Tuesday, Mar. 5, 2024

Phillip Dutton Will Break His Jinx 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 daffodils are up, my barn swallows are back, and the buds on my dogwood are looking fit to burst. This means it’s time for all the hardy perennials of the eventing world to head for Rolex.

Have you noticed that the name of the sponsor has become the name of the event? That’s how intertwined this four-star event and Rolex Watch USA have become. We owe a debt of thanks to Allan Brill, CEO
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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 daffodils are up, my barn swallows are back, and the buds on my dogwood are looking fit to burst. This means it’s time for all the hardy perennials of the eventing world to head for Rolex.

Have you noticed that the name of the sponsor has become the name of the event? That’s how intertwined this four-star event and Rolex Watch USA have become. We owe a debt of thanks to Allan Brill, CEO
of Rolex Watch USA, and to all the officers and the Board of Equestrian Events, Inc., for their skillful nurturing of this most unusual sports marketing partnership. (For more information on this partnership, see “A Timely Tradition,” p. 72).

Click here to download a full PDF version of the roster, complete with photos.

Rolex and EEI are celebrating their 28th anniversary, and Rolex is on board to support the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games at the Kentucky Horse Park.

When you arrive at the KHP this year, you should feel right at home. Many of the changes made over the past few years are now settled in and accepted; you should have no problem finding your way around the grounds. The trade fair is expanded (I say that every year, don’t I?), and for retail therapy Rolex can’t be beat.

Event Director Janie Atkinson and her crew have been quietly making changes that will be useful this year as well as necessary for the 2010 WEG. By the way, I predict the 2010 WEG will be the largest equestrian event ever held on the North American continent. If you have any idea at all of attending, get your room and ticket reservations now. The Kentucky Horse Park is huge, but the expected crowds will load it to capacity.
It’s going to take more than 3,000 volunteers to run the WEG, so if you’re interested in getting a closer look at the inner workings of a world-class event, you might think about signing up as a volunteer. You can get more information at the website www.feigames2010.org.

If you’ve missed out on the reserved tickets for this year, don’t despair. You can follow the action on several large “Jumbotrons” strategically placed around the grounds. Sitting in the shade of those lovely trees and sipping on an Appletini—or some other suitable adult beverage—isn’t a bad way to watch Rolex.

Find a good spot in front of a Jumbotron, put your feet up on all those shopping bags, sit back, and enjoy the ride. Just remember to hold the black stripe up and to the left, keep your dogs under control and your children on a leash.

The schedule for the various activities can be found at www.rk3de.com, and I’ll be posting my review of this year’s cross-country course at www.chronofhorse.com by late Thursday afternoon. Mike Etherington-Smith, the long-time cross-country course designer for Rolex, has made some significant changes to the course, and I will have a sneak preview for you.

Speaking of sneak previews, the best experiences of the whole weekend for me are the Wednesday afternoon and Sunday morning veterinary examinations. You get a chance to see these horses up-close-and-personal, admire their sparkling presentation, and applaud after they trot down the lane in front of the ground jury.

Looking at the list of entries, I noticed that there are still a few horses that have competed under both the classic and the short format. However, there are not many of them left, and it very well might be that this is the last Rolex that will feature classic horses.

The short-format horses are fabulous athletes in every respect, but classic horses are warriors. As Poggio, Antigua, McKinlaigh, The Foreman and a few others gallop away from the third water jump toward the finish line, they are galloping into history.

There will be history of a different sort on display this weekend, as Rolex and EEI have invited the members of the 1978 World Championship team back for their 30th reunion. Because the United States was the host nation, we were allowed to enter 12 riders, and most of them have said they’ll be there.

You will see some familiar faces for sure: Bruce Davidson Sr., two-time World Champion, will lead the parade, and I’m sure Mike Plumb (titanium hips and all) and Ralph Hill will get the hero’s welcome they deserve. In addition, you’ll see some old friends that you haven’t seen in quite a few years. I’m sure you’ll tell them how glad you are to see them again, and how much their participation 30 years ago did to put our sport where it is today.

While there is always a “buzz” at Rolex, that buzz only becomes more intense in an Olympic year, when riders from all over the world realize this is their best chance to impress their selectors and maybe, just maybe, represent their country at the 2008 Olympics in Hong Kong.

The Olympics have always been the culmination of an event rider’s dream, and these riders are here with their hearts set on making their dreams come true. While they say there’s a dandelion in the park for every broken heart, I hope you will let these riders know by your applause that anyone who ever gets to ride at Rolex is already a winner.  



FRODO BAGGINS: blk. g., 16.2 hands, 13 years, New Zealand-bred Thoroughbred, owned by rider.
LAINE ASHKER: age 24, Crozier, Va.
In 2007, they finished seventh at the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.), 19th at the Jersey Fresh CCI*** (N.J.) and 10th in the CIC** at Red Hills (Fla.). This spring they won a division of intermediate at Rocking Horse (Fla.) and were sixth in the Red Hills CIC***-W.

This is Frodo Baggins’ first visit to Rolex, and Laine will be looking for a steady, clear round. Laine is a good rider and should go well here.

MAZETTO: b. g., 12 years, 16.3 hands, Cleveland Bay—New Zealand-bred Thoroughbred (Master Jack—Bozetto), owned by Christine Brennan and Carousel Farm, Charlottesville, Va.
LAINE ASHKER: age 24, Crozier, Va.
In 2004, Mazetto placed 17th at the Badminton CCI**** (England) and traveled as a reserve horse to the Athens Olympics with New Zealand rider Jonelle Richards. The pair finished 29th at the Luhmuhlen CCI**** (Germany) in 2005. This spring with Ashker, the horse placed third in the advanced division at Red Hills (Fla.) and won an advanced division at Poplar Place (Ga.).

Mazetto is a new ride for Laine, and I have not seen this pair go yet. The horse has an impressive record, but it remains to be seen if Laine can form the necessary partnership.


