Galway week is here, and with it comes the very last three-day event divisions of the year! This year, the CCI3* division is especially exciting, as it proves that more and more East Coast competitors are going west to partake in this special competition. There are a grand total of 19 entries, with five pairs that have been rubbing elbows with the East Coast crowd, which is excellent to see.
Several of these riders are coming off a less than satisfactory result at Fair Hill, but as we saw from last year’s winner, that has little to no relevance upon their performance at Galway. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the entries.
David Acord & Reins For Justice: David is piloting this lovely bay mare around her first CCI3*, and it will be his return to the CCI3* level since he completed Fair Hill in 2005, and I’m sure he’s delighted to have another talented horse to take him here. This pair was 8th recently at the Woodside CIC3*, scoring a 61.5 on the flat, adding just 14.8 time penalties on cross country and rolling two poles in show jumping. They have two CIC3* events under their belt, and while they won’t be competitive after the first phase, they should be ready for this next challenge.
Andrea Baxter & Indy 500: Andrea and this mare are coming back to Temecula with a little bit to prove, as they attempted their first CCI3* together here last year and were sadly eliminated on cross country. Since then, they’ve put another solid year of Advanced and CIC3* level experience under their belt and are coming back for redemption. They’ve had a spot of trouble here and there on their cross country record lately, but came fifth at Woodside CIC3* recently, so hopefully those demons are put to rest. They have never scored below a 60 in an FEI competition, but have the potential to jump well in the other phases.
Maya Black & Doesn’t Play Fair: While Maya is a West Coast girl at heart, she and Cody have been competing all up and down the East Coast all year … and kicking our butts. They had a heartbreaking fall at Fair Hill after scoring a 49.6 on the flat and sitting in a prime position. They won the competitive Plantation Field CIC3*, have never scored above a 50.2 at an FEI competition, have no stops or runouts on their record and have never had more than one rail. I think they’ll be top of the bunch here at Galway.
Bonner Carpenter & Basco: Bonner is piloting this promising 8-year-old gelding around his first CCI3* this weekend here at Galway. They proved recently at Woodside that they have the potential to hang with the big boys, pulling off the win with a 47.7 on the flat and only one time penalty in show jumping to add to that score. With that kind of performance, Bonner might just be your dark horse contender for the weekend.
Anna Collier & Gleaming Road: This horse moved up to this level this year and has two CIC3* competitions under his belt, most recently placing 6th at Woodside with a 62.1 on the flat, 8 time penalties on cross country and two rails in show jumping. Anna is no stranger to this level, having completed Rolex in 2004 on another mount and will be using her experience to help this talented young horse around his first CCI3*.
Barb Crabo & Eveready II: This pair is an old hand at this level, having been competing successfully in three-stars since 2008. They’ve tried Rolex twice and haven’t gotten through, but they are well established at this level and have already completed four CCI3* events, including a third place here in 2011. They were 5th this summer at Rebecca Farm CIC3*, with a 55.6 on the flat, 18.8 time penalties on cross country and one rail in stadium.
Buck Davidson & Copper Beach: Buck won this event last year, and he might very well do it again this time around with this big chestnut gelding. They won the Jersey Fresh CCI3* this spring with a 43.2 on the flat and just 7.6 cross country time penalties to add to that score. Top that off with a second place finish at Plantation CIC3* this fall adding only a rail to his dressage of 48.9 and you have a seriously competitive pair here.
Ellen Doughty-Hume & Sir Oberon: A rider knee injury sustained at the American Eventing Championships kept Ellen and Obie from contesting Fair Hill for the second year in a row, but she’s healed and rebounded to Galway instead, hoping for a good finish. Last year they were 6th at Fair Hill together with a 53.6 on the flat, double clear cross country and just one rail in show jumping. They were also 3rd together at Red Hill CIC3* this spring and recently 7th at the AECs in the Advanced division. They’ve had a light competition schedule, but certainly can do well here this weekend.
John Michael Durr & Esprit De La Danse: This pair moved up to the Advanced level this year and have had all top six finishes at each of their three CIC3* competitions. Most recently, they were 4th at Copper Meadows in the CIC3*, scoring a 60 on the flat, adding only four time penalties on cross country and taking three rails in the show jumping. Like many of the combinations here, they aren’t necessarily aiming for a competitive result as much as a good completion over a serious challenge.
Angela Grzywinski & Novelle: Angela and Novelle are another pair that are tackling their first CCI3* together here this weekend, and they have come in with one qualifying result at the CIC3* level, which they achieved at Copper Meadows recently. There they were second with a 68.4 on the flat and only .4 time penalties on cross country to add to that score, jumping clean everywhere else. They won’t be competitive after dressage, but they have the full potential to jump around this challenging track.
