Thursday, May. 23, 2024

James C. Wofford Handicaps The Rolex Kentucky CCI**** and Modified Division Field

Everybody looks like they have a lot on their minds this year. Event director Janie Atkinson runs one of the best events in the world, and the pressure to improve on that is enormous.


Everybody looks like they have a lot on their minds this year. Event director Janie Atkinson runs one of the best events in the world, and the pressure to improve on that is enormous. But Janie and her organizing committee continue to improve on all of the millions of details that go into making this event the unique occasion that it is.I know that Janie would be the first to mention the role that the main sponsor, Rolex, has played in establishing this event as the premier event of its type in our calendar. This event literally would not exist without the generous support of Rolex. Keep that in mind this Christmas! Speaking of minds, Mike Etherington-Smith has one of the best in the business. But he’s got a lot on it too, this year. He has to produce a four-star event, which is the pinnacle of any course builder’s career. Because of the Olympics, Mike is also building a special course for a modified CCI, to help our federation’s selectors choose a team. This course is being designed to duplicate, as much as possible, the speeds, distances and types of efforts that our team riders will see in Athens this summer at the Olympics. This format has never, ever been used before, so Mike has the addi-tional pressure not just of building a course to test Olympic-level riders, but he also has to design this course that will help our selectors choose the team for Athens. That is a nerve-wracking exercise at the best of times. And I’ll bet it’s not helping Mike’s sleep patterns to know that he will be the first designer to ever build one of these courses.
Janie and Mike aren’t the only ones with a lot on their minds. The USEF coach, Capt. Mark Phillips, has a faraway look in his eye these days. The competitive level around the world continually improves, and the chances are that we may run an Olympic team in Athens comprised almost entirely of first-time Olympians.That’s one of those good news/bad news scenarios. It’s good news for Mark that we have such a depth of talent in this country. But it’s also worrisome, because with rookies, the coach never, ever really knows until it actually happens.And, of course, the riders know what’s at stake. A good performance at Rolex will make you famous. And a bad one will send you home with your tail between your legs.So, if you’re having trouble sleeping at night, just start making a mental list of the problems that Janie, Mark, Mike and the riders are facing, and you’ll soon be sleeping like a baby.Those of us lucky enough to be at the Kentucky Horse Park this week will only have one problem-where to look next. There will be famous athletes performing at Olympic levels, hungry rookies hoping to knock the established riders off their perch, and fabulous horses.The trade fair has been improved and expanded yet again this year, and there will be enough of what my daughters refer to as, “retail therapy” to satisfy the most hardened of shoppers. I hope you enjoy the spectacle and that you let the horses and riders, the officials, organizers and sponsors, but most especially the volunteers, know how much you enjoy your weekend here at the Kentucky Horse Park.Having said that, now it’s time for me to put my money where my mouth is.You know, when the Olympics roll around, the horses, the riders and the coaches have to get braver. Journalists should do the same, so I’m going to get really brave and not only tell you who I think is going to win the two competitions here, but also who’s going to be on our team and how our team is going to fare in Athens this summer.First of all, in the four-star CCI I expect Kim Severson and Winsome Adante to win for the second time. My prediction is that John Williams and Carrick will win the Olympic selection trials in a nail-biting, heartbreaking cliff-hanger of a finish.In my view of our future, the selectors will be so impressed with their performances that they will choose both John and Kim for the Olympics. Joining them will be Karen O’Connor on Upstage, Amy Tryon on Poggio II, and Gina Miles on McKinlaigh.This year in Athens every team gets to start five riders, with the best three scores to count. There is a good chance that the gold-medal team will have a combined score of less than 120 penalties. That’s the total of their best three scores! I remember a time when I had 120 penalties, and that was just in the dressage.I predict that the Brits are going to narrowly beat the United States for the team gold medal, with the French being narrowly beaten into the bronze-medal position. That’s good news, but even better is that for the first time in a quarter century we have a serious chance at having two U.S. riders in the individual medals-Kim Severson and John Williams. So, fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be quite a show.Every year at Rolex I award the “Whodat?” award for the best-placed, least-known horse-and-rider combination. This year’s winner of the “Whodat?” award will be Heather Morris with Rebel Express.

