Coudray Takes Top Prize at Galway Downs
Temecula, CA, USA
"He's really grown up," said Coudray, 21, of her handsome gray Irish-bred. "In so many places I gave him the opportunity to [be bad], and he wasn't. He really felt like a big boy."
This weekend the CIC divisions at Galway Downs were run in the European format, which culminated in the cross-country phase being run in reverse order of placing. The pressure cooker of going last turned somewhat in Coudray's favor, however, as she heard over the loudspeaker that second-placed Kelly Prather on Ballinakill Glory had suffered a run-out as she galloped around the course. Coudray knew that gave her some breathing room, and it allowed her to have 3.6 time penalties and still maintain her lead.
Prather's misfortune vaulted overnight third-placed rider Tamra Smith, of Hemet, Calif., on Bubbles at Bricky in to second, and Canadian, Hawley Bennett-Awad, flew around on Gin N' Juice to move in to third.
Smith and the strapping bay gelding were also influenced by the format change, which allowed her to be able to track the results of the competitors on her heels. "It definitely made it more competitive. I had planned on not going for time, but when I heard [eventual fourth-placed finisher Jennifer Wooten-Dafoe and The Good Witch] had made the time, I decided to go for it."
Bubbles At Bricky was formerly in the barn of U.S. team coach Capt. Mark Phillips, and Smith has been able to work with Phillips over the winter after being named to the USEF Developing Rider list. She has found his help invaluable in figuring the horse out.
Smith will be aiming Bubbles At Bricky for the Jersey Fresh CCI*** in New Jersey in May.
Bennett-Awad, 32, has a different destination in mind for Gin N' Juice-the Rolex Kentucky CCI4* in April. Bennett-Awad joked that upon finishing, she told owner Linda Paine to "pack her rain gear [for Kentucky]." But the fiery bay mare was no joke on course, flying around to come home with only one of three double-clear rounds.
"She was awesome," said Bennett-Awad. "She's my little sports car. She's ready for Kentucky."
Coudray's victory on Ringwood Magister helped alleviate the sting of being eliminated on CCI2* leader Master Hill. A testing cross-country course shook up the standings, vaulting Maxance McManamy and Beacon Hill in to the blue-ribbon position. David Accord, of Dublin, Calif., on Good Knight took over second, with Natalia Gurmankin, of Temecula, Calif., and Tequesteris moving in to third.
McManamy, 18, is a high school senior from Templeton, Calif., and has had Beacon Hill for four years. She did her first training level event with him, and she's now setting her sights on moving him to advanced.
"It was definitely a big course, especially for the first CIC2* of the year. But it was a perfect step between intermediate and advanced," said McManamy.
McManamy and Coudray both train with Bea and Derek di Grazia of Carmel, Calif., as does CIC1* winner Lauren Billys and Ballingowan Ginger.
Billys, of Visalia, Calif., was standing third after dressage, but a double-clear show jumping round moved them in to the top spot overnight. A double-clear cross-country round today kept them on top.
Billys, 21, has been working with the Irish-bred daughter of Master Imp for three years, and she was thrilled with her performance at Galway.
"She was great this weekend," said Billys. "The course was a great challenge for my horse and I. "
Billys is a senior at Cal-State Fresno majoring in chemistry and oenology, and she hopes to move up to intermediate with Ballingowan Ginger later this year.
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