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April 20, 2007

Clayton Fredericks Will Be The One To Beat This Year

Just as he has every year since the four-star began at Kentucky in 1998, James C. Wofford, who won Kentucky in 1981 and 1986, evaluates the starters.

The last Saturday in April is my favorite time of the year. The sun is out, the grass is green, the flowering trees are out, and Rolex is here again. Everyone in the horse world knows that when I say “Rolex,” that I am referring to the four-star event, not the watch. However, there would be no event without the generous help and sponsorship of Rolex Watch-USA and Allen Brill, president and CEO of Rolex-USA. I am sure that Janie Atkinson and her mafia at Equestrian Events, Inc., mention Rolex in their devotionals every night, and so should we all.

In a hustle-bustle 21st century world, to have the same sponsor for more than a quarter of a century is unique, and it is hard to say what our sport would look like if we had not caught Rolex’s eye. There will be a large contingent from Rolex here this weekend. If you run into one of them, make sure you mention to them how much we appreciate their support.

While you are at it, find a volunteer and thank him or her as well—it will take more than 1,000 volunteers to put on this event, and EEI quite literally couldn’t do it without them. If you might be interested in working as a volunteer at the 2010 World Championships, go to the Rolex website at www.rk3de.com, where you will find a link to www.feigames2010.org. The link will tell you how to sign up.

Staging the World Championships is an enormous undertaking, and work is already well underway to prepare the Kentucky Horse Park for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in 2010. The WEG at Aachen, Germany, last year were the best ever, and Kentucky is going to really have to get its ducks in a row to surpass it.

Part of this enormous preparation is the relocation of the trade fair, which takes up its new home this year in the Frederick L. Van Lennep Covered Arena. There will be shopping enough to satisfy the most hardened retail therapist, yet all the while you can keep your feet dry. Bring your spare credit cards, sensible shoes, and keep the black stripe up and to the left. Don’t be put off by this change, as it will only be a three-minute walk from the trade fair to the food court and the main arena. In addition, there will be an extensive network of trolleys and golf carts running throughout the Park.

Another first this year is that the seating at the main arena is all reserved seating and for the most part is sold out. Yes, you will need reserved seats for the disabled section as well as for the special seating for pets with people attached to a leash. If you are one of the unfortunates who did not get your request in on time, don’t despair. Stop by the event office just west of the main arena as there should still be a few tickets available. Failing that, you will be able to watch all the action on several jumbotrons located at the end of the food court and elsewhere on the grounds.

There is enough pressure here at Rolex anyway, but the presence of the U.S. Equestrian Federation team selectors brings even more pressure to bear on the riders. The Pan American Games will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this summer, and the selectors are here making their final evaluations for that team.
Many of the veterans will be away over the summer at the four-star in Luhmuhlen, Germany, so this is an excellent opportunity for new riders to gain invaluable international experience. Rolex is as big a stage as there is, and a lot of our “B” team will be trying to show their star quality to the selectors.

I am almost afraid to tell this story because it may make some of the riders here a little sick at their stomach, but when the cross-country course designer, Michael Etherington-Smith, made his last inspection visit recently, he remarked that the course was “pretty big.” One has to wonder which past years’ courses of Mike’s at the Horse Park, were a canter in the park? I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag about this year’s course, but I can tell you that the Sycamore Corners at 5AB will make sure the riders take their brains with them when they leave the start box.

Beautifully constructed as usual, the course follows the same basic track as last year. As part of the continuing 2010 effort, many of the ditch lines have had all-weather takeoffs and landings put down on both sides, and the Sunken Road is expanded to allow approaches from every possible angle. The ever-popular Head of the Lake, behind the main arena now features a mound in the middle of the lake, which will give new meaning to the phrase “getting kicked off the island.”

One thing I notice about Rolex is the steady increase of crowds each year, so if you want to watch the Head of the Lake in person, you will need to skip breakfast on Saturday, get there early, and stake out your spot.
The Normandy Bank rode a little easy last year (if anything at this level is ever easy), and this year Mike has added accuracy to the power, pace, balance, and courage that last year’s Bank tested. The final water jump includes the now-famous carved ducks, and I can assure you that Mike has been up to his usual tricks here. All in all, it will take a horse of superlative capabilities to win Rolex this year.

On a sadder note, several superlative horses are no longer with us, most notably Barbaro and Three Magic Beans. Horses have an amazing capacity to enrich our lives, and we miss them badly when they go. Still, I wrote Beanie’s rider, Nina Fout, to say that while I was saddened at the news about Beanie, I was sure that Beanie now knew that he was in heaven, because he did not have to do dressage anymore.

Eventing is a risk sport, and unfortunately some of our favorite riders are missing from the 2007 program. Debbie Atkinson and Kim Meier are both in long-term rehabilitation and will not be in the entry lists this year. Our prayers and best wishes go out to them and to all in the horse world who have suffered tragic accidents this past year.

