The Advanced season out on the West Coast has been steadily marching on, and this weekend Woodside will hold the final prep run before the CCI4*-L at Galway. The 4*-S division is well fleshed-out, with the usual suspects competing with a few talented fresh faces.
Ian Stark will be providing the course design for cross country and Chris Barnard will share double duty with Ocala’s fall horse trials for the stadium design.
Woodside’s optimum time is doable, with generally about 10% of cross-country starters obtaining time since 2014. The winners of the 4*-S at this venue have been in first or second after dressage in four of the last five editions. Last year’s winners, Helen Bouscaren and Ebay, return to defend their title, along with the 2015 winning pair Lauren Billys and Castle Larchfield Purdy. Previous winning riders James Alliston and Amber Levine also come forth on new mounts to try and contest this division. Interestingly, this is one of the few West Coast events that Tamie Smith has not won in the past half-decade; she brings four competitive mounts this weekend to try and break that streak.
Danito has been on quite the streak under Tamie Smith this year; he’s broken the 75% mark in three of his four A/4* starts in 2020 and missed it on the fourth occasion by only a hair. He’ll be tough to beat in the first phase this weekend. However, his stablemate EnVogue might give him a run for his money; this mare is equally flashy on the flat and bested her stablemate on phase one in her last start at Rebecca Farm, laying down a score of 22.7 penalties.
The precocious Woodford Reserve has been extremely consistent after making his debut at the level in February of this year. He and Erin Kellerhouse have broken 70% in each of their three starts. A similar test here will put the pressure on Tamie in the jumping phases.
Stadium has not been Danito‘s strongest phase; he’s had a rail or two in three of five rounds at this level. However, he’s been improving in each round this year, jumping clean recently at Twin Rivers 4*-S, and even a rail this weekend would likely see him hold the top position.
Unfortunately EnVogue has very consistently had two rails in four of her five outings at the A/4* level; a couple of rails here will likely drop her down the ranks after this phase. This will leave room for Woodford Reserve to sneak closer to the top of the leaderboard; this horse has not had a rail in three rounds at the level, but has had a few time penalties in two of those rounds. The time penalties would likely give Danito a rail in hand.
Danito and Woodford Reserve will be within a couple points of one another; the size of that gap will likely dictate who wins this division. Of the two horses, Woodford Reserve is faster on average by a couple of seconds. He has been within 12 seconds of the fastest pace of the day in each of his three runs at this level, and actually clocked in the fastest pace at Galway Downs in July. Danito has yet to be the fastest pace of the day but has been within 14 seconds of the fastest pace on each of his three clear runs for the level.
Meanwhile, EnVogue will rocket back up the ranks on the final day thanks to her turn of foot. In her three runs at this level, she has set the fastest pace in two of them and was only seven seconds off the pace in the third. Lauren Billys and Castle Larchfield Purdy should also make an appearance in the top five, averaging only thirteen seconds over the fastest pace.
After being neck and neck for three days, Danito will eke out a win using the cushion of his dressage score to allow himself a little breathing room up through cross-country.
NEW TO EACH OTHER
Of course it would be remiss not to discuss the new partnership of Tamie Smith and Passepartout. Tamie has taken the reins while her daughter Kaylawna Cook is out on maternity, and they started off with a bang at Twin Rivers 4*-S, winning in their first time at the level as a pair. After putting in a sub-thirty score, they proceeded to add nothing in the stadium and then blaze around the cross-country with the fastest time of the day, only 8 seconds over optimum time. If they can match that in their second outing at this level, Tamie will challenge her own regular rides for the win.
OTHER NOTABLE ENTRIES
- James Alliston is bringing out the diminutive but mighty mare Pandora to compete in the Open Prelim.
- Hawley Bennett-Awad will run Jollybo in the Open Intermediate.
Dressage begins on Thursday, with stadium following on Friday. Saturday concludes the division with cross country.