Galway Downs Three-Day Event Wrap-Up
RELEASE: April 3, 2008
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Amber Heintzberger
Even though she had a comfortable lead going into the final phase at the Adequan United States Eventing Association Gold Cup Galway Downs CIC*** in Temecula, CA, Gina Miles wanted to give McKinlaigh a good solid round since their next event will be the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** at the end of April. Though she thought she had only one rail to spare, she actually could have had three down and still won the event. McKinlaigh was rhythmical and balanced as he performed a hunter-like round over the Richard Jeffery-designed course.
In spite of announcer Michael Tucker's constant reminders that Miles and McKinlaigh are contenders for this summer's Olympic Games, she said that she stayed relaxed and focused on the job at hand. "I'm so confident in McKinlaigh—he really does know his job," she said. "It's always nice when you have a rail in hand. I didn't know I had three—it makes you breathe a little easier. But Kentucky will be 'clean round necessary' so you have to put pressure on yourself. You have to psyche yourself up for that."
McKinlaigh will fly to Kentucky the Monday before the event along with Hawley Bennett's Livingstone and Jennifer Wooten's The Good Witch. The three horses should be familiar with each other by now, since they stood together in the line-up. The Good Witch finished second with a clear round, and Livingstone was third in spite of two rails down. Jolie Sexson and Killian O'Connor, second after yesterday's cross-country, had an unfortunate three rails that knocked them out of the top three and into a final sixth place, behind Tory Smith on Bantry Bay in third and Debbie Rosen on The Alchemyst in fifth.
Wooten, who represented the U.S. at the World Cup Finals in Pau, France, last year where she was the top American finisher in 11th place, will be competing at Rolex for the first time. "I was really using this event as a prep for Rolex, and I wanted to focus on riding the plan," she said. The pair got their season off to a good start two weeks ago by winning their first outing at Three-Day Ranch Horse Trials. Wooten then celebrated her 30th birthday on March 21.
"I was content in our personal progress this weekend," she said. "Moving up from ninth to second place was icing on the cake. I'm going to be celebrating when I get home!"
The Good Witch is a 10-year-old black Irish Thoroughbred owned by Donn and Daisy Tognazzini of Los Olivos, CA. In 2006, Wooten relocated her business to Ramona, CA, to become head trainer at Copper Meadows. This placed her closer to her coach Ginnie Bryant's barn in San Juan Capistrano so she can focus on furthering her own riding at the upper levels. As a member of the USEF Winter Training List she is also under the scrutiny of Olympic selectors.
"At Rolex I am aiming to complete, first of all, and to take the same attitude as this weekend and take it one day at a time. I believe we can put in a competitive dressage test in the 50's, on cross-country I'd like to be able to make the time, and in stadium handle the pressure to jump around clean. I can honestly say I feel ready to go."
Hawley Bennett, who lives and trains in Temecula but rides for Canada, had a hairy start to her round when Livingstone went down on his knees after the first fence. "I thought I was going down!" said Bennett. "His face was on the ground and his knees were in the dirt. It rattled me a little, and I think it rattled him, too. He jumped so big I think he just stumbled. He had a mouthful of dirt, but he just got up and kept going. I think that's why we had the rails down; he felt good in the warm-up, and last weekend we jumped two days with Buck (Davidson) and didn't touch a thing. It probably stung his knees when he went down."
Lucky for Bennett, she had a strong enough lead that when Sexson had three rails down, Bennett stayed in third place. Sexson had some consolation in the fact that she placed second in t