In addition, Ralph Hill had a crashing fall a couple of weeks ago. He is going to be all right, but he will miss his first Rolex in more than a quarter of a century. Ralph has a connection with the crowd in the Horse Park that defies description—a large part of that connection is that anyone crazy enough to sing his way around the cross-country is worth watching.

Ralph has always given us a show, and the crowd here loves him for it and for the sheer joy of riding here that he brings. I have always teased Ralph that his musical selection varies a great deal depending on how well his horse is jumping, from “Rock and Roll Doctor” to “Rock of Ages.”

I think I can safely say that in 12 months you will hear Ralph whizzing down to the Head of the Lake singing “The Boys Are Back in Town.”

I hope that you can get here for the final veterinary inspection on Sunday morning. You will be surprised at how many people you see there that you know, and if you do not yet know them, you soon will, because you have so much in common with them. It is also a great time to see your four-legged heroes up close and personal, and to reassure yourself that “the look of eagles” is alive and well in the eventing world.

After the vet check, I always wander up to the hill above the infield, and stand for a moment, looking out over the park. It is the high point of the Park and might be the high point of my weekend every year. I always think about the great riders I have seen at the Kentucky Horse Park, and of the fabulous horses that I have ridden here, and how lucky I was to have been part of it, and how lucky I am now to be given another spring, and another Rolex. I’ll see you up there this Sunday.


DOBBIN: ch. g., 16.0 hands, 13 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred (Lyphilius—Deal Debbie Deal), owned by rider.
CORINNE ASHTON: age 45, Princeton, Mass.
In 2006, placed fifth in advanced at Millbrook (N.Y.), third in the CIC** at Stuart (N.Y.) and won the CCI** at the Virginia Horse Trials. This year, won an open intermediate at Pine Top (Ga.) and an advanced horse trials at Southern Pines (N.C.).


Dobbin is one of the smartest horses in the group this year. Although they suffered through a loss of confidence last year, this pair is back on form and should place in the top 20.

GRYFFINDOR: b. g., 16.3 hands, 13 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred (Country Light—Lani Molly), owned by rider.
KRISTIN BACHMAN: age 35, The Plains, Va.
In 2006, placed sixth in the CIC*** at The Fork (N.C.), completed the Rolex Kentucky CCI****, won the advanced division at the American Eventing Championships (N.C.) and at Morven Park (Va.) and placed sixth in the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.).


Gryffindor is one of my personal favorites, and I predict they will improve on last year’s performance to finish just inside the top 10. They won’t step into the spotlight here, but that will happen for them at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) this summer.

FLEECEWORKS STARLIGHT: br. m., 16.2 hands, 10 years, Irish-bred Thoroughbred cross (Cavalier—Fiona’s Butler), owned by rider and Elkins Wetherill, Plymouth Meeting, Pa.
STUART BLACK: age 47, Bluemont, Va.
This pair won the CCI**s at High Prairie (Colo.) and Radnor (Pa.) in 2004, placed 10th in the 2005 Foxhall CCI*** (Ga.) and eighth in the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.). In 2006, won the CIC*** at The Fork (N.C.).


Stuart Black is a past winner here, and Fleeceworks Starlight is a wonderful mare, but she lacks a bit of speed over big courses. They will put up a credible performance, but a few cross-country time faults will be enough to keep this pair out of the top 10.

FLEECEWORKS BLACKOUT: blk. g., 17.1 hands, 12 years, New Zealand-bred Thor-oughbred, by Omni-corp, owned by rider.
KRISTEN BOND: age 27, Ocala, Fla.

In 2006, they placed second in the advanced at Rocking Horse (Fla.), completed the CIC*** at The Fork (N.C.) and finished 28th at the Rolex Kentucky CCI****.

Kris needs to have three good days in order to place well here, and to impress the U.S. Equestrian Team selectors. Kris has a great opportunity this year, with the Pan Ams looming on the horizon. However, she must seize the moment.

RAMPANT LION: gr. g., 16.3 hands, 13 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred (Distinctive Pro—Paula Sue), owned by rider.
CARL BOUCKAERT (BEL): age 54, Chatsworth, Ga.
In 2005, under Wendy Lewis, placed eighth in the CIC*** at Red Hills (Fla.) and ninth in the Rolex Kentucky CCI****. Then purchased by Carl, Rampant Lion went on to complete the European Champion-ships at Blenheim (England) and placed 11th in the CCI*** at Strzegom (Germany). In 2006, completed the CIC***-W at Fontainbleau (France), the CCI*** at Saumur (France) and the World Equestrian Games (Germ-any). In March, placed seventh in the CIC*** at Barroca d’Alva (Portugal).


Carl’s extensive business commitments keep him from putting the time in the saddle that four-star excellence requires these days. That won’t prevent him from enjoying the ride, and you will see someone competing here at Rolex for the purest of all reasons—a sheer joy of the sport.

KILTARTAN: dk. b. g., 16.2 hands, 11 years, Irish-bred by Cavalier, owned by rider.
MOLLY BULL: age 31, Scottsville, Va.
In 2005, they placed third in advanced at Morven Park (Va.). In 2006, they completed the CIC***-W at The Fork (N.C.) and placed 10th in the Jersey Fresh CCI*** (N.J.).


