Thursday, May. 23, 2024

Talley Is Making His Five-Star Debut On A Horse He Took From The Track To The Top



Lexington, Ky.—April 26

There are many ways a rider can find themselves on the start list for the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event—maybe they found a promising prelim horse and produced them through the levels; maybe they went to Europe and bought a talented youngster.

If you’re Chris Talley, four years ago you pulled your horse trailer up to the racetrack and picked up Unmarked Bills. Talley has produced the off-the-track Thoroughbred from the very start. They started at training level in 2015; they completed their first four-star in 2017, and on Thursday Talley and “Billy” headed down centerline for their first five-star dressage test.  The 10-year-old gelding (Posse—Kelli’s Ransom, Red Ransom) scored a 42.0.

“He was incredible in there. He struggles with tension, but he actually stayed really relaxed and walked the entire time,” Talley said of his ride. “We had one bobble getting the wrong lead coming into canter, but I can’t fault him for that; it was probably my fault.”


Chris Talley brought Unmarked Bills up the levels. Kimberly Loushin Photo

Billy has the distinction of being an off-the-track horse who is still supported by his owner from the track—Talley formed a syndicate to own the horse that includes David and Daryl Nuesch, Billy’s owners from his race days.

“He was actually bred here in Kentucky, and I bought him as a race project,” said David, who used to work as a jockey and is now a steward at the track. David’s father, Felix Nuesch, competed in eventing before he got the family into racing.

“This was always kind of the backup plan—jumping or eventing later,” David said.



Unmarked Bills during his racing days. Photo Courtesy Of David Nuesch

A family friend, Kate Samuels, suggested David contact Talley about getting the gelding restarted as a sport horse. The two have been steadily climbing the ranks ever since, and the Nuesches came to Kentucky to cheer on their gelding and Talley.

“Chris got a hold of him and has done incredible things,” David said. “It’s incredible to imagine he would come this far. They make a great team, and it seems like the future is bright. We were listening to the commentators, and there are things they can work on and have a lot of potential for the future.”


Chris Talley and Unmarked Bills meet a Pony Club volunteer after their test. Kimberly Loushin Photo

The enormous accomplishment that is producing a horse from the track to its first five-star hasn’t quite sunk in for Talley yet—maybe it will as he heads out over Derek di Grazia’s cross-country course Saturday morning.

“I’m not entirely sure how I feel; I don’t think it’s reality yet. It feels so surreal,” Talley said. “But so many people have put in so much to get here, and he is such a special horse that it makes it all the more special.”


Chris Talley gave his appreciation to Unmarked Bills. Kimberly Loushin Photo

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