DOBBIN:
ch. g., 16 hands, 13 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred (Lyphilius—Deal Debbie Deal), owned by rider.
CORINNE ASHTON: age 46, Princeton, Mass.
In 2007, they placed ninth at the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.), fifth at the CIC*** at Wits End (Ont.), and won advanced divisions at Millbrook (N.Y.) and Southern Pines (N.C.), as well as the advanced division at the American Eventing Championships (Ill.). This spring, they won intermediate and advanced divisions at Pine Top (Ga.).

Dobbin is one of my favorite horses here…a Thoroughbred and a great character with a great heart. However, he has had an up and down preparation this year. If Corinne puts her faith in Dobbin, puts her hands down, and kicks on, all will be well.

LIVINGSTONE: b. g., 16.3 hands, 18 years, Canadian-bred Thoroughbred cross (Wanderkind—Dancing Proud), owned by rider and Gerry Bennett, Langley, B.C.
HAWLEY BENNETT (CAN): age 30, Langley, B.C.
Last year they finished fourth at the Galway Downs CIC***-W (Calif.), seventh at the CIC***-W at Rebecca Farm (Mont.), 30th at the Badminton CCI**** (England) and seventh in the advanced division at the American Eventing Championships (Ill.). This spring they were third in the Galway Downs CIC***.

“Hank” will show up at the first vet check wearing his “been there, done that” T-shirt. He is older, but he was born wise, and this course will hold no surprises for him. Hank will jump clean if Hawley shows up as a brunette. If the blonde evil twin shows up, all bets are off.

FLEECEWORKS BLACKOUT: blk. g., 17.1 hands, 14 years, New Zealand-bred Thoroughbred (Omnicort—LA Misty), owned by rider and Jeff and Liz Bond, Gig Harbor, Wash.
KRISTEN BOND: age 28, Ocala, Fla.
In 2006, they were eighth at the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.) and 28th at Rolex Kentucky. Last year they placed 18th here and sixth in the CIC*** at Maui Jim (Ill.).

This pair has successfully completed Rolex in the past. I was unable to watch them go this spring, but
this course is well within their capabilities.

RAMPANT LION: gr. g., 16.3 hands, 14 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred (Distinctive Pro—Paula Sue), owned by rider.
CARL BOUCKAERT (BEL): age 55, Chatsworth, Ga.
In 2006, they completed the World Equestrian Games (Germany). Last year they finished 14th at Rolex Kentucky, 18th at the European Championships (Italy), 28th at the Aachen CIC*** (Germany) and seventh at the Barroca D’Alva CIC*** (Portugal). This spring they were 22nd in the CCI*** at Barroca D’Alva.

Carl is handicapped by his job in the real world, and he’s usually short of practice time when he arrives here. A talented pair, their lack of polish will detract from their performance. I often wonder just how good Carl could have been if he didn’t have to make a living. Still, nobody but Ralph Hill enjoys himself more on course, and Carl will do well here.

BRANDENBURG’S JOSHUA: b. g., 16.2 hands, 13 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred (Gilded Rooster—Josh’s Dancer), owned by Southern Edition Farm LLC and William Lowe, Leesburg, Va.
STEPHEN BRADLEY: age 46, Leesburg, Va.
In 2006, they placed third at Rolex Kentucky. This spring they placed fourth at intermediate at Rocking Horse (Fla.) and 14th at The Fork CIC*** (N.C.).

Stephen is one of the best riders in the world, but he’s lacked consistency recently. It speaks well for the quality of the competition here that a former winner at Burghley CCI**** (England) would have to pick up his game to place well this year.

FROM: b. g., 16.2 hands, 15 years, Russian-bred Thoroughbred (Mif—Florma), owned by rider and Charlotte Harris, North Salem, N.Y.
STEPHEN BRADLEY: age 46, Leesburg, Va.
Last year they finished 13th in the Pan American Games (Brazil), second in the Jersey Fresh CCI*** (N.J.) and an advanced division at MCTA (Md.), and won at advanced at Plantation Field (Pa.). This spring they were fifth in the intermediate at Rocking Horse (Fla.).

From has been going from strength to strength with Stephen, and they have had an impressive spring preparation. This pair has all the tools, but they have not yet found their groove, and it’s difficult to find your groove at the Kentucky Horse Park…you need to bring it with you.


ACAPULCO JAZZ:
ch. g., 16 hands, 16 years, Mexican-bred Quarter Horse (Just Six—Chicks N Chips), owned by rider.
BONNER CARPENTER (YR): age 20, Dallas, Texas.
In 2007, they placed fourth in the CIC*** at Poplar Place (Ga.) and 15th at the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.). This spring, they finished third in an advanced division at Rocking Horse (Fla.) and sixth at Pine Top (Ga.).

The USEF team selectors must be pleased at the wave of rookies that have shown up to compete. Bonner can make a lot of friends here, if she rides the way I know she can ride. She won’t win Rolex this year, but in the future, who knows?


MADISON PARK: b. g., 17 hands, 10 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred (Monaco Magic—Mistress Of Mine), owned by rider, Jennifer Carter and Al and Nicole Shinton, Sparr, Fla.
KYLE CARTER (CAN): age 39, Sparr, Fla.
Last year they won an advanced horse trial at Rocking Horse (Fla.), placed eighth in the Red Hills CIC*** (Fla.), 10th in The Fork CIC*** (N.C.), sixth in the advanced at Jersey Fresh (N.J.), and finished fifth at the Pan American Games (Brazil). This spring they placed seventh at advanced at Pine Top (Ga.) and 13th at the Red Hills CIC***-W and The Fork CIC***.

Kyle has a delicate balancing act before him this weekend. He knows the Canadian selectors are here, and he wants to turn in a sparkling round to impress them. At the same time, Madison Park is a little green at this level, and Kyle would rather go well at Hong Kong than here. My guess is that his experience will help him find the right balance.


