There are times when it seems as if winning at the upper echelons of the sports we cover in the Chronicle is reserved for riders with large strings of phenomenally gifted-and expensive-horses, owners with deep pockets to buy them, and multiple sponsorship deals. As horse sports (like just about every other sport) have become more and more like a major business, the days of riders living out their hopes and dreams with a once-in-a-lifetime horse often appear to be fading.
But in this issue, there are three stories about horsemen who have proven that beating the odds and living a fairytale is still believable and possible. These horsemen have shown that you don’t have to have an assembly line of horses and unlimited funds to accomplish your goals. Each of them spent years developing a relationship with a particular horse, and on the last weekend in April they were rewarded with performances that showed the world just how special their bond is.
Bruno Broucqsault, a French rider with one exceptional, if unconventional, horse, defeated all of Europe’s best in the Sony Ericsson FEI Show Jumping World Cup. He’s not a name that most European fans know, and few if any U.S. fans had ever heard of him at all, much less knew how to pronounce his name. But he’s a professional trainer, with a family, who has experienced the bad luck that can keep so many careers from ever taking off. But his years of dedication to the sport paid off when he jumped 66 fences clean over the World Cup’s three days and took the title.
The Maryland Hunt Cup has for more than a century been this country’s most prestigious, and most formidable, race over timber fences. Although the field is limited to amateur riders, it’s full of experienced horses conditioned by the winningest trainers in the sport. It’s a high-quality field that sets forth for 4 miles, and this year, a quirky little horse named Bug River outran them all. Bug River is the lone representative of trainer Regina Welsh’s stable. He lives in a barn full of foxhunters, and Welsh has spent years trying to figure him out and trying to find the key to unlock his ability.
While Kim Severson collected her third blue ribbon and watch at the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** (p. 8), the weekend was just as much a triumph for Kim Morani, who took 10th place on her Test Run, a fourth-generation homebred whom she’d raised and trained from birth. It was Morani’s first four-star, after spending her life in the sport. She’s a low-
budget professional who has waited decades to have a horse of Test Run’s caliber. Jumping clean around that monster of a course was such a thrill that walking into the awards ceremony was an almost surreal ending. Her clear rounds were what really made her happy-he ribbon was just a bonus.
The last weekend in April was truly a moment when dreams came true and hard work paid off. These three horsemen showed us all that one horse can carry you far beyond where you ever imagined you could go. I hope it’s refreshing for you to read about them, just as it was for us to write about them. It’s every journalist’s hope to uncover and to be able to relate the tales of people like Morani, Welsh and Broucqsault- and their wonderful horses- to you. They’re the stories that make us all realize that, with the right horse, just about anything is possible.