DEVON, PA.--Chris Talley on Sandro's Star was one of only two clean through both rounds of the $50,000 Arena Eventing on May 27 at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair to win the event over last year's winner Sarah Kozumplik Murphy and Rubens D’Ysieux.
Talley of Jeffersonton, Va., who went after Murphy of Berryville, Va., in the jump-off, finished the jump-off round in 78.26, just 3/10ths of a second faster than Murphy, who finished in 78.58.
Despite a chilly, damp night, a good crowd cheered on the competitors, standing two to three deep in some places along the rail of the Dixon Oval.
In its second year at Devon, the class drew 27 competitors and used both the Dixon Oval and the Wheeler Ring and included two of the three disciplines that make up three-day eventing, cross country and stadium jumping.
Course designer Captain Mark Phillips chose fences from Fair Hill for the cross country jumps and used show jumping fences that included a triple bar and a Liverpool.
In the first round the course used both rings, and the top 12 from that round returned for a timed jump-off that was competed only in the Dixon Oval.
The time allowed was tight, causing faults for 13 of the 27 competitors, and it was particularly hard on the early riders, with the first five riders all incurring time faults.
ONE OF THOSE first five was Phillip Dutton of West Grove, Pa., on Dr. Kevin Keane's Sportsfield Candy, who was clean in the jump-off to finish third with one fault.
Talley has ridden Sandro’s Star, owned by Talley’s business partner and close friend, Hannah Salazaar, for just over a year.
Sandro's Star, a stallion, was the Champion Stallion and High Score Born in the USA winner at the 2017 Dressage at Devon event and was also the USEA 2017 Stallion of the Year.
Talley, who has taken the stallion from a 1* to a 3* level in just one year, said he intends to compete at CCI3* events this year, including Great Meadows International.
“He’s very new," said Talley of Sandro's Star. "We were laughing about it last week. I did my first event on him last year at the Prelim level. He was born here in the U.S. but he had such great scores at the stallion testing that they sent him to Europe,and he was the highest-placed American bred stallion. He did a CIC1* with Dora Feld and then was re-imported. We got the opportunity to buy him, and I took around five months getting to know him and then took him in the Prelim level in 2017. He then went to the 2* level and just did his first Advanced CIC3* this year. He’s the ultimate event horse, fancy on the flat and a good show jumper. He’s super brave cross country.”
“I was a little overwhelmed when I was walking the course and didn’t know how it was going to ride," said Talley. "It rode beautifully and going quick in a small space over solid obstacles, you’re not really sure about striding, but I think they did a wonderful job designing the courses, and it challenged the horses but also rewarded them. In the jump-off, I thought I was a bit slow after fence 15 (a brush fence), and I thought I lost him a little bit in the turn, but I saw a good shot at the last and kept galloping down it, praying it stayed up.”
“I was a working student for Ryan Wood and worked at Iron Spring Farm, which is a big breeding facility here in Pennsylvania, and then I did sale horses growing up," said Talley. "I had a pony that I took to Intermediate. We had him since he was born, kind of out of chance. My mom and dad bought a mare at New Holland auction and it it turned out she was pregnant. He ended up being my pony that I took to Intermediate. I moved to Virginia and that is when I met Hannah, and we joined businesses and have been best friends ever since. We work together every day and she has been such an amazing supporter and her and her husband have been wonderful and given me so many opportunities. I’m happy to be able to do this for him. It all goes back to them.”
“I will be coming back for this," said Talley. "I think Devon is such a big horse show for this area and the country in general. People all over the country talk about it ,and I grew up thirty-five minutes away in Honeybrook, so its always been sort of a hometown show. I think it’s fun to come back here and see old friends and come with new friends as well."
“HE'S A REALLY cool horse," said Murphy of Rubens D’ysieux. "He is actually the quietest, easiest horse. He’s like a riding school pony, but hereyou cannot reason with him. He’s out there prancing around and loves coming here. He had a really great year last year, and he got listed onto the training list, but when I came back from Mill Street I was in a warmup, and another horse went to kick my horse but ended up kicking my knee. It broke my knee. I was on bed rest for seven weeks.”
“Last year I went to Bromont, and then I went to Mill Street in Ireland, and this (winning last year at Devon) paid for half of my flight to go to Mill Street," said Murphy. "It’s really good for us in eventing. We are getting a few things with more prize money, but it is a really big deal for us. To have something like this where we can get a bit of cash on a good horse makes life a lot easier. The crowd here is like nothing I have ever seen before in this country. Even in Kentucky, it’s not like that carnival atmosphere where so many people are are cheering along."
Lisa Marie Fergusson on Honor Me, 0, 4, was fourth, followed by Phillip Dutton on The Manager, 0, 4, 77.40, Emily Hamel on Corvett, 1, 4, 83.94, Collen Rutledge on Shiraz, 2, 4, 80.58 and Boyd Martin on Contestor, 4, 4, 80.26.
ALICE NOLEN-WALSTON of Landenberg, Pa., on her Wishlea Star Dasher won both the time first jump-off and the speed class in Pony Jumpers to win the Championship.
Nolen-Walston has been riding Wishlea Star Dasher, who was the Pony Jumper Zone 3 reserve champion Horse of the Year, for about a year, and she trains with Lisa Perri.
Last year at Devon, Nolen-Walston and Wishlea Star Dasher were reserve champion in the Pony Jumpers, so the 14-year-old rider was determined to earn the championship this year.
Taylor Brinsfield and Kathleen Anderson’s Sprite were reserve .
“He’s a rock star," said Nolen Walston of her mount. "He is a Welsh pony and just turned 13. It was just a year of having him a couple of days ago. Last year, we came to Devon after having him for not very long, and we were reserve champions, so this year our goal was to do this and we did.
“He saves my butt. We work as a team. He knows when it’s time to take the wheel and help me out a little bit.
“I did the Shetland Pony Steeplechase in 2014 and won it, so it was kind of like coming back and doing it all over again.”
“The support system at Devon and the mentality is special," said Nolen=Walston. "Everyone just wants to help you. In my second to last round, I completely forgot about the last in-and-out and the whole crowd said, ‘Fence 11!’ and I ended up being able to do it.
“We are going to Pony Finals in August and WEG has Pony Jumpers this year, so we’re hoping to get there and maybe Canada for the Royal.
“I call him Dashie, Rainbow Dash, Dashman, all of the above. He is super sassy and sweet. He pretends he doesn’t like to cuddle, but he secretly loves it. He’s a cookie monster and loves treats.”
Kate Taylor rode Chacca Blue to win the Children’s Jumper Championship.