RADIO FLYER:
ch. g., 16.2 hands, 14 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred (Stick Together—Gypsy Hoofer), owned by rider.
DOROTHY CROWELL: age 46, Frankfort, Ky.
Last year they finished 16th at the Pau CCI**** (France), fifth in the MCTA CIC*** (Md.), fourth in the Richland Park CIC*** (Mich.), 22nd in the Jersey Fresh CCI*** (N.J.), and 11th in the advanced division at the American Eventing Championships (Ill.).

Radio Flyer is a very different ride from Dorothy’s wonderful 1994 World Championship silver medal ride, Molokai. It has taken all of Dorothy’s considerable skills as a horsewoman to form a partnership, and I expect her to use all of her experience to steer Radio Flyer around this year’s course. She should improve on her CCI**** placing in France last summer.

HIGH PATRIOT: ch. g., 16.3 hands, 10 years, Oldenburg (Pointmaker—Bird Alert), owned by rider and Irish Oaks Farm LLC, Middleburg, Va.
MARA DEAN: age 34, Round Hill, Va.
Last year they placed second in the advanced at Morven Park (Va.,) and 20th in the CCI*** at Fair Hill (Md.). This spring they were sixth in the advanced at Red Hills (Fla.) and fourth in the CIC***-W at The Fork (N.C.).

High Patriot is a very impressive horse. However, he takes a keen interest in his work. It remains to be seen if Mara can contain his stride as well across country as she does in dressage. If she can provide the
correct answers for this cross-country course, she can start practicing her Mandarin.


S.S. JETT: ch. g., 12 years, Thoroughbred, owned by Carl Bouckaert, Chatsworth, Ga.
KARIN DONCKERS (BEL): age 36, Minderhout, Belgium.
Last year they finished 23rd at the Pau CCI**** (France), 10th in the CIC***-W
at Strzegom (Poland) and 32nd at the Saumur CCI*** (France). This spring they placed 25th in the Barroca D’Alva CCI*** (Portugal).

One of the most talented and experienced riders here, Karin has always managed to just miss winning four-star events. Unfortunately, I do not think S.S. Jett is the horse that she will break through on. They will turn in a classy performance but will finish just outside the top 10.

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BUENOS AIRES:
b. g., 16.3 hands, 11 years, Canadian-bred Canadian Warmblood (Bajazzo—Amphora), owned by rider.
SANDRA DONNELLY (CAN): age 38, Calgary, Alta.
Last year they finished 13th in The Fork CIC*** (N.C.), fourth in the MCTA CIC*** (Md.), fifth in the advanced at Jersey Fresh (N.J.) and sixth at the Pan American Games (Brazil). This spring they placed second at advanced at Pine Top (Ga.) and 10th in the Red Hills CIC*** (Fla.).

Sandra is one of those rare riders who does not make many mistakes. Unfortunately, she and Buenos Aires made a mistake in their final preparation competition a couple of weeks ago, and it was doozie. Sandra has to shake it off and produce the round that all the experts expect from her.


CONNAUGHT:
b. g., 16.1 hands, 15 years, Irish-bred Irish Sport Horse (Ballysimon—Bromehill Rouge), owned by Bruce Duchossois, Aiken, S.C.
PHILLIP DUTTON: age 44, West Grove, Pa.
In 2006, they finished 30th at the World Equestrian Games (Germany) and fourth at Rolex Kentucky. Last year they placed seventh at The Fork CIC***-W (N.C.) and second at Rolex Kentucky. This spring they were second in the advanced at The Fork.

The rumor that Phillip has been seen eating chicken fried kangaroo with chopsticks is totally untrue and does not bear repeating by responsible journalists. Still, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Phillip has a good shot at making the U.S. team for the Hong Kong Olympics this summer. He has really good horses, he’s on form at the moment, and Connaught has gone well here in past years. I expect this pair to finish in the top five.

THE FOREMAN: b. g., 16.1 hands, 12 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred (Across The Field—Four Flora), owned by Ann Jones, Coatesville, Pa.
PHILLIP DUTTON: age 44, West Grove, Pa.
In 2006, they won the CIC***-W at Red Hills (Fla.), and last year they placed fifth in an advanced division at Millbrook (N.Y.) and won the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.). This spring they finished 11th in the CIC**-W at The Fork. (N.C.).

Phillip understands the preparation of upper-level horses better than anybody since Bruce Davidson. His horses do not all run at the same times, and they do not all try to win every preparation competition. “Chip” has been going very well this spring, and I expect that to continue. Phillip will finish in the top 10 with this horse.


TRULUCK:
b. g., 16.1 hands, 11 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred (Maha Baba—Grayfully), owned by Ann Jones, Coatesville, Pa., and Shannon Stimson, Middleburg, Va.
PHILLIP DUTTON: age 44, West Grove, Pa.
Truluck was the 2006 U.S. Eventing Association’s Horse of the Year. Last year they won team gold and individual silver medals at the Pan American Games (Brazil), placed ninth at the Rolex Kentucky CCI****, eighth at The Fork CIC***-W (N.C.) and second at the Red Hills CIC***-W (Fla.). This spring they placed 11th in the advanced at The Fork.

Phillip has placed second five different times here at Rolex. I predict he will break the jinx this year, and I think he will do it on ”Milo.“

WOODBURN: ch. g., 16 hands, 12 years, Thoroughbred (Herewood The Wake—Princess Heights), owned by Acorn Hill Farm, Madison, Va.
PHILLIP DUTTON: age 44, West Grove, Pa.
Last year, they won the CIC*** at Wits End (Ont.) and an advanced division at Five Points (N.C.) and were third in the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.). This spring they won an intermediate division at Pine Top (Ga.) and placed 15th at The Fork CIC***-W.

