We’ve been talking all week about how this CCI3* at Galway Downs will be anything but a dressage competition — and that was proven right in spades today as it turned out to be a very difficult day across the board.
It was made to look like a cakewalk from Phillip Dutton, though, who piloted both Mr Candyman and Fernhill Fugitive around double clear — just one other rider, Allie Knowles, also stopped the clock in time.
It was Fernhill Fugitive who was one of the last horses to head out today. This horse is practically a household name when it comes to Phillip’s string now, and he jumped around Ian Stark’s course easily with time to spare. This would be impressive on any course, but on a day like today it really showed Phillip’s experience in situations such as these.
“It’s the best he’s ever gone, so I was pleased,” Phillip said of “Jack”. “He’s not the speediest horse I’ve ever ridden so I had to really work at the time and he really dug in at the end and galloped home quite well and amde up some time so that we could finish and get under the time.”
“He’s a pretty laid back character so we have to motivate him a little bit. It’s been a great year for him, he stepped up and did Kentucky and was fortunate enough to get on the team for the Pan Ams and hopefully will finish well here.”
To say the course rode tough could be considered an understatement. At the start of the division, we waited at the final water at fence 20 while the first two riders out had unlucky gos and retired early on. So it was Phillip with Mr Candyman, the third on course, to be the first to make it to the Shamu water. He went on to move from 12th up to fourth thanks to his quick and clear round.
Mr Candyman is running his first CCI3* this weekend, and this is only his third FEI event with Phillip which is equally impressive. The 8-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Ann Jones, Bridget Colman and Caroline Moran was still keen and full of run by the time he reached the tail end of the course.
“It’s his first time at this level,” Phillip said. “And I wouldn’t say I know him that well. He wasn’t sort of grabbing the bit and taking me to every jump, I had to work for it a bit but I was pretty impressed with him. He’s got a nice gallop to him and he’s a beautiful jumper and doesn’t get strong at all, so that makes it easier.”
Lauren Kieffer and Meadowbrook’s Scarlett had perhaps my favorite ride through the CWD Splash, and Lauren’s grin on the way out said it all as she easily galloped on towards home. This mare is hot off a team gold and individual seventh place finish at the Pan Ams — and she, too, is just 8 years old. Lauren and Scarlett came home with just two seconds worth of time for a two-day score of 45.8 and second place.
“After the Pan Ams she had a nice vacation,” Lauren said. “I really have Jess Brumfield at home to thank for legging her up for me while we were in England because we didn’t take her with us. And then David rode her when he could. But I was thrilled with her – she really is an amazing horse. She’s only 8 and she hadn’t run since the Pan Ams.”
“I went out and I just kind of let her pick her pace in the beginning but she really did pick up the questions. I certainly didn’t think the course rode easy, it rode difficult but she was brilliant. She was spot on to everything. At the end I was able to make up a bit of time, she had plenty in the tank.”
Allie Knowles has to be in seventh heaven today after picking up the only other double clear aside from Phillip aboard Sound Prospect. Allie rerouted here following a fall from The Dark Mark at Fair Hill which led to her withdrawal of “Sounder.”
This is a homecoming of sorts for former Cali girl Allie (I’m sure that’s not the first time someone has used that nickname!), so today is even sweeter for her and Sound Prospect LLC’s Thoroughbred gelding to be here with all of their West Coast friends.
“The last two years, Sounder and I have been building a partnership and we’re working out kinks and it really came together today,” Allie said. “It felt like he was really ready for Fair Hill and it was a bit of bad luck that I wasn’t able to run him, so I didn’t feel like his season to come here. So I made the decision to come here and I’m so glad that I did. It was fun to be back, and I needed to prove to myself that he and I were ready to tackle a three star and do well.”
“He was full of running. I thought I actually was going to be a bit behind the time, but I couldn’t have asked him to be any better.”
Completing the top five are Allison Springer and Athlone Anto, another reroute from Fair Hill. Allison said at Fair Hill that this was one she has been particularly excited about, and he certainly got his revenge after ending his weekend early in Maryland. This pair added 5.2 time to their dressage score for a total of 52.1 following cross country.
In total, 18 riders completed, 15 sans jump penalties, a very tough course. Problems were relatively scattered, although fence 9 — the Sunsprite Trakehner to a big corner — caused perhaps the most. With as many issues as there were, just two riders fell from their horses: Jacob Fletcher fell from Atlantic Domino at 15 and Erin Murphy fell from Athlone Travel On at 9.
Overnight leaders Marilyn Little and RF Demeter had a grand run up until the second to last water at fence 17, where Demi had an uncharacteristic drive-by of the B element, an up bank.
From there, Marilyn came to the final water and jumped the B element on top of the hill, after which Demi never really locked on to the Shamu and instead bolted past it. It took Marilyn several strides to pull up a very strong horse, and she put her hand up at that point.
Jessica Phoenix had a mixed day, bringing home two of her four rides home and retiring two. She retired Bentleys Best following some trouble midway through and later would retire Patras VR after trouble at the Triple Crown Brushes in the trade fair.
It’s been quite the drama-filled day here in Temecula, and there’s still more to come as the show jumping will conclude competition tomorrow. I’ll be back in the morning with a jog report as well as recaps from the exciting conclusion from Galway Downs!