Smith, Hoffos, McIver and Holland Win FEI Divisions at Galway Downs International

Tamie Smith and Mai Baum. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Horses and riders were undaunted by the condensed schedule mandated by Saturday’s heavy rain forecast. They embraced an unusually busy day of competition to close out the Galway Downs International Horse Trials with super sport and high spirits.

The CCI4*-S concluded as predicted. Tamie Smith and Mai Baum jumped clear and careful, with only a few time faults on cross-country. They retained their dominant lead after a 23 dressage score and double clean show jumping on Thursday.

The 18-year-old German Sport Horse was raring to go. “He was happy to be out of the start box, and pretty wild out there,” Tamie said of her longtime star owned by Alexandra Ahearn. The finish was perfect prep for the next phase in their hopeful Paris Olympic journey – the CCI4*-S at the Defender Kentucky Three Day Event in late April.

Young rider Molly Duda and Disco Traveler continued an impressive ascent in the sport, finishing 2nd in their 4* debut. They were third after dressage, dropped a rail in show jumping, then roared across cross-country as the only pair to make the time over Clayton Fredericks’ track.

A freshman at UCLA, Molly left the gate determined to make the time. “He’s the best cross-country horse I’ve ever ridden and I know I can open him up out there and have him come back to me. We’re both very competitive and we had a blast out there.”

Doing the U21 and U25 training camps over the winter built on the super successes this pair had last year. Molly also credited show jumping work with Tamie Smith and dressage coaching from Robyn Fisher as key to their continued rise.

Molly was also 4th in the 3* with a newer horse, Carlingfords Hes A Clover, a 12 year old Irish Sport Horse. “Tommy” lives in the Bay Area with Mickayla Howard, who brought Molly up to the 3* level. Juggling a pre-med academic track, Molly is a time management master. “I compete and go to college full time. Both are really important to me. It’s a lot, but I love it!”

Rebecca Farm CCI4*-L is the next big goal for Molly and Disco Traveler, a 15-year-old Swedish Warmblood.

Bec Braitling was thrilled to finish third with Arnell Sporthorse’s Caravaggio II, a 13-year-old British Sport Horse. They are prepping for the Defender Kentucky CCI5*-L after gathering useful experience campaigning in Europe last summer. Today’s finish adds to their reserve champion result in the CCI4*-L at Galway Downs last fall.

Pace was Bec’s priority on cross-country. Incurring only 1.6 time penalties allowed them to move up from 6th after dressage to third. And that was even with a new noseband that gave the California-based Australian “more whoa than I wanted.”

Bec loved the track built by fellow Aussie, Clayton Fredericks. “I thought it would ride more twisty. But it was smooth and really fun to ride.”

She liked the re-shuffled schedule, too, with 4*-S dressage and show jumping on Thursday. “It makes it busy, but I loved being able to work on the fitness aspect of it for him.”

Emilee Libby and Toska added 10.8 cross-country time penalties to their dressage score to land 4th overall.

A rising star in Tamie Smith’s string, Kynan, finished 5th and felt “incredible, strong and so rideable,” she said. Another of Tamie’s mounts, Elliot V, had a tougher day — falling from 4th after show jumping, to elimination with three cross-country refusals. At the end of the day, Tamie said the 15-year-old Dutch Warmblood is probably telling her that 3* is his happy place.

Hoffos & Regalla Top the 3*

Taren Hoffos and Regalla. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Taren Hoffos and Regalla accomplished important goals in logging a wire-to-wire win of the CCI3*-S. This pair won the CCI2*-S in 2022, the CCI3*-S last year and this year they defended their title by finishing on their dressage score — a 32 — and under the cross-country time allowed for the first time at this level.

“Riding a smooth track, taking good lines and trusting her that I don’t need to set her up as much as I might think I do,” were keys to their winning effort, Taren said.

The forward mentality started with dressage. “Bec Braitling and I have been talking about FEI trends toward judges really wanting to see you ride forward – to put your hands forward and go. And I think that carries over.”

