Erin Kellerhouse may have kicked herself for picking up a single second of time around the show jumping track yesterday, but as it turns out that second would come out in the wash as she blazed around Clayton Fredericks’ intense CCI4*-S track with one second in hand to seal the win this afternoon with Woodford Reserve. It was just the confidence kick the pair was looking for as they eye their next start in Kentucky for the CCI4*-S, and they’ll end their weekend here on a final score of 30.1.
“It felt a bit hectic just because it’s a short and I was trying to make the time,” Erin reflected. “And things come up so much faster. In the long (last fall), I felt like I had so much time and it was so smooth and lovely. I have to get used to things just coming up like that. It felt a little uncomfortable, but he was great and he finished super strong.”
The course, which was Clayton Fredericks’ design to both test the newer Advanced pairs as well as allow the Kentucky-bound pairs to have a solid prep, presented a slew of new challenges. The optimum time of seven minutes proved tricky to catch for some, but the top four finishing riders all turned in double clear efforts for a 33% double clear rate and a 67% clear jumping rate.
First and second out of the box, James and Helen Alliston set the early pace, each scorching around on Paper Jam and Ebay, respectively, to give riders back in the warm-up a shot of confidence. Helen and Ebay held their second position, ending their weekend on a final score of 31.5, while James moved up into sixth from 11th on a final score of 49.7.
Helen yesterday told us that she was looking forward to see where the pair was at in their education together. The 12-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Escudo is still fairly green at the level, she says, having breezed through his Intermediate and three-star seasons before encountering some growing pains at the Advanced level. So with confidence her main focus, Helen says the extra work brought about by the Covid lockdown last year has really begun to pay off.
“He’s kind of been hard for me to educate just with timing,” she said. “He just whizzed through his Intermediates and three-stars, I think he won everything he did. So I just bumped him up, and in retrospect I bumped him up way too fast and when I first moved him up to Advanced, but my first four-star he had a runout here and had some runouts at Montana and just lost his confidence. I think people don’t know actually how green he is because he moved up a long time ago but he hasn’t done that many Advanced.”
Helen is aiming for the CCI3*-L at Rebecca Farm, a qualifier the pair needs to continue their progression. It will be a good opportunity to continue to build Ebay’s confidence, which took a definitive step forward today despite the intensity of the track. She also gave credit to Wendy Sherlock, the breeder of both Ebay and Paper Jam (who was piloted by James Alliston this weekend in the CCI4*-S, finishing sixth) who flew out from Georgia this weekend to watch and groom. A proud moment for Wendy, no doubt, to see her two babies grown up and making such excellent progress under the Allistons’ tutelage.
Emilee Libby is feeling confident about heading to Kentucky next with Jakobi, who she says seems to really be coming into his own body this season. This pair also turned in a clear round inside the optimum time of seven minutes, finishing their weekend on a score of 33.7.
“He was still listening and moving off my leg but still coming back,” Emilee said of the 12-year-old Jakobi. “He used to really not feel like that and not really lock on to the jumps and now I just feel like he’s taking me, so it’s a really good feeling going into his first five-star. I went out and I galloped and I made him go a bit, I wanted to see how fit he was and how he felt at the end, and he felt fantastic.”
Emilee says she’s mainly focused on rideability with Jakobi and credits the PEMF treatments she’s been doing for helping him feel much more comfortable in his body and soft to ride as a result. “Sometimes he can get a bit strong, not so much to the jumps but after and between…he’s just really growing up. He’s twelve this year, so I think he’s just starting to mature a bit into his age, his body, and his mind.”
Emilee entered Kentucky two days before it canceled in 2020, so she’s looking forward to boarding that plane next month to make her first return trip to the five-star level in 14 years.
Amber Levine and Cellar Farm’s Cinzano, who were seventh after dressage and ninth after show jumping, but moved up into fourth place thanks to a double clear effort today. This is their best performance at the CCI4*-S level, ending the weekend on a score of 44.4.
Completing the top five are Rebecca Braitling and Arnell Sporthorses’ Caravaggio II, who steadily climbed the board from 12th after dressage to seventh after show jumping. They enjoyed a clear trip around the cross country, picking up 7.6 time penalties to finish their weekend on a score of 49.1.
A handful of issues popped up around the track: Derek di Grazia and Ringwood Justice as well as Chloe Smith and Stag Party were eliminated after some trouble on course, and Andrea Baxter parted ways from Laguna Seca after the final water when she was unseated and unable to get back into position.
In all, designer Clayton Fredericks says he’s pleased with how the track rode, confessing he’s almost more nervous to watch how his courses ride than he is to actually go out and ride them.
