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Bennett and Livingstone in Top Three at Galway
Temecula, CA, USA
by Amber Heintzberger
Hawley Bennett and Livingstone
Canadian Hawley Bennett moved into third place today in the Galway Downs CIC*** riding her 18-year-old veteran Livingstone, whom she is hoping will be her partner at the Olympic Games in Hong Kong this summer. Bennett has owned Livingstone since she was a "D" Pony Clubber back home in Langley, BC and they moved up the levels together, representing Canada at the Olympic Games in Athens four years ago.

"He felt like a spring chicken - a seven-year-old - on cross-country today," she said. "He's unreal. If there's a fittest horse award, he should get it." Bennett thinks the key to 'Hank's" fitness is that she does most of his conditioning work on hills, so he doesn't have to go as fast as he would on flat ground to achieve the same results. "He gallops every five days and we take good care of him - ice, wraps, Sore No More. He has the cleanest legs in the barn, he's amazing."

Heading out on the recently redesigned cross-country course today, Bennett said, "I was a little nervous, but Hank's the type of horse, once I'm on course I'm like, 'why did I get nervous?'." Of the course, designed by Ian Stark, she said, "You had to ride it but I think it looked harder than it was. The second water was the hardest - it was a big jump in and then a turn to the second element."

Bennett also rode Splendorofthesun and Gin N' Juice, whom she retired after a run-out coming out of the second water complex. "Ginny is green and didn't really click on to the fence she was supposed to jump but I was still happy with the way she went," she said.

Bennett has been based at KingsWay farm across the street from the Southern California Equestrian Center in Temecula, CA for the past four years. She said, "Terry and Linda are like another set of parents. I'm so lucky. Langley had two inches of snow yesterday - you cannot get a horse ready for Rolex there, and I'm a pansy about the cold. I love it here."

Leading the three-star is Gina Miles of Creston, CA riding McKinlaigh who have a 7.6-point lead over Jolie Sexson riding Killian O'Connor in second place. "He felt fabulous," said Miles of her big Irish gelding. "He was a champ." Miles has her eye on the Olympic Games this summer and Galway was her warm-up for the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** next month. "I've been in this position before, but in 2004 he had wind surgery and we didn't get to go. It's plan A, but the horse business isn't a sure thing."
Alexandra Knowles and Last Call
Sexson moved up to second in the CIC*** after Nicholas Cwick and Asterix had a run-out at the skinny coming off the bank at fence 17. Sexson is riding her business partner Tracy Bowman's Killian O'Connor, a nine-year-old Irish Sporthorse/Selle Francais cross gelding. Sexson is aiming him for Jersey Fresh this year with hopes of running him in Kentucky next spring.

Bennett's student Alexandra Knowles moved into the in the Adequan USEA Gold Cup CIC** lead after a clean round in the time on her Mecklenburg Warmblood gelding Last Call. Things were shaken up in this division when overnight leader Max McManamy, who happens to be a student of Gina Miles, had an unfortunate refusal early in the course with Beacon Hill and dropped to eighth place in the standings. Kate Gillespie, who was second after dressage on Renegade Reno, also had a stop and since the fourth-placed rider was eliminated, Julie Ann Boyer and Rumor Hazit moved up from 5th to 2nd place after cross-country.

Knowles, 21 of Auburn, CA has competed many times at Galway before but said, "The two-star was big - it was big stuff and different from the normal Galway. I had to go out and really ride. There were a lot of problems in my division and I think it's because people weren't riding forward enough…My mare's amazing and honest as the day is long. I didn't give up until I crossed the finish line."

Knowles spends half the year in Temecula working for Bennett, who said, "I am so proud of Allie - she's come a long way in the past year." Knowles accompanied Bennett to Badminton last year and plans to assist her at Rolex this spring. "I'm so excited!" she said.

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