This is possibly the scopiest horse Phillip has ever ridden, but he’s green at this level, and Phillip will ride Woodburn more with an eye to education than for results. Keep your eye on this pair for the future.

ANTIGUA: b. g., 16 hands, 19 years, Australian-bred Thoroughbred (Match Winner—The Great Mistake), owned by Matt and Kerry Faudree, Midland, Texas.
WILL FAUDREE: age 26, Southern Pines, N.C.
In 2006, they placed sixth in the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** and 19th at the World Equestrian Games (Germany) as a member of the U.S. team. Last year they finished second at The Fork CIC***-W (N.C.) and 21st at the Burghley CCI**** (England). This spring they placed second in the advanced horse trials at Southern Pines (N.C.).

Will and Antigua have had some sparkling rounds here in the past. Although Antigua may have lost a step at age 19, no one knows their horse better, and Will should be able to produce a clear round here to finish just outside the top 10.

BLAZING CHIEF: ch. g., 16.3 hands, 14 years, Australian-bred Thoroughbred (Wonder Dancer—Tisible), owned by rider.
CLAUDIA GRAHAM (AUS): age 28, Galong, NSW, Australia.
In 2005 and 2006, they won the Lakes And Craters CCI*** (Australia), and last year they finished eighth at the Albury CIC*** (Australia) and won the CNC*** at Camden (Australia).

Rolex is a big step up for Claudia and Blazing Chief. I’ve not seen them go, but based on their record, a clear, steady round is within their grasp.


THE QUIET MAN:
dk. br. g., 17.2 hands, 12 years, Holsteiner—Irish Sport Horse (Cavalier Royale—Moyglass French), owned by rider and Parker Hansel, Aiken, S.C.
SARAH HANSEL: age 26, Keene, N.H.
Last year they won the advanced horse trials at Fair Hill (Md.), placed 13th at the Red Hills CIC***-W (Fla.), 14th in The Fork CIC***-W (N.C.), 29th at the Jersey Fresh CCI*** (N.J.) and 35th at the Fair Hill CCI***. This spring they were 10th in the Red Hills CIC*** and the advanced horse trials at Pine
Top (Ga.).

Sarah has had an uneventful preparation this spring, and she should be looking to close out her spring season with a steady round here.

COURAGEOUS COMET: gr. g., 16.2 hands, 12 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred (Comet Shine—Rosenelli), owned by rider and Tom Holder, Mendota Heights, Minn.
BECKY HOLDER: age 39, Mendota Heights, Minn.
In 2006, they placed 13th at Rolex Kentucky. Last year they topped the Adequan/USEA Gold Cup Series with CIC*** wins at Maui Jim (Ill.) and Richland Park (Mich.), placed eighth in the advanced division at the American Eventing Championships (Ill.) and 10th at the Fork CIC***-W (N.C.). This spring they won an advanced division at Southern Pines (N.C.).

Becky and Courageous Comet were terribly unlucky not to have won Rolex in 2006. This pair can be
competitive if they put together three good days. It will be fun watching Becky break the jinx that has overshadowed her efforts here in the past.


DUN TO A T: d. g., 16.2 hands, 11 years, Irish-bred (Cruising—Yours Faithfully), owned by the American Horse Trials Foundation, Centreville, Md.
JONATHAN HOLLING: age 31, Ocala, Fla.
Last year with German rider Beeke Kaack, the horse completed the CCI*** at Boekelo (the Netherlands). This spring with Darren Chiacchia, Dun To A T placed 10th at advanced at Rocking Horse (Fla.) and 21st in the advanced at Pine Top (Ga.). With Holling, he placed third in an intermediate division at Poplar Place (Ga.).

Dun To A T is a new ride for Jonathan. I have not seen this pair go, but I expect Jonathan to use all his skills and produce a slow, clear round.


LION KING II: ch. g., 17 hands, 14 years, British-bred Thoroughbred (Shaab—Granny Smith), owned by Jennifer Holling, Ocala, Fla.
JONATHAN HOLLING: age 31, Ocala, Fla.
In 2006, they placed fifth in the Jersey Fresh CCI*** (N.J.) and seventh in the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.). Last year they won the Red Hills CIC***-W (Fla.) and finished sixth at The Fork CIC***-W (N.C.) and second in the advanced division at Jersey Fresh. This spring they placed fourth at advanced at Pine Top (Ga.), sixth in an advanced division at Poplar Place (Ga.) and ninth in the CIC***-W at Red Hills.

Jonathan has almost everything—highly developed riding skills, a good horse and a new baby daughter! However, I’ve been waiting for several years now for Jonathan to have his “breakthrough” season here at Rolex. I’m still waiting, and waiting, and waiting, and…

EXPEDIENCE: ch. m., 16.1 hands, 11 years, Thoroughbred (Aye’s Turn—Promenador), owned by rider.
MELISSA HUNSBERGER: age 25, Purcellville, Va.
In 2006, they were 13th in the CIC*** at Maui Jim (Ill.) and 23rd at the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.) and completed the CIC*** at The Fork (N.C.). Last year they placed second in advanced divisions at Plantation (Pa.) and Morven Park (Va.) and 16th in the CCI*** at Jersey Fresh (N.J.). This spring they were sixth in an advanced division at Southern Pines (N.C.) and 12th in the advanced at The Fork.

Melissa has a good horse in Expedience, and she’s developing the skill set of an upper-level rider. I’m im-pressed at the improvement they have made over the past year, and I expect them to go well here, if a bit quietly. A good combination for the future.

KING’S WHISPER: gr. g., 16.1 hands, 14 years, Thoroughbred (Waiting In The Wings—Royal Amethyst), owned by rider.
BLAIR KING: age 22, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Last year they were 17th at the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.) and fourth at advanced at Five Points (N.C.). This spring they placed ninth in the advanced at Rocking Horse (Fla.).

I’ve not seen this pair compete this year. Based on their record, they should be hoping for a steady,
clear round.

