FAR HILLS, N.J.--Australia's Ryan Wood, who lives in West Grove, Pa., won in the $20,000 Preliminary Essex at the Essex Horse Trials on Saturday, June 23.
Riding Ruby, owned by Summit Sporthorses Ltd. of Ringoes, N.J., Wood led from start to finish, going clear in both cross country and show jumping to finish on their dressage score of 27.70.
"This event is phenomenal," said Wood. "This was my first time here, and I can't wait to come back. I will be promoting it to everyone in Pennsylvania. It means a lot to win here and to win for Ilona English on her homebred horse. To come to Essex and take out the top division and win the silver cup is very special."
Wood had three horses in the Preliminary Essex, and he needed every one of them to secure his victory.
"I was lucky to have two practices on the course before piloting Ruby around," said Woos. "I was a victim of a rail on each of my other horses. It was interesting to see the rails coming down. The first jump looked like the softest one on the course, but it came down more than any other jump, and the treble looked tough and it jumped better than any other combination on the track. It was all very well thought out. Chris Barnard is a master at designing show jumping tracks."
MICHAEL WALTON and Brave New World moved up from sixth place following cross country to the runner-up spot scoring 32.90, and Hallie Coon finished third on Cooley SOS with a score of 36.20, moving way up from 21st in dressage and top 12 in cross country.
In the Open Preliminary division, Kaitlin Clasing of Unionville, Pa., won riding Warren LVS with a final score of 29.80.
Clasing was second going into show jumping and clinched the win by going clear after the final rider, Elizabeth Bortuzzo and Belongs To Teufer, had three rails down to finish second with a score of 35.10.
"We were double clear in cross country," said Clasing. "My horse is so talented and really special."
"He really handled it like a pro," said Clasing of the Morgan Rowsell-designed cross country course. "They put so much care into the courses and the footing. Everything is so well done here for the lower level horses, which is important for a horse like 'Beans' because this could be a stepping stone for things to come in the future. It was a great day."
Juliana Hutchings-Sebring of Fair Hill, Md., won the Preliminary Rider division on Welbourne, finishing on his dressage score of 37.50.
"I heard the announcer say that we were in the lead in show jumping and then I heard my horse nick a rail and I was saying to myself, 'please don't fall, please don't fall,' because I knew I couldn't afford to have a rail," said Hutchings-Sebring. "He's turned into a really great horse. This is such a fantastic event, it was really exciting. It felt like a much bigger event than for the level that I competed in. It felt like the atmosphere of a two-star or even bigger because of the spectators, so it was exciting for us. It's nice to take a win home to my students."
Three novice divisions were also held on Saturday, with Jennifer Eddy and Fernhill Cascum Marco twinning in the Open Novice division, Lauren Chumley and Santa Barbara DASH winning the Novice Rider "A" division and Tara Brienza winning the Novice Rider "B" division on Highlander.