The United States’ Jenni McAllister pilots Legis Touch The Sun to the top in the $132,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Royal West. (FEI/Aimee Makris)
by Esther Hahn
It appeared to be ladies’ night in the fourth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2016/2017 North American League Western Sub-League when six of the seven riders to advance to the jump off were female competitors. Over the deciding, short course, Jenni McAllister (USA) and 10-year-old gelding Legis Touch The Sun ultimately proved that a big, scopey horse can excel in a small indoor arena, as they went on to capture the win in the $132,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Royal West.
Exactly one week after contesting the World Cup Qualifier at the Del Mar International Horse Show in California, McAllister traveled north, across the border, to try her luck over a track designed by Werner Deeg (GER). In an indoor arena, smaller than last week’s in her home state, she outshone a starting field of 21 horse-and-rider pairs with one of only two double clear rounds—and the winning time of 41.88 seconds.
“We bought him as a 5-year-old and knew right away he was something special,” the 47-year-old rider said of her mount. “He’s a competitive horse. He was still thinking of Thursday’s speed round tonight and was a little fresh at the start of the first round, but then he settled.”
Canada’s Laura Jane Tidball, riding Prim’ de Lairaud, finished behind McAllister, while Canada’s Christopher Surbey rode to third place aboard Chalacorada.
The first-round track was a fair one, according to the evening’s riders. And the first clear came with the first pair to contest the course: Cara Anthony (CAN) and Ayma de la Demi Lune. But soon after, poles began to drop throughout Deeg’s design, and a careful vertical away from the gate caused multiple rounds to record faults.
The jump-off round featured multiple, galloping lines with only a couple opportunities to shave significant time by taking tight turns. It played to the strengths of McAllister’s horse with his big stride, coupled with his impressive scope.
“It was a galloping course, but it had some good turns,” McAllister said of the final round. “I had originally planned to do the inside slice—he’s quite good at that. But knowing that only one other rider had gone clean before me, and because he jumped so high in the first part of the course, I decided to get galloping and go around rather than take the slice [from my original plan].
“I think he’s probably the easiest horse I’ve ever ridden. He can package his stride to 10 feet and open it to 16, or 18, feet. He can do it all within ten strides. He’s really special. And he’s also very careful. It’s a really great combination for a big horse. I tell the kids, if there were a 1.60-meter equitation division, I’d easily win it on him.”
And even with the deviation from her original jump-off track—which meant covering more ground—McAllister’s decision didn’t sacrifice the win, as she crossed the timers with just over .80 seconds to spare. “I’m definitely aiming for Omaha [for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final],” said the 2014 FEI World Cup™ Finalist. “That’s my dream, my goal.”
Following tonight’s event, Karl Cook continues to hold the top position in the Western Sub-League standings despite his decision to not contest this event. The next Western Sub-League event will be on Saturday, 19 November.
Result: 1, Legis Touch The Sun (Jenni McAllister) USA 0/0 41.88; 2, Prim’ de Lairaud (Laura Jane Tidball) CAN 0/0 42.70; 3, Chalacorada (Christopher Surbey) CAN 0/4 38.29; 4, Eh All Or None (Jaclyn Duff) CAN 0/4 38.85; 5, Cat Balou (Tamie Phillips) CAN 0/4 39.15; 6, Ayma de la Demi Lune (Cara Anthony) USA 0/8 40.97; 7, Ruben LS la Silla (Vanessa Mannix) USA 0/8 43.03; 8, Hermelien vd Hooghoeve (Ali Ramsay) CAN 4/67.76; 9, Corette (Keean White) CAN 4/68.48; 10, World Judgement (Lisa Carlsen) CAN 4/73.02.