ESKER RIADA: b. g., 17.2 hands, 15 years, Irish Sport Horse (Vivaldi—Portaloo Belle), owned by rider.
CAYLA KITAYAMA: age 21, Orinda, Calif.
In 2006, Esker Riada finished 16th at Rolex Kentucky, 11th at the Red Hills CIC***-W (Fla.) and 46th at the World Equestrian Games (Germany) with Dutch rider Werner Geven. Last year with Kitayama,
the horse won an advanced horse trial at Morven Park (Va.), placed sixth at advanced at Millbrook (N.Y.) and finished 29th at the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.). This spring, they placed fifth in an advanced
division at Southern Pines (N.C) and 14th in the CIC***-W at The Fork (N.C).

Don’t be fooled by Esker Riada and Kayla’s competitive record. They went well last fall, and Kayla was just unlucky to have an involuntary dismount in the stadium at Fair Hill. They are certainly a work in progress, but they will make progress in their first four star together, and they remain a pair for the future.

OZ: b. g., 16 hands, 12 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred, owned by rider.
MIKKI KUCHTA: age 43, Patterson, N.Y.
Last year they placed sixth at advanced at MCTA (Md.), ninth in the Maui Jim CIC*** (Ill.), 26th at the Jersey Fresh CCI*** (N.J.), 19th in the advanced division of the American Eventing Championships (Ill.) and 22nd at the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.). This spring they were sixth in the advanced at Rocking Horse (Fla.) and fourth in the advanced at The Fork (N.C.).

Every year at this time I predict the winner of an imaginary trophy for best-placed, least-known horse and rider combination. This year I predict that the “Who Dat?” trophy will go to this combination. Oz is a 20th century horse competing in the 21st century, but I expect them to be the best-placed of all the newcomers. When you watch Ozzie go across country, you will see why I love Thoroughbreds.

CAHIR: b. g., 16.3 hands, 12 years, Irish Sport Horse (by Glidawn Diamond), owned by rider and Linda Libby, Sussex, N.J.
EMILEE LIBBY (YR): age 20, Sussex, N.J. In 2007, they were second in advanced divisions at Poplar Place (Ga.) and Red Hills (Fla.) and fourth in the advanced at Jersey Fresh. They also placed 21st at their first Rolex Kentucky. This spring they won an advanced division at Rocking Horse, were second at advanced at Poplar Place (Ga.) and fourth in the CIC***-W at Red Hills (Fla.).

I love young riders because they’re not overcome by other peoples’ expectations. Emilee has a good horse and a chance to impress the selectors. If she rides the way she’s been riding, she will be fine.


NEVILLE BARDOS:
ch. g., 16.1 hands, 8 years, Australian-bred Thoroughbred (Mahaya—Zambia), owned by rider.
BOYD MARTIN (AUS): age 28, West Grove, Pa.
Last year they were fourth at the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.), 11th in the CIC***-W at The Fork (N.C.), 13th at the Jersey Fresh CCI*** (N.J.) and ninth in the advanced division of the American Eventing Championships (Ill.). This spring they placed second in an advanced division at Pine Top (Ga.), seventh in the Red Hills CIC***-W (Fla.) and eighth in The Fork CIC***-W.

The only thing wrong with Boyd is that he’s not riding for the U.S. team. One can only hope that he will
not continue living a parasitic existence here in this country and that in future years we will see him competing for the U.S. rather than the Australian team. Boyd and Neville Bardos will be in the top 10.

YING YANG YO: b. g., 16 hands, 12 years, Australian-bred Thoroughbred (Mr. Investor—Magical Gift), owned by rider and Faye Woolf, Durham, N.C.
BOYD MARTIN (AUS): age 28, West Grove, Pa.
In 2006, they placed 11th at Rolex Kentucky, and last year they were second at the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.). This spring they finished sixth in the advanced division at The Fork (N.C.).

Boyd is the most impressive new talent I have seen for a while. He has all the tools to follow in the footsteps of his mentor, Phillip Dutton. This is a very strong combination, and I expect to see them placed in the top five.

MCKINLAIGH: liver ch. g., 17.2 hands, 14 years, Irish Sport Horse (Highland King—Kilcumney Hostess), owned by rider and Laura Coats and Thomas Shulz, Creston, Calif.
GINA MILES: age 34, Creston, Calif.
In 2006, this pair won the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.). Last year they earned team gold and individual bronze medals at the Pan American Games (Brazil), placed 15th at the Badminton CCI**** (England), and won advanced divisions at Twin Rivers (Calif.) and Ram Tap (Calif.), as well as the Ram Tap CIC***. This spring they won the advanced division at Twin Rivers and the CIC*** at Galway Downs (Calif.).

It’s great to see Gina and “Big Mac” back at Rolex. This is now a very experienced and very capable
combination, and they should easily place in the top 10.


EL PRIMERO: b. g., 15.2 hands, 13 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred (Dr. Dan Eyes—Classic Allure), owned by rider.
SARA MITTLEIDER: age 22, Kuna, Idaho.
In 2005, they placed 18th at Rolex Kentucky, their first four-star. In 2006, they finished 14th here, and last year they placed 12th. Also in 2007, they finished second at the Rebecca Farm CIC***-W (Mont.) and sixth at the Galway Downs CIC***-W (Calif.). This spring they placed fifth at advanced at Twin Rivers (Calif.) and ninth in the Galway Downs CIC***.

I have not seen this pair go this spring. Sara is back at Rolex, hoping to improve on her prior years’
placings. This is well within their capabilities, and I expect them to finish just outside the top 10.

MERLOCH: gr. g., 11 years, 16.1 hands, New Zealand-bred Thoroughbred, owned by rider and Margaret Egan, Tucson, Ariz.
BONNIE MOSSER: age 45, Unionville, Pa.
Last year they won the CCI*** at Jersey Fresh (N.J.), placed third in the advanced division at Red Hills (Fla.) and ninth in the CIC*** at The Fork (N.C.). This spring they won an intermediate division at Southern Pines (N.C.) and the advanced at The Fork.

