American based British event rider James Alliston is now a three-time champion following a wire-to-wire victory at the 2017 Galway Downs International Three-Day Event.
Riding Mary McKee’s Happenstance, the duo stayed leaders throughout, adding only one rail and one time penalty in show jumping to their dressage score to finish on 48.3. This gave Alliston a nine penalty victory over second placed rider Ellen Doughty-Hume and Sir Oberon, with Lisa Marie Fergusson in third with Honor Me.
For Alliston, who got the ride earlier this spring, the win cements his budding partnership with the striking 11-year-old Holsteiner.
“I always loved the horse because he’s been California bred, produced, and owned,” he commented said. “I knew the horse when he was young coming through when I first moved to California, and I was like, ‘Wow, that horse is gorgeous,’ because he’s big and black and very impressive. All the way through his career he’s been a prolific winner, so I knew he was that calibre, but he’s made to look really easy by all the riders before like Matt, who did a wonderful job. I certainly struggled in the dressage and the show jumping initially just getting the hang of it.”
Though he had three rails in hand, Alliston said the pressure still remained for a top performance. “It’s quite nerve-wracking when you’re in the lead because anything can happen, you could stop and fall off whatever, so that’s sort of going through your mind sometimes,” he admitted.
Ellen Doughty-Hume finished up her whirlwind weekend with long-time partner Sir Oberon in second place, replicating their 2016 result at this event.
“He was jumping great. I came in a little backwards to the triple that was my rail he had, but he was jumping super and he felt great after running yesterday, and he’s ready to have a break. I’m real pleased with the weekend,” she commented.
Canada’s Lisa Marie Fergusson has never had a pole down at CCI3* level, and she kept that streak alive this weekend with her own Honor Me. This pair kept hold of her third place position with one of the two fault-free rounds in the division.
“Tally was so full of run still after cross-country. He just ate it up and showed how clever he is when I got him backwards into the two and put in a three,” she said, crediting her 11-year-old Welsh Sport Horse. “It was a great course I thought it rode really well. It had enough challenge to it that you really had to ride and pay attention. He strategically placed some rails in shade, and you were going light into dark, so you had to pay attention.”
The other double clear round went to Ecuador’s Ronald Zabala-Goetschel, who finished fourth with his own Wundermaske. In addition to a top finish, Zabala-Goetschel also achieved his goal of qualifying for the 2018 World Equestrian Games with his best three-star dressage score to date as well as a qualifying result.
In the CCI2*, Helen Bouscaren took victory with Ebay. The pair had one rail in hand ahead of Sunday’s show jumping, and she made use of it over Marc Donovan’s challenging course, with only one double clear round managed by Julie Boyer and High Decorum, who finished in eighth position.
“He was great all weekend I was really happy with him and I’m excited for him. He’s not very experienced, but he doesn’t seem to need much experience,” Bouscaren said. “He’s smart and brave and careful, so everything I want.”
Second-placed Emilee Libby and Linda Libby’s Jakobi also dropped one pole to finish second. They added nothing across country, and had one pole down for a final result of 51.5. CCI3* winner Alliston also scooped up third in the two-star class aboard Sunsprite Warmblood’s Sunsprite Madeira on a mark of 55.7.
The CCI* was won by Australian Rebecca Braitling and Santana II to clinch the win, with the horse having previously been ridden by British young rider Tom Jackson before the horse was sold to the US.
Braitling took the win after the overnight leaders fell victim to the same fence, sending them down the leader board. The pair are on a hot streak this year after picking up two CCI* wins, first at The Event at Rebecca Farm, and then at Galway Downs International. She and the 7-year-old Oldenburg ended the weekend on a fishing score of 43.7.
One pole dropped overnight leaders Erin Kellerhouse and Woodford Reserve into a second place finish. James Alliston also felt the effects of the penultimate fence on course, shifting to third place after the four penalty rail with Pandora, a 6-year-old Swedish Warmblood owned by Laura Boyer.