riding him in the three-day. She took the lead after dressage and maintained it by adding no penalty points to her score.

Following Walton was Shannon Lilley on High Mountain Road. Lilley acquired the 9-year-old Thoroughbred just one month earlier, but the two bonded instantly and she's placed well every time she's gone out on him.

Carrie Carstairs moved up from fifth into third after cross-country. She rode Barbara Heimbach's Teddy who only started eventing a year and a half ago. "We were pleased that he liked the steeplechase," commented Carstairs.

There were also a few competitors who chose the one star without steeplechase. Five completed the course, all without jump penalties. Matthias Schwarz and Sandy Shoes kept their lead with Kristen Enedy and Rouge et Noir behind them for second. Hank Rothwell was eliminated for missing a fence.

Many of the competitors felt lucky to be competing at all. Mudslides the week before meant the footing was extremely wet. Course builder Bert Wood worked tirelessly to replace the wet footing and by cross-country day it was perfect. "We didn't stud at all!" said Lilley. "None of them slipped. It was amazing the difference."

Organizer Robert Kellerhouse was so concerned about the footing that he rode out on Thursday to test the various fences. Although it was all in the name of putting on the best competition possible, Kellerhouse admitted that he was having a pretty good time. "It's the first time I've ridden at Galway," he said with a laugh, since he always runs the competition instead of riding there.

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