Bonnie and Merloch have an impressive record. They were unfortunate not to make the trip to the Pan American Games (Brazil) last year, and they’re here with something to prove. My bet is that they will prove to the selectors that they are ready for a trip to Hong Kong by placing in the top five.

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LION DISPLAY:
b. g., 16 hands, 12 years, Irish-bred Thoroughbred (Air Display–Tickle Pink), owned by rider.
DORNIN ANNE NORTH: age 27, Bluemont, Va.
Last year they won an advanced horse trial at Plantation Field (Pa.), placed fourth in the advanced at Red Hills (Fla.), 12th in The Fork CIC*** (N.C.), 18th at the Jersey Fresh CCI*** (N.J.) and 44th at the Burghley CCI**** (England). This spring they placed 10th in an advanced division at Pine Top (Ga.).

I have not seen this combination go this year, but they always go a great gallop on cross-country, and a clear round here is well within their grasp.


DUNRATHS ALTO: dk. br. g., 17.2 hands, 17 years, Irish-bred (No Alto—Ballarin Lady), owned by rider.
LAUREN O’BRIEN: age 42, Southern Pines, N.C.
In 2006, they were 31st at Rolex Kentucky, and last year they finished seventh here. Also in 2007, they placed second at advanced at The Fork (N.C.) and fourth at advanced at Pine Top (Ga.). This spring they were fifth in the advanced at The Fork and 19th in a Pine Top advanced division.

Dunraths Alto was never a speed demon, and a few extra years have possibly robbed him of the speed necessary to avoid time faults. Having said that, his dressage and jumping ability will keep him in touch with the leaders.


BAD BOY BILLY:
b. g., 16.3 hands, 16 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred (Fiesta—Leen), owned by Rebecca Broussard, Whitefish, Mont.
KAREN O’CONNOR: age 50, The Plains, Va.
In 2006, Bad Boy Billy placed 24th at Rolex Kentucky with Ralph Hill. This spring with O’Connor, he placed second in the intermediate at Rocking Horse (Fla.), fourth in the advanced at Southern Pines (N.C.) and 20th in the CIC***-W at The Fork (N.C.).

Billy’s enthusiasm for his job sometimes gets in the way of his performance. It remains to be seen if Karen can get Billy to focus on the job at hand. The rumors about Karen’s tattoo continue. I will endeavor to keep you abreast of the situation, as the world press struggles to get to the bottom of this situation.

HUGH KNOWS: b. g., 17 hands, 11 years, Irish Sport Horse (Able Albert—Lupez),
owned by Jacqueline Mars, The Plains, Va.
KAREN O’CONNOR: age 50, The Plains, Va.
Last year they won the advanced division at Richland Park (Mich.), placed third in the Florida CCI**, second at advanced at Morven Park (Va.) and fifth in the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.). This spring they finished fourth and seventh at advanced horse trials at Rocking Horse (Fla.) and Southern Pines (N.C.), respectively, and were fifth in The Fork CIC***-W (N.C.).

This horse is a little inexperienced at this level, so I’m certain that Karen will focus on education rather than competition. “Hughie” is a very impressive horse with a bright future, but his future is not yet.


THEODORE O’CONNOR: ch. g., 14.2 hands, 13 years, U.S.-bred Sport Pony (Witty Boy—Chelsea’s Melody), owned by the Theodore O’Connor Syndicate, Ocala, Fla.
KAREN O’CONNOR: age 50, The Plains, Va.
Last year they won individual and team gold at the Pan American Games (Brazil) and won the CIC*** at The Fork (N.C.), and placed third at Rolex Kentucky. Teddy was named the USEF and USEA Horse of the Year, and O’Connor the USEF Equestrian of the Year. This spring they placed 10th in the advanced at Rocking Horse (Fla.) and 15th in the Red Hills CIC***-W (Fla.).

When Karen looks at a horse, she sees with her heart, and that ability allowed her to see things in “Teddy” the rest of us never thought possible. There are a lot of experts still standing around with their jaws dropped at what she and Teddy have achieved. While this pair will certainly be the crowd favorites this weekend, Karen will have to content herself with only three Rolex watches. I do not expect this pair be in the top 10 this weekend. However, I’m picking Teddy as my dark horse winner. Being left out of my top 10 is going to infuriate Karen, and she will ride like a mad woman to prove how wrong I am to “dis” her pony. I mean, the nerve!

COLOMBO: b. g., 16.3 hands, 14 years, Swedish Warmblood (by Eighty Eight Keys), owned by Michael and Elaine Davies, Elgin, Ont.
SELENA O’HANLON (CAN): age 27, Elgin, Ont.
Last year they placed seventh at the Jersey Fresh CCI*** (N.J.), seventh at the Richland Park CIC*** (Mich.) and sixth at the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.). This spring they won an advanced division at Rocking Horse (Fla.) and were fifth in the Red Hills CIC***-W (Fla.).

This is another Rolex rookie who I expect to go well here. The Canadian team is looking for young, talented riders, and Selena has a marvelous opportunity to show her selectors what she can do.

KIRBY PARK IRISH JAMIE: gr. g., 16 hands, 15 years, Australian-bred Irish Sport Horse (ESP Irish Enough—Yellow River), owned by rider.
CAMMY O’ROURKE (AUS): age 23, Windermere, Fla.
In 2006, they placed 10th at the Adelaide CCI**** (Australia), and last year they placed second in the Narrogin CIC*** (Australia). This spring they finished 11th in the Red Hills CIC***-W (Fla.) and third in an advanced division at Rocking Horse (Fla.).

I have not seen this pair go, but they have an impressive record and should finish well here.