Show jumping has been “a struggle” in the past, but it was double clear over Marc Donovan’s route today. Taren had ridden in the Ingrid Klimke clinic here in December, where a crowd of 800 auditors buzzed the already electric Grand Prix Arena vibe. Taren thought the exposure contributed to Regalla’s focus in the same ring this morning for show jumping. “It was really valuable to ride in that atmosphere and that kind of pressure, but in a fun and positive way.”

Next on the 13-year-old Oldenburg mare’s agenda is moving up to Advanced at Twin Rivers in April.

Megan McIver and Elle, a 12-year-old Holsteiner, stayed on their 32.7 dressage to finish second. Bred by owner Tally Chang, the 15.3-hand mare is 70% Thoroughbred and “loves” cross-country, Megan explained.

“I could barely keep her in the start box she because was bouncing around with excitement,” said Megan. Once out of the box, they easily made the time to finish a close second. Elle goes in a snaffle, and “barely needs a touch to bring her back,” Megan said. “I never have to look at my watch to know she’s making the time.”

Elle’s sensitivity made dressage a challenge in the early days of their partnership. Megan credits Tamie Smith with coaching that clicked for the dressage court, plus ongoing work with Anke Herbert at her Northern California base. The Advanced Combined Test at Twin Rivers will be next for Elle. “She’s feeling like the 3* is too easy!”

Auburn Excell Brady and Galliard Lancer proved themselves a new pair to reckon with. They stayed on their 34.2 dressage to finish third.

McIver & Igor B Top the Parker Equine Insurance CCI2*-S

Megan McIver and Igor. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

All three phases of the Parker Equine Insurance CCI2*-S and the CCI1*-S took place today.

After two phases in the 3* with Elle, Megan McIver turned to a newer ride, Igor B, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood, for this division. They moved up one rung with each phase to win on a 31.7.

Igor came from the U.K. with 4* experience, purchased by Leo Wang help Megan pursue her international goals. They first ran Training Level at Twin Rivers three weeks ago, then felt fine to advance to the 2* here. “But I didn’t expect to win!”

Young rider Hanni Sreenan and Ebenholtz were tied for 6th after their 28.4 dressage, then went clear in stadium and added 3.6 time penalties to finish 2nd. The result keeps this pair in the news after their USEF CCI2*-L National Championship and USEF Young Rider CCI2*-L National Championships at the Eventing Championships at Galway Downs in November.

Amber Birtcil and the 7-year-old Dutch Warmblood Mississippi went double clear on show jumping and cross-country to leap into 3rd place.

Holland and Joshua Tree Win the CCI1*-S

Fiona Holland and Joshua Tree. Photo by Sherry Stewart.

Fifteen-year-old Fiona Holland and Joshua Tree, a 10-year-old Holsteiner, continued to establish themselves as a pair for the future. They won their first 1* by staying on a 27.5 dressage score.

Fiona aspires to the top of the sport and credits work with Tamie Smith, Kaylawna Smith-Cook and Bec Braitling for her auspicious outing today. That’s on top of riding on her own and weekly lessons with Julie Corlett in her Santa Ynez home area.

“We are both learning and I am stoked that we were able to take this step up together,” Fiona said.

Lauren Billys Shady and new ride Kingston 60 followed on a 29.6, and Grace Brownrigg and Dhaulagiri were third on a 31.2.

Ready For Rain

With the FEI divisions completed, the Horse Trials continue Saturday rain or not. The footing for all three phases of Galway Downs competition has proven its ability to withstand Mother Nature’s worst many times in recent years.

A festive dinner and awards ceremony closed out the international competition. Galway Downs organizer Robert Kellerhouse thanked exhibitors for their flexibility with the tightened-up schedule.

He expressed gratitude for the year-round support of Galway Downs’ sponsors. Robert welcomed Adequan’s Kat Kilcommons and Parker Equine Insurance’s Cheri Hubbert to help present the night’s awards.

Galway Downs International H.T. (Temecula, CA) [Website] [Entries] [Ride Times] [Volunteer][Scoring] [Live Stream]

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