Tamie Smith Celebrates Her Birthday By Leading Rebecca Farm CCI*

Tamie Smith and Fleeceworks Royal. Photo by Sally Spickard. Tamie Smith and Fleeceworks Royal. Photo by Sally Spickard.

What better way to celebrate your birthday than with a killer dressage test to take the early lead of your division? That’s how Tamie Smith celebrates! We’re at the halfway mark of the CCI* dressage here at Rebecca Farm, and Tamie and Judy McSwain’s Fleeceworks Royal took the lead as the last of the morning session on a score of 46.4.

Fleeceworks Royal is a 6-year-old Holsteiner mare who is contesting her first CCI* this weekend; she most recently place second in the CIC* at Copper Meadows last month. By Riverman out of the Corofino mare Marisol, this mare is a full sister to Kristi Nunnink’s former four-star campaigner R-Star and was also the USEA Young Event Horse West Coast Champion as a 5-year-old.

This is one of several rides for Tamie this weekend, including one more to come in the CCI* in Under Wraps. She also has two rides in the CCI2*, as well as Ellen and Alex Ahearn’s Mai Baum in the CIC3* (who EN has predicted to win), so the birthday girl won’t have much in the way of downtime this weekend. Somehow we feel she won’t mind spending her birthday here in beautiful Kalispell, Montana.

And beautiful it is! Driving in this morning literally took my breath away, and while I haven’t had a look at the cross country yet (I’m heading out to do that now!), the atmosphere is buzzing with excitement at how great it looks. Really, if you haven’t had the opportunity to come out to Rebecca Farm then you should definitely put it on your bucket list.

Back to business in the morning’s CCI* action, we saw some fresh horses today who were feeling good in the crisp mountain air (and perhaps due to catching a glimpse of some cross country in the distance), but we also saw some classy riding to really squeeze as many points as possible out of the judges.

Auburn Excell Brady and Royal Lux. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Auburn Excell Brady and Royal Lux. Photo by Sally Spickard.

The trailblazer this morning was Auburn Excell Brady and Royal Lux, who looked calm, cool and collected for the first CCI* of his career. Owned by Auburn and R. Lawrence Sawyer, Royal Lux is a 9-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding who most recently finished 10th in the CIC2* at Fresno County Horse Park.

Auburn and Royal Lux took the early lead and held onto it all the way through the end of the morning session with their score of 47.0. There are still plenty more combinations yet to come, but Auburn and Royal Lux find themselves in a solid position, currently in second behind Tamie.

In third are Ruth Bley and the lovely Silver Sage, a 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding. This pair earned a 48.3 nod from the judges to shave a few points off of their score from the CCI* at this event in 2014. This pair should be a fun one to see out on cross country on Saturday — they’ve not had a jump penalty on cross country in their entire FEI career together, so be on the lookout for this pair to finish close to their dressage score.

Ruth Bley and Silver Sage. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Ruth Bley and Silver Sage. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Jennie Brannigan made the trek out to Montana with Tim and Nina Gardners’ homebred OTTB, Mixed Blessing, who is also making his debut at this level. The 6-year-old gelding stepped up to Prelim this year with consistent success and looked every bit the part of a competitor in the white box today. Jennie will be pleased with his score of 49.0 to slot into fourth place at the moment.

Rounding out the top five at the lunch break are Sydney Johnson and Ols Take Time, who earned a 49.3 and the only remaining score in the 40s so far. This pair will be seeking their first CCI* completion this weekend, and they most recently placed eighth in the Preliminary Rider division at Woodside.

There’s still much more to come from Thursday at Rebecca Farm — there’s so much happening at all times it’s hard to know where to even begin! Big thank you to Brian Schott and the wonderful staff here manning the press tent, which is nice and shady and very close to all three phases. I’m about to hop on a dirt bike to check out some cross country, so I’ll be back later with much more. Go Eventing!

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