CRITICAL DECISION: b. g., 17.1 hands, 12 years, U.S.-bred Oldenburg-Thoroughbred cross (by Consul), owned by Jessica Ransehousen, Unionville, Pa.
MISSY RANSEHOUSEN: age 37, Unionville, Pa.
In 2007, they finished 16th at Rolex Kentucky, 24th at The Fork CIC***-W (N.C.) and eighth in the advanced division at Richland Park (Mich.). This spring they placed eighth at advanced at Rocking Horse (Fla.), fifth at advanced at Southern Pines (N.C.) and 22nd in The Fork CIC***.

This pair puzzles me a bit. They have all the elements of success, but that success has eluded them so far. Little details seem to conspire to keep Missy from top placings. If Missy can maintain her concentration all the way around, she should place well here, and no one deserves it more.


PALEFACE: blk. g., 15.3 hands, 13 years, Canadian-bred Thoroughbred (Cool Halo—Old Friendship), owned by Kelly Plitz, Port Perry, Ont.
WAYLON ROBERTS (YR) (CAN): age 19, Port Perry, Ont.
Last year they were 15th at the Pan American Games (Brazil) and placed second in an advanced at Rocking Horse (Fla.), third in the advanced division at Jersey Fresh (N.J.), ninth at the Red Hills CIC***-W (Fla.) and 25th at The Fork CIC***-W (N.C). This spring they placed eighth in an advanced horse trial at Rocking Horse and were 16th in The Fork CIC***.

Waylon has had some difficulty in the past dealing with hostile crowds. However, he will receive a warm welcome here because Rolex is always friendly toward young, talented rookies. This will help Waylon avoid his coach’s further ire. A Pan American Games veteran at age 19, Waylon has quite a future in store for him.


TIPPERARY LIADHNAN: gr. g., 17 hands, 10 years, Irish Sport Horse (Fast Silver—Gypsy Star), owned by rider.
KIM SEVERSON: age 34, Keene, Va.
In 2007, they placed second at The Fork CIC*** (N.C.) and an advanced horse trial at Pine Top (Ga.) and fifth at the Jersey Fresh CCI*** (N.J.). This spring they were third at advanced at Southern Pines (N.C.) and 10th in The Fork CIC***-W.

Paddy is not the shape of horse that I would pick out for Kim to ride. While they show flashes of brilliance, their partnership is not yet confirmed, and I predict that for the first time ever, Kim will finish outside the top 10. (But don’t be surprised if she goes well…she has won here multiple times, and she may produce another fantastic effort, just to rub my nose in how wrong I am.)

UN: br. m., 16 hands, 13 years, Irish-bred Irish Sport Horse (Cavalier—Never Ever), owned by rider.
JANE SLEEPER: age 58, East Fallowfield, Pa.
Last year they placed third in advanced at Pine Top (Ga.), and completed The Fork CIC***-W (N.C.), Rolex Kentucky and the Burghley CCI**** (England). This spring they were ninth at advanced at Pine Top and 21st in the advanced at The Fork.

Jane will use all of her years of experience to produce a steady, clear round with this mare. Just as for Peter Green before her, the Ground Jury will shorten the vet check jog lane for Jane, in order to make it a little easier on her.

ARTHUR: ch. g., 17 hands, 9 years, Irish Sport Horse Thoroughbred (by Brandenburg’s Windstar), owned by rider and William and Carolyn Springer.
ALLISON SPRINGER: age 33, Marshall, Va.
In 2007, they placed fourth at The Fork CIC*** (N.C.) and Maui Jim CIC*** (Ill.), eighth in the Jersey Fresh CCI*** (N.J.) and third at the Richland Park CIC*** (Mich.) and the American Eventing Championships. This spring they also placed third in advanced at Pine Top (Ga.), the Red Hills CIC***-W (Fla.) and The Fork CIC***-W.

I’m delighted to see Allison here with her fabulous chestnut, Arthur. Allison has been laboring in obscurity for years for just such an opportunity. They probably will not win it this year, but they should certainly place in the top 10. There will be pressure on this pair, but pressure turns coal into diamonds, and this is Allison’s chance to sparkle. If Allison rides the way I know she can, a trip to the
Olympics is a definite possibility. Her rainbow is overdue.

MR. BIG: br. g., 15 hands, 17 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred (Touch Of Pleasure – Maggoty), owned by rider.
JULIA STEINBERG: age 47, West Grove, Pa.
In 2006, they were 10th in the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.). Last year they placed sixth in an advanced division at Pine Top (Ga.) and third in an advanced/intermediate at Morven Park (Va.). This spring they were 12th in the Red Hills CIC*** (Fla.) and seventh in the advanced division at The Fork (N.C.).

Mr. Big is a phenomenal cross-country horse, and if Julia remembers to let him do his job, all will be well. Mr. Big is one of the smallest horses here, but he’s a finalist for the horse with the biggest heart. Leave the thinking to him, Julia. His head is bigger than yours.


TANGLEMAN:
liver ch. g., 17 hands, 15 years, British-bred Thoroughbred (Matinee—Spartangle), owned by rider and Sir Jonathan and Lady Sue Clark, Malpas, Cheshire, England.
POLLY STOCKTON (GBR): age 34, Malpas, Cheshire, England.
In 2006, the pair placed 22nd at the Badminton CCI**** (England). Last year they were 13th at Rolex Kentucky.

This is an extremely experienced pair, and they’ve gone well here in the past. However, I expect the growing expertise of the competitors here to keep Polly from a top placing.

HOLLYWOOD: b. g., 16.3 hands, 16 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred (Mighty Adversary—True Knight), owned by rider.
KELLY SULT: age 21, Erie, Pa.
Last year they placed eighth at the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.), fifth in the advanced horse trials at Maui Jim (Ill.) and 11th in the Richland Park CIC*** (Mich.). This spring they won an advanced division at Pine Top (Ga.) and were fifth in the advanced at Red Hills (Fla.) and 16th in the advanced at The Fork (N.C.).

