A quick and clear cross country run today at Galway Downs puts James Alliston on track for his best ever CCI3* finishing score. He and Mary McKee’s Happenstance remain on their dressage score (43.3) to keep hold of the top spot in the division.
“He felt really good. It was a strong course I thought – a lot of angles, a lot of hard jumps really. I was delighted with how it went,” he commented. At 9 minutes and 42 seconds, James did have the quickest run of the group, something he admits he didn’t set out to achieve.
“I think I probably went a little too quickly which I shouldn’t have done,” he explained. “I think I was too far inside the time. I think I got a bit panicky because I started quite slowly and I was down a little bit on my minute markers and it was quite open at the end of the course. He was full of running. I let him go and he is quite fast.”
If you read Maggie Deatrick’s By The Numbers ahead of this weekend, their lead should be no surprise and the question now remains – will we see them aim for a four-star level one day? James had this to say:
“His cross country is really really good. He’s good at other phases too, but his cross country is fast and brave. You don’t know until you go and do it, whether they can, but I don’t see any reason not to give it a go. We’ll see how it all plays out the rest of the weekend.”
Ellen Doughty-Hume her own Sir Oberon moved from fifth to third after a penalty-free round. The 15-year-old Holsteiner/Thoroughbred sits on a score of 51.3 in third fifth season at this level.
“We’ve been together about 10 years now. He’s been my first horse for a lot of stuff. We kind of went up the levels together. He’s taken me everywhere – my first three-star, my first Rolex,” she grinned. “By this time, we know each other pretty well. This is our fifth year competing at the CCI3* level, so if I get him in a bad spot he knows kind of how to help me out, and I do the same for him. He’s a phenomenal horse.”
When Lisa Marie Fergusson heard that Eric Winter was taking over as course designer at Galway Downs, she jumped at the chance to ride one of his courses.
“I thought it was a great course, and that’s why I came out here is to ride Eric Winter’s course. I’d ridden Derek di Grazia a bunch and Mike (Etherington-Smith) and Ian Stark, and I love them all, but I wanted to do something a little different,” she said, hinting that she and Honor Me have eyes on Badminton in the spring, which Eric also designs.
And so far, so good as they added nothing to their dressage score (60) for third place. “He was fantastic. The only jump that made me a little nervous was six because he jumped the brush and he locked right on to the direct line to the corner, and I was planning to bend it, but he locked on and he jumped everything great. He adjusted his stride when he needed to. He didn’t hesitate anywhere. He felt amazing,” Lisa beamed.
Of the ten starters, seven finished with only our top three coming home inside the time. One was eliminated, Bunnie Sexton and Rise Against retired, and Robyn Fisher and Betawave had a horse fall at fence 24 The competition confirmed that Robyn suffered a broken scapula, and “Leta” is ok.
A penalty-free trip around cross country launched Helen Bouscaren and her own Ebay into the lead of the CCI2* division. In his first long two-star, the 8-year-old Oldenburg galloped easily around the Temecula Valley venue to finish under the time and remain on his dressage score of 45.9.
“He’s technically green at the level, but he doesn’t feel green,” she said. “He’s really professional and brave, and covers up my errors which is nice. Every fence he’s looking for the next jump, so it’s a nice feeling.”
For Helen – the highlight of the course was “The Moat” at 15 and 16. “I thought was really strong with the two corners. When we walked it, James thought it would be kind of long for him because he doesn’t have a very big stride, so I really attacked it, but I didn’t really need to actually,” she explained. “He jumped in big and bold. I wouldn’t say it was easy, it was a hard course, but he was dead straight and he didn’t do anything anything wrong. That was pretty cool because I felt like when he did that.”
Emilee Libby piloted Linda Libby’s Jakobi to a faultless finish today as well for second place. The 8-year-old Belgian Warmblood sits on a score of 47.5. Kim Liddell leapt from fifth to third with her own Eye of the Storm. They carry 51.6 penalty points onto the final day of competition.