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Tight Finishes in Preliminary Challenge Highlight Woodside Horse Trials
Woodside, CA, USA

To the cheering of about 500 enthusiastic fans, Beth Temkin of Portola Valley, Calif., rode Jude's Law to a clear show jumping round that captured the Horse Division of the inaugural $30,000 Preliminary Challenge at the Horse Trials At Woodside. Moments earlier, Lindsay Connors, of El Granada, Calif., had also ridden a clear round on Ballingowan Pizazz to win the Rider Division.

Temkin and Connors each took home the winner's share of the Preliminary Challenge's $15,000 total purse ($7,500 for each division). In addition, Temkin won a Custom Saddlery dressage saddle and Connors won a CWD Sellier eventing saddle, part of the $15,000 in prizes dispersed in the Preliminary Challenge.

The climactic show jumping phase took place on Saturday evening, May 23, prior to a gala dinner in the tented pavilion overlooking the Horse Park at Woodside's Bay Arena, as the sun set over the coastal mountains just a mile to the west. Riders came from as far away as Idaho to contest the Preliminary Challenge, and spectators cheered for the clear rounds and groaned whenever a horse faulted.

"It was nerve-wracking, especially with the crowd, but it was really exciting," said Connors after collecting her cash and prizes. The Rider Division was limited to riders who had never competed at the intermediate level or above. The Horse Division was open to any rider on horses that hadn't competed at the intermediate level or above.

"I've been looking forward to this for weeks because there was so much hype about it," added Connors, who moved up from third place in dressage (31.0 penalties) to first place by adding no further penalties. Molly Totten finished second on Balabooga Brawley, and Lisa Levine rode Made Ya Look IV to third place.

Connors, 25, trains with respected California trainer Dayna Lynd-Pugh. In March Connors and Ballingowan Pizazz, 8, earned the blue ribbon in the CIC1* at the Galway Downs International Horse Trials in Temecula, Calif.

Temkin described the Saturday evening atmosphere as "pretty electric." But she said that it didn't distract Jude's Law. "He rose to the occasion, and I think this whole thing was pretty cool. Having prize money really raises the caliber of everything."

Temkin and Jude's Law took the lead in dressage (29.6) and never let go, adding no jumping or time penalties. Second-placed Erin Kellerhouse, of Temecula, Calif., finished with only the dressage score she received on Parfait (31.7), while Suzy Elliot rode Ogopogo to third place (34.3).

Temkin is a dressage and eventing trainer based just a few miles from the Horse Park at Woodside. She and her husband, Andrew Temkin, purchased Jude's Law, 8, in England as a 5-year-old. Andrew had competed the horse until this year, when his law practice became too busy to allow him to continue competing. Last summer, though, Hilary Bates, a student of Beth's, purchased the gray gelding for Beth to continue to compete.

"Hilary wants to see how far I can take him, and since he's one of the best horses I've ever sat on, that's kind of like having your cake and eating it too," said Temkin with a smile.

Temkin also had a new distraction this weekend. Her 8-year-old daughter, Madison, competed at beginner novice in her first USEA-recognized horse trial and finished sixth. "I was more nervous about that than the Preliminary Challenge!" exclaimed Temkin.

Even Rachel Dwyer, winner of Woodside's open intermediate division, felt connected to the Preliminary Challenge since she helped check in ticket holders to the gala dinner. "I like how it attracted more spectators. There was a lot of atmosphere, and it helped make this event an even bigger attribute to the community," said Dwyer.

Dwyer, 20, of Temecula, Calif., reached the top of the open intermediate division primarily on the strength of her faultless cross-country round with Catch A Star, her 9-year-old mare. They've come up the levels of eventing together and are in their first year of competing at the intermediate level. "We both had time off last fall because we were both sick, and this was the first time she felt like she was really back," said Dwyer.

Kelly Prather, of Bodega, Calif., won the advanced division on her long-time partner Ballinakill Glory. It was the second advanced victory at Woodside in three years for Prather, 25, and Ballinakill Glory, 11. Frankie Thieriot, of Santa Rosa, Calif., finished second on Fric Frac Berence.

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