Just as he has since 1998, the winner of the Rolex Kentucky CCI in 1981 and 1986, who’s now the Canadian team coach, evaluates the event’s entries. Nicole Lever Photo
Fairfax: ch. g., 16.3 hands, 14 years, Irish Thoroughbred, by Sun Valley-Goban Spur, owned by rider and Mrs. N. Antikatzidis, Rousset, France.
Heidi Antikatzidis (GRE): age 27, Rousset, France.
Placed fourth in the Badminton CCI**** (England) in 2003. Antikatzidis finished sixth individually in the 2000 Olympics.
I haven’t seen any of the European entries run this year, but I can tell you that Heidi is a seasoned competitor, and if she brings a horse this far it will be ready to go. Heidi will finish in the top five with this horse.

The Boomer: ch. g., 16.2 hands, New Zealand-bred Thoroughbred, owned by rider.
Carl Bouckaert (BEL): age 51, Chatsworth, Ga.
This spring, finished 38th at the Red Hills CIC*** (Fla.) and 44th at the Chatsworth CIC*** (Ga.).
This horse can be brilliant on cross-country, but he’s difficult, and I would expect Carl to have time faults because he’s making sure that he keeps his horse presented correctly to the obstacles.

Zydeco: ch. g., 17.1 hands, 12 years, Canadian-bred Thoroughbred cross, by Cozy’s Commander-Sally, owned by rider.
Gretchen Butts: age 50, Laytonsville, Md.
Finished 35th at Rolex Kentucky in 2003. In March, placed fourth at Poplar Place (Ga.); in April, placed sixth at Chatsworth (Ga.).
Gretchen is the poster child for adult amateur riders around the world. No one surpasses her work ethic, and Z (by the same sire as John Williams’ Carrick) is the Einstein of cross-country. He’s a bit one-paced, but if Gretchen will keep her foot on the accelerator, she will finish with a result that thousands of adult amateurs around the country would die for.

Second Hope: blk. g., 16.3 hands, 12 years, German-bred Westphalian-Thoroughbred, by Akitos-Romanze, owned by Tivoli Farm, Gordonsville, Va.
William Coleman: age 20, Gordonsville, Va.
In 2003, completed the Foxhall Cup CCI*** (Ga.) and placed eighth at the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.). In March finished sixth at Poplar Place (Ga.), in April finished second at Chatsworth (Ga.).
I haven’t seen Second Hope run this year. But this is Will’s first four-star on this horse, and I would expect a slightly conservative attitude toward life for the horse’s first experience at this level.

Leopold: b. g., 17.0 hands, 11 years, Dutch-bred Dutch Warmblood, by Ferro-Fljeckje, owned by rider.
Anna Collier: age 27, Ridgefield, Wash.
Finished 25th at Rolex Kentucky in 2003. In February, placed second at Galway Downs (Calif.); in March placed second in the Galway Downs CIC*** (Calif.).
Anna has been here before, and she knows her way around
now. Leopold’s strong suits are in his dressage and his jumping. He has trouble making the time, and Anna will have to gallop along that fine line between audacity and foolishness to obtain a good placing here.

Buzzby: b. g., 17.0 hands, 12 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred, by Dominated-Eternal Prism, owned by Trout Walk Farm, Wassaic, N.Y.
Sarah Cousins: age 40, West Grove, Pa.
In 2003, placed third at Fair Hill (Md.), finished 20th in the Foxhall Cup CCI*** (Ga.) and completed the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.).
This is not exactly Sally’s first visit to Rolex. She always turns in a competent performance, and I expect that from her ride on Buzzby. But she’ll have to press all the way around the course in order to get inside the time.

