Four-star eventer Allison Springer has secured the ride on William Fox-Pitt’s 2012 London Olympic Games mount, Lionheart.
The gelding, who most recently finished fourth in the Luhmühlen CCI**** (Germany), was part of Great Britain’s silver-medal winning team in London. He'd previously finished third in his first CCI**** at Pau (France).
Springer was shopping in England for a two-star horse that she could develop in hopes of representing the United States at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) when she got the opportunity to try the 12-year-old Westphalian gelding (Lancer III—Silbrose, Sacramento Son).
“I ended up in William’s yard, and he asked me to sit on him,” she said. “I didn’t know if it would be fair for me to try him seeing as that certainly would be out of my budget! He said, ‘Well, you won’t know if it’s worth trying for unless you sit on him.’ I tried him, and he fit like a glove.”
Springer put together a syndicate, Team Lionheart Syndicate, LLC, but there are still shares available.
“William has been so accommodating and patient through every step of the process,” said Springer, Marshall, Va. “I’ve really felt like he wanted this horse to come my way, which is super. He’s mostly Thoroughbred blood, which I love. William is such a soft, balanced, correct, thoughtful rider, and he’s had this horse since he was 5.”
Springer, 39, plans to spend the winter getting to know Lionheart once he arrives in the United States on Nov. 23.
Check out a video William Fox-Pitt did in June 2012 to introduce Lionheart...
“I know we’ll have a lot of get-to-know-you in producing our own partnership, but I think for where we’re starting off, it’s pretty ideal,” Springer said.
“I need to thank the Event Horse Owners Task Force, which were really helpful in getting all this done,” she continued. “I’ve never done anything quite like this before. I think I’ve matured a lot as a competitor and as a horsewoman, and I’m really excited to have the opportunity to ride a horse like this. I hope I can help the U.S. get back on the podium.”
Lionheart is the second horse to join Springer’s stable this year as she purchased Copycat Chloe in January.
Her veteran four-star partner, Arthur, has had a quiet year of hacking and flatwork as she gears him toward the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** next spring.
“He’s jumping and leaping around on his trot sets, as he does,” she said with a laugh. “He looks great. We’ve had an overly conservative year. I think I probably could have done a bit more this fall, but it’s really important, because he’s going to be 15 next year, that I want to really keep him strong and healthy through Rio at least. This year was the right time to really take a bit of time with him. I’m pretty blessed with his career.”