By Sydney Lowe
FEI competition concluded at the second week of the 2021 Desert Circuit with the $137,000 FEI 1.55m 238.2.2, sponsored by Brown Advisory, in the Grand Prix Stadium. Thirty-three horse and rider combinations took on the challenge presented by course designer Alan Wade (IRE) and it was his Irish counterpart, Nicky Galligan (IRE) and his own Javas Miss Jordan who rose to the top, claiming the blue ribbon and their first career FEI Grand Prix win together. Galligan and his mare crossed the timers in 34.73 seconds.
Second place honors were awarded to Erin Davis-Heineking (USA) and Leonie (Leo Von Faelz x Castella), a twelve-year-old Oldenburg mare owned by October Hill Sales Limited, with a quick jump-off time of 35.88 seconds. Alec Lawler (USA) and For Gold (For Fashion x S-heralda) crossed the timers at 37.82 seconds and claimed the final podium position for their efforts. For Gold is a ten-year-old Holsteiner gelding owned by Lawler.
Javas Miss Jordan is a twelve-year-old Irish Sport Horse mare owned by Galligan. ‘Jordan’ has a very special place in Galligan’s heart as he has been developing the mare since she was four. “This is our first FEI Grand Prix win. Not just hers, not just mine, but ours as a unit. It is pretty special. It is probably one of the proudest moments of my life,” praised Galligan. “I have had this horse since she was four-years-old and she just leaves me dumbfounded every time. She is just so special and she really gave me everything today.”
Round one of the class consisted of technical questions with tight roll backs and stout combination lines. “I actually did eight after the triple combination where a lot [of riders] were doing six or seven just because I wanted to sit her back on her hocks and regroup for the last line as it was quite a difficult line,” explained Galligan. “Alan Wade; one of the best course designers in the world, designing fair questions, questions everywhere. I think the course was quite meaty today; really scopy. You had to do a lot of jumping, nothing was given, so I am very pleased to have passed that test.”
Galligan and Jordan were one of the five horse and rider pairings to return for the shortened course. Everyone in the jump-off put their best foot forward, but it was Galligan who was able to pull out the win. “My horse is never one that I really leave strides out on. She is a little bit down hill conformationally so I always need to make sure I have her in the bridle on the last step and on her hocks. My plan, always when I get to the jump-off with her, is have fun and just be a kid really,” added Galligan. “I did seven there in the first line and really pulled hard on that left rein and turned as quick as I could and just kept kicking. I think she was incredible for me into the double. I really jumped from the right standard of the oxer to the left of the vertical. I thought there she was just phenomenal.”
About the Desert International Horse Park
With nearly 1.3 million square feet of competition and riding space, the Desert International Horse Park is one of the largest equestrian facilities in North America. Offering multiple weeks of world-class equestrian competition from October through March, the facility is a destination location for thousands of equestrians, their horses, family and friends for several months annually. Competitors from all over the world travel to Thermal, CA to not only compete but to enjoy everything the desert has to offer.