Welcome back to Area VI, where the Woodside International Horse Park is bringing you the Preliminary Challenge, a special event for horses and riders who have not competed beyond the Intermediate level. Held once a year in May, it’s not just the allure of prize money that keeps competitors coming back (though we’re sure that doesn’t hurt!). With the unique format of dressage on Friday, and both cross country and stadium on Saturday, it gives less experienced riders and horses a chance to participate in an event full of atmosphere.
With record entries this year (33 in the Rider Challenge, and 24 in the Horse division) it’s clear this event is something people look forward to. Add to the equation a brand new course design from Ian Stark, including a new water complex and a track that goes into corners of the Horse Park never seen before by eventers, and you have all the ingredients for an exciting weekend.
Preliminary Challenge Horse Division
Dressage started off this morning at 8 am Friday continued well into the afternoon. In the Horse division, where the rider must be on a horse that has not competed above Intermediate in the past 5 years, Frankie Thieriot Stutes and the Chatwin Group’s Chatwin are our overnight leaders. Since Chatwin has been battling an eye infection, Frankie is thrilled to have him out and competing. “The atmosphere worked to our advantage,” she said, noting that Chatwin came out a bit strong. It certainly paid off. A beautiful test to put the pair in the lead on 26.5.
Erin Serafini, of Reno, Nevada, and her own Another Star are in second with a lovely test. Erin and this Holsteiner mare have competed together from Novice and are looking forward to a successful weekend. Less than one penalty point behind Erin are Marc Grandia and Indio BMW. This Oldenberg gelding, owned by the Beamer Syndicate LLC, competed last fall back East, coming in third at the Virginia CCI*. Marc is a 2013 graduate of the Under 25 Developing Rider Training Sessions and hails from Washington State.
In fourth we have Tamie Smith, who must be racking up massive amounts of bonus miles flying from coast to coast after being named as an alternate to the Pam Am games with Alex and Ellen Ahearn’s Mai Baum. This weekend she is competing Beth Lendrum’s “Under Wraps,” a Dutch Warmblood gelding (this one is for sale, people!).
Preliminary Challenge Rider
Leading the Preliminary Challenge Rider division is veterinarian Tristen Hooks and her own Learning to Fly. These two have an impressive record, never finishing lower than fourth in Preliminary divisions since 2012. A long-time member of Area VI Adult Riders, Tristen was part of the winning Adult Team Challenge Team at Training Level this year at Twin Rivers.
Julie Fletner and “Ping Pong” are less than a rail away in second with a 30.1, ensuring this is not going to be a dressage competition. Another long time team, Julie and Ping have never finished below seventh, including multiple CCI* competitions. Tied with Julie for second is Ruth Bley and “Rodrigue Du Granit.” Last year, Ruth came in second on this horse in the Challenge, and would love to win it this time around.
Junior rider Holland Garrett is in fourth with an impressive 30.9 on David Garrett’s Irish Sport Horse, LA Lux.
With a new cross country course to tackle tomorrow, and a Sarah Dubost show jumping course later in the day that will be seen in reverse order of standings, things are sure to be exciting. The top 10 from each division (Rider and Horse) will begin at 6:20 pm Pacific, with a ringside Gala dinner to benefit the Woodside Horse Park.
Stay tuned for more exciting coverage of the Woodside International Preliminary Challenge on EN!
Enjoy these highlights from the dressage competition thanks to our friends at Ride On Video!