Howe and Smith Light Up the Crowd in $30,000 Preliminary Challenge at the Spring Event at Woodside
RELEASE: June 4, 2010
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By John Strassburger and Heather Bailey
Before a crowd of more than 500 people, as the bright sun set over the San Francisco Bay on Saturday evening, Tamra Smith and Kelly Loria jumped to victory in the two divisions of the $30,000 Preliminary Challenge, the feature of the Spring Event at Woodside.
Loria, 16, of Lafayette, CA, rode Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds to top the 15-horse field in the Preliminary Rider Challenge, earning a check for $2,500 and a CWD Custom Saddle. Smith, 34, of Hemet, CA., rode CSI to top the 11-horse field in the Preliminary Horse Challenge, earning a check for $2,500 and a JRD Dressage Saddle.
Point Two Air Jackets and Equine Insurance of California were the presenting sponsors for the $30,000 Preliminary Challenge.
The horses and riders in the Preliminary Challenge divisions performed their dressage tests on Friday afternoon, then galloped around the spectator-friendly cross-country course at the Horse Park of Woodside early on Saturday morning. Their competition reached its climax on Saturday evening, over the show jumping course designed by Jose Nava in the Bay Arena, flanked on one side by the white tent hosting the gala dinner for 300 people and on an adjoining side by a grassy verge hosting another 200-plus fans who’d brought their own drinks and dinner with them.
The result was an enthusiastic throng cheering for their friends and favorites.
Loria said the electric atmosphere was why she’d entered the Preliminary Challenge with Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, a Thoroughbred mare of uncertain age. “She can be spooky, and I wanted to practice in this kind of high-pressure atmosphere to get us ready for other competitions. She responded really well to it,” said Loria.
Loria entered the show jumping phase in second place after incurring no faults on Derek di Grazia’s testing cross-country course. “She saved my butt in a few places,” said Loria with a smile.
And then Loria and Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds negotiated the show jumping course with neither jumping nor time faults, to grab first place after leader Victoria Howe, on Ringfort Carragheen, incurred 2.0 time faults. Loria finished on her dressage score of 33.7 penalties, while Howe finished with 34.1 penalties and a check for $1,725.
Howe, 17, is from Carmel, CA, and she too entered the Preliminary Challenge to practice riding under pressure. “I definitely just had to take a deep, calming breath and just try to do it to the best of my ability,” she said after keeping all the show jumps in their cups but finishing two seconds slow on her nine-year-old Irish Sport Horse.
Smith said that the cheering crowd helped motivate CSI, whom she said felt a bit tired after galloping to a faultless cross-country round. He had 3.0 time faults in the ring while “he rubbed a couple of jumps, and I got really lucky,” said Smith. CSI is a seven-year-old, Irish-bred Holsteiner gelding owned by Chloe Smythe and her parents, Donna and Anthony Smythe.
Smith said they didn’t like the name with which the horse came from Ireland. “CSI fits him, because he likes to figure things out, and I like it because my husband is a homicide detective,” said Smith.
She said that she entered the Preliminary Challenge because organizer Robert Kellerhouse “does such a fantastic job of getting the prizes and the prize money and the sponsors for events like this, so how could you not? It’s like hanging a big chocolate bar out in front of you.”
Second-placed Alexa Perkiel, 22, is a student of Smith’s, and she felt the crowd’s effect after Apres Ski hit the third-last fence hard with one of his feet, a jump right next to the white pavilion. The crowd emitted a loud collective gasp, but the rails stayed in their cups.
“I could really hear it, but it didn’t affect my horse, somehow, and we got over the last two fences,” said Perkiel of Park City, UT. “The hardest part of the night for him was the warm-up, because he doesn’t like to be with other horses. But he was fine in the ring, because he likes to be alone.”
Perkiel rode Apres Ski, a nine-year-old Thoroughbred gelding, in a novice division at Woodside last May, and that’s when she made riding in the Preliminary Challenge her goal. “I wanted to do it because I thought it would be like riding in a championship division, and it was,” said Perkiel.
In 2009, Beth Temkin won the inaugural Preliminary Horse Challenge on Jude’s Law, and on Sunday at the Spring Event at Woodside they won the Founders’ Cup as the inners of the 12-horse advanced division. It was the first advanced start for Jude’s Law, 9, and the first advanced start in five years for Temkin, 40, and the mother of a nine-year-old daughter and a seven-year-old son.
Jude’s Law and Temkin placed third in dressage, then moved into second place with 6.0 time faults on the cross-country course. A faultless show jumping round kept them just in front of Jennifer Wooten DaFoe, of Buelleton, CA, on The Good Witch, who also show jumped perfectly.
The victory was especially meaningful for Temkin because she lives nearby in Portola Valley and because she imported the gray gelding from Ireland and has brought him through the levels.
Jude’s Law jumped to a clear round while adding emphasis over most of the show jumps by kicking out in midair with his hind legs, flattening his ears against his neck. “He likes to do it his own way and for me to leave him alone,” said Temkin with a smile.
“He is amazing. I’m not sure I’m ever going to get the chance to ride another horse like him,” said Temkin of Jude’s Law, owned by Hilary Bates.
To learn more about the Horse Park at Woodside or the Horse Trials At Woodside, go to www.horsepark.org
. To learn more about eventing, visit the United States Eventing Association’s website at www.useventing.com