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Nunnink Maintains CCI2* Lead At Galway Downs
Temecula, CA, USA
Photo: StockImageServices.com

Kristi Nunnink, of Auburn, Calif., rode Corner Street to a faultless cross-country round today at the Galway Downs International Three-Day Event to hold on to the lead she established in dressage yesterday, when she scored 46.7 penalties.

But the cross-country course has left the first four CCI2* riders separated by less than the 4 faults a fallen rail will cost in tomorrow afternoon's decisive show jumping phase. David Koss, of Hailey, Idaho, also jumped faultlessly on Look Sweet to keep the pressure on Nunnink, with 46.9 penalties. Tamra Smith, of Hemet, Calif., was also perfect on Bubbles At Bricky to hold third (47.5), and Rebecca Baiting, of Atascadero, Calif., guided Just Jealous around faultlessly to stay in fourth (48.9).

"I kind of put a lot of pressure on myself in show jumping, so I don't really need anything to add to it," said Nunnink with a smile. "All I can do is do the best I can, but I certainly hope to do well tomorrow."

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Kristi Nunnink and Corner Street
No matter what happens tomorrow, Nunnink, 48, will remain proud of what she accomplished today on the cross-country course designed by Ian Stark. "Corner Street was just super today," Nunnink said of the 10-year-old Holsteiner gelding bred in Nevada.

"I thought the whole course was really great. I've always been a fan of Ian's, ever since he started designing the courses here," Nunnink added.

MacKenna Shea, of Tacoma, Wash., had the cross-country ride of her young life to widen her lead in the classic-format CCI1* with Landioso. Shea, 16, and Landioso, 7, now lead by 12.5 penalties. Tessa Becket, of Snohomish, Wash., is second with Sound Prospect, and Hilary Niemann, of Santa Barbara, Calif., is a further 7.5 penalties behind on Pele II.

"He's never felt better on course than he did today!" exclaimed Shea. "It was really a neat feeling. I'd like to do steeplechase and roads and tracks before cross-country at every event."

Shea and Landioso completed the cross-country course 31 seconds faster than the 8-minute optimum time, "and he still felt like he had a lot left in him," she said. But they weren't the fastest finishers. Fourth-placed Sarah Vernlund crossed the finish line 47 seconds fast on KF MacGuinness, with Becket only one second slower.

Stephanie Cooper, of Hobart, Wash., also maintained her dressage lead in the short-format CCI1*, finishing the course 28 seconds fast. Like Nunnink, she holds a very narrow advantage over Lauren Billys on Ballingowan Ginger, just .3 penalties.

The top of the leaderboard hasn't changed in the two divisions of the training-level three-day event. Olympic veteran Gina Miles, of Atascadero, Calif., urged her 6-year-old prospect Patronus to a faultless trip to stay on top in division B, and Fiona Graham, of Portola Valley, Calif., did the same on Isengart in division A.


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