Saturday, May. 18, 2024

Coudray And King Street Rule At Galway


Tiana Coudray made the trip to Temecula, Calif., for the Galway Downs CIC***-W as a prep outing before she and King Street tackle the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** at the end of April. Although she hardly expected it, Coudray found herself leading the victory gallop draped with the customary green FEI World Cup sash and blue ribbon while King Street enjoyed a new matching cooler.
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Tiana Coudray made the trip to Temecula, Calif., for the Galway Downs CIC***-W as a prep outing before she and King Street tackle the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** at the end of April. Although she hardly expected it, Coudray found herself leading the victory gallop draped with the customary green FEI World Cup sash and blue ribbon while King Street enjoyed a new matching cooler.

But the March 30-April 1 weekend wasn’t the first unanticipated victory for the pair at this venue. They also elected to run the CIC** in 2005 primarily to qualify for that year’s North American Young Riders Championships (Va.) and ended up with the win and a satisfying purse to help pay their way to the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington.

This year’s claim will help buy her ticket to the other Lexington, in Kentucky. Plus, the healthy dose of World Cup points she collected will give her a push toward qualifying for the next FEI Eventing World Cup Final in 2008. “It’s been an amazing weekend,” Coudray said beaming.

Their dressage test was a little less polished than expected since she’s been focusing more on the upcoming four-star test. “I actually learned [the test at Galway] the morning of,” she admitted.

So starting the weekend in fourth place was no disappointment for Coudray. Even though Gina Miles and McKinlaigh initially led the pack by a cushiony margin, an ill-timed migraine headache forced Miles to withdraw just before cross-country. But their dressage test made sound preparation for the Badminton CCI**** (England), and Miles was quite pleased with McKinlaigh’s much-improved performance.

With McKinlaigh’s score out of the mix, the door opened for Grant Hemingway and Nieco, who stood second before cross-country. But after 7 minutes and 20 seconds on course they found themselves sitting ninth with 16.4 time faults.

The newly vacant top spot beckoned Coudray and Jolie Sexson (aboard Killian O’Connor) who were tied for fourth, and both answered with clear cross-country trips.

“The course was great, and there were definitely some tough questions out there,” Coudray said. “He was a little strong at first.”

But by the time they splashed through the Leap Frog Lake jumps at 10AB and 11, they had settled into a swift rhythm and crossed the finish line in 6:32.

Sexson and Killian O’Connor galloped through the course in 6:38. “It was tough. Definitely world-class caliber,” Sexson said. But she was thrilled to be in the position they were in, especially since the 17-hand Irish Sport Horse is only 7.

Sexon and Coudray entered show jumping tied for blue, but only Coudray would keep the honors, as the only rider to leave every rail in the cups. “The course was very hard. The fact that there were so many good jumping horses here and nobody else made it over clear was kind of a surprise,” Coudray said.

But King Street felt ready that morning. “He ran so well yesterday and didn’t exert more than he needed to so he had lots of jump today,” Coudray said. “I managed to keep my brain functioning and thinking straight. He’s such a good horse that when I can keep it all together he does his job pretty well.”

Peter Green imported the now 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse from Ireland. Coudray didn’t expect “Danny” to advance so quickly from novice to an NAYRC CCI* individual silver (2004) to a Galway CIC** blue (2005) to winning this year’s CIC***-W so quickly.

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“He just turned out to be so much more than we ever could have expected. We certainly weren’t looking for a four-star horse when we bought him. He has really taught me everything,” Coudray said.

Up until two years ago, she took intermittent lessons with Bea and Derek di Grazia but mostly relied on her own wit and countless clinics to bring her and Danny’s talents along. She now trains on a more frequent basis with the di Grazias.

“We’re going to be doing everything possible to hold it all together,” Coudray said, looking forward to Rolex Kentucky. “I don’t think I’m going to breathe a single deep breath until I get there!

My goal is to just get the experience and be realistic enough to know that whether we get around or not, it’s such a great opportunity just to go.”

The Next Level

Debbie Rosen and The Alchemyst are taking big steps in their career together and earned the CIC** blue ribbon to prove it. It was their first two-star since last fall and first outing under the direction of a new trainer.

“She’s really taken this horse to the next level,” Rosen said of trainer Andrea Pfeiffer. Rosen rode with her previous coach, Brian Sabo, for as long as she can remember. But when he retired last fall she was left in search of a new guide.

She started working with Pfeiffer the weekend of Galway and instantly saw new light. “She just rocked my world in the warm-up,” Rosen said. “I think when you’re working on your own and training you tend to be happier with what you have because compared to what you had it’s really exceptional. But [Pfeiffer] just kicked it up a notch for me.”

