James Alliston & Happenstance Take Galway Downs CCI3* Lead

James Alliston and Happenstance. Photo by Shelby Allen.

It was a big day for James Alliston at Galway Downs. Not only did he earn the lead in the CCI3* division, he also earned a career best dressage score at this level. Riding Mary Mckee’s Happenstance, James posted a 43.3.

Robyn Fisher and Betawave received a roaring round of applause and second place following their dressage test. She earned a 46.9 – her first sub-50 mark with this mare. Third place is a tie on 49.5 split between Bec Braitling with Lauren Burnell’s Walterstown Don and Ronald Zabala-Goetschel with his own Wundermaske.

CCI2* debutants Jessie Hargrave and her own Regenmann scooped up the early lead in this class on a score of 42.9. They are followed by Helen Bouscaren and her own Ebay in second (45.9), and Emilee Libby in third with her own Jakobi (47.5).

The CCI* class performed their tests yesterday, and Erin Kellerhouse came out on top with her own Woodford Reserve on a score of 41, despite the fact that “Woody” managed to buck Erin off in warmup. Fall off in warmup, win the dressage – all in a day’s work for Erin aka Wonder Woman!

Read on to check out what today’s top riders had to say:

James on Happenstance today:

“He’s quite a relaxed horse in the dressage in general. It’s nice you don’t have to be on him for hours before kind of calming him down. He knows his job, and he’s normally pretty workmanlike when he gets in the boards,” he said.

“When I cantered around the ring he was definitely a little sharper than I was expecting actually. He was looking a little bit — there’s other dressage rings out the back of our ring, so cantering around he was looking at them a little bit, but when he went in to do his test he relaxed and felt really really good.”

James on the partnership with Happenstance:

He’s been a really successful horse before, so it’s just me forming a partnership with him. He hasn’t done four-star, but he’s done three-star well, and he’s won a lot of two-stars, so I feel like it was just me trying to figure out how to ride him best and press the right buttons. Although he’s sort of been out of the sport for a year and a little, he is established and proven that he can do all three phases pretty well.”

Robyn Fisher and Betawave. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Robyn on being back at the top levels:

“I am on cloud nine right now. She’s been a really tough young horse to bring along, and today she showed that she is the horse we all thought she could be. There are still moments where she could be steadier and more connected, but overall I’m just thrilled.”

“It still doesn’t feel real because I never thought that I would be back at this level because I had no desire to be, and she has brought me back to life essentially. It’s exciting. I just want to do right by her.

Bec Braitling and Walterstown Don. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Bec on her relationship with “Walter”: 

“Going back to when we purchased him for my owner, she’s an amateur, and when we went to try him I was like, ‘oh my gosh we can’t buy this horse!’ He had only been ridden by men, and he was a lot of horse. It’s been really interesting for me because I’ve never gotten on a horse that’s such a schoolmaster, so it’s been a little bit of a learning curve for me to meet him in the middle a lot of the time.”

Ronald Zabala-Goetschel and Wundermaske. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Ronald on working with “Patch” at home to keep him relaxed in the ring: 

“I have this guy at home and he helped me. In the indoor at the farm we put up a big TV screen and surround sounds. We event put guys in the windows of the indoor with pitchforks and they move and everything. When he approaches them, even though they have forks, they give him a carrot, so now whenever he’s going around the ring, he’s like ‘whatever.'” Must have worked as this pair earned a personal best!

Jess Hargrave and Regenmann. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Jess on her test today: 

“The horse was really good. He’s good in the dressage usually, but he was extra good today. We had some really good lessons earlier this week when David (O’Connor) came down to do some coaching, so we got a couple tune ups. He’s a spooky horse, so a couple flowerpots got him, but overall he was really really good.”

Erin Kellerhouse and Woodford Reserve. Photo by Shelby Allen.

Erin on getting bucked off in warmup: 

All week he’s been super lazy, so I thought, ‘I’m not going to do a pre-ride on him.’ I think he’s just feeling tired. It’s the first time he’s every gotten fit before. He feels a little overworked and underpaid. Then, it cools down 20 degrees. He got clipped on Monday, and I got on him and I’m like, ‘Oh God.’ He had the biggest hump in his back.”

“He was being really robotic and doing everything really sharp.  He bronced twice really hard and got me forward, so I’m leaning over his shoulder and he spun and then bronced again. I fell pretty hard too — I hit butt cheek first. When I got back on he felt good. It was like he needed to do that. If I could’ve lunged him earlier, who knows, but I never lunge him he’s such a quiet horse. But as soon as I got back on his back felt soft. He just needed to buck I guess!”

Cross country gets rolling tomorrow starting at 9:30 a.m. PST/12:30 p.m. EST. You can watch all the action via live stream thanks to Ride on Video at this link.

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