The FEI eventing season in California begins this weekend with the Galway Downs International, and four combinations are set to tackle Clayton Fredericks’ CCI4*-S track on Saturday, April 2.
A few notes on the 4*S competitors:
Alex MacLeod and Newmarket Jack have found success during their time on the West coast, winning the Galway 4*-L last fall. Alex is getting ready for her first go at the Land Rover Kentucky 5* next month, and is also preparing to move back East as her career in veterinary radiology continues.
This will be the first start at the level for Katy Robinson and the 10-year-old Thoroughbred Outrageous Dance, who were 14th in the CCI3*-L at this venue last fall. Katy bases her training business out of Galway Downs, making this a home event — and it’s also the first time we’ve seen her at this level since she last whizzed around the big Advanced tracks with her former partner, Oz the Tin Man, in 2014.
This weekend also marks the first CCI4*-S for Kaylawna Smith-Cook and MB MaiBlume, a 12-year-old German Sporthorse Mare owned by the MB Group LLC. Kaylawna and MaiBlume enjoyed an easy run around the Intermediate at Ram Tap last month in prep for their step back up to this level, having last run an Advanced in 2020.
USEF Eventing Emerging Athlete Madison Temkin completes the 4*-S field this weekend with the 15-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, Dr. Hart. Madison and Dr. Hart have two 4* completions under their belt, finishing seventh at this event last year and fourth in their first 4*-L at Twin Rivers last spring. Dr. Hart was also Madison’s partner for North American Youth Championships, where she finished eighth individually representing Area VI in 2018 at the now-3* level, and he’s also been her first Advanced horse.
Clayton Fredericks has laid out a positive-riding track that’s intended to be a good pipe-opener for the earlier parts of the season, as well as a good challenge for both the more experienced pairs as well as those with less mileage — always a challenge for a course designer.
The track, which will have an optimum time of 6 minutes, 10 seconds with 33 total jumping efforts, will utilize the majority of the galloping lanes at Galway. This venue is set up in a unique way in that it also plays home to a full training racetrack as well as sprawling youth soccer fields. This has prompted eventing organizer Robert Kellerhouse to get creative with his cross country course, always working to make improvements to the ground and come up with new ideas for the course designer to put into use.
As usual, the course winds its way around the racetrack, making use of any undulation and terrain available to give these Advanced horses a good run. The first few fences are simple galloping questions, a few of which are set up a gradual incline to help the riders start off in a positive rhythm. The first combination, which comes at fence 5, consists of three narrow fences set on a forward stride with a drop off the A element and some undulation on the subsequent approaches, testing the horses’ attention and willingness to go forward.
From there, the 4* riders will tackle a handful of other combinations set on related distances, including an interesting narrow Bulls Head jump at fence 8A. We’ll also see the beautiful new Galway Leap fence, fence 6 on this course, which has already established itself as a rider-frightener!
Galway Downs is also in need of additional volunteers for this weekend’s event, which runs on Saturday and Sunday — you can sign up for a position here.