Buck Davidson and Copper Beech and Boyd Martin and Trading Aces are sitting in familiar territory at the conclusion of dressage at Galway Downs International CCI3*, tied for the lead on a score of 44.4 at the end of a chilly, windy Friday in Temecula.
West Coast native Maya Black and Doesn’t Play Fair sit in third on 47.6, with fellow West Coaster Mackenna Shea and Landioso scoring 48, giving the top four spots to horses that traveled from the East Coast to compete here. Both pairs re-routed to Galway Downs after parting ways on cross country at the Dutta Corp Fair Hill International.
Barb Crabo and Ever Ready II, the only combination representing Arizona in the CCI3*, round out the top five on 49.6 with a solid test. Jolie Wentworth is back in the saddle after having her first child just eight weeks ago, and she looks like hasn’t missed a beat, putting in a lovely test aboard Goodknight to sit in sixth place on 50.
Lizzie Snow and Coal Creek, another pair that came west to compete, put in a consistent test to score 50.4. Ellen Doughty is also back in the saddle after suffering a knee injury at the American Eventing Championships, and this is her first FEI competition with Sir Oberon since Red Hills. They looked to be knocking a bit of the rust off today, scoring 52.4 for eighth place after dressage.
Gina Miles had one of the biggest cheering sections today for her test aboard S.V.R. Ron, which scored 52.8 for ninth place. Kaitlin Veltcamp and Flashpoint D, one of our picks to finish in the top five, scored 53.4 to round out the top 10. Bonner Carpenter and Basco, our predicted Dark Horse, also had a nice test to score 53.8.
Though the afternoon started out sunny when Jen McFall and High Times came down centerline — with Jen making a big statement sporting olive green tails! — temperatures started dropping as the 19-horse division progressed, with clouds rolling in and the wind picking up.
That unfortunately created at atmosphere that contributed to some tense tests from horses capable of putting in much better performances. Revitavet Capato is a lovely mover with a big presence in the ring, but Jordan Lindstedt struggled to keep the lid on for a score of 57.2.
Bunnie Sexton struggled through her test with a very upset Rise Against, who fought her just about every step of the way. Of course, Bunnie still had a big smile on her face at the end of the test, reminding us all why we love her positive attitude so much. She’s here to gain more three-star experience before hopefully tackling her first Rolex next spring.
John Michael Durr also had to ride strategically aboard a very up Esprit de la Danse, which is indicative of how a lot of riders had to go about their tests this afternoon: It just wasn’t a day to push for wow moments, as many were just trying to hold it together. It’s safe to say the three-star horses and raring to go and ready to tackle Ian Stark’s track tomorrow.
CCI* dressage also concluded late this afternoon, with Marilyn Little and RF Scandalous taking a commanding lead on a score of 37.8. Tamie Smith and Sunsprite Syrius, last year’s Young Event Horse 5-year-old reserve champion, sit in second place on 42.4, the final combination to go in the division. Ashlyn Dorsey and RF Kinetic round out the top three on 43.4.
The weather is quickly turning, with dark storm clouds visible over the mountains and a 100 percent chance of rain predicted tonight — fitting weather for Halloween night; locals are packing the grounds to brave the haunted house as I type this. Stay tuned for the full press conference report with comments from Buck, Boyd, Maya and Marilyn.