Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2024

Wallace Works Her Way To The Win At Maui Jim Horse Trials

A $700 horse and six years of training paid off for Elisa Wallace with her biggest win to date at the Maui Jim Horse Trials, July 7-9, in Wayne, Ill.

Piloting her 7-year-old Thoroughbred, Jackson, through a pair of clean, fast jumping rounds, Wallace climbed from 12th after dressage to top a field of 41 in the event's inaugural CIC*** division.

The victory was truly homegrown for Wallace, of Alpharetta, Ga. She's owned Jackson since he was a yearling, buying him from an Internet advertisement with her high school graduation money.
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A $700 horse and six years of training paid off for Elisa Wallace with her biggest win to date at the Maui Jim Horse Trials, July 7-9, in Wayne, Ill.

Piloting her 7-year-old Thoroughbred, Jackson, through a pair of clean, fast jumping rounds, Wallace climbed from 12th after dressage to top a field of 41 in the event’s inaugural CIC*** division.

The victory was truly homegrown for Wallace, of Alpharetta, Ga. She’s owned Jackson since he was a yearling, buying him from an Internet advertisement with her high school graduation money.

“I saw a video, had a gut feeling, and drove out to Kansas and got him,” she said. She’s brought the horse along herself, with help from her father, 1992 long-listed eventer Rick Wallace of Tallahassee, Fla.

Maui Jim was the third advanced outing for Jackson, following two fourth-placed finishes early in the year at Rocking Horse (Fla.) and Pine Top (Ga.), as well as trips to the Red Hills CIC** (Fla.) and Florida CCI**.

“We’re cognizant of his young age,” Rick said. “We’ve planned this out pretty well for a while. We planned to run him at advanced after he did the CIC** in Florida. We wanted to see how he acted–and everything we’ve gone to has been a walk in the park.”

“The bigger, the harder, the more technical, the bigger the smile on his face,” Elisa said of her horse, who she’s aiming toward the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.) in the fall, with long-term aspirations of making the 2007 Pan Am team.

The Wallaces gave Jackson a two-month break in the spring, making Maui Jim his first run since going back to work this summer. He seemed none too out of shape despite the break, posting one of the quicker cross-country rounds to notch just 4 faults in a division where time penalties rearranged the leaderboard on Saturday.

Shuffled Standings
Dressage leader, Canada’s Kelli Temple, with a score of 40.8 after yet another strong test with her World Equestrian Games-bound partner Paris, dropped to 10th place with a conservative cross-country ride that netted 22.8 time penalties. At the other end of the spectrum, Kristin Bond and Blackout leapt up the standings, from 30th place to seventh, as the only pair to make the time.

But at the end of cross-country, Canadian Karl Slezak and Foxwood Spencer, a 10-year-old, Canadian-bred Dutch Warmblood owned by John Rumble, held a seemingly comfortable 10.1-point lead. The pair, who had been in third place after dressage, found an inside turn on cross-country and took full advantage of some open gallops late in the course to come in just a few seconds over time.

Slezak said he was very pleased with the horse’s performance in the first two phases, but he cautiously held off on making any predictions for Sunday, calling Foxwood Spencer “hit or miss” in show jumping.

On Sunday, as the CIC*** show jumping wore on, it became increasingly clear that clear rounds would be hard to come by and that show jumping would have as much of an effect as cross-country on the leaderboard.

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Wallace, standing in second, produced the last of those faultless rounds. Showing the benefit of years spent in the hunter equitation ring and regular competition in the jumpers–as well as the advantage of having been around the course already on her CIC** horse, Leap Of Faith–she produced a quick, fluid round.

Slezak went into the ring looking focused on making the time but soon had a rail at the third fence. When he got in wrong to the triple, a combination that had been causing problems all day, he had the first element down, then the second.

With that third rail, he lost the lead, and with one more rail later in the course, he dropped to fourth behind Davidson and Private Treaty and Bond and Blackout, who was the only CIC*** rider to finish on her dressage score.

Slezak used his experience in the three-star to build on, turning around to win the advanced horse trial division on his second ride, Rather Well. No one show jumped clear in that division, so his one-rail round was good enough to move him from third to first.


