Temecula, Calif.—Nov. 1
Though Buck Davidson won the Jersey Fresh CCI*** with Copper Beech in May, he still had questions about the horse.
“Mentally, he gave me so much at Jersey, but he had no idea what he was doing,” said Davidson. “I was just aiming and kicking and holding and doing whatever I could at the jumps. I thought it was important for him to drop back down. Carl and Cassie [Segal] are such understanding owners. I said after Jersey, ‘I’m going to go quietly and not make the time anywhere. I think the goal should be to go to Galway.’ ”
With Galway as his fall goal, Davidson dropped Copper Beech back down to preliminary after Jersey Fresh, then he moved him back up to intermediate, and then finally back up to advanced and the CIC*** level. And Davidson’s been rewarded for his patience here at Galway Downs. He’s leading the three-star with “Sean,” an 8-year-old Irish Sport Horse owned by the Segals and Sherrie Martin, after picking up just 5.6 time penalties on Ian Stark’s cross-country today.
“He was so good today,” said Davidson. “He acts like a baby for the first few minutes, but when the jumps come he’s really brave and honest, and I’m really excited. It’s exciting too, because Joanie [Morris, USEF director of eventing] came up to me after I won Jersey, and she said, ‘You think this one’s good enough?’ I like was like, ‘Yeahhh, no.’ But now, maybe. Who knows if he’s four-star horse, but he was flying at the end.”
Davidson backed off on his speed a bit during the course when heard that yesterday’s co-leader, Boyd Martin on Trading Aces, retired that mount after one stop heading into the third water complex, the Brush to Brush at 19.
“I was watching Boyd go when I was in the warm-up, and I knew where he was at fence 3 and so on, and I was still listening and trying to hear where he was when I headed out,” said Davidson. “When I walked the course with people, I said, ‘You have to steady up going over these mounds.’ I did exactly what I said not to do at one fence. I run up the hill, and I got to the top, and I probably saw a distance 10 strides away, and I was really probably 20 strides away at that point. Sean picked up, thankfully. But as I was in the air, I looked over and saw Boyd walking home, and I said, ‘OK, we don’t need to do anything that stupid again.’
“Boyd’s a teammate, and it sucks when it doesn’t go the way you want,” he added. “I was really bummed to see that. It nearly killed me the fence before, but it might have kept me going faster if I hadn’t seen that. I feel bad for Boyd; he’s really tried hard and worked hard to make that horse a Ferrari. It’s a good jumping horse, and it’s a sweet horse, and thankfully it’s OK.”
Barbara Crabo had the fastest three-star round with Eveready II, jumping up the leaderboard from fifth after dressage to second. With their 3.6 time penalties added from today, they sit on 53.2 penalties. Martin doesn’t have a rail in hand as he’s holding an even 50.0 penalties.
“I never even kicked,” said Crabo, who bred the 15-year-old Eveready. “I closed my leg in the combinations, but on the gallops I flopped the reins at him, and he did it. It’s been a bit since he’s been at a CCI. I made the decision three years ago to not run more CCIs, because I didn’t think he’d hold up, but he keeps aging well. He’s just been feeling so good. He’s been so incredibly sound and healthy this year that we decided to go for it and see what happens. He loves it so much, and he felt absolutely great.”
Maya Black and Dawn Dofelmier’s Doesn’t Play Fair earned their cross-country redemption after a fall at the Dutta Corp. Fair Hill CCI*** (Pa.) a few weeks ago with a clear jumping round and 7.6 time penalties today.
The cross-country was postponed two hours this morning after rain fell last night in Temecula, turning several points on course into muddy puddles. The track was adjusted slightly for the two- and three-stars, though no fences were removed.
“The footing definitely was on all of our minds,” said Black. “Overall he had one or two little slips, but in general it felt pretty good. There were a few little bit deeper spots I just let him cruise through.”
Though no one made the time in the three-star, 11 of the 17 starters made it around without jumping penalties. (Bunnie Sexton withdrew Rise Against before cross-country, and Jolie Wentworth did the same with Goodknight.)
Kaitlin Veltkamp fell from Flashpoint D at fence 12, the Smartpak Sunken Road. Ellen Doughty-Hume came unseated from Sir Oberon at fence 22, the Charles Owen Splash.
Gina Miles picked up 20 penalties with SVR Ron in the same location, fence 19, where Martin retired Trading Aces, and two pairs—David Acord on Reins For Justice and Veltkamp on Flashpoint D—had stops at fence 10, the CWD Lake Galway. Otherwise faults were spread around the course, with Mackenna Shea earning 20 on Landioso at fence 3, and Acord collecting his first 20 penalties at fence 2.
“I have to say that when I walked the course, I honestly thought Fair Hill two-star was harder than this, with a couple of exceptions,” said Davidson. “But the ground is quite tricky here, and it’s a very twisty, turning course. It rides a lot harder than it walks. I like Ian’s theme of going forward. He was a genius as a rider. I think it’s a great thing that you can design a course and have it look easy and ride hard, or that it looks hard and rides easy. That’s a pretty cool thing. My hat’s off to him.”
Little Leads One-Star And Two-Star
East Coast rider Marilyn Little is making her long trip out to California worthwhile. She’s currently sitting atop the CCI** leaderboard with RF West Indie, and she’s first in the one-star on RF Scandalous.
She suffered through a few dicey moments on course after the curb chain on her Pelham bit broke in the two-star.
“It snapped on the landing from the first jump,” said Little. “I heard something go ping, and I felt like I had a halter on, and so did Indie. There wasn’t a whole lot of control, and thankfully she was really looking for the flags. I had to be a lot slower because I had to start slowing down a lot further out. She’s so honest and so genuine that it worked out.”
No one made the time in the two-star either, and Little’s round, with its 12.0 time penalties, was one of the faster. Canada’s James Atkinson moved up from third after dressage into second with 9.2 time. Little doesn’t have breathing room for tomorrow’s phase; she’s sitting on 56.0, and Atkinson is on 56.7.
“He’s a really solid competitor,” said Atkinson of Gustav. “For a small, fat horse, he gets across the ground quickly. He’s so broke now.”
Fourteen of the 23 two-star starters finished, and 11 of those earned jumping clears.
In the one-star, the top seven placings after dressage remain the same. Tamra Smith is sitting second with Sunsprite Syrius.
The horses have their second jog tomorrow at 8:15 a.m. local time.
See full results from the day’s action.