“I’m super happy with the way (the course) ran,” Clayton commented. “I actually get more nervous designing the courses and watching everyone else ride than I do myself. I’m always sort of anxious pre-watching a course I’ve designed. After I’d finished (walking the course with a group yesterday), I sort of was feeling like I wouldn’t have minded getting out there and giving it a go myself.”
Long term, Clayton hopes to continue building out the grounds and cultivating the cross country track. “One of the things I’ve sort of insisted on in conversation is to stick to the same track and keep trying to develop that ground, keep trying to work that ground, and keep a couple of key areas that I know I can use and develop and change around,” he explained.
The CCI3*-S cross country featured an optimum time of six minutes, 30 seconds – just one pair would make the time: Katy Robinson and Caroline and Paul Wolff’s Outrageous Dance. In the end, it was Washington-based Alina Patterson and her own Flashback (Fuerst Fugger – Queen of Joy, by Quaterback), sitting second following show jumping, who would move up to take the win with just two seconds of time added for a finishing score of 30.1.
This was the first CCI3*-S for this pair, who have done a lot of growing together – prior to purchasing Flashback, a 9-year-old German Sport Horse gelding, 18-year-old Alina hadn’t competed above the Novice level. Alina credits the dedication of her longtime coach, John Camlin, with helping her reach this level with Flashback.
“Time was definitely a little harder to make than I expected,” Alina said. “I came out really wanting to push for time and I got pretty close. Everything rode really well, pretty much as expected. He was incredible. He’s a really brave cross country horse and sometimes I have to make sure he doesn’t get too cocky.”
Flashback had done no eventing when he came to Alina as a coming six year old, so the partnership they’ve built together has been a labor of patience and trust. Looking ahead, Alina says she’s aiming for the CCI3*-L at Twin Rivers.
Second in the CCI3*-S this weekend are Sabrina Glaser and Hildegard Johnson’s Cooley Mr. Murphy, who added 5.2 time penalties across the country to solidify their position on a final score of 38.4. This was the first FEI start for the 8-year-old Irish Sport horse by Kroongraaf, and it’s an excellent start for this promising young horse who’s no doubt one to keep an eye on.
Katy Robinson packed up her home base in Colorado to move back to California, having spent time on the West coast several years ago when she last competed at the upper levels, when she realized the talent she was sitting on in Outrageous Dance. She now bases here at Galway Downs and has joined business forces with Emilee Libby.
Outrageous Dance (Outrageous Limit – I Wanna Dance, by Robyn Dancer) was purchased off the track by Carolina Wolff and caught Katy’s eye when he popped over a pile of wood in the pasture one day. For reasons Katy still can’t define, she took a liking to the gelding, who she describes as a bit on the sensitive side. Her instincts proved to be correct, and the gelding has made great strides working through the levels despite a few setbacks dotting the road.
“He’s pretty much the reason I moved out (to California),” Katy explained. “For a while, I had been at the upper levels and then I kind of wasn’t sure that I wanted to be that aggressive. I kind of took some time to find my way and then he came into my life, and now that’s the horse I ride for fun.”
Looking to the CCI2*-S, it was another wire-to-wire win, this time for Lauren Billys and the Can Be Sweet Syndicate’s Can Be Sweet (Candyman – Tres Belle), who clocked a clean, confident round on Bert Wood’s track that caused its fair share of issues throughout to end the weekend on a score of 28.6.
“(Can Be Sweet) was really good today,” Lauren said. “He answered all the questions out on course and he just felt like it was easy for him and how he responded to the course.” Having forgotten to start her watch, she then started it at the one minute marker and kept kicking from there. “I could have been faster,” she reflected (in the end, she came home just one second under the optimum time of five minutes, 21 seconds). “He’s ready to move up to Intermediate. I’d love to qualify for the Pan American Games with him, that is my goal. I have plenty of time to slowly build him to that.”
Lauren is also head to contest the Kentucky CCI4*-S next with her Rio Olympic partner, Castle Larchfield Purdy. While the pair had a misunderstanding on cross country today, resulting in a runout, she says she still feels confident the upcoming trip the Bluegrass. “I’m not overthinking it, it was just a misunderstanding,” she said. “With things like that I have to go back to our history, recognize what he understands and what is green.”
Miranda Olagaray and Tanqueray (34.7) and Hailey Blackburn with Kilbunny Amigo (42.3) round out the top three in the CCI2*-S, each turning in double clear efforts today to seal their positions on the podium.
It’s been an incredible two days of international eventing here in Temecula wine country, and the action isn’t finished yet! I’ll be back early next week with a photo album from the weekend, and you can continue to follow along with live scores as the National divisions wrap up over the next two days.
Many thanks are due to Kim Miller, who runs press here at Galway as well as other West coast events, and the rest of the team here making this event run on schedule. I can’t wait until next time. Go eventing!