The very first FEI event of 2020 got ticked off the calendar this weekend at Fresno County Horse Park in California. The event’s CCI2*-S, CCI3*-S and Advanced divisions wrapped up on Saturday with Intro through Intermediate horse trials divisions continuing today.
As an East Coaster, FCHP looks like an entirely different planet. The sepia earth, the industrial “steel forest” backdrop … I mean, it’s no Rebecca Farm, but there’s something striking about it nonetheless. Formerly known as Ram Tap, FCHP is the second longest continuous three-day event in the country — the first edition of Ram Tap was in 1957. The construction of a high speed rail through the grounds nearly derailed (no pun intended!) the event a few years back, but thanks to the heroic efforts of John Marshall, a real estate developer and lower level eventer, the event not only survived but continues to thrive today. In fact, the rail viaduct ended up being pretty on-brand with the FCHP’s train theme!
Choo-choo! Full speed ahead (last one, promise) to a recap of the CCI3*-S, CCI2*-S and Advanced action. Many thanks to EN’s great friend and photographer extraordinaire Sherry Stewart for the lovely pics and dispatches from the field!
James Alliston posted the only double-clear rounds of the CCI3*-S division with his two mounts, Lilly and RevitaVet Oreo, to finish 1st and 2nd respectively.
James and Lilly, an 11-year-old Oldenburg mare (Check In x Contender) owned by Kelly Maddox, have been on a roll, winning their first two Intermediate horse trials together last fall at Twin Rivers and FCHP. She looks like a sassy sort of lady with a penchant for let-me-at-it head tossing and dramatic tail flips. A win at her very first three-star is impressive, and we’ll look forward to watching this exciting partnership develop.
RevitaVet Oreo is a 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare by Golden Master, owned by James and Gillian Webster. FCHP marked her three-star debut as well, with her stablemate edging out the win by just three-tenths of a point. So close! It’s been a while since we’ve seen her out — their last start was The Spring Event at Woodside last May — so we’re glad to see her back on form.
James also won the Open Preliminary division on Czechers. (Sidenote: We spotted one Frankie Thieriot Stutes and Chatwin in the division — they won the dressage but were under strict orders to “trot” cross country so collected 14 time penalties to finish in 4th.)
“James was in the moment on all the rides I saw,” Sherry reports. “My friend Lee thinks he would be a great whitewater kayaker because he can maintain a low center of gravity despite those looong arms and legs.” Well, should you ever need a backup plan, James!
Alexis Helffrich and another three-star debutante M Creme De La Creme SE, an 8-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding (Clare De Lune SE x Zathalida, by Cathalido) owned by Rose Sullivan, round out the top three. The pair had the lead through dressage and show jumping but picked up 12.4 cross country time faults to drop two spots. FCHP is a lucky venue for this pair — they won the CCI2*-S here last February.
Meg Pellegrini and Dassett Ricochet, her own 8-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding (Cabachon x Pilar, by Kalibar), scooped the top CCI2*-S honors. The pair was 2nd after dressage but posted double-clear show jumping and cross country rounds to slide into 1st on a final score of 30.6 after dressage winners Alexis Helffrich and Graceland’s Lincoln had an expensive rail.
This is a fairly new partnership for Meg, who acquired the horse in October, but they seem to be clicking — this is their second win in a row, having bested the Prelim division at Galway Downs last month. Rebecca Braitling was his previous rider and developed him through the two-star level. We were also excited to see Meg and 2019 USEA Pony of the Year Ganymede out and about in the Intermediate division. Nobody is more fun to watch than that pair! Look at them going for it in the Intermediate at Galway Downs. You know you love it. Meg also finished 3rd in Intermediate on RF Eloquence.
Double-clear jumping rounds paid off for 2nd placed Anna Parson and Crescendo, moving them up from 7th after dressage. In 3rd place is Bruce Hill with Bossinova, who added just 1.6 show jumping time penalties to their dressage score of 32.6.
Gina Economou and Exclusive were the best of five Advanced division starters. The pair scored a 33.0 in dressage, posted a fault-free show jumping round, then added 9.6 cross country time penalties to win on a final score of 42.6. Exclusive, Gina’s own 11-year-old Dutch gelding (Marlon x Julia S, by Concorde), is her main FEI-level squeeze and they’ve been doing very well from themselves at the four-star level. Sherry reports, “Gina talked to her horse the whole way around and it had everyone smiling. What a great start to the season for her.”
Erin Kellerhouse and Woodford Reserve were the only other finishers in the division, adding 0.4 show jumping and 14.4 cross country time penalties to their dressage score of 29.6 to finish second. It was their first crack at the level for this experienced partnership and we hear they had “a careful, classy round.” Sounds like you’ve got yourself an Advanced horse, Erin — congrats!
Elsewhere in the division, dressage leaders Hawley Bennett-Awad and Jollybo received a technical elimination on cross country after missing the second-to-last fence on course. “She had a picture perfect round up to then,” Sherry says. “As Christina Grey said, everyone was gutted for her.” Madison Temkin and Dr. Hart‘s day came to an early end at fence #12ABC, a log/gate/chevron combination; she bounced back and finished 2nd in Open Prelim with Dubaï. Maddy Mazzola and So Cool were eliminated at fence #15AB, a pyramid to corner combination.
Fresno County Horse Park has another busy schedule in store for 2020 chock full of clinics, combined tests, and horse trials with both national and international levels. Go Eventing on the West Coast.
All Your FCHP Winners:
CCI3*-S: James Alliston & Lilly (35.4)
CCI2*-Short: Meg Pellegrini & Dassett Ricochet (30.6)
Advanced: Gina Economou & Exclusive (42.6)
Open Intermediate: Helen Bouscaren & Ebay (25.5)
Open Preliminary: James Alliston & Czechers (36.5)
Preliminary Rider: Taylor McFall & High Times (29.8)
Jr. Training Rider: Tyler Leary & Made You Look (30.0)
Open Training: Amber Levine & I’M Jaguar (19.8)
Sr. Training Rider: Sara Kelson & Rhonaldo (27.3)
Jr. Novice Rider: Clara Marks & Hawk Action (26.9)
Novice Horse: Jennifer McFall & Hallelujah DF (25.7)
Open Novice: Amber Levine & Shannondale McGyver (28.8)
Sr. Novice Rider: Anne Johnson & Grandios Sky (25.7)
Jr. Beg. Novice Rider: Mia Brown & Duke HW (27.8)
Open Beg. Novice: Lauren Henry & Ohmy (25.0)
Sr. Beg. Novice Rider: Maguy Palluel & Native Heart (28.1)
Introductory A: Caroline Dein & Master Twain DF (37.3)
Introductory B: Randi Koehn & Wall Street (29.2)
CCI3*-S Final Top 10
CCI2*-S Final Top 10