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Temecula native Amber Levine shines; Galway Downs an international stage

By JOHN STRASSBURGER for the Horsetrader - November 17th, 2011 - Cover Story, Show & Event News

TEMECULA — Although the rains fell at the Galway Downs International Three-Day Event Nov. 6, they couldn’t stop the juggernaut that was British rider James Alliston. He started the day by winning the CCI1* aboard Mojo, then he placed second in the CCI2* with Tivoli. And then he finished his day with a victory in the CCI3*, the last event on the PRO Tour Series, aboard India McEvoy’s Jumbo’s Jake, and also placed seventh with his own Parker II.

“I got the day rolling the right way with the one-star win, because the round I had was pretty horrible and I got really lucky,” said Alliston, who lives in Castro Valley. “And [all] the horses jumped great after that.”

Alliston received a winner’s check for $7,000, from a CCI3* purse of $21,000. The total prize money for the Galway Downs International Three-Day Event was $33,000.

“The [three-star win], it means a lot,” he continued. “It was a nice moment hearing the national anthem. I saw my mom singing her heart out and my dad crying.”

With three good rounds under his belt, he might have been feeling confident when he entered the stadium jumping ring on Jumbo’s Jake. But “I was feeling quite nervous, even after jumping on Parker, because I’ve never been in that position before,” Alliston added. “It was a great feeling to cross the finish line.”

Alliston, 27, owns one-star winner Mojo, although Jumbo’s Jake’s owner India McEvoy has been competing Mojo this year and qualified him for this competition. But McEvoy is in veterinary
school, and her schedule prevented her from being able to compete him this weekend.

“I’d like to thank U.C. Davis for that,” joked Alliston.

Jolie Wentworth of Martinez, claimed second in the CCI3*, on GoodKnight. She jumped faultlessly to move in to second when Nate Chambers and Rolling Stone II lowered six fences to fall to 16th.
Wentworth’s relationship with Tracy’s Bowman’s bay Selle Francais gelding has been building over the last year, aiming for Galway Downs.

“I think this has really just all come together at the right place at the right time,” she said.

GoodKnight is known for his expressive tail flips, and he flew over the fences today with his tail flicking away, floating through the course and giving Wentworth, 30, no worrisome moments.

“I used to get nervous before the show jumping before I had this horse,” she admitted. “But he tries so hard, and I feel like I’ve got it on him. It’s given me a lot of confidence that’s helped me on other horses. I help him in the dressage, and he helps me in the show jumping.”

Finishing third in the CCI3* was Barbara Crabo and her homebred Swedish Warmblood gelding Eveready. Crabo, of Scottsdale, Ariz., survived an anxious moment at the double combination, but Eveready kept all the rails up to take home the yellow ribbon.

Only Amber Levine on Oz Poof of Purchase could stop the Alliston sweep. They pulled one rail in the show jumping to keep the lead they’d held in the CCI2* since Thursday.

“He was really, really good,” she said. “He jumped great in the mud. I heard going in that we had a rail in hand, and we had that at fence 3, but he jumped better and better as he went.”

Levine, 23, a Temecula native who lives in Santa Rosa, has only been riding Teresa Groesbeck’s Anglo-Arab gelding for two months. But they’ve quickly forged a strong relationship. She credits her experience riding a lot of different horses from her “day job” in the hunter-jumper world for getting to know him quickly.

“Riding everything I can has given me a little bit of insight into how he is,” she said. “He’s pretty laid back compared to my other horse. He gets a little tense and nervous for show jumping, so it was nice to go last because there are fewer horses around, but I was happy that he got better and better as he went around.”

In the CCI1* with steeplechase, Barb Crabo and Over Easy (54.3) kept their lead to fi nish atop the leader board over Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 (67.3) and John Strassburger and Firebolt (98.6).

More online: See website: http:\\www.galwaydowns.com

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