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Event of the season

Brit James Alliston rises to the top of Galway CCI3*

Special to the Horsetrader - April 5th, 2012 - Show & Event News

TEMECULA — James Alliston started Sunday in control of both the CIC3* and the advanced divisions at the Galway Downs International Horse Trials, and after riding five bold cross-country rounds, he finished the day in complete command of the top spots.

Alliston, of Castro Valley, finished first and second in the CIC3*, winning with his veteran, India McEvoy’s Jumbo’s Jake (51.2), and moving up to second with his less experienced Tivoli (61.3). Barb Crabo rode Eveready II aggressively around the cross-country course to move up to third (67.8).

Alliston, 27, was thrilled with “Jake’s” winning performance, and he believes the 14-year-old Irish-bred is ready to tackle the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event for the second time.

“He was awesome in all three phases this weekend. This was perfect preparation. I could have gone a bit slower, but I wanted to give him a bit of a fitness work before Rolex.”

“[He] feels more confirmed at this level than he was last year,” continued Alliston. “He was very, very brave, and I definitely have him much fitter than I did last year. He’s a real quiet guy, but today he was jazzed up in the warm-up.”

Parker is also aiming for Rolex Kentucky. “If I can run him relaxed like he did today, then I can let him go faster,” Alliston said.

Tivoli, 10, is an eye-catching horse, full of power and scope, but his development hasn’t been a straight line. British international veteran Oliver Townend competed him to intermediate, but his owners were from California, and Olympic sliver medalist Gina Miles imported him to ride or sell. Although the horse had won in England, he proved difficult to sell, but Miles and her assistant, Bec Braitling, believed Alliston would suit him. Alliston bought him with the help of Chuck and Peggy Moore of Graceland Equestrian, the farm where Alliston is based.

“For sure he could jump a huge fence, and I think we’re moving in the right direction now. He’s aggressive to the jumps. There’s no fence too big for him.”

“I was really happy with [Tivoli] in his first three-star,” said Alliston. “It was a really big effort for him. I think he’s going to be a really good cross-country horse. We’re going to use this year to educate him, and my hope is that he’ll be a very good four-star horse in the future.”

Crabo, of Scottsdale, Ariz., started the weekend unhappy after a slightly uncharacteristic dressage performance from Eveready, but she was only smiling today.

“I was really disappointed with [Eveready’s] dressage. We had a good spook going around the arena — a flyaway test from the judges’ booth. I think it bothered me more than him, and I was too chicken to kick him out in front of my leg. So we just sort of plodded around.”

“Today he was a rock star. He didn’t put a foot out of place—it was a great run for heading for Kentucky. We could have gone faster, but he was jumping so beautifully, and I was absolutely thrilled,” said Crabo.

No horses achieved the optimum time of 6:56 in the CIC3*, but the fastest time of the day belonged to Canada’s Sabrina Glaser-Levere and Yuri Zhivago, who had 4.0 time penalties and finished fifth (79.1). Eight of the 11 cross-country starters finished with no jumping penalties, and one horse retired after two refusals. No horses fell in the three international divisions.

Katherine Groesbeck, of Canyon Country and Teresa Harcourt, of Penn Valley traded places during the CIC2*. Harcourt, on Bonza Twist Of Fate, won the dressage (52.2) but then lowered three rails in the show jumping to drop to third place. But on today’s cross-country course, Harcourt and her 13-year-old Irish-bred finished just one second slow to climb back to second after second-placed Kaitlin Veltkamp and Flashpoint D had a run-out at 4B.

Groesbeck, 22, and her 15-year-old homebred Anglo-Arab gelding, Oz The Tin Man, added no additional penalties to their third-placed dressage score of 55.0 to finish on top. Her perfect rounds in the show jumping and cross-country allowed her to finish a commanding 9.4 points ahead of Harcourt.

“Everything rode like I predicted,” said Groesbeck. “The course rode well as long as you were committed. I had a bit of a hairy moment at the Normandy bank, but he climbed up and over and kept going. Everything just rode beautifully.”

Groesbeck and “Wort” completed the CCI2* at Galway Downs in November, but they had a miscommunication in the second water complex, a mistake she wasn’t going to repeat today.

“Mentally I was really committed to riding the second water tough, because that’s where I had my problems in November. So I rode the chevron out of the water like it was four-star fence. This was technically easier than the corner in November, but I over-rode it.”

Groesbeck, who graduated from UCLA in May 2011, is building toward the CCI3* at Galway Downs in the fall, and is ecstatic with her results so far. “I’m really thrilled with the way it worked out—I’m coming out of this show with a qualifying round and a first place—a positive show to have behind us.”

Harcourt, 20, has her eyes set on the North American Young Riders Championships. Like Groesbeck, her strong showing at Galway Downs paves the way for that goal.

“He was incredible,” said Harcourt. “I’m so lucky to have such an awesome horse. I wasn’t really worried about anything out there, but this course really needed you to ride forward, and I’ve had problems with that before, so it feels really good to get it done.”

Harcourt is currently a working student at Flying Tail Farms with Dayna Lynd-Pugh and Shannon Lilley.

In the CIC1*, the standings didn’t change much after nine riders managed to execute double-clear rounds on the cross-country today. Crabo maintained her lead from start to finish aboard Over Easy (41.9), while Frankie Thieriot remained hot on her heels aboard Tory Smith’s Uphoria (44.4). Erin Kellerhouse rounded out the top three aboard Cheryl Reynolds Roxabelle (46.8).

Crabo and Over Easy finished first in the Classic-Format CCI1* at Galway Downs in November, only to be disqualified as the Dutch Warmblood mare was a year to young to be eligible.

Still, Crabo was happy with the experience they gained.
“Over Easy is a little on the lazy side, but I think that’s going away,” said Crabo. “Even though we were disqualified last fall, the steeplechase really kicked something in to her brain, about galloping out and not so much up and down.”

Crabo’s family bred the mare, and she has enjoyed developing her. “I was the first one on her and she’s just been so easy,” she said with a smile. Crabo also bred Eveready II.

The Galway Downs International Horse Trials is one of the seven events in the Adequan USEA Gold Cup Series, which includes the top horse trials all around the United States. Horses and riders earn points as a pair at the designated Gold Cup events to determine the annual series winners and divide up the prize money.

More results: See website http://bit.ly/24AGalway

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