James Alliston galloped to victory in the CIC3* at the Woodside International Horse Trials, presented by Equine Insurance of California and Professional's Choice, for the second straight year. This year he also galloped to victory in the CIC2*. On Tivoli (52.6) he claimed the CIC3*, and on Mojo (51.4) he claimed the CIC2*.
Jolie Wentworth finished second in both the CIC3*, aboard GoodKnight (58.9), and in the CIC2*, aboard Man On A Mission II (55.7). McKenna Shea rode Landioso to third place (69.6) in the CIC3*.
But it was still a slightly bittersweet weekend for Alliston, 27, of Castro Valley. He had been leading the CIC3* after Friday's dressage and show jumping phases aboard his trusted long-time partner Jumbo's Jake. But in Saturday's cross-country phase "Jake" said "no" three times to fence 17B, a narrow brush-filled corner set three strides after a drop fence, eliminating him from the competition.
"It was disappointing, that's for sure. He was flying before that. I was having a great ride," said Alliston. "He was certainly a bit naughty, and he's not where I want him to be right now, so it's back to the drawing board."
Alliston thought he might try a different bit to keep Jumbo's Jake focused on the jumps in his next planned start, the CCI3* at the Galway Downs International Three-Day Event on Nov. 1-4. Alliston is also aiming Tivoli and Parker, winner of the Advanced horse trials at Woodside, for the
Galway Downs CCI3*.
"This was a big effort for Tivoli. This show is the first time he's been at the head of the class after dressage, the first time I could really go for it," said Alliston of Tivoli's performance at Woodside. "Being the first out of the box, you don't really know how hard the time is to make, and I wanted to leave nothing to chance, but it wasn't a round that felt like it was on the edge."
Tivoli, an 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood, also won the Fric Frac Berence Heart Award and $1,000 prize money after a panel of judges decided that he'd had the best cross-country performance in the CIC3*. Tivoli finished 17 seconds under the 6:15 optimum time and was the only CIC3* horse to finish without time faults. GoodKinight finished one second slow, to climb from third to second.
On The Comeback Trail
Second place with GoodKnight represented a comeback for Wentworth, of Crockett. She and the 10-year-old Selle Francais gelding had a rough spring, which ended with retiring on the cross-country course at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. Wentworth suffered through a staph infection in her leg during the spring, which severely reduced her ability to ride and caused her to miss two preparatory events with GoodKnight.
"But everything's back on track now, and I certainly can't complain about finishing second twice!" said Wentworth.
"He's a fabulous jumper and a fabulous cross-country horse, but you have to be willing to let him do his job. You have to be careful that you don't over-manage him," said Wentworth, 31, who's aiming GoodKnight for the Galway Downs CCI3*. In 2011, Wentworth and GoodKnight finished second behind Jumbo's Jake. "Maybe this will be our year?" she said.
Jumbo's Jake, Tivoli and GoodKnight each completed Friday afternoon's show jumping course with no jumping faults, but Tivoli, the first horse in the ring, finished four seconds slower for four time faults. All the international horses had performed their dressage tests earlier in the day, also in the Grand Prix Arena of the Horse Park At Woodside.
"For sure, there were a lot of options, but if you wanted to be on track with the time, you had to make the inside turns," said Alliston. "In hindsight, I wish I'd made the inside turns with Tivoli, but it's hard to know how tight the time is when you're first in the ring.
"I think the course had the right result. It was jumpable but by no means easy," Alliston added.
Like Tivoli, Mojo was the only horse in the CIC2* to complete cross-country within the optimum time of 5:21. He finished 12 seconds fast.
Mojo is a 10-year-old, Thoroughbred gelding, whom Alliston purchased at a Florida racetrack. "He can be a little bit frustrating, because he can be a bit of a freak at home. But at the shows, he's all business, and he seems to save his best for the FEI classes," said Alliston. Mojo won the CCI1* at the Galway Downs International Three-Day Event
Wentworth doesn't normally compete Man On A Mission II. He's owned by young rider Maddy Mazzola, a student at Kismet Farm, where Wentworth and Tracy Bowman run their training business. But Mazzola had to take her SAT test during the weekend. "So it was a good opportunity for me to have a really good go on him," said Wentworth.
Wentworth and Bowman imported Man On A Mission II from Great Britain two years ago. "He's a really, really good horse, so we sort of expected him to go well this weekend. It was a bit of pressure on me!" she said.
The cross-country course proved decisive in the CIC1*, as four of the 10 starters didn't complete the course and three horses were penalized by one or more refusals. No horse completed the course within the optimum time, but Julie Flettner and Ping Pong came the closest, finishing two seconds slow. Those 0.8 time penalties propelled them from third to first.
Last May, Flettner, 36, and Ping Pong, 12, won the rider division of the Preliminary Challenge at the Woodside Horse Trials. Flettner, of Petaluma, is an optometrist who works in a veterans' hospital in Santa Rosa, and this was the third time she's won a saddle for winning an event.
Last November, she and Ping Pong won a Voltaire dressage saddle for topping the training three-day event at the Galway Downs International Three-Day Event. For winning the Preliminary Challenge, they won a Devoucoux cross-country saddle, and for winning the Woodside CIC1*, they won a CWD jumping saddle.
"The last time I'd bought a saddle was when I got a dressage saddle for my 16th birthday. Now Ping Pong has a saddle for all three phases," she said.
Loving The Upgrades
A quick cross-country round kept Hilary Bates and Cassiopeia second in the CIC1*. Bates is a member of the Horse Park at Woodside Board of Directors, and her farm overlooks the north end of the cross-country course.
"I know this course like the back of my hand, and I thought this was a very fair course, but, for some reason, it was very hard to make the time. I was a little surprised at how much cross-country shook things up," said Bates.
Bates noted that the Horse Park At Woodside "is undergoing a renaissance. We've made so many capital improvements in the facility, and we now have a competition of some kind here almost every weekend from April to October." She named several upgrades in the facility, most notably completion of the covered arena adjacent to the Grand Prix Ring and the all-weather footing in those two rings and one other ring.
"Having the CIC here, for the second year in a row, is fantastic for us riders, for the sport and for the Horse Park at Woodside," she said.
The Woodside International Horse Trials is a member event of the Professional Riders Organization Tour, which oversees the SSG "Go Low For The Dough" contest. Prize money of $4,000 was up for grabs in the CIC3* dressage at Woodside, for the rider wearing SSG gloves who earned the lowest score. James Alliston won the award after scoring 45.9 penalties on Jumbo's Jake.
In the CIC2*, prize money of $500 was available to any junior or amateur rider who finished the cross-country course with no jumping or time faults. The only eligible riders were Zach Brandt, who finished with 6.8 time faults, and Helen Bouscaren, who finished with just 0.8 time faults.
Thanks to the generous support of more than a dozen sponsors, the total prize money for this year's Woodside International Horse Trials was $20,000, with Devoucoux and Equine Comfort Products contributing as Gold Medal Sponsors. Saddlery Solutions, Voltaire Design and CWD were the event's Silver Medal Sponsors.
Auburn Laboratories Inc., California Horse Trader, Flair Equine Nasal Strips, Geranium Street Floral, Point Two Air Jackets, Professional Riders Organization, Ride On Video, SmartPak Equine and Sunsprite Warmbloods were the Bronze Medal Sponsors. The sponsors were just some of the equine-product manufacturers and service providers that, in addition to supporting the event with prizes, were on site for riders and spectators to meet in the event trade fair.
Visit www.woodsideeventing.com for more competition information.