This pair had some rocky moments last fall, but they seem to be working through them. If Molly will put her hands down and trust Kiltartan, all will be well. A clear cross-country round should put them in the top 20.

KEEP THE FAITH: b. g., 16.3 hands, 16 years, U.S.-bred Thorough-bred.
HANNAH SUE BURNETT: age 21, Finchville, Ky.
In 2006, this pair completed the Red Hills CIC** (Fla.), the NAJYRC CCI** (Va.), the ad-vanced at Richland Park (Mich.), placed second in the Poplar Place CIC** (Ga.) and 20th in the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.).


I love young riders—they always go forward, they don’t mess with their hands in the approach to their jumps, they bend over and they ride like they are going to live forever. This is their first attempt at Rolex, but Hannah Sue will finish with a credible first-timer’s round.

TASK FORCE: b. g., 16.1 hands, 16 years, Australian-bred Thoroughbred (Blue Vein—Chicola Craft), owned by J.C. Chester, Washington, D.C.
JAN BYYNY: age 39, Purcellville, Va.
In 2005, placed 10th in the advanced at Red Hills (Fla.), sixth in the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** and seventh in the FEI World Cup Final at Malmö (Sweden). In 2006, placed ninth in the Red Hills CIC***-W, 11th in the CIC***-W at The Fork (N.C.), won the Jersey Fresh CCI*** (N.J.) and represented the United States as an individual at the World Equestrian Games (Germany). In March, placed ninth in the Red Hills CIC***-W.


Task Force is entered for Badminton, so I am not sure we will see him here this year. If we do, I am sure they will place in the top 10, as their experiences at the World Games last summer will stand them in good stead.

WATERFRONT: ch. g., 16.1 hands, 12 years, British-bred Thoroughbred (Kuwait Beach—Irish Whisper), owned by Dr. and Mrs. Richard Byyny, Boulder, Colo.
JAN BYYNY: age 39, Purcellville, Va.
Placed fourth in the 2005 advanced horse trials at Red Hills (Fla.) and second in the CIC*** at Foxhall (Ga.). In 2006, garnered second-placed finishes at both CCI*** events in the United States—Jersey Fresh (N.J.) and Fair Hill (Md.).


Waterfront is a lovely horse, and he has an outstanding record,having been second three times at the three-star level. Rolex is a step up for him, but he is ready for it and this pair should finish in the top three.

NORTHERN SPY: b. g., 16.3 hands, 14 years, British-bred Thoroughbred (All Fair—Lavender Fair VII), owned by rider.
HEIDI WHITE CARTY: age 41, Aiken, S.C.
They placed eighth in the 2004 Rolex Kentucky CCI**** and completed the Burghley CCI**** (England). In 2005, they placed fifth in the Red Hills CIC***-W (Fla.), 10th in the Badminton CCI**** (England) and 10th in the FEI World Cup Final (Sweden). In 2006, they placed 10th in the CIC*** at The Fork (N.C.), were second at Rolex Kentucky, and were members of the U.S. team at the World Equestrian Games (Germany).


Northern Spy was second here last year and made everything Heidi asked him to do look easy. However, they under-performed at the World Games, and this pair is back with something to prove. Heidi needs to rediscover her trust in her horse and ride to please him, not to satisfy others.

KING STREET: b. g., 16.2 hands, 12 years, Irish-bred Irish Sport Horse, by Master Imp, owned by Jatial, Inc., and rider.
TIANA COUDRAY: age 19, Carmel Valley, Calif.
Last year, this pair placed fourth in the advanced at Twin Rivers (Calif.) and second in the Rebecca Farm CIC*** (Mont.) before completing the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.). In February, they placed fourth in the advanced at Ram Tap (Calif.) and second at Twin Rivers (Calif.) and won the CIC*** at Galway Downs (Calif.).


I haven’t seen this pair go this year. They went well at the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.) last fall (barring a glance-off cross-country), and they will be looking to build on that here in their first four-star outing.

PRIVATE TREATY: b. g., 16.1 hands, 11 years, Irish-bred, by Cavalier, owned by rider and Luke Allen, Oxford, Pa.
Bruce “BUCK“ DAVIDSON JR.: age 31, Pottersville, N.J.
In 2004, won the advanced at Millbrook (N.Y.), placed 11th in the Foxhall Cup CCI*** (Ga.) and eighth in the Over The Walls CIC*** (Mass.). In 2005, placed third in the advanced at Rocking Horse (Fla.), 11th in the Red Hills CIC*** (Fla.) and 13th in the Rolex Kentucky CCI****. In 2006, completed the Rolex Kentucky CCI****.


Buck always likes for me to say something nasty about him in this article, because he thinks he rides better when he’s mad. It hasn’t worked for him yet, but he keeps trying. So I’ll keep saying nasty things about him until it does work.

