Wellington, Fla.—Feb. 3
There are plenty of Olympic riders and horses who have jumped around the International Ring at the Winter Equestrian Festival. But tonight we’ll see two unexpected Olympic gold medalists in the ring in the Great Charity Challenge during Week 4 of the 12-week series.
Eventing Olympic gold medalist Phillip Dutton, aboard Z, will be joined by his daughter Olivia Dutton, on eventing Olympic gold medalist Mr. Medicott. Phillip’s longtime friend and sponsor Caroline Moran will be rounding out the team in her fourth Charity Challenge, tacking up Jackson for the event.
The Great Charity Challenge, a costume team relay competition, will provide $1.5 million to 29 charities throughout Palm Beach County. The Moran/Dutton team will be riding for the Elder Affairs Program at Catholic Charities Of Palm Beach. Riders (and their horses) get costumed up for the affair, and they’ll be dressing up with the theme of “Singing In The Rain.”
Moran will ride the first section of the course, set at 1.10 meters, then Olivia will head out over the 1.20-meter course, with Phillip anchoring the squad over the 1.30-meter section.
While Moran is a regular fixture in the Wellington show scene, Phillip and Olivia spend most of their winters in Aiken, South Carolina.
“They came down two years ago for the [Asheville International Airport Wellington Eventing Showcase], which was the same week as the Great Charity Challenge, and Phillip loved it,” said Moran. “I told him he should come back next year to do it. Last year Phillip and his daughter Lee Lee [Jones] were supposed to be my teammates.”
Jones sustained a traumatic brain injury in a riding accident at the end of 2016, and she and Phillip had to pull out.
“She’s doing good,” said Phillip of her progress. “It’s slow but steady progress. You certainly start to appreciate every little improvement rather than having any expectations. But she’s a real fighter, and we’re all very proud of her.”
Olivia, 16, just got the ride on Mr. Medicott over the summer. That horse has a storied career, starting with German rider Frank Ostholt, who won team gold with him at the 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong and took him to the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (Kentucky). He made his next trip to the Olympic Games (Great Britain) with Karen O’Connor in 2012 where they finished ninth, and Phillip took over the ride in 2013, most recently finishing fourth at the 2017 Rolex Kentucky CCI****.
Irish Sport Horse Mr. Medicott (Cruising—Slieveluachra, Edmund Burke) is 19 now, and a perfect partner for Olivia. She won her first training run on him at the Maryland Horse Trials, and most recently finished second at the Virginia horse trials in the junior preliminary division. Next up for them? Hopefully earning an invitation to the Adequan FEI North American Junior and Young Rider Championships (Montana).
Olivia is pretty sure the biggest challenge for her and “Cave” will be the atmosphere. She took him to two classes over at the Palm Beach Masters where he puffed way up with the crowds and noise.
“He’s quite lazy at home, but at the shows he gets pretty excited,” said Olivia. “He’s such a great horse. At our first event I think he was a little confused because the jumps were so much smaller. But he’s been so much fun, and he’s the best teacher.”
Phillip, who won individual bronze at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, will be aboard Z, who most recently finished second at the Ocala CIC*** (Florida).
Phillip and Olivia made their way down from their winter base in Aiken to Wellington to brush up on dressage with Scott Hassler and show jumping with Richard Picken.
“This was an investment in the horses’ training and hopefully for the year, a couple weeks of intensive work, so we’ve been planning this for a while,” said Phillip.
The team goes 28th in the order out of 29 riders, and the class starts at 6:30 ET.
“I’m excited to have an Olympian and an Olympic horse on my team,” said Moran. “It’ll be fun for us to do together, fun for them to try something new, and the crowd will be excited. Plus it’s all for a great cause.”
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