A New Star
In the CIC** division, WEG hopeful and Maui Jim regular Becky Holder, of Mendota Heights, Minn., gave her fans something to cheer about. Riding Rejuvenate, a 10-year-old Oldenburg-Thoroughbred cross owned by her student and veterinarian Ann Bower, Holder took the early lead with a 44.1 in dressage and added just 2 cross-country time penalties to win.

Although the horse won the intermediate/ preliminary at Sporting Days (S.C.) and intermediate at The Fork (N.C.), she brought him to Wayne expecting the event to be highly educational for him, between its technical cross-country footwork questions and big-event atmosphere.

He’ll go back to Bower to compete at preliminary through the summer, and then Holder plans to aim him at Radnor CCI** (Pa.) in the fall.

In the CIC* division, Stuart Black and Lissandro, a 7-year-old Selle Francais owned by Guy and Beatrice Rey-Herme, also led wire-to-wire, winning by almost 10 points on his dressage score of 40.7.

Since being imported from France a year ago, Lissandro has done several preliminaries and moved up to intermediate.

Like Holder, Black has become a regular at Wayne because of the big-event atmosphere it introduces to horses, as well as the course design and careful preparation of the footing. All those factors played into his decision to bring Lissandro all the way from Bluemont, Va., he said.

“This is a great place to bring young horses to see how they handle the atmosphere–and it’s the one place in the country where they really go overboard to make the footing good for the horses,” Black said.

Creating that footing took a little extra doing this year, organizer Katie Lindsay said, when the aerovator broke a week before the event and another had to be rented to keep working the cross-country footing.

But that may have been the least of Lindsay’s challenges this year. Hosting a CIC***, she’d expected to get 10 extra entries, not the 40-plus she ended up with, which boosted entries from the usual 280 to more than 350, including Young Event Horse entries.

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Accommodating all the upper-level riders required limiting the training division–but even after deciding weeks before the event to add an extra competition day and 60 additional training-level slots, the event barely was able to accept all the opening-day entries in that division.

Handling the larger field–and the larger crowds that came to watch–gave the management team a chance to practice for the 400-plus entries they could get when the American Eventing Championships move to Wayne in fall 2007.

“We used this as a kind of get-fit check for the AECs,” Lindsay said. “We’ve learned from having all these horses where the bugs are and what we need to do for the AECs.”

And if the competitor demographicsat Maui Jim were any measure–riders hailed from as far as California and Texas, and included a large contingent from the East Coast–moving the AECs from North Carolina shouldn’t cause a dip in entries.

Highland Hogan Retires Before A “Hometown” Crowd
The weekend was a special one for local hero Becky Holder, of Mendota Heights, Minn. She enjoyed a wire-to-wire victory in the CIC** aboard Rejuvenate, but that probably wasn’t her most memorable moment.

Holder retired her longtime partner Highland Hogan, with whom she earned the alternate spot in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, during a special ceremony before the CIC*** show jumping.

“We say thank you for the memories of nine years,” announcer Brian O’Connor said as Holder and a neatly braided Hogan stood in the middle of the arena. “It’s a wonderful, wonderful partnership.”

Taking two laps around the arena, Hogan let a teary-eyed Holder know he’s not too old to play up, pulling strongly as the crowds cheered him on. The 15-year-old American Thoroughbred now will return to his owner, Faye Woolf, and her daughter, Eliza. Woolf bought Hogan off the racetrack as a 3-year-old “because he made googly eyes at her,” Holder said–but while he was cute, he wasn’t the easiest horse.

“I remember riding him when I first met Faye, and he was an extremely naughty 5-year-old,” Holder said of the horse she took to his first beginner novice event. “I just wanted to stop and leave some horse for Faye and her daughter to enjoy, so he can be ridden and loved and appreciated until he’s well into his 20s.”

The pair did their last event this spring at The Fork “for fun” and performed the dressage test ride Friday for Wayne’s CIC*** division.

“For years, he’s had to wear the ‘tightest noseband ever’ to keep him from sticking his tongue out,” Holder said with a laugh. “On Friday, he couldn’t believe it was so loose!”

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