JAM: gr. m., 16.1 hands, 11 years, U.S.-bred Thorough-bred (Snar—Honey), owned by rider.
BRUCE DAVIDSON SR.: age 57, Unionville, Pa.
Placed 12th in the 2005 Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.). In 2006, earned the U.S. Eventing Association’s Mare of the Year title after finishing fourth at the Fair Hill CCI***. In February, won an advanced division at Rocking Horse (Fla.) and placed eighth in the Red Hills CIC*** (Fla.).


Bruce has come back from a series of falls that would have finished the career of lesser riders and is riding as well as I have seen him ride in years. Jam’s dressage is still a work in progress, but it is disconcerting for other riders to know that whatever dressage score this duo gets is the score they will finish on. This is one of the few partnerships here that will achieve this feat.

GORMLEY: ch. g., 16.0 hands, 16 years, Irish-bred Thoroughbred (Sandalay—Williwmonk), owned by rider.
KARIN DONCKERS (BEL): age 35, Minerhout, Belgium.
This pair finished 12th in the 2004 Olympics. In 2005, they placed fourth in the European Championships at Blen-heim (England) and eighth in the Luhmuhlen CCI**** (Germany). In March, completed the Fontainbleau CIC***-W  (France).


Karin is one of the most experienced riders in this field, and she is mounted on her Olympic veteran. However, she is always unlucky at the very top of the sport. I am afraid that something will conspire once again to keep Karin just out of the top 10.

BUENOS AIRES: b. g., 16.3 hands, 10 years, Canadian-bred Canadian Warm-blood (Bajazzo—Amphora), owned by rider.
SANDRA DONNELLY (CAN): age 37, Calgary, Alta., Canada.
In 2006, placed 10th in the Wit’s End CIC*** (Canada) and fourth in the Rebecca Farm CIC*** (Mont.) and completed the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.).


Sandra is a rookie at the four-star level, but she has the unusual ability to rarely repeat a mistake. She will make some mistakes here, but Buenos Aires is a nice horse, they are well coached, and they should do well enough to earn a trip to the Pan Ams for Canada later this summer. They will be competitive here in 2008.

CONNAUGHT: b. g., 16.1 hands, 14 years, Irish-bred Irish Sport Horse by Ballysimon, owned by Bruce Duchossois, Aiken, S.C.
PHILLIP DUTTON: age 43, West Grove, Pa.

In 2006, completed World Equestrian Games (Germany), finished fourth at the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** and fourth at the Red Hills CIC*** (Fla.). In 2005, finished third at the Red Hills CIC*** and fifth at the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.). This spring, finished seventh at the CIC***-W at The Fork (N.C.).

Connaught has steadily blossomed under Phillip’s skillful tutelage. He can be a bit of a handful, but I predict that Phillip will produce another impeccable performance. (Oh my, that is so much easier to say now that Phillip is riding for the USA!) This pair will be in the top 10 line-up on Sunday afternoon.

TRULUCK: b. g., 16.1 hands, 10 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred (Maha Baba—Grayfully), owned by Ann Jones, Coatesville, Pa., and Shannon Stimson, Middleburg, Va.
PHILLIP DUTTON: age 43, West Grove, Pa.

This pair won the Wit’s End CIC*** (Canada) last year and placed third in the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.). Truluck was the 2006 U.S. Eventing Association’s Horse of the Year.

Truluck will be competitive here next year, but he is still a bit of a work in progress, and his dressage will keep him out of the top 10.

ANTIGUA: b. g., 16.0 hands, 18 years, Australian-bred Thoroughbred (Match Winner—The Great Mistake), owned by Matt and Kerry Faudree, Midland, Texas.
WILL FAUDREE: age 25, Southern Pines, N.C.
In 2005, they completed the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton CCI**** (England), won the advanced at the American Eventing Championships (N.C.) and placed second in the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.). Last year they placed sixth in the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** and 19th at the World Equestrian Games (Germany) as a member of the U.S. team.

Nothing irritates a rider more than not doing his best. Will did not do his best at the World Equestrian Games last summer, and it will be interesting to see if he can bring his game back up to be competitive at this level. Based on what I have seen this spring, Will and Antigua are going well and should finish with a clean round just outside the top 10.

BEN ALONG TIME: b. g., 16.2 hands, 12 years, Irish-bred, by Cavalier, owned by Edwin and  Pam McAuley, Hong Kong, China.
CLAYTON FREDERICKS (AUS): age 39, Little Chevereu, Great Britain.
In 2006 this pair won the Chatsworth CIC***-W (Great Britain) and the Saumur CCI*** (France) before capturing the individual silver medal at the World Equestrian Games (Germany). In March, completed the Fontainebleau CIC***-W (France).


The lightbulbs in Clayton’s chandelier have finally turned on. I watched him at the World Equestrian Games last summer and was terribly impressed at his silver-medal performance. He has had just enough
trouble in his prep this spring to be sharp and focused, and I predict he will be the winner here at Rolex 2007.