Topspin: b. g., 15.3 hands, 16 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred, by Quadravan-Myschic Tic, owned by Margaret Hoey, Oxford, Pa.
Sarah Cousins: age 40, West Grove, Pa.
Placed 19th at Rolex Kentucky in 2002.
Topspin has gone well in the preparation trials this spring, but, as with Sally’s other horse, he needs to be ridden with a certain sense of urgency.

Shindig II: ch. g., 16.2 hands, 13 years, NZL-bred Thoroughbred, by Festal-Brida, owned by North Slope Diversified and Raymond Venoski, Rochester, Mich.
Sonya Crampton (CAN): age 33, Victoria, B.C., Canada
Completed the Foxhall Cup CCI*** (GA) in 2002. This year, placed 11th in an Advanced Horse Trials division at Rocking Horse (FL) in February, completed the CIC*** at Red Hills (FL) in March and completed the CIC*** at North Georgia the first weekend in April.

Smooth Sailing: ch. g., 16.3 hands, 14 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred, by Fire Dancer-Prim Miss, owned by North Slope Diversified and Stephanie Doubek, Victoria, B.C., Canada.
Sonya Crampton (CAN): age 33, Victoria, B.C., Canada
Completed the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.) in 2001. In March, finished 28th at the Red Hills CIC*** (Fla).
Sonya has never had the best of luck at Rolex, but she’s been
training well this spring, and a clean steady round is well within their grasp.

Future Perfect: ch. g., 16.1 hands, 13 years, English-bred, by Mon Tresor-Adivara, owned by Anne and Laurence Mashall, Peterborough, Cambs, England.
Sarah Cutteridge (GBR): age 30, Linford, Leicester, England
Placed fifth in the Bramham CCI*** (England) in 2002.
I haven’t seen Sarah and Future Perfect go. Last year the Brits came over and picked our pockets, so I’m leery of betting against any foreign competitor who thinks enough of their horse to put him on the plane.

Courageous Comet: gr. g., 16.2 hands, 8 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred, by Comet Shine-Rosanelli, owned by Tom Holder, Mendota Heights, Minn.
Becky Douglas: age 35, Mendota Heights, Minn.
In 2003, placed eighth at the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.) after finishing fourth at Jackson Hole (Wyo.) and winning at High Prairie (Colo.). In March, placed 16th in the CIC*** at Red Hills (Fla.).
I haven’t seen this horse go this spring. Becky is a good competitor, and she will go well this weekend.


Connaught: b. g., 16.1 hands, 11 years, Irish-bred Irish Sport Horse, by Ballysimon, owned by Bruce Duchossois, Aiken, S.C.
Phillip Dutton (AUS): age 40, West Grove, Pa.
In March, placed fifth at Pine Top (Ga.) and fifth in the Red Hills CIC*** (Fla.).
Phillip’s warm-up competitions with this horse haven’t gone
as smoothly as he might have liked. Connaught does good dressage work, but Phillip will probably take a slightly sober attitude toward the cross-country and aim for an educational rather than competitive experience.

Ballincoola: b. g., 16.3 hands, 10 years, Irish-bred Irish Sport Horse, by Highland King, owned by Judy Skinner and Michael Payne, Newton, Dorset, England.
William Fox-Pitt (GBR): age 35, Newton, Dorset, England.
In 2003, finished second in the Bramham CCI***(England) and 18th in the Burghley CCI**** (England). Fox-Pitt finished third in the 2003 Rolex Kentucky CCI and was a member of the British teams in the 2000 Olympics and 2002 World Championships.
I haven’t seen Ballincoola run. But William turned in such a stylish performance last year that I made my students go out and buy the videotape because that’s the way I want them to ride. He came heart-breakingly close to winning last year, and I expect to see him in the top 10 again this year.

