It was a day full of dressage tests for the USEF Eventing Championships taking place at Galway Downs. Liz Halliday and Cooley Nutcracker took the early lead in the USEF CCI4*-L Eventing National Championship, while Sarah Ross and Fernhill Heart Throb held the top spot in the USEF CCI2*-L Eventing National Championship. The USEF Eventing Young Rider Championships presented by USEA are in full swing with Area VI leading in the CCI2*-L and Area VII excelling in the CCI1*-Intro.
USEF CCI4*-L Eventing National Championship
A small but mighty field of 10 U.S. combinations has come forward to tackle the USEF CCI4*-L Eventing National Championship on the West Coast. Liz Halliday-Sharp (Lexington, Ky.) was the 2022 Reserve Champion with Deniro Z. Fresh off a team silver medal at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games, she brings two promising mounts in the form of Cooley Nutcracker, a 2014 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Tolant R x Ballyshan Cleopatra) owned by The Nutcracker Syndicate, Ocala Horse Properties, and Renee Lane; and Shanroe Cooley, a 2015 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Dallas x Shanroe Sapphire) owned by Ocala Horse Properties, LLC.
Tamie Smith (Murrieta, Calif.) is no stranger to winning a National Championship title, having won the 2023 Land Rover/USEF CCI5*-L Eventing National Championship presented by MARS Equestrian™ earlier this year with Mai Baum. She has three talented mounts aiming for their own chance at a title — Cooley By Design, a 2012 Zangersheide gelding (Plot Blue x Uthree Z) owned by Gina Economou; Elliot V, a 2009 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Zavall VDL x Vera R) owned by Elliot V Partnership; and Kynan, a 2015 KWPN gelding (Envoy x Danieta) owned by the Kynan Syndicate LLC.
Halliday and Cooley Nutcracker had a lovely dressage test to earn a score of 29.9 to lead the USEF CCI4*-L Eventing National Championship. Tamie Smith and Kynan sat in second place with a score of 32.2, while Tommy Greengard (Malibu, Calif.) and Joshuay MBF, his own 2014 Dutch Warmblood gelding (Foreign Affair x Fernacchy MBF), sat in third place in the National Championship and fourth overall in the CCI4*-L with a score of 34.8.
Dressage results (top three):
1st: Liz Halliday and Cooley Nutcracker — 29.9
2nd: Tamie Smith and Kynan — 32.2
3rd: Dana Cooke and FE Quattro — 32.6
USEF CCI2*-L Eventing National Championship
A field of 38 U.S. combinations will vie for the title in the USEF CCI2*-L Eventing National Championship. Helen Alliston (San Ramon, Calif.) is a past National Champion with her 2022 USEF Advanced Horse Trials National Champion Ebay, and she could add another title to her resume with up-and-coming mount, Call Me Rudi, a 2015 Bavarian Sporthorse gelding (Clooney x Genia) owned by John Matheny and Alliston Equestrian. Helen will face competition from a talented field, which includes her husband James Alliston (San Ramon, Calif.) and Cora, a 2015 Oldenburg mare (Commissario x La-Montana) owned by Alliston Equestrian.
The top of the leaderboard in the USEF CCI2*-L Eventing National Championship was dominated by young riders. Sarah Ross (Reno, Nev.) and Fernhill Heart Throb, her own 2014 KWPN gelding (Biscayo x Postara), had a harmonious test to earn a score of 25.0 to sit in first place.
“He was excellent. I feel like the pieces really came together today,” said Ross. “We made the trip out from Florida, and we have been working over the course of the year. I was at Kaylawna [Smith-Cook]’s for the two weeks leading up to this and I feel like all the pieces came together in this ride.”
Ross said she was previously based in California, and after being based in Florida for about a year, she decided it was time to come back to the West Coast. Along for the ride is her partner Fernhill Heart Throb.
“He is pretty incredible. He is a bit quirky but we love him though for that. I have had him for about a year. He has just been nothing but fun to ride and bring through the levels. We did our first two-long together,” said Ross. “He is a real competitor. You go in there, and it’s like he knows. He has been really cool to learn about being a competitor with him.”
Gabriella Ringer (San Ramon, Calif.) and Get Wild, her own 2012 KWPN gelding (Plot Blue x Cantana), were close behind with a score of 25.5. Hanni Sreenan (Hood River, Ore.) and Ebenholtz, a 2007 Hanoverian gelding (Ehrentusch x Levantine) owned by Amy Haugen, sat in third with a score of 28.8.
Dressage results (top three):
1st: Sarah Ross and Fernhill Heart Throb — 25
2nd: Gabriella Ringer and Get Wild — 25.5
3rd: Hanni Sreenan and Ebenholtz — 28.8
USEF Eventing Young Rider Championships presented by USEA
Three combinations proved their mettle in the CCI3*-L Individual Championship. Area VI’s Molly Duda (Menlo Park, Calif.) and Disco Traveler, her own 2010 Oldenburg gelding (Donatelli x Cadence), led the way with a score of 33.5. Duda said that she felt she had one of her best tests with her ride on Thursday with Disco Traveler. Their partnership started as a lease, but Duda was ready to make the purchase when she realized she had a special partner.