KLIMAX: ch. g., 16.1 hands, 12 years, Australian Thoroughbred (Northern State—Express Mail), owned by Irish Oaks Farm, Roswell, Ga.
WERNER GEVEN (NED): age 46, Columbus, N.C.
In 2005, Klimax completed the Adelaide CCI**** (Australia) with Christopher Burton aboard. In 2006, he placed second in the Sydney CCI*** (Australia) with Stuart Tinney riding and fifth in the Adelaide CCI**** with Olivia Bunn up.


Klimax is a new horse for Werner, and I have not yet seen them go. Werner’s skills are easily capable of producing a clear round cross-country.

COURAGEOUS COMET: gr. g., 16.2 hands, 11 years, U.S.-
bred Thoroughbred (Comet Shine—Rosenelli), owned by Tom Holder, Mendota Heights, Minn.
BECKY HOLDER: age 38, Mendota Heights, Minn.
In 2006, placed fourth in the advanced at Pine Top (Ga.) and Southern Pines (N.C.), placed ninth in the CIC***-W at The Fork (N.C.), 13th in the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** and 15th in the Land Rover Burghley CCI**** (England).


This is a fabulous horse, and he is going better this year than he was last year. Becky was unlucky in the show jumping here last year, but that was a one-off, and I expect her to finish in the top three.

DIRECT MERGER: b. g., 16.1 hands, 11 years, Irish-bred Thoroughbred, owned by rider.
JONATHAN HOLLING: age 30, Ocala, Fla.
In 2005, placed fifth in the Poplar Place CIC*** (Ga.), 17th in the Jersey Fresh CCI*** (N.J.) and completed the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.). In February, placed second in an advanced at Rocking Horse (Fla.).


Direct Merger is a nice horse that is well-ridden. However, he lacks a little speed over big courses and this will be enough to keep him out of the top 10.

LION KING II: ch. g., 17.0 hands, 13 years, British-bred Thoroughbred (Shaab—Granny Smith), owned by Jennifer Holling, Ocala, Fla.
JONATHAN HOLLING: age 30, Ocala, Fla.
In 2002, placed 11th in the Foxhall CCI*** (Ga.) and 17th in the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.). In 2003, placed 19th at the Rolex Kentucky CCI****. In 2006, placed fifth in the Jersey Fresh CCI*** (N.J.) and seventh in the Fair Hill CCI. In early March, won the Red Hills CIC***-W (Fla.).


I had been waiting impatiently for Jon’s results to match his talent. Starting last fall, Jon and Lion King started to go like the partnership I always thought they could be. I expect this pair to finish in the top five.

JUST FUN STUFF: b. g., 16.3 hands, 12 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred (Ernie’s Scout—Four Flora), owned by rider.
MELISSA HUNSBERGER: age 24, Purcellville, Va.
In 2006, placed eighth in the advanced at Morven Park (Va.), 15th in the CIC*** at The Fork (N.C.) and 15th at the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.).


Melissa is one of our riders who has labored for years to get to this level. Everyone who knows her is delighted with her success. Although she is a rookie at this level, she will go well and finish in the top 20 with a clear round cross-country.

APACHE SAUCE: ch. g., 16.2 hands, 11 years, British-bred Thoroughbred (Endoli—Saucy Secret), owned by Gillian Jones, Tedburn St. Mary, Devon, Great Britain.
MARY KING (GBR): age 45, Sidmouth, Devon, Great Britain.
In 2005, they placed ninth in the Pau CCI*** (France) and seventh in the Kreuth CCI*** (Germany). In 2006, placed 10th in the Barbury Castle CIC*** (Ireland).


This is Mary’s first ride here. We are fortunate to see one of the most successful, and nicest event riders in the world finally compete here at the Kentucky Horse Park. Apache Sauce is a little green at this level, and Mary will be satisfied with a clear round cross-country and a top-20 final placing.

CAHIR: b. g., 16.3 hands, 11 years, Irish-bred by Gildawn Diamond, owned by rider and Linda Libby, Sussex, N.J.
EMILEE LIBBY: age 19, Sussex, N.J.
In 2006, they placed fifth in advanced at Poplar Place (Ga.), eighth in the Jersey Fresh CCI*** (N.J.) and 12th in the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.). In February, placed sixth in advanced at Rocking Horse (Fla.).


Emilee went well last year at the three-star level and should go well in her first attempt at Rolex. Their goal this year should be a clear round cross-country with a few time faults.

ALL’S FAIR: b. g., 16.0 hands, 15 years, British-bred Thoroughbred (Krisinsky—Ragdale), owned by rider.
ASHLEY MACVAUGH: age 36, South Hamilton, Mass.
In 2006, they placed second in advanced at Poplar Place (Ga.) and 20th at Rolex Kentucky. In March, placed fourth in advanced intermediate at Pine Top (Ga.) and sixth in advanced at Southern Pines (N.C.).


While  Ashley is an old hand here at Rolex these days, she has not yet been able to produce the sort of form that would catapult her to the next level. However, she will produce a stylish clear round on Saturday.