Coastal Ties: b. g., 16.1 hands, 11 years, Australian-bred Thoroughbred, by Family Ties-Coral Coast, owned by Lady Kelvedon, Newton, Dorset, England.
William Fox-Pitt (GBR): age 35, Newton, Dorset, England.
Placed 11th in the Pau CCI*** (France) in 2002 and seventh in the CCI*** at Saumur CCI*** (France) in 2003.
I haven’t seen this horse run either, but he would appear to be the less experienced of William’s horses.

Robert The Red: ch. g., 16.2 hands, 14 years, English-bred Thoroughbred, by Lighter-Pamaminimarsh, owned by rider.
Peter Green: age 55, Upperville, Va.
A new acquisition, Robert The Red completed the Blenheim CCI*** (England), with Louise Skelton, in 2002. In 2003, with Paul Tapner aboard, he completed the English advanced horse trials at Aston-Le Walls and Gatcombe Park.
Peter would be one of the most experienced competitors here.
I haven’t seen Robert The Red run, but I’m sure that they will do
well. The rumor that over-50 riders will get a 15-second bonus on the cross-country is not true. Sorry, Peter.

Damien: b. g., 16.2 hands, 12 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred-Dutch Warmblood, by Dynamite Cap-Dorza, owned by Leila Clay, Vass, N.C.
Holly Hepp: age 31, Middleburg, Va.
In 2003, placed fifth at Morven Park (Va.), fourth at Five Points (N.C.), and eighth in the Foxhall Cup CCI*** (Ga.). In March, placed eighth at Pine Top (Ga.) and second at Southern Pines (Ga.).
   Damien is a new ride for Holly [Phillip Dutton rode him in 2003], but he loves her and they’re rapidly forming a partnership. However, Holly will take a slightly conservative approach in her first four-star with this horse, and she should be happy with a steady, clear round.

Reprint: gr. g., 16.1 hands, 11 years, Australian-bred Thoroughbred, by Kala Dancer-Ansatin, owned by rider.
Ralph L. Hill: age 51, Ocala, Fla.
In Australia, with former rider C. Bates up, placed 15th in the Adelaide CCI****. Finished sixth at Red Hills (Fla.) in March.
I haven’t seen Ralph run Reprint this spring. But Ralph could find his way around Rolex blindfolded.

Tell You Why: b. g., 16.1 hands, 11 years, Irish-bred Irish Sport Horse, by The Carnival-Diana Anna, owned by Connie Holling, Mequon, Wis.
Jonathan Holling: age 27, Ocala, Fla.
In 2003, placed second at the Beaulieu North American Classic, finished 40th at the Foxhall Cup CCI*** (Ga.) and 14th at the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.).
Tell You Why has had a good preparation leading up to this, and he should finish just outside the top 10. Jonathon is one of those hungry rookies I mentioned in my introduction. All of those rookies will be asking that age-old question, “Why not me, and why not now?” For all rookies I would say, “The future is now.”

Show of Heart: b. g., 16.1 hands, 14 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred, by It’s Freezing-Lovely Duckling, owned by rider.
Adrienne Iorio-Borden: age 32, Millis, Mass.
In 2002, placed eighth at Over The Walls (Mass.) and completed the Foxhall Cup CCI***(Ga.). Finished 21st at Rolex Kentucky in 2003.
I expect a good performance from this pair, but I think the intensity of the competition will keep them from finishing in the top 10.

Limestone Rise: br. g., 16.2 hands, 14 years, English-bred, by Primitive Rising-Lime Blossom, owned by rider and Paul and Jane Jackson, England.
Polly Jackson (GBR): age 25, Kinoulten, Notts,-England.
Placed 20th in the Badminton CCI**** (England) in 2003.
I haven’t seen this horse go. But any veteran of Badminton will not feel out of place here. Most of the experienced U.S. horses are in the modified division, so I think Polly will figure in the final placings.