Jordan Linstedt & Revitavet Capato: These two moved up to the Advanced level in 2013 and have been taking their time getting acquainted with it before attempting their first CCI3* here at Galway, and I think it might pay off. They’ve been consistently scoring in the low 50s for dressage and jumping clean with the occasional rail. They were recently 4th at Woodside CIC3*, with a 54.6 on the flat, double clear cross country and one rail in stadium. This horse is superbly talented, and Jordan has done a great job bringing him up the levels.
Boyd Martin & Trading Aces: Certainly one of the most highly anticipated pairs competing here this weekend, they fully have the capacity to bring home the win. Oscar didn’t have the trip around the WEG that he wanted, but he did get a ton of experience getting there, and he’s got the chops for this level competition. They were fourth at Plantation CIC3* with a 51.3 on the flat and only 4.8 time penalties on the cross country. After that, Oscar has been enjoying a nice vacation, so he’s coming into this competition fresh and ready to go.
Jen McFall & High Times: Jen and Billy made their CCI3* debut last spring at Jersey Fresh, finishing in 9th place with a 59.6 on the flat, clear cross country and 14.4 time penalties, and four rails on the final day. They also completed their first Rolex this spring in 36th place and have gained a wealth of experience from that. They have had an easy campaign after Rolex, with just the CIC3* at Rebecca Farm and an Intermediate run in between. I don’t think Billy will let her be competitive on the flat, and he tends to roll more poles in the CCI format, but they’ll be great on cross country and happy to go home with another three-star completion.
Gina Miles & S.V.R. Ron: Star of Gina’s Save Of The Day, Ron gained his moment in the spotlight when he slammed on the brakes and lost his bridle in the show jumping at Woodside CIC3* a few weeks ago. Gina pulled an Avery Klunick and finished her round and hopefully won’t have to do that again here! This horse previously competed at the CCI3* level with Uruguayan rider Frederuci Gonzalo Daners Bidegain and even went to the Pan Ams in 2011. Gina has had the ride on him for two years now, and they attempted their first CCI3* as a pair at Jersey Fresh this year, but retired after a few stops on cross country. They were 7th at Woodside despite the bridle debacle, with a 57.6 on the flat, 10 time penalties on cross country and a total of 19 penalties in show jumping.
Bunnie Sexton & Rise Against: Bunnie and Ecko were 5th here last year in this division, with a 64.4 on the flat and just 5.6 cross country time penalties to add to that score. This 15 year old OTTB is a great jumper, with barely a rail on his record and an almost impeccable cross country record. The dressage ranges from low 50s to mid 70s, but they are fully capable of climbing the ranks with two clean jumping rounds.
Mackenna Shea & Landioso: Mackenna spent the majority of her season on the East Coast, and while she gained a ton of experience, I think its safe to say that a lot of things didn’t go her way this year. She and Landi have a ridiculous amount of potential together, and we just have to see them put together three phases in one weekend to blow our socks off. They are re-routing from Fair Hill, where they fell victim to the ditch and brush that was later removed from the course. They have been competing at this level since 2011, but have been four times thwarted in a CCI3*, showing us brilliance in between. All three phases are equally competitive, but need to happen all in a row for us to see what Mackenna and Landi can really do.
Lizzie Snow & Coal Creek: Lizzie and Devon also encountered trouble at the ditch and brush at Fair Hill and seem to have suffered no drawbacks so they re-routed to Galway. They had a great run at Bromont CCI3* this summer, finishing in third place with a 57.9 on the flat, clear cross country with 3.6 time penalties and just one rail on Sunday. They scored a full four points better in dressage at Fair Hill, and with a low 50s score here they could finish really nicely.
Kaitlin Veltkamp & Flashpoint D: This pair just moved up to this level, completing two CIC3* events this fall, but with great success. They won their debut at Copper Meadows and were third at Woodside a few weeks later. Both times they scored in the high 50s in dressage, show jumped double clean and added no more than four time penalties on cross country. This will be their first time at the level, but they haven’t been outside the top three all year and are hoping to keep that streak alive.
Jolie Wentworth & Goodknight: These two really have a knack for the CCI3* course at Galway, having competed here in this division for the past three years and placing second in both 2011 and 2013, and fourth in 2012. The dressage tends to stay in the low to mid 50s, but they always jump fast and clean, which gives this feisty gelding a leg up after three days of grueling competition. Perhaps this is finally the year where they stop playing bridesmaid?