EL PRIMERO: b. g., 15.2-hands, 12 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred (Dr. Dan Eyes—Classic Allure), owned by rider.
SARA MITTLEIDER: age 21, Kuna, Idaho.
In 2005, they placed 11th at Rolex Kentucky, their first four-star. In 2006, they placed 10th in advanced at Poplar Place (Ga.), 17th in the CIC***-W at The Fork (N.C.) and 14th in the Rolex Kentucky CCI.


I have not seen Sara go this year, but she went well here at Rolex last year, and I am sure that with her talent, she will improve on last year’s performance.

JENGA: b. g., 16.1 hands, 14 years, British-bred Thoroughbred (Brigadier Linden—Glebes Scallywag), owned by rider.
BONNIE MOSSER: age 44, Unionville, Pa.
In 2005, won the CIC*** at Poplar Place (Ga.) and completed the Luhmuhlen CCI**** (Germany). In 2006, just out of the money at Rolex Kentucky, in 21st, and ended the year with a strong 11th-placed finish at the Land Rover Burghley CCI**** (England).


Bonnie is a very solid competitor at this level, and I am certain that she and Jenga will finish in the top 10.

DUNRATHS ALTO: dk. br. g., 17.2 hands, 16 years, Irish-bred (No Alto—Ballarin Lady), owned by rider.
LAUREN O’BRIEN: age 41, Southern Pines, N.C.
In 2004, completed the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.) and in 2005 placed seventh in the advanced at the American Eventing Championships (N.C.). In 2006, completed the Rolex Kentucky CCI****. In March, placed fourth in an advanced division at Pine Top (Ga.).


This is a formidable combination, but Dunraths Alto is of an age where horses start to lose a little speed at the top end. Their excellent dressage and clean show jumping will not quite be good enough to return this pair in the top 10 this year.

THEODORE O’CONNOR: ch. g., 14.2 hands, 12 years, U.S.-bred Sport Pony (Whitty Boy—Chelsea’s Melody), owned by Sportponies Unlimited, Ocala, Fla.
KAREN O’CONNOR: age 49, The Plains, Va.
In 2006, placed sixth in advanced at Poplar Place (Ga.), seventh in the CIC*** at The Fork (N.C.), ninth in the Jersey Fresh CCI*** (N.J.), fifth in advanced at the American Eventing Championships (N.C.) and completed the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.). In April, won the CIC*** at The Fork.


Karen’s superpony is finally making his first appearance at the four-star level. He has had a good preparation this spring and has learned to jump big fences without big efforts. However, I expect Karen to take an educational rather than competitive approach to Teddy’s first weekend here. Karen and her multitude of fans will be delighted when “Teddy” places in the top 20.

UPSTAGE: b. g., 15.1 hands, 16 years, New Zealand-bred Thoroughbred (Touching Wood—Golly D’Ore), owned by Mr. and Mrs. Richard Thompson, Malvern, Pa.
KAREN O’CONNOR: age 49, The Plains, Va.
In 2006, placed fifth in advanced at Poplar Place (Ga.), 13th in the CIC***-W at The Fork (N.C.), fourth in the CIC***-W at Red Hills (Fla.) and 12th at the Rolex Kentucky CCI****. They represented the United States as individuals at the World Equestrian Games (Germany).


Last year Karen’s riding improved immeasurably with the surfacing of the rumors surrounding her tattoo, or lack thereof. While I am sure we have not yet gotten to the bottom of this, it will not stop Karen and Woodie from finishing just outside the top 10.

CRITICAL DECISION: b. g., 17.1 hands, 11 years, U.S.-bred warmblood-Thoroughbred cross, by Consul, owned by Jessica Ransehousen, Unionville, Pa.
MISSY RANSEHOUSEN: age 36, Unionville, Pa.
In 2006, placed 16th in advanced at Plantation Field (Pa.), 12th at Morven Park (Va.) and 11th in the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.). This spring, placed second in advanced at Rocking Horse II (Fla.).


Missy Ransehousen is an experienced competitor, but she will take a conservative approach to Critical Decision’s first four-star experience. Her goal this year will be to produce a stylish, quiet clear round cross-country.

NAPALM: gr. g., 16.3 hands, 11 years, Irish-bred, by The Joker, owned by rider, Kelly Plitz and Tracey G. Newman, Port Perry, Ont.
IAN ROBERTS (CAN): age 48, Port Perry, Ont.
In 2005, completed the Bromont CCI** (Que.), placed fifth in advanced at Pine Top (Ga.) and 22nd in the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.). In 2006, placed fifth in an advanced at Poplar Place (Ga.), 10th in the CIC***-W at Red Hills (Fla.) and finished 22nd at the Rolex Kentucky CCI****.


Ian is the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of eventing. If he leaves the start box riding quietly and smoothly forward, he can compete with the best of them. If he is skidding around in the saddle like a hog on ice, I can promise things will come unstuck.