Major Tango: ch. g., 16.1 hands, 11 years, Irish-bred Irish Draught, by Trumpet Major-Nervous Lady, owned by rider.
Courtney Kay: age 22, Sacramento, Calif.
In 2002, completed the Foxhall Cup CCI*** (Ga.), and in 2003 finished 36th at Rolex Kentucky. In February, placed seventh at Galway Downs (Calif.) and in March placed 12th at the Galway Downs CIC***.
I haven’t seen this pair run this year.

As You Like It: b. g., 16.3 hands, 14 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred, by
Providential-Suzette, owned by rider and Edith Hornberger, Clifton, Va.
Sara Kozumplik: age 25, Clifton, Va.
In 2003, finished 22nd at Rolex Kentucky and completed the Burghley CCI**** (England). In February, placed second at Rocking Horse (Fla.) and completed the CIC*** at Red Hills (Fla.). Kozumplik was the individual gold medalist at the 2000 North American Young Riders Championships.
    I tell people to buy a horse that you want to see looking over the stable door every morning, waiting for breakfast. That’s “Augie.” But the good news/bad news scenario is that Augie goes the way Sara rides him. She has had an inconsistent spring, but she is no stranger to the horse park and can turn in a polished performance when she puts her mind to it.


Better I Do It: b. g., 17.0 hands, 11 years, Swedish-bred Thoroughbred, owned by rider and Team Lufkin.
Abigail Lufkin: age 33, Middleburg, Va.
Placed seventh at Morven Park (Va.) in March. Previously competed at advanced with Diann Steinrotter.
Abigail has made a successful return to the sport after taking a sabbatical from 2000 to 2003. But it will be a little too soon for them to try to win it. Still, they should be able to get into the top 10. And the selectors will certainly be keeping an eye on them.

Kildonan Tug: b. g., 16.3 hands, 11 years, Australian-bred Thoroughbred, by Baracus-Supreme Yacht, owned by rider and Team Lufkin.
Abigail Lufkin: age, 33, Middleburg, Va.
A new ride for Lufkin, Kildonan Tug placed second in the CCI*** in Sydney (Australia) in 2003 with Tim Boland. In March, placed second at Red Hills (Fla.) and fifth at Morven Park (Va.).
Aptly named, Kildonan Tug takes a pretty good tug cross-country. It will take all of Abigail’s considerable skills to keep his focus on the job at hand.

Test Run: gr. g., 16.3 hands, 9 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred cross, by Test Pilot-Iron Gal, owned by rider.
Kim Morani: age 45, Worton, Md.
In 2003, placed fifth at both Morven Park (Va.) and Menfelt (Md.) and finished 43rd at the Foxhall Cup CCI*** (Ga.).
I haven’t seen them run this spring, but Kim always brings the right attitude to the job, and they should be fine.

Rebel Express: b. g., 17.0 hands, 15 years, Thoroughbred gelding, by Feffer-Comet’s Legacy, owned by rider.
Heather Morris: age 24, Dallas,  Texas.
In 2003, placed third at Wayne (Ill.) and won at Rocking Horse (Fla.), Poplar Place (Ga.) and High Prairie (Colo.). In March, placed third again in the Red Hills CIC***.
Heather and Rebel Express are a veteran’s nightmare. They do good dressage work, they have speed to burn across country, and they have nothing to lose. That attitude should put them into the top 10.

Dunrath Alto: dk. b. g., 17.2 hands, 13 years, Irish-bred Irish Sport Horse, by No Alto-Ballarin Lady, owned by rider, David O’Brien and Kincor Event Team LLC, Southern Pines, N.C.
Lauren O’Brien: age 38, Southern Pines, N.C.
Placed 22nd in the Burghley CCI**** (England) in 2001. In 2002, placed 15th in the Punchestown CCI*** (Ireland).
Lauren and Dunrath Alto are perennial strong finishers here. He will be well-placed in the dressage and jump clean on Sunday, so his results will be determined by the pace that Lauren selects across country. They will finish just inside the top 10.

