With such tight scores after dressage, Sarah Dubost’s course proved very influential in yesterday’s show jumping at Galway Downs. Six clear rounds shook up the leaderboard, as Matt Brown’s Super Socks BCF and Jennifer McFall’s High Times had an unusual number of rails. The CIC3* ran last in the FEI divisions, meaning the sun was out and everything looked quite bright in the blazing Temecula sun.
James Alliston remains the only score under 50, after putting in a foot perfect round on his own Tivoli. James was certainly pleased with his results, saying Tivoli was “really good.” Alluding to the fact that we will next see James and Tivoli in Kentucky, he remarked, “I haven’t shown him a lot recently, and it’s nice to know he can be tired and still jump carefully. In this format, you always worry if they can do that.”
Sitting in second after a clear round is another Rolex bound pair, John Michael Durr and Ruth Bley’s Esprit de la Danse. John wasn’t afraid to withhold praise for his mare, who really stepped up to the plate. “The mare was super,” he said. “My buddy Jimmy (James Alliston) told me there were some time penalties out there and to hustle.”
And hustle he did! They took all the tight turns and made sure not to lose steam in the corners. JM wasn’t afraid to take some risks with angles, and it paid off wonderfully with a gorgeous clear round.
“With the course being tighter and me riding that way, she was getting better and better,” JM said. “She was amazing; she more rideable than she’s ever been. Today was her biggest leap forward ever, outside of cross country.”
JM and his mare appear to be peaking at just the right time, similar to another Rolex bound pair in Jennifer McFall and High Times. Initially planning on only completing the dressage, Jen and her team decided it would be good for both her and Billy to ride a little tired with some pressure. “Billy was so good,” Jen said with a smile. “He’s where he needs to be. I’m just thrilled with his progression.” She withdrew after her round, and their next outing will officially be Rolex Kentucky.
Matt Brown found himself with a different horse at top of the leaderboard; Happenstance had only one unlucky rail down to stay in third. “There was one I didn’t ride very well, and unfortunately I saw not a good spot out of that turn, but he’s just been jumping out of his skin.”
Hap definitely doesn’t look green out there, even though he is the least experienced in the division. “He was really putting his whole heart out there, which what he does every day that he is jumping,” Matt continued. He remarked that all his horses were jumping well, admitting he was a bit off his show jumping game.
With less than a second between Matt on Happenstance and Jolie Wenworth on Goodknight, and just .2 seconds between Barb Crabo and Bunnie Sexton, tomorrow will all come down to time.
Since this is the CIC format, cross country will run in reverse order of standing. The top three riders commended Robert Kellerhouse and his crew for putting so much effort into the footing. While they may not be helping California’s drought, they are definitely helping our horses’ legs.
Eight horses started yesterday with plans for a trip to Kentucky this year, and two are off to Plantation Field and Jersey Fresh. Hopefully we’ll see them get the rides they need to go confidently east. West Coast, represent!