FLAME: ch. g., 14 years, Australian-bred Thoroughbred, by Sanction, owned by rider and Rozzie Ryan, Lochnivar, New South Wales, Australia.
HEATH RYAN (AUS): age 49, Lochnivar, New South Wales, Australia.
Placed fourth in the Sydney CCI*** (Australia) and won the Adelaide CCI**** (Australia) in 2006. In March, finished 15th at the Albury CIC*** (Australia).


Heath is an Olympic veteran on a horse that won the four-star in Adelaide (Australia) last fall. He should go well here, and I expect them to finish in the top five.

KOYUNA SUN MAGIC: ch. g., 16.2 hands, 11 years, Australian Thoroughbred (Koyuna Majestic Supreme—Lady Dorothy), owned by rider.
WENDY SCHAEFFER (AUS): age 32, Hahndorf, Australia.
In 2005, won the Sydney CCI*** (Australia) and placed sixth in the Adelaide CCI**** (Australia). In 2006, placed seventh in the Melbourne CCI*** (Australia). In March, was second in the Albury CIC*** (Australia).


Wendy is no stranger to four-star competition, but this is her horse’s first four-star attempt. I think she will settle for a quiet round and be delighted with a top-20 placing.

CAVALDI: b. g., 16.1 hands, 12 years, Irish-bred Irish Sport Horse (Cavalier Royale—Catell), owned by rider and Bill and Janet Schmolze, Whitehouse Station, N.J.
KRISTIN SCHMOLZE: age 24, Whitehouse Station, N.J.
Placed third in an advanced division at Morven Park (Va.) in 2004. In 2005, placed fifth in advanced at Poplar Place (Ga.), eighth in the Chatsworth CIC*** (Ga.) and 12th in the Rolex Kentucky CCI****.


I have not seen this pair compete this year. However, their past performances tell me that if they are on form, they will make the course here look easy.

WINSOME ADANTE: b. g., 16.0 hands, 14 years, British-bred Thoroughbred (Saunter—Justwith Genoa), owned by Plain Dealing Farm, Inc., Scottsville, Va.
KIM SEVERSON: age 33, Scottsville, Va.
Three-time winners of the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** in 2002, 2004 and 2005, members of the 2002 gold-medal team at the World Equestrian Games (Spain), finishing sixth individually, won the individual silver medal in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and were members of the U.S. bronze-medal team.


Kim told me that if “Dan” was going well this spring, that she would take him to Badminton. Based on her results, I expect this pair to be in England by the time you read this and predict that they will place in the top three at Badminton.

UN: br. m., 16.0 hands, 12 years, Irish-bred Irish Sport Horse (Cavalier—Never Ever), owned by rider.
JANE SLEEPER: age 57, East Fallowfield, Pa.
Placed ninth in the 2006 Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.). In March, placed third in advanced at Pine Top (Ga.).


Jane has been going well this spring and should produce a stylish clear round across country.

FULL CIRCLE II: br. g., 16.3 hands, 13 years, British-bred Thoroughbred (Ring Of Ford—Blakes Hollow), owned by The Dutchess of Devon-shire, Bakewell, Derbyshire, Great Britain.
IAN STARK (GBR): age 53, Selkirk, Borders, Scotland.
Won the Auchinleck CNC*** (Germany) in 2006 and placed seventh in the CIC*** at Thirlestane Castle (Scotland) and 13th in the Boekelo CCI*** (the Netherlands).


Jackson Browne has a wonderful song about “the brave and crazy wings of youth.” However, Ian no longer rides on those brave and crazy wings. In addition, Full Circle is making his first attempt at this level, and I expect Ian to concentrate on jumping rather than speed.

MR. BIG: br. g., 15.0 hands, 16 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred (Touch Of Pleasure—Maggaty), owned by rider.
JULIA STEINBERG: age 46, West Grove, Pa.
Placed sixth in the advanced at Millbrook (N.Y.) in 2005 and 14th in the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.). In 2006, placed seventh in the advanced at the American Eventing Championships (N.C.) and 10th in the Fair Hill CCI. In March, placed sixth in advanced at Pine Top (Ga.).


This is a terrific partnership. Mr. Big has a brain like Einstein and a heart as big as all outdoors. They will leave a few points on the table after dressage, but their jumping won’t leave much to be desired. I expect this pair to finish in the top 20.

TANGLEMAN: liver ch. g., 17.0 hands, 14 years, British-bred Thoroughbred (Matinee—Spartangle), owned by rider and Sir Jonathan and Lady Sue Clark, Malpas, Cheshire, England.
POLLY STOCKTON (GBR): age 33, Malpas, Cheshire, England.
Placed 22nd in the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton CCI**** (England) in 2006.


Polly is one of Great Britain’s most experienced competitors, and Tangleman is a very experienced horse. However, I think a few time faults across country will be enough to keep Polly out of the top 10.

NO IT TISSANT: gr. g., ,16.3 hands, 15 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred (Admiral’s Flag—Yes Tis), owned by rider.
LYNN SYMANSKY: age 24, Vienna, Va.
In 2003, finished 10th at the Pan American Eventing Championships (Md.). In 2006, finished 19th at the Red Hills CIC-W*** and 23rd at The Fork CIC***-W (N.C.). This spring, was 10th at The Fork CIC***-W.


