Maris Burns on Young Gun, winners of the CIC2*.
Photo: Maura Teal
Neither rain, nor mud, nor a drastically altered show schedule—nor any of his competitors—could keep transplanted Englishman James Alliston, of Castro Valley, from winning the first CIC3* at The International Event At Woodside.
By adding just 1.6 time penalties on the cross-country course (4 seconds slower than the optimum time), Alliston and Jumbo's Jake easily retained the lead they'd held since competition began on Friday. Jolie Wentworth, of Martinez, guided GoodKnight to an even faster round (.8 time penalties) to climb from fourth place to second place (54.6), while Alliston's blazingly fast round on Parker gained third place (56.2). Parker was the only horse in the CIC3* to finish Derek di Grazia's cross-country course with no jumping or time penalties.
Those two top ribbons meant that Alliston, 26, drove home with the lion's share of the CIC3*'s $9,000 purse.
Wentworth, 30, similarly divided the $3,000 purse in the CIC1*, grabbing first place on Governess (47.5) and second place on Bally Quinn (48.4). Wentworth's two mounts were the only two CIC1* horses to add no penalties for their first-day dressage score.
A fast round (0 time faults) kept Maris Burns, of Carnation, WA, atop the CIC2* standings aboard Young Gun (54.8). A faultless round also propelled Bunny Sexton, of Santa Ynez, into second place on Rise Against (58.3). Sabrina Glaser-Levere, of Langley, British Columbia, also finished cross-country faultlessly, which put her third on Yuri Zhivago 62.7). The CIC2*s purse was $6,000.
Jolie Wentworth on GoodKnight, second in the CIC3*.
Photo: Maria Morgan
Despite the two inches of rain falling on the Horse Park of Woodside from Tuesday to Thursday, riders reported that the footing on the cross-country had no effect on their Sunday, Oct. 9 plans.
"The course was definitely challenging—lots of corners and lots of big fences," said Alliston. "But the footing was good, not a problem at all. They did a great job of allowing the ground to dry out and then dragging it. Apart from one spot after fence 3, the footing was perfect."
Said Wentworth, "Luckily I had the advantage of riding a couple of horses this morning, so I was able to get a feeling of what the footing was like, and I think that that really helped me. My initial plan with GoodKnight was to not go fast, but by the time I went I was pretty comfortable with it.
"I think the organizers did everything they could for the competitor this weekend, even though it was hectic to do it, and we all won. Today the footing allowed us to go fast, and yesterday we couldn't have gone fast. They did the best job they possibly could have."
Alliston said that the weekend's uncertain schedule did provide some additional challenges for him, with two horses to ride in the three-star, especially because Jumbo's Jake, 13, and Parker, 9, are very different types of horses. Jumbo's Jake is an Irish-bred gelding owned by girlfriend India McEvoy, whom he's been riding for two years. Parker is a Thoroughbred gelding who was the first horse Alliston purchased in the United States, four years ago. At 16.3 hands, Parker is one hand taller than Jumbo's Jake.
James Alliston on Jumbo's Jake, winners of the CIC3*.
Photo: Maria Morgan
"Parker is an amazing cross-country horse— you steer and hang on, and this felt pretty easy. Jake is a bit of a beast out there—and I took a few flags with me," said Alliston with a laugh.
Wentworth has been riding GoodKnight, 9, for a year, since buying the Selle Francais gelding from fellow competitor David Acord. "It's been a year of building a relationship, because I'm very different from David and GoodKnight is very different from my previous three-star horse," she said.
Alliston and Wentworth are each aiming their horses for the Galway Downs CCI3* in Temecula, on Nov. 4-6. "I think this CIC [international horse trial] here at Woodside sets us up perfectly for the CCI [international three-day event] at Galway Downs," said Alliston.
"I'm really looking forward to Galway Downs," said Wentworth.
A New Award
A new award was given in the CIC3*, The Fric Frac Berence Heart Award. Donated by Fric Frac Berence's owner/rider Frankie Theriot, this award honors "Fric's" love of cross-country and ability to beat the odds, and was given to the horse who demonstrates talent, passion, and excitement for the betterment of the sport. Fric and Frankie competed together in Area VI for more than a decade, and the bay gelding spent his entire Advanced career lacking vision in his right eye. A panel of judges observed all the CIC3* horses on cross country, and ultimately awarded the inaugural Heart award to Camaron Hill Farm's Nabouco de Lessey, ridden by Jennifer Wooten-Dafoe.
Equine Insurance of California, Point Two Air Jackets and Professional's Choice are the presenting sponsors of The International Event At Woodside.
Additional generous sponsors of The International Event At Woodside are: Auburn Laboratories Inc., CWD Saddlery, Equine Comfort Products, Finish Line Products, JRD Saddles, Smartpak Equine, Voltaire Design and Western Saddlery.
To learn more about the Horse Park at Woodside or The International Event At Woodside, go to www.horsepark.org. To learn more about eventing, visit the U.S. Eventing Association's website (www.useventing.com).