This pair went extremely well last fall at the three-star level, and I expect them to go well here. Kelly
is free from the burden of expectations and can ride for the sheer joy of it. She has a good horse, he’s fit and ready, and here they are at Rolex. As far as I can see, the world is their oyster.

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 25, Vienna, Va.
In 2006, they were 23rd in the CIC*** at The Fork (N.C.) and 19th in the CIC***-W at Red Hills (Fla.). Last year they finished 19th at Rolex Kentucky and 10th in the advanced division at The Fork. This spring they were third in an intermediate division at Rocking Horse (Fla.) and 19th in The Fork CIC***.

“Fergus” is one of my favorites. Almost completely white now, he was a steel gray when I first saw him. In the process of getting Fergus here, Lynn has picked up a couple of gray hairs herself, but the effort has been worthwhile, and I expect this pair to improve on their placing from last year.

LIVEWIRE: gr. g., 15.3 hands, 10 years, Canadian Thoroughbred, owned by rider.
SAMANTHA TAYLOR (CAN): age 24, Richmond, B.C.
In 2006, they completed the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.), and last year they placed eighth in advanced divisions at Jersey Fresh (N.J.) and Poplar Place (Ga.), ninth in the Wits End CIC*** (Ont.), 10th
at the Fair Hill CCI*** and 13th in the CIC*** at The Fork (N.C.). This spring they were sixth in an advanced division at Rocking Horse (Fla.) and 13th in The Fork CIC***-W.

This is an exciting year to be at Rolex, as there are so many potential stars of the future competing here for the first time. If Samantha goes the way I know she can, she will earn a good placing here and a trip to Hong Kong later on this summer.

POGGIO II: b. g., 16 hands, 16 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred (Polynesian Flyer—Waves Club), owned by rider and Mark Hart, Portland, Ore.
AMY TRYON: age 38, Duvall, Wash.
In 2004, they were members of the bronze medal-winning U.S. team at the Athens Olympics and finished sixth individually. In 2006, they won the individual bronze medal at the World Equestrian Games (Germany). Last year they finished 17th in the Jersey Fresh CCI*** (N.J.), and this spring they
finished 10th in an advanced division at Pine Top (Ga.) and ninth in The Fork CIC***-W (N.C.).

I expect this bronze-medal pair to finish in the top five. Poggio is a little more disciplined and rideable every time I see him, which is a tribute to Amy’s skills as a horsewoman. At the same time, Poggio’s zest for the sport is undiminished. They will go very well here, and they stand a good chance of an individual medal in Hong Kong.

NORTHERN SPY: b. g., 16.3 hands, 14 years, British-bred Thoroughbred (All Fair—Lavender Fair VII), owned by rider.
HEIDI WHITE-CARTY: age 42, Aiken, S.C.
In 2006, they placed second at Rolex Kentucky and 27th at the World Equestrian Games (Germany). Last year they were fourth at Rolex Kentucky and 15th at The Fork CIC***-W (N.C.). This spring they finished sixth in an advanced division at Southern Pines (N.C.) and won the CIC***-W at The Fork.

Heidi’s recent preparation has been outstanding. If she maintains her consistency this weekend, she and her fabulous horse will easily place inside the top 10. In the past, this pair has not lived up to their obvious potential. Heidi sometimes rides to please others, rather than riding in such a way as to let Northern Spy be himself. Put your hands down, Heidi, and trust your future to one of the best horses in the world…he won’t let you down.

KINGPIN: ch. g., 16.1 hands, 12 years, Irish Sport Horse (by Furisto), owned by rider and the Kingpin Syndicate, Newnan, Ga.
MIKE WINTER (CAN): age 33, Newnan, Ga.
Last year they finished eighth at the Pan American Games (Brazil), sixth in the CIC*** at The Fork (N.C.), 10th in the advanced division at Jersey Fresh (N.J.) and eighth in advanced divisions at Poplar Place (Ga.) and Pine Top (Ga.). This spring they placed 11th in an advanced division at Pine Top and were sixth in the CIC***-W at The Fork.

This is an experienced combination now, and I expect them to go well. Mike is still working on a few
sharp edges, and he’ll be more interested in the improvement of the partnership than the competitive results. Still, they will go well enough here to earn a trip to the Olympics this summer.

THE GOOD WITCH: b. m., 15.2 hands, 12 years, Thoroughbred, owned by Daisy Tognazzini, Los Olivos, Calif.
JENNIFER WOOTEN: age 30, Ramona, Calif.
Last year they finished 11th at the Pau CCI**** (France) and were third at the CIC*** at Twin Rivers (Calif.) and the CIC***-W at Galway Downs (Calif.), 14th at the Jersey Fresh CCI*** (N.J.) and third in an advanced division at Ram Tap (Calif.). This spring they won an advanced/intermediate event at 3 Day Ranch (Calif.) and placed second in the CIC*** at Galway.

I’ve not seen this pair compete, but they have a good international record. Based on that record, they should go well here.

BUCKINGHAM PLACE: b. g., 16 hands, 13 years, U.S.-bred Thoroughbred (Buckaroo—Old Maid), owned by rider.
TARA ZIEGLER: age 23, Lincoln University, Pa.
Last year they finished 27th at Rolex Kentucky, 21st at the Fair Hill CCI*** (Md.), seventh in the CIC*** at Red Hills (Fla.), 27th in the CIC***-W at The Fork (N.C.), fifth in an advanced division at Pine Top (Ga.) and fourth in at advanced at Morven Park (Va.). This spring they were sixth in an advanced division at Pine Top, 14th at the Red Hills CIC***-W and 18th at CIC***-W at The Fork.

Tara went well here last year, and as predicted (ahem) won the “Who Dat?” Trophy. Tara should improve her placing this year, if she can remember not to jump without her horse.

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