When Lynn first entered “Fergus” here, he was still a steel-grey. He is almost white now, and possibly Lynn has plucked out a few premature grey hairs of her own, courtesy of Fergus, but they are finally making their debut at Rolex. Lynn’s hardest taks will be to produce an acceptable dressage score. Everything after that will be easy for this pair.

LE SAMURAI: b. g., Holsteiner-Thorough-bred cross, owned by Becky and Jerome Broussard, Whitefish, Mont.
AMY TRYON: age 37, Duvall, Wash.
With Robyn Fisher aboard in 2005, placed fourth in the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.) and won the CIC*** at Rebecca Farm (Mont.). In 2006, placed second in advanced at Twin Rivers (Calif.) and won the Galway Downs CIC*** (Calif.). With Amy aboard last year, placed fifth at the Blenheim CCI*** (England).


I am looking into my crystal ball here, and what I see is a partnership in the making. Le Samurai’s dressage has improved out of all recognition, and Amy is finally getting him to settle in the bridle in the approach to his fences. The massive cross-country jumps here will actually make Le Samurai easier to ride, and I expect to see Amy finish in the top five. Having said that, if a “dark horse” wins Rolex this year, it will be Le Samurai.

RONALDO: gr. g., 16.3 hands, 13 years, New Zealand-bred Sport Horse (Oldenburg—Cedarburg), owned by Katherine Pratt, Harwood, Md.
SHARON WHITE: age 33, Summit Point, W.Va.
Placed 12th in the advanced at Plantation Field (Pa.) in 2006, ninth in the CIC*** at Poplar Place (Ga.), fourth in advanced at Morven Park (Va.) and 19th in the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.). In March, placed 10th in advanced at Southern Pines (N.C.).


Sharon is making her return to Rolex 18 months after a crashing fall that would have ended the career of normal riders. Not only is she back, but she is better than ever. “Bobby” is probably the scopiest horse here, and he can easily finish on his dressage score. She won’t win here this year, but keep your eye on this pair.

OCOTILLO: b. g., 17.0 hands, 16 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred (Roxbury Park—Miss Paula), owned by Team Ocotillo LLC, Lexington, Ky.
CATHY WIESCHHOFF: age 48, Lexington, Ky.
In 2005, completed the North Georgia CIC***, placed 17th at the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** and won advanced at Wayne (Ill.). In 2006, placed 11th in advanced at Rocking Horse (Fla.) and ninth in advanced at Poplar Place (Ga.). In March, placed 12th in advanced at Poplar Place (Ga.).


Cathy’s progress around the Horse Park can be tracked by the roar of approval from the crowd as she works her way around the course. A local favorite, Cathy will delight her many fans with a steady, clear round.

SLOOPY: b. g., 16.1 hands, 15 years, U.S-bred Thoroughbred (Two Davids—Nearly Sloopy), owned by rider, Robert Boeck-man and Mary Delton, Honeoye Falls, N.Y.
JOHN WILLIAMS: age 42, Southern Pines, N.C.
Placed sixth in 2005 in the Foxhall Cup CCI*** (Ga.). Placed second in an advanced division at Pine Top (Ga.) in 2006, third in advanced at Southern Pines (N.C.), second in advanced at The Fork (N.C.) and 10th in the Rolex Kentucky CCI****.


John got off to a slow start this spring, and I expect him to use his horseman’s intuition on the day. Sloopy is a solid performer at this level and will finish just outside the top 10.

KOYUNA AZGARD: ch. g., 16.2 hands, 14 years, Thoroughbred, owned by rider.
RYAN WOOD (AUS): age 24, West Grove, Pa.
In 2006, placed ninth in the Warwick CIC***-W (Australia), fifth in the CIC***-W at Melbourne (Australia), fifth in the CIC*** at Goulburn (Australia) and eighth in the Adelaide CCI**** (Australia).


While I have not yet seen this partnership compete, their record looks like Ryan has the form of a 20th century rider. He starts out behind in the dressage and then catches up with his speed and jumping skills. However, this is a 21st century event, and average dressage scores will not get riders into the top 10 at Rolex.

BUCKINGHAM PLACE: b. g., 16.0 hand, 12 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred (Buckaroo—Old Maid), owned by rider.
TARA ZIEGLER: age 22, Lincoln University, Pa.
In 2006, placed seventh in advanced at Plantation Field (Pa.), eighth in advanced at Fair Hill (Md.), completed the Maui Jim Wayne Horse Trials (Ill.) and the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.).


This is Tara’s first trip around Rolex, but if she goes the way she has been riding in her spring preparation, she should jump a clean round and win the imaginary trophy that I award every year, the “Whodat?” which is a trophy I award for the best-placed, least-known rider.

[This roster represents the horses entered as of April 11. Withdrawals and additions may have occured since then.]
 
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