Overnight CCI2* leader Marilyn Little set out of the start box aboard RF West Indie with a specific plan in mind for tackling Ian Stark’s Galway Downs track … only to have the curb chain on her pelham bit break after the first fence.
“Landing from the first jump, I felt something go ping, and so did Indie,” Marilyn said. “She was a good sport; there wasn’t a whole lot of control. Thankfully, she was looking for the flags. I couldn’t help her balance munch, but she’s so honest and so genuine; it worked out.”
Marilyn and Indie, a 7-year-old Hanoverian mare owned by Raylyn Farms, came home with 12 time penalties to hold their lead on a score of 56. “The time was hard to catch for anybody even on a made horse, and Indie is young; she’s new to this level, so she was never going to be one I hammered around on,” Marilyn said.
The issues with the broken bit meant she was about 10 seconds slower than she wanted to be, which gives her a narrow .7 penalty margin over James Atkinson and Gustav, who came home with 9.2 time penalties to move up one spot to second place on a score of 56.7.
James Atkinson looks to Pan Ams with Gustav
James rode this horse, a 15-year-old Oldenburg gelding owned by Carolyn Hoffos, to a team silver medal at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara before attempting a three-star move up in 2012, which he said proved to be a bit too soon. “We stuck to the two-star level, and he’s just very consistent competitively, in the 40s on the flat, and he’s fast for a fat, small horse,” he joked. “He’s so broke and so educated now. He doesn’t waste a lot of time at the fences.”
The two-star course didn’t ride nearly as smoothly as the three-star, with the water complex at fence 19 causing a number of problems at both the jump in at A and the jump off the bank at C. James attributed some of that to the footing being a bit saturated this morning. Though the cross country start was delayed by two hours, the two-star riders went out first with the ground still drying.
“A change in the footing can change the dynamic of the entire course; I think we saw that this morning,” James said. “We’re used to walking an Ian Stark course and being a little bit impressed, and with this one, I think people didn’t think it was the toughest two-star we’ve seen from Ian, and maybe that changes the way people come out of the box a little bit.”
After breaking his leg last year, James passed the ride on Gustav off to his wife, Taren, and he’s only just recently taken over at Rebecca Farm. With Canada looking ahead to next year’s Pan American Games in Toronto, James said the horse is once again in consideration for the team.
“Our Canadian team coach Clayton Fredericks is here, and obviously we’re all quite focused on the Pan Ams next year,” James said. “Things are still slightly up in the air with Rio qualifications. I know that Clayton seems to be quite excited about having him be a part of the time there just because he’s been very consistent and very sound.
“I would like to move on and do a three-star in the spring, but it’s probably better to wait and have a really good showing at the Pan Ams. So I think we’re cruise in the spring, do some horse trials and a CIC, not do a CCI in the spring and gear up for Toronto.”
Lauren Billys and Castle Larchfield Purdy round out the top three in the CCI2*, jumping clear with 9.2 time penalties to move up from seventh place. She hopes to represent Puerto Rico at the 2016 Rio Olympics with this horse, which you can read more about in this post. She has to complete a certain number of CCI events prior to March 1, 2015, to qualify, and she’s well on her way after their great showing today.
Marilyn Little finds her rhythm with RF Scandalous
Marilyn Little also had a very good day in the CCI*, retaining her lead with RF Scandalous after jumping clear with one time penalty. The mare stepped down to the one-star level after blips on cross country at both her CIC2* attempts after being imported from Germany this summer, and Marilyn said they found their rhythm today.
“It’s been the gallops that felt like they undid her before, not necessarily the jumping,” Marilyn said. Once she made it through the first water, she let the mare cruise a bit. “I was probably 20 seconds slow at that point; we were 1 second over, but it was the right thing for her today and where we are in the partnership.”
Marilyn said the one-star course proved to be an educational challenge for her horses; she’s also sitting in fourth place with RF Typecast. “The waters were very beautifully designed; they were challenging but inviting and asked three very different questions. At the one-star level, it was a good test, but it was also a building test.”
She was also pleased to see Ashlyn Dorsey have such a good go with RF Kinetic, a horse Marilyn found for her in northern Germany that is sitting in third place after jumping clear with 1 time penalty. “She was a young horse the last time I saw her and had all the makings to be an upper-level horse,” Marilyn said. “That’s a partnership to look for in the future.”
Tamie Smith and Sunsprite Syrius, last year’s Young Event Horse West Coast 5-year-old reserve champion, jumped double clear to remain on their dressage score of 42.2. Twenty-one combinations in all jumped double clear today in the CCI*, with eight combinations completing the course with jumping penalties.
We have to send a special shout out to 14-year-old Madison Temkin and Kingslee, who jumped double clear around her first CCI* today to move from 22nd up to 13th place. You’ll get to know her much better on the PRO TV live stream tomorrow, as she’s the spotlight rider in our brand new series EN’s Ones to Watch.
Be sure to tune in tomorrow for the finale at Galway Downs International. The PRO Tour TV broadcast goes live at 2 p.m. PST/5 p.m. EST, with highlights from cross country and dressage showing before CCI3* show jumping is shown live with expert commentary from Samantha Clark and Spencer Sturmey.