Persistant Rain: b. g., 16.3 hands, 14 years, Thoroughbred, by Rainbow’s First-Persistant Lea, owned by Jacqueline Mars of The Plains, Va., John O’Connor of Gaithersburg, Md,. and Richard Gamble of Ely, Minn.
David O’Connor: age 42, The Plains, Va.
Finished 27th at the Foxhall Cup CCI*** (Ga.) in 2002 O’Connor won the 2000 individual Olympic gold medal.
This horse hasn’t gone well in his last outings, and he’ll need a gold-medal ride to produce a clean and fast round on Saturday. David’s new responsibilites (he is the president of our national federation) have definitely distracted him this spring, and his preparation has been more exciting than successful. All his fans will be keeping their fingers crossed.

Bally Mar: ch. m., 16.1 hands, 17 years, U.S.-bred Thorough-bred-Hanoverian, by Omar-Bally Thorn, owned by John and Dianne Pingree, Hamilton, Mass.
Karen O’Connor: age 46, The Plains, Va.
In 2003, placed eighth at Poplar Place (Ga.) and fifth at Groton House (Mass.); also placed 15th in the Foxhall Cup CCI*** (Ga.) and fourth in the Blenheim CCI*** (England).
Karen hasn’t had a perfect preparation with this horse either, and I think that she’ll take a slightly conservative attitude with her.

Grand Slam: ch. g., 16.1 hands, 14 years, New Zealand-bred Thoroughbred, by King Delamere-Charsada, owned by Lourdes Peralta, The Plains, Va.
Karen O’Connor: age 46, The Plains, Va.
In 2003, won the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.) and advanced horse trials at Beaulieu (Ga.), Over The Walls (Mass.) and Morven Park (Va.). In 2002 placed 12th at Rolex Kentucky. In March, placed second at Poplar Place (Ga.) and seventh at the Red Hills CIC*** (Fla.). O’Connor won Rolex Kentucky in 1991, 1997 and 1999 and was on the bronze-medal Olympic teams in 1996 and 2000.
Karen produced an enviable result last fall at Fair Hill, being second in the Pan American Championships with Joker’s Wild and then winning the three-star with Grand Slam. I predict that she is going to do almost the same thing this year at Rolex since I expect her to be in the top five in both the four-star and the modified division.

Aladdin: b. g., 16.1 hands, 12 years, U.S.-bred Trakehner-Thoroughbred, by Tummler-Allie Oop, owned by rider and Nancy Rooney Stevens, Temecula, Calif.
Natalie Rooney Pitts: age 30, Temecula, Calif.
In 2001, finished 21st at Rolex Kentucky and 32nd at the Burghley CCI**** (England). In 2003, placed sixth at Rolex Kentucky. In March, placed sixth in advanced at Copper Meadows (Calif.) with Yves Sauvignon and eighth at the Galway Downs CIC*** (Calif.) with Pitts.
This is Natalie and Aladdin’s third visit to the Kentucky Horse Park, and I predict it will be their most successful yet. Speed across country has always dragged them down in the placings, and this year I expect Natalie to really put her foot down.

On The Button: b. g., 16.1 hands, Irish-bred Thoroughbred, by Sharp Charter, owned by rider and Dr. Tom Latham, Chatsworth, Ga.
Michael Pollard: age 23, Chatsworth, Ga.
I have not seen this horse go this year.

JACOB TWO TWO: b. g., 15.3 hands, Canadian-bred Thoroughbred, by Paper Soldier-Unknown Dam, owned by rider and James Richards, Atlanta, Ga.  
Julie richards: age 32, Atlanta, GA
With Karen O’Connor riding in 2003, completed the CIC*** at North Georgia and Thirlestane Castle (SOC). With Julie up the first weekend in April, completed the CIC*** at North Georgia.

Gringosch: b. g., 17.0 hands, 10 years, German-bred W