“We just really clicked from the start. I think our styles really line up and we just really communicate well,” said Duda. “In the past year and a half, he has brought me from training level all the way to three-star. He has the biggest heart of any horse that I have ever known. He always takes care of me, and I trust him so much. He’s amazing.”
Duda said it has been her goal all year to make it to the USEF Eventing Young Rider Championships presented by USEA and she is thankful that it has come to fruition.
“I’m incredibly grateful to be here and to have been selected to represent Area VI. It has been a pleasure to get to know the other Area VI young riders, and the coaches have been amazing. It has been a busy week for sure, but in a good way. I feel very lucky to be here.”
Area VII’s Kayla Dumler (Enumclaw, Wash.) and Faramir, her and Tammy Milling’s 2010 Thoroughbred gelding (Capitalimprovement x Princess Malaga), were not far behind the leaders with a score of 35.7. Area VI’s Elsa Warble (Portola Valley, Calif.) and FE Unlimited, Anna Meegan’s 2014 Holsteiner gelding (Uriko x Viona III), closed out the small but mighty field with a score of 38.4.
In the CCI2*-L Team Championship, Area VI sat atop the leaderboard with a score of 83.3. Sarah Ross and Fernhill Heart Throb earned an impressive score of 25.0 to lead the team. Teammates Gabriella Ringer and Get Wild delivered a solid test to score 25.5. Julia Beauchamp Crandon (Redwood City, Calif.) and MGH Capa Vilou, her own 2014 Irish Sport Horse mare (Ars Vivendi x Dilou M), had the next highest score for the team with a score of 32.8. Lauren Crabtree (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) and Excellence, Traci Crabtree’s 2009 KWPN gelding (Vaillant x Wolinda), had a solid effort with a score of 34.4.
Sitting behind Area VI in the Team Championship, Area VII is in second place with a score of 95.2.
The CCI2*-L Individual Championship top three mirrors the USEF CCI2*-L Eventing National Championship with Area VI’s Ross and Fernhill Heart Throb leading, followed by Area VI teammates Ringer and Get Wild in second and Area VII’s Sreenan and Ebenholtz in third.
“This is my first young riders experience, and it’s been really fun,” said Ross. “You see these people here and there and you get to know them [in California] and we all get pretty close regardless, but now with being in a team environment with them and getting super close with them is really invaluable. Getting to be in the barns with them and seeing how each person does something different, like a different warm-up or just getting ready. It has been cool to experience that.”
Area VII leads the CCI1*-L Team Championship with a score of 94.6 after the first phase. Harper Padgett (Woodinville, Wash.) and Cooley Starship, Leonie Padgett’s 2015 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Cobra x Simona), lead the way for the team with a score of 28.2. They are followed by teammates Lizzie Hoff (Gig Harbor, Wash.) and HSH Best Kept Secret, a 2017 Irish Sport horse gelding owned by Caroline Pamukcu and Sherrie Martin, with a score of 31.2. Olivia Keye (Kamas, Utah) and Chromatic Flyer, her own 2012 Thoroughbred gelding, helped their team with a score of 35.2. Caterina Ritson (Ridgefield, Wash.) and This Lad is Gold, her own 2008 Thoroughbred gelding (Private Gold x This Ones a Riot), rounded out Area VII’s efforts with a score of 36.6.
Area VI sits in second place with a score of 97.5, followed by Alberta/Ontario in third with a score of 119.0.
In the CCI1*-L Individual Championship, Area V’s Scarlett Peinado (Aubrey, Texas) and Shadow Inspector, her own 2010 Irish Sport Horse gelding (Tinaranas Inspector x Caragh Roller), led the way with a score of 27.4.
“I was really happy with my ride. My horse is naturally lazy, so I have been working on getting him forward and listening to my leg,” said Peinado. “He got here and something sparked in him, and he was alive. It was great. Everything happened how I wanted it to. He actually was a little excited, which I wasn’t used to. But he did a great job, and I was really happy with my ride.”
The USEF Eventing Young Rider Championships presented by USEA has been a goal for Peinado since she first heard about it in January 2021. She moved from her base in Area VI to Pennsylvania to train with Dom and Jimmie Schramm to prepare to reach her goal.
“I have been working so hard to make it happen, so I ended up going to Pennsylvania to get the training and the plan that I needed to get here,” said Peinado. “I was like, ‘Nothing is going to stop me. I have to go do this.’”
Area VII’s Leonie Padgett and Cooley Starship sat in second place with a score of 28.2. Rounding out the top three were Fiona Holland (Solvang, Calif.) and Joshua Tree, her own 2014 Holsteiner gelding (Acore KF x Gijit), on a score of 30.3.
All championship divisions performed their dressage tests on Thursday, November 2, followed by cross-country on Friday, November 3. Competition concludes on Saturday, November 4, with the show jumping phase.