Tamie Smith and Fleeceworks Royal Leap to Rebecca Farm CIC3* Lead

Tamie Smith and Fleeceworks Royal. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Rebecca Farm’s three-star hanging brush is the stuff of nightmares. By all appearances, on the approach, it looks like you’re about to catapult off a cliff into space. And then, once you’re hopefully safely reconnected with planet earth on the other side, you’ve got to get your act together in time to negotiate a corner<trakehner combination through the water at the bottom of the hill.

Tamie Smith has successfully made the leap a time or two or 10 over the years, but Fleeceworks Royal gave her a little thrill there today — the mare had zero intention of brushing through any brush.

“I actually got unseated,” Tamie Smith says. “I was shocked. I was like ‘whoa!’ She jumped it huge … I probably lost a few seconds at that ditch and brush.”

Somebody please make this into a postcard. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

If the pair lost time there they made up for it elsewhere on course, picking up just 4.4 time penalties, good enough to put the pair in the lead. They actually improved upon their time from last year, when they collected 10.4 time on their way to the Adequan USEA Gold Cup CIC3* win.

“I’m not certain if anybody has been able to make the time,” she says of the CIC3* track. “I’ve been around it with multiple different horses and it’s just really hard to make the time because of the twisty, turn-y stuff.”

Tamie says that she couldn’t have gone faster, nor could she be more pleased with the mare. “She was super. She’s young and a little bit full of herself, and it’s been a struggle since she was three to get her to respect the jumps, but this year really turned a corner. I’ve been working on my cross country riding with Phillip [Dutton] and trying not to pull on the reins, and it’s really paid off because she was brilliant.”

Buh-bye, Hawley! Hawley Bennett-Award and Jollybo. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Hawley Bennett-Awad and Jollybo came closest to optimum time, collecting just 3.2 time penalties to move from 6th into 2nd. An excellent performance today, Hawley says, was imperative with WEG team selection coming up.

“I had to jump around clean and fast to prove that Jolly and I are still good to go, and she couldn’t have put a foot wrong,” she says. “It couldn’t have been any better. I think honestly it was one of the best rides I’ve ever had on her.”

Course designer Ian Stark told us that the most difficult question on the course this year was the coffin, which he described as a three-star-plus question. But Jolly made short work of it: “She came around the corner, her ears locked onto it, and it was like a little grid exercise,” Hawley says.

She didn’t try to make the time in the first few minutes because she felt like the footing was a little hard, but Jolly is a naturally fast horse, and when Hawley did step on the gas late in the course the mare had plenty of gas in the tank. “It was just effortless for her,” Hawley says. “For her to come in feeling that good at the finish, I’m really proud, really excited. She finished like King Kong and that’s the best feeling in the world.”

Chris Talley and Sandro’s Star. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Have you ever been laying on your back in the grass on a balmy summer night, staring up at the midnight sky, wondering what’s up there and what is the meaning of it all and where do we fit into the grand mysteries of the cosmos? And then, out of nowhere, a comet streaks across the horizon, and you’re just like OMG I CAN’T EVEN?

That’s what it was like to watch Chris Talley and the majestic black stallion Sandro’s Star today — a perfect, beautiful shooting star across the cross country sky. Sandro was perfect around today’s course, obviously, picking up 11.6 time penalties but why not, how often do you make it out to spectacular Montana, why not take a little time to enjoy yourself?

The time penalties dropped them to third, but get Sandro a couple midnight sessions at the track with Henry Dailey and he’ll be winning match races at Santa Anita in no time, just like Alec and the Black. I believe in dreams, Sandro. And I believe in you.

Rebecca Farm CIC3* Cross Country Results: 

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