Rosen’s 7-year-old Canadian Sport Horse is galloping up the ranks faster than she ever expected. And “Al” actually found her, she said.

While in pursuit of a horse for a student last year she found a filly through an online classifieds site. “That eventually led me to the website of Doug Payne,” Rosen explained, where she saw Al looking back at her through the monitor.

She flew out to see the filly first and made her next stop to see Al. She wasn’t sure if she’d be able to ride the young horse, but Payne and previous owner Jackie Blackman offered Rosen six months with Al to break the ice and build a bond.

“I just fell in love with him,” she said. “And I was fortunate enough to have the Shevin family want to buy him for me.”

When the pair took the dressage stage at Galway after a session with Pfeiffer, they garnered a score of 53.8, for fifth place. When they galloped through cross-country together, Rosen was somewhat surprised to find no additional faults added to their record.

“I haven’t been making the time with him ever. But when I watched my last video with him, I discovered why: After every technical effort, I’d go cantering away from the jump patting him for about 20 minutes,” Rosen exaggerated with a laugh. “So when I stopped doing that and started letting him run, he ran!”

Rosen saved most of Al’s praise for the end of the course, and they beat the optimum time by 20 seconds. The all-terrain horse seemed to care less whether he tore through turf, sand or water to Rosen’s added delighted.

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“I’ve had a lot of horses in the past with water issues so it’s really nice to have one that doesn’t overreact to changes in the terrain,” Rosen explained. “He’s very brave and just motors on no matter what he’s in.”

Pfeiffer made some more tweaks during Rosen’s warm-up with Al before their show jumping trip. They had jumped to second place and stood less than a single rail’s difference behind overnight leaders Hawley Bennett and SplendoroftheSun.

But Rosen admitted, “I’m not very competitive. I ride because I love it, and I was just so happy to have him go the way he had. Sure it’s great to win, but when you’ve already had the couple rides like I had this weekend, that’s ‘it’ for me.”

All fences remained intact when Rosen exited the ring patting Al and heaping praise on him. Bennett and Splendorof-theSun caught a rail early in the round, which sealed Rosen’s victory. Still, Bennett beamed and scratched her 10-year-old gelding’s withers, happy with his performance.

Rosen hopes to bring Al up to advanced. “I just don’t know when,” she said. “He’s so much further along than I ever thought he’d be, but I want to bring him along without over facing him. So we’ll just go day by day. It’s just nice to get miles on a young horse.”

True Talent

When Julie Ann Boyer isn’t upholding the law, she’s training her young mare, Rumor Hazit. They started their weekend at Galway in first and wouldn’t budge until they took their victory gallop with the CIC* blue ribbon pinned.

Boyer, a police officer from Agua Dulce, Calif., takes advantage of her mountainous locale for her 6-year-old Thoroughbred’s strength training regimen.

“There are a lot of hills I’ll trot up to get her neck long and low and get her to use her hind end to push her up,” she said. She also develops their dressage with Jil Walton and occasional visits to Cory Walkey.

Still, time is always a factor. A two-hour trailer drive separates Boyer from Walton’s facility. “So I have to get up at 3:45 a.m. to get myself over there for a 7:30 lesson,” Boyer said.

Her work hours the week before Galway kept training time to a minimum as she had to spend many mornings in court. Never-theless, their dressage test proved that even a young, off-the-track Thoroughbred can still shine.

“She was young and would do baby things and didn’t move all that well,” Boyer remembered. “But all of a sudden she got muscle tone and started producing lovely gaits, and we started working with that. So I guess you can produce gaits; you don’t always have to start out with perfect movement. She just got better with strength and work.”

Though Boyer took to cross-country in the lead, she still felt some nerves. “I’ve had a few issues with narrows just because she tries to go around them. So I just had to be really focused on those,” she said. “But both of the questions I was worried about worked out well, and she was wonderful. She’s gone just like an international event horse all weekend.”

Galway marked their second one-star after running at Twin Rivers (Calif.) in 2006. But a broken elbow and rib on the job that summer briefly kept her out of the saddle.

“I was just chasing somebody up some stairs and I fell and landed right on my elbow and ribs,” Boyer described with a chuckle. “So I was riding again after two weeks, but not well. Just enough to keep my legs in shape.”

She also won the open preliminary divisions at the 2006 and 2007 Galway winter events. Boyer plans to revisit Twin Rivers this year with Rumor Hazit, but this time they’ll run at intermediate.

Joshua A. Walker

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