New course designer Clayton Fredericks started working with Galway Downs this summer with the mandate of making things harder. Although yesterday’s cross-country did not change the top rung of the four-, three- and two-star leaderboards, there is evidence of mission accomplished in the standings below that and in riders’ reports.
Boyd Martin and his newer horse Luke 140 maintain their dressage day lead. They were a 10th of a second over the 10-minute optimal time to bring their score to a 29.80.
“The course rode a lot harder than I thought it would,” said Martin. “Even on my more seasoned horse (third-placed Long Island T), there were angles on the corners that were very demanding.”
Martin expected the track to be an especially big test for Luke 140 and was “over the moon” about his effort. “He has amazing fight in his DNA. If he sees a jump and the red and white flags, he does anything he needs to do to get himself through them. He showed me that he is a big time horse today, that he is a tough, resilient mongrel. There were a lot of technically demanding fences, places where we only had a stride to see the narrow or the corner, and I was really impressed with his attitude.”
Speaking of those demanding fences, Phillip Dutton and Fernhill Singapore were among four of the 11-horse field to get 15 missed flag penalties at the mid-course 16AB water complex. That knocked him out of second to seventh place after Thursday’s dressage, and made way for Californian Tamie Smith and Passepartout to gallop double clear into second on a 32. Smith and “Pasco” have a rail in hand over Martin and Long Island T in third.
“Basically, this horse is such a rideable, fast horse,” Smith said. “He may not look like he’s that super fast, but he just skips across cross-country with a massive stride and an efficient jump.” Smith is riding Passepartout for her pregnant daughter and fellow professional, Kaylawna Smith-Cook. This was only their second cross-country trip together and Passepartout’s first four-star.
Rideability was critical. “Two waters walked very difficult,” Smith said. “You just had to have a super rideable horse. If there was any wonkiness, you might have a flag.” She spoke from experience: she and her own off-track Thoroughbred, No App For That, also doing his first four-starand “very green,” were among those getting an “MF” at 16B.
Martin and Long Island T pair jumped from sixth to third with no jumping faults and a 1.20 time penalty for a 36. Texan Rebecca Brown and Dassett Choice stayed in the fourth seed, picking up 2.80 time penalties for a 36.
Elisabeth Halliday-Sharp was another to get the MF penalty at 16B. An initial extra 20 penalty points were later removed after review by the ground jury determined she had not re-addressed the fence. Nonetheless, it was a disappointing day of for the East Coaster in her native Southern California for the current #1 ranked U.S. eventer. The MF, plus 8.40 time penalties, dropped them from 5th to 8th.
Smith, Vedder And Alliston Lead CCI3*-L
Tamie Smith and Elliot-V wear the #1, and they earned that seed after a 29.80 dressage ride, and were first out of the box in the CCI3*-L. Yet they took nothing for granted, maximizing the many long galloping stretches to stay on that score.
“It was good to let him open up and blow off some steam, and his gallop is just incredible,” Smith said. So is his jumping, she added, which bodes well for Saturday’s show jumping finale crafted by Mark Donovan and assistant Kelly James.
Smith can’t let up as Asia Vedder and Isi are within a rail after adding 1.20 in time to maintain their #2 seed on a 31.10. Although the amateur rider and USEA Area VI chair saw one of Isi’s shoes fly off at fence 17, then another close to the finish line, neither horse nor rider were distracted by that or by the many other opportunities to lose focus. “It was a fair course, with no bugaboos, but there were spots where you really needed to pay attention. It was a little relentless. Even some of the single fences, you were jumping on an angle and you needed to be tidy,” Vedder said.
Isi is “still figuring out that he has different gears,” Vedder explains. She liked the course’s many opportunities to shift them. “There were places where you had the option of going forward and others where you could jump in quiet and nicely add.”
As for Saturday’s show jumping, “Isi is a funny horse. He’s spooky, but not always in a way that translates into spooking into clear rounds. I’ll be making sure he’s awake and keeping his canter active.”
Behind Vedder, there’s a big gap in scores before a tightly packed group led by James Alliston and Alliston Equestrian’s Paper Jam. Cross-country dramatically reshuffled the mid-standings, with Alliston going from eighth to third, Rebecca Braitling and Caravaggio II moving from ninth to fourth, and Andrea Baxter and Laguna Seca jumping from 10th to fifth. Less than a rail between these contenders sets the stage for another possible shake-up.
Going in reverse order of their standings, the 3*-L jumping will also determine the USEF National 3* Championship and the U.S. National Combined Training Trophy. Only American athletes are eligible, so Great Britain’s Alliston and Australia’s Braitling aren’t in the running. Standing 5th and 6th, Andrea Baxter and Laguna Seca and Auburn Excell-Brady are. Smith likely has a special eye on the trophy, too. She won it in 2015 with Mai Baum, a major of many milestones in her ongoing successes.
McEvoy, Burnell And Bouscaren Atop The CCI2*-L
Amateur rider India McEvoy rode with Phillip Dutton when she was in college and had a refresher with him just last week in a clinic near her Northern California home. Getting Redbull more in front of her leg during the cross-country warm-up was among the suggestions she put into play today for a double-clear round to stay atop the standings on a 26.50.
“He’s a funny combination of good temperament for dressage and he could gallop forever, but having Thoroughbred from his mom, he can get a little nervous. Phillip rode him a little during the clinic and gave me pointers about making sure he’s forward and letting him have a second to think so he doesn’t get frazzled,” she said.
Show jumping hasn’t been the still-green Redbull’s strong suit so far and whatever Saturday’s outcome, McEvoy said she’ll be thrilled. “Today’s cross-country was really good because he ended feeling more confident. It’s great to have him gain that kind of experience.”
Lauren Burnell and Freedom Hill were also fault-free today to be second on a 27.20. And professional Helen Bouscaren and Irish Pop were double clear to move up into third on a 30.50. Bouscaren and her husband James Alliston are McEvoy’s coaches “and they’ve found me some great horses!” McEvoy said.
Full results can be found here.
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