Lauren Billys and Caslte Larchfield Purdy, winners of the CIC2*
Photo: Captured Moment Photography
Aboard her own Basco, Bonner Carpenter, of Dallas, galloped to first place in the CIC3* at the Woodside International Horse Trials, finishing with 48.7 penalties. The competition was held Oct. 3-5 at the Horse Park at Woodside.
James Alliston, of Castro Valley, claimed second on Tivoli (52.1), and Kaitlin Veltkamp of Los Gatos, grabbed third place on Flashpoint D (57.0).
Carpenter, 26, earned $3,000 for her winning effort, along with the Adequan USEA Gold Cup and the CTETA Founders' Cup, established to honor Robert E. Smith, whose vision established the Horse Park at Woodside in 1981.
Since the CIC3* is a member event of the 2014 PRO Series Tour, Carpenter's prizes included a seven-dose box of Adequan, $350 in Nunn Finer products, a Smart Pak Wellfleet Eventer Bridle and $200 toward a Point Two Air Jacket.
Carpenter and Veltkamp were two of the four riders to finish Derek di Grazia's cross-country course with no jumping and no time penalties. "I went out there, honestly, just to get around," said Carpenter, who'd suffered cross-country refusals in her last two starts on Basco. "But when I was on the early minute markers, I began to think that it would be possible, so I just kept going."
Frankie Thieriot and Chatwin, winners of the CIC1*
Photo: Captured Moment Photography
Carpenter manages her family's foundation in Texas, but she's been in California since August to prepare herself and Basco for the Galway Downs International Three-Day Event on Oct. 30-Nov. 2. She'd never ridden at The Horse Park at Woodside before, and she'd never ridden over a course designed by di Grazia.
"I knew I had to be aggressive and ride forward to every jump. You have to be attacking all the way around," she said. "But it really is a super course. Derek uses the terrain really well, and it feels like a huge galloping course."
Even though she's used to the heat, because she lives in Texas, Carpenter said she approved of the ground jury's decision to juggle the day's schedule because of the unseasonable high temperature of 93 degrees forecast for Saturday afternoon. The CIC3* started at 10:20 a.m. instead of the scheduled 1:20 p.m.
"I think it was great that they changed it. It would have taken a lot more out of our horses to have gone in the afternoon," she said.
Basco and Bonner Carpenter, winners of the CIC3*
Photo: Captured Moment Photography
Alliston earned $2,250 for finishing second, and, even though he and Tivoli won the Woodside CIC3* in 2012, he said he wasn't at all disappointed. It was Tivoli's first start at this level since the spring of 2013, due to an injury.
"I figured I'd just take the time as it came, but he was right there from the start, so I just let him go," said Alliston, who finished two seconds slow. "It's amazing how older horses like him seem to remember everything. It was like he hadn't had any time off."
Unlike Carpenter, Alliston has experienced di Grazia's courses many times, at Woodside and at other events. But he said he was once again impressed by the depth and fairness of the questions on the CIC3* course.
"Derek is my favorite course designer, for sure. He blends everything together into a complete course. I think he's the best course designer in America, and maybe in the world," said Alliston.
Di Grazia's wife, Bea, who held the two-phase lead with Lad's Night Out, didn't start on cross-country.
Billys & Thieriot Take One- and Two-Stars
Lauren Billys, of Sanger, finished the cross-country course just one second slow on Castle Larchfield Purdy to emerge the winner of the CIC2* (52.6). She'd also been tied for second after show jumping on Ballingowan Ginger, but the Irish-bred mare ran out at fence 10C to drop to 10th place.
That left James Atkinson, Canadian rider and Copper Meadows event organizer, to gallop to second place on Gustav (56.8), ahead of fellow Canadian Leah Breakey on Master Plan ((65.4). Atkinson and Breakey each posted faultless cross-country rounds.
"I was going to be really brave today, and I got three-and-a-half strides instead of four strides to the wedge [at fence 10C], so she had no choice but to run past it. She jumped just great the rest of the way—I was bummed," said Billys of her run-out. "So I rode it differently on Purdy—I held for the four strides. I thought you were going to have to ride forward more to get the four strides, but you didn't."
James Alliston and Tivoli, second in the CIC3*.
Photo: Sherry Stewart
Billys, 26, rides representing Puerto Rico, meaning the CIC2* was a foreign-rider sweep. She won $2,000 in prize money, while Atkinson won $1,500.
Billys trains with Derek di Grazia, and she found his two-star course both demanding and exhilarating. "Wedges are my problem with Ginger, and his course uncovered it," she said with a wistful smile. "But there's really no point on this course when you think, 'OK, I'm home,' until you get to the end. There are so many great questions, and he keeps you on your toes all the way around."
She added, "I went out there with a plan, and it didn't work out perfectly everywhere. But it still rode well, and I came off the course a little better rider because of the way he designed it."
Billys plans Castle Larchfield Purdy's next start to be the CCI2* at the Galway Downs International Three-Day Event. Then she plans to compete him at the three-star level in 2015 as she aims to represent Puerto Rico for the first time in the 2016 Olympics.
Frankie Thieriot, of Occidental, held on to the two-phase lead she and Chatwin held in the CIC1* by finishing cross-country with no faults, for a total of 43.7 penalties, winning a first prize of $1,000. Ruth Bley also jumped faultlessly on Rodrigue Du Granit to finish second (47.5).
"He was awesome. His natural gallop is so big that we were up on the time at three minutes, so I slowed down to come home," Thieriot said. The optimum time was 5:37.
The CIC1* horses jumped in the heat of the afternoon, the time originally scheduled for the CIC3*, when the temperature reached 92 degrees. "It actually didn't feel as hot as I thought it would be, because a little breeze did come up," she said.
Like Carpenter and Billys, Thieriot is aiming Chatwin, 6, for the Galway Downs International Three-Day Event. "Even though he doesn't have a lot of mileage, I thought Derek's course was really good preparation for him to take the next step of doing the CCI1*," she said.
Thieriot and her friends created a special award in 2011, the Fric Frac Berance Award, in memory of her former advanced-level horse. The award's intent is to honor the horse in the CIC3* whose cross-country performance best emulates Fric Frac's love for and cleverness at meeting the challenges of cross-country courses, jumping in a way that takes care of himself and his rider.
Thieriot and a panel of three to five others choose the winner each year at the Woodside International Horse Trials, and this year they chose Flashpoint D, a 13-year-old Warmblood gelding whose faultless round propelled him to third place, with no penalties added to his dressage score. The award comes with a $1,000 prize.
Thieriot said that Chatwin reminds her of her beloved Fric Frac, too. "I never thought I'd find another horse who jumped like Fric Frac until I sat on him, and then I had to have him," she said. So she formed a syndicate to purchase him.
A total of 381 horses started in the Woodside International Horse Trials, with 55 competing at the three international levels.
For full competition information, go to www.woodsideeventing.com.
To learn more about eventing, visit the U.S. Eventing Association's website (www.useventing.com).
Area VI Champs
The Woodside International Horse Trials also hosted the 2014 USEA Area VI Championships, in which 60 horses started. Champions in that part of the event included Tristen Hooks and Learning To Fly at Preliminary, En Vogue and Ruth Bley at Training Horse, Jalin Coert and Fail Safe in Training Rider, Angela Cricelli and Sunsprite Cali in Novice Rider and Grace Illsley and Dancing Diva at Beginner Novice.