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June 17, 2014

Martin Shares A Mount For Friend And Country

Phillip Dutton rode Boyd Martin's usual mount Trading Aces around the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** this spring, and now Martin and his owners have said Dutton could ride the horse at the upcoming World Games. Photo by Lisa Slade.
With top finishes at the Luhmühlen CCI**** (Germany) behind them, friends and competitors Phillip Dutton and Boyd Martin wasted no time looking ahead—and collaborating—for their next goal: a team medal at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy this fall. With that venture in mind, on June 15 they asked the U.S. Equestrian Federation’s eventing selection committee to consider longtime team anchor Dutton, whose top mount Mr. Medicott incurred an injury at his spring four-star that will keep him out of the World Games, as a potential partner for one of Martin's mounts, Trading Aces.Dutton already has a good partnership with the 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse owned by the Trading Aces Syndicate. After Martin broke his leg at the The Cloud 11-Gavilan North LLC Carolina International CIC (N.C.) in March, Dutton stepped in and rode "Oscar" to eighth place at the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** for his longtime friend. “It’s a very unusual situation,” said Martin, who has two other top horses in contention for the team: new star Shamwari 4 and his 2012 Olympic mount, Otis Barbotiere. “I talked to the owners of [Trading Aces], and we’d like to make the horse available for both Phillip and myself, which gives the U.S. team a lot more options."Phillip rode Trading Aces at Rolex this year with probably six rides on him before he competed him; he rode him on the flat four times and jumped him twice, and he gets in the top eight," Martin continued. “At the end of the day, the owners of Trading Aces, myself as a competitor and Phillip as a competitor are only interested in what’s the best chance of winning a medal at [the World Games], and we believe Trading Aces is a horse of such quality that he should be available to use for me or Phillip."Dutton finished seventh at Luhmühlen, June 12-15, with Mighty Nice, his other potential World Games mount. Martin finished third and 15th on Shamwari 4 and Otis Barbotiere, respectively. “It’s an incredibly generous offer by both Boyd and the owners of Trading Aces,” said Dutton, 54. “I’m incredibly touched by their generosity. We just have to see what the selectors think. Trading Aces is an incredible horse, and I got along well with him at Kentucky. Obviously I just had a good performance on Mighty Nice, so he’s a strong contender as well.” But Martin’s decision to pass over Trading Aces’ reins, if it comes to that, also has a lot to do with his unique relationship with Dutton. Martin and his wife, Silva Martin, were initially based out of Dutton’s True Prospect Farm in West Grove, Pa., when they made the move from Australia in 2007. Dutton, an Australian national himself, helped the couple get their business off the ground. “Personally, I think Phillip’s always been a father figure for me and Silva moving to the States,” said Boyd, 34. “I’m sure part of that is that we’ve actually gone through the same thing of leaving our friends and family and business in Australia and turning up to a new jump here and starting over.” In 2011, when a fire destroyed the barn Martin leased at True Prospect, killing six horses, Dutton was on hand to help Boyd rescue his four-star horse Neville Bardos. Both went back into the flames against orders from the firemen on hand. “We’ve been through good times and bad times; we’ve been on teams together for the [World Games] and the Olympic Games, and we’ve also been together through tragedy with the barn fire. “All that aside, I think Phillip’s a brilliant rider,” Boyd continued. “I wouldn’t do this for any old rider. I think he’s one of the best riders in the world, and to this day I’m still learning stuff off him. When I think back on all the wonderful things that Phillip’s done for me—I think I was lucky enough to meet him—this would be one thing that I could repay him with.” Boyd rallied a syndicate together in 2012 to purchase Trading Aces, then a successful two-star horse, with the clear intention of representing the United States in four-star competitions. But his focus is on the bigger picture. “He’s a very sound horse, a very fit horse,” said Boyd of Trading Aces (Coevers Diamond Boy—Ballyvannon Beauty VII, Leaburg). “I might not be able to compete him at a big event for the rest of the year, but I think it’s what’s best for the country. And it’s not to say that he’s going to get picked. I’m expecting that Shamwari would be the selectors’ first pick for me, and Mighty Nice the first pick for Phillip, so he might be a backup horse for both of us. “The way I understand it from Joanie Morris [the USEF managing director of eventing], two riders can be named on the one horse,” continued Boyd, Cochranville, Pa. “So I think that’s why we talked to the selectors [on June 15] of making this option available—not to say Phillip and I are going to get named on any horse—but it was so that at least there are different scenarios and options.” Morris was reluctant to weigh in on the matter before a final decision is made, but she added: “It’s an incredibly generous gesture on behalf of Boyd and the owners of the horse.”The final list will be announced before June 20.
 
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