Matt Brown Tops Galway Downs Dressage

Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF. Photo by Sally Spickard. Matt Brown and Super Socks BCF. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Welcome to the first West Coast International Event of 2015! While Galway Downs has always been an destination event, things are especially exciting this spring. As a final prep before Rolex for over half the 3* division, there’s a sense of purpose for everyone here.

Matt Brown is your leader in the CIC3*, this time on Super Socks BCF. “Flaxen” received a 46.9 after making the test look like a Novice round. Matt and Flaxen both seemed to relax more in the second half of their test, which again makes you wonder how much higher these two can go. Scoring below his average on this test, it’s clear Matt and Flaxen are looking to improve on their last East Coast outing at Fair Hill’s CCI3*. Look out Jersey Fresh, the West is coming!

Jennifer McFall and HIgh Times. Photo by Stephanie Nicora.

Jennifer McFall and HIgh Times. Photo by Stephanie Nicora.

Jennifer McFall and High Times are continuing their excellent Rolex prep with her best dressage score to date, putting them in second. Billy couldn’t resist showing off a little in one of his flying changes, but otherwise the pair looked brilliant. Jen was only planning to complete the dressage here this weekend with Billy, who has had lessons from David O’Conner and Clayton Fredricks this week, but they decided to go ahead and show jump this afternoon. “He was so good,” she said with a smile.

Billy’s half-brother, Happenstance, sits third. Both High Times and Happenstance are by the Holsteiner stallion, Hunter xx, a son of the brilliant sport horse sire, Heraldik. Matt Brown has the ride on Mary McKee’s dark, elegant gelding, who finished the dressage on a 48.8 in his first CIC3*.

Matt Brown and Mary McKee's Happenstance. Photo by Stephanie Nicora.

Matt Brown and Mary McKee’s Happenstance. Photo by Stephanie Nicora.

Matt again rode quite relaxed, making some of us wonder if he ever breaks a sweat! Hap didn’t seem to mind the atmosphere, staying focused throughout his test.  “If he (Happenstance) doesn’t think he’s doing the right thing, he tends to get a little tense. I think my job is to keep him. Hap internalizes everything because he wants to please so much he gets a little tight, where Socks sort of reacts to the things around them. So I have to quiet them both down, but in very different ways.

You still make it look easy, Matt.

James Alliston and Tivoli show off their lateral work. Photo by Stephanie Nicora.

James Alliston and Tivoli show off their lateral work. Photo by Stephanie Nicora.

Just behind the top three are a list of names found on the Rolex entry list: James Alliston and Tivoli (49.5), Jolie Wentworth and Goodknight (49.6) and Barb Crabo with Eveready (51.5). With one rail between the top five, Sarah Dubost’s stadium course is sure to be a factor, possibly causing a lot of movement on the leaderboards. John Michael Durr left points on the table when he forgot his rein back in an otherwise stunning test. Of his partner, Tivoli, James said, “I did an extra flying change, which is what Tiv often does, and that hurt the score. But his walk was good. I think if I hadn’t had that mistake it would have been a really good score.”

Bunnie Sexton and her OTTB Rise Against. Photo by Stephanie Nicora.

Bunnie Sexton and her OTTB Rise Against. Photo by Stephanie Nicora.

 

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Matt Brown also leads the CIC2* with BCF Belicoso put down the test to beat with a 44.5 in the CIC2*.“Holden” was relaxed and seemed to go through the test with little difficulty. Their partnership is truly something to watch. It takes talent to make this test look easy!

Matt Brown and BCF Belicoso make dressage look fun. Photo by Stephanie Nicora.

Matt Brown and BCF Belicoso make dressage look fun. Photo by Stephanie Nicora.

Second and third place are divided by .01 — just another example of how everyone came out to work today in the sand box. Andee Stow’s Rubicon and rider Nikki Ayers had their hard work pay off with a 48.8. The Canadian from Langley, BC and the striking red-and-white Rubicon made a statement today in their first CIC2*.

Nikki Ayers and Andee Stow's Rubicon. Photo by Stephanie Nicora.

Nikki Ayers and Andee Stow’s Rubicon. Photo by Stephanie Nicora.

It was at Galway’s Fall Event that Nikki and “Rubix” moved up to the one-star level of competition, and they haven’t looked back. Nikki was especially happy with the test, as the things she worked on with Clayton Fredericks have paid off. “Imagine what he’ll be like when we get it all sorted!” Nikki said with a smile.

Just behind Nikki is Barbara Crabo and Over Easy, who also put in a very nice test for a 48.9. Heather Morris and Charlie Tango sit in fourth on a score of 50.8. Show jumping is sure to  make a difference going into tomorrow! The CIC2* starts jumping at 3:30 Pacific time.

More to come from Robert Kellerhouse’s beautiful facility including show jumping from all the FEI divisions, more photos and interviews. Go Galway!

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Galway Downs H.T. & CIC  [Website] [Omnibus] [Live Scores]

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