45 of the 72 current Rolex entries are entered in the CIC3* or Advanced this weekend, which means we will get to see all but a couple US Rolex horses in action together.
And then there were two. Nearly four weeks ago, we started this little game with 32 of the best event horses we could think of, and now we are down to the last ones standing: WINSOME ADANTE and CHARISMA.
Charisma knocked out Murphy Himself yesterday; by Podge's standards, it was a real nailbiter! Murphy made a strong showing, with over 30% of the vote, but Charisma was simply too much to overcome. We'll see today if Charisma can dominate one final matchup...
Winsome Adante or Charisma? It's so hard to choose. From two different eras, with two very different riders. Dan doesn't have an individual gold to his credit, but his presence at a three-day almost meant everyone else was competing for "also-ran." And Charisma...what more can we say? Double gold-medallist, Badminton runner-up, and inspiration to all.
Such a tough decision...maybe I can convince John to let us vote twice!
1. WINSOME ADANTE vs. 2. CHARISMA
One thing is clear: the Team is sending its riders to Rolex. In the past, the USET has sometimes elected to send horses to spring 3*'s, but if you want to ride in Kentucky this fall, it looks like you're going to have to ride in Kentucky this spring. Even though the WEG track will look very different from Rolex (except for a few shared elements), it makes sense to give the horses a feel for the environment and setting. The WEG course will also be bigger than Rolex, so we might as well see who can handle 4* size and technicality now.
Will C. and Twizzel (5th Luhmuhlen CCI4* 09)
Buck and BallyNoe Castle RM (11th Burghley 09, 15th Rolex 09)
Boyd and Neville (9th Rolex 08)
Phillip and TruLuck (4th Burghley 09, 9th Rolex 07)
Phillip and Woodburn (12th Rolex 09, 9th Rolex 08)
Amy and Leyland (14th Burghley 09, 13th Rolex 09)
11 out of 14 B-listers are entered:
Stephen and Brandenburg's Joshua (10th Rolex 09, 4th Rolex 08)
Phillip and Waterfront (24th Rolex 07)
Buck and My Boy Bobby (3rd Rolex 09)
Phillip and Connaught (7th Rolex 09, DQ Olympics, 1st Rolex 08, 2nd Rolex 07)
Phillip and Kheops du Quesnay (none, unless he did one before PD got him)
Will F. and Pawlow (none)
Kristi Nunnink and R-Star (none)
Karen and Mandiba (E Burghley, 44th Olympics)
Allison and Arthur (E Burghley 09, 14th Rolex 09, 13th Rolex 08)
Amy and Coal Creek (none)
Jennifer Wooten-Dafoe and The Good Witch (31st Burghley 09, MR Rolex 09, 7th Rolex 08, 11th Pau 07)
As a trivial experiment, taking the highest placed horses at 4*'s would yield a four horse team of Connaught (1st Rolex), My Boy Bobby (3rd Rolex), Brandenburg's Joshua (4th Rolex), Twizzel (5th Luhmuhlen) because PD isn't allowed to take 2 horses. Thankfully, that's not how selection works...I think.
If riding around a four-star in front of tens of thousands of people isn't enough pressure, consider that a team spot is on the line, a position which represents an incredible personal achievement, big sponsorships, recognition for the horse, and, most of all, that red jacket. The WEG selectors will take countless factors into consideration, but their memory of how each pair looked at Rolex, around the biggest course, on the biggest stage, on the WEG facilities, will surely have a huge impact on their selections.
Good news from Courtney's site today, which reports that:
"While Courtney is no longer in a Coma she still needs more time to fully emerge. The Head of the Brain Injury Department has described her current phase as being at the higher end of a "Minimally Conscious State". She has some awareness of her surroundings and responds inconsistently to requests." More from the Chronicle
That time in March with lots of basketball insanity but whose name is copyrighted by the NCAA March Madness is well underway at Eventing Nation and we continue our Final Four (also trademarked by the NCAA) matchups today. Yesterday, Dan's three Rolex victories were just too much for the extraordinary Tailor, but the USA couldn't have a better horse in the finals than Dan.
COMMENT OF THE DAY:
"Kim" had yet another great story, this time about Tailor:
Eight years ago, when my children were 4 and 7, we went to Rolex for cross country day. Custom Made had been retired, and he was there at Rolex to meet his fan. (I believe the O'Connors were signing autographs also, but not when we were there). Tailor was in a portable corral with a tent over it--probably 20 x 25 feet. His fans were allowed to come up to one side of the fence. My children, wildly excited, reached down and pulled up handfuls of grass, and held them out to him. He walked over, looked my son straight in the eye, and gently ate the grass from my son's hand. Then he stepped sideways, looked my daughter in the eye, and ate the grass from her hand. Then he paused and looked me in the eye. I had the oddest sense that if he could have, he would have shook my hand. The people beside me, imitating my children, offered him grass, and Tailor did the same thing for each of them--stopped, looked, ate the grass--all down the row. Which was when I realized he was standing on grass--he could have been grazing with his butt towards us, but instead he was acknowledging his fans.
As an aside, it started raining hard at lunchtime, but my son was an enormous fan of Bruce Davidson's and refused to leave until he'd seen Little Tricky ride. We were therefore 3 of the 7 people still at the Head of the Lake to see Bruce and Tricky come through like it was some kind of equitation class, easy-peasy and Bruce grinning from ear to ear.
For the record Kim, I was another one of the 7 watching Bruce ride through that hurricane. I doubt I will ever see a more incredible ride in my entire life. I should also mention that, while some people did leave because of the weather (dressage folks come to Rolex too, you know), I remember a lot more than 7 people sticking around to cheer Bruce on. And, despite the wind and rain, those of us remaining made one of the loudest cheers the Head of the Lake has ever heard.
TODAY'S MATCHUP: Best of the World
On the other side of the bracket we have (1) Charisma facing (6) Murphy Himself. Charisma has absolutely steamrolled through this Bracket Battle, winning his first three matchups by 98%, 86%, and 84% of the votes. The tiny, part-Percheron, two time Olympic champion who was nicknamed 'Podge' for his love of food is going to be tough to stop. Charisma's opponent, Murphy Himself has had an impressive tournament with wins over higher seeds in two previous matchups, and the horse, who succeeded under both Ginny Leng and Ian Stark, has become a fan favorite. Can Murphy Himself keep up his upsets, or will Charisma defeat yet another opponent?
1. Charisma vs. 6. Murphy Himself
VISIONAIRE EDITED TO ADD VIDEO: Murphy starts at about 1:50 in the video; he's shuffled in with Glenburnie, and it's hard to tell the two grays apart! Murphy is the slightly darker one, often doing outrageously bold things (as usual). Charisma starts around 3:00. He really does look like a pony under Mark Todd!
I recently took an interesting trip to Gulfport, MS to attend an event normally avoided by someone like myself. I went to...cue shock and awe...a hunter/jumper show. Now before you get your panties all in a wad, let it go and listen up.
We are just over three weeks away from what Lauren deemed "The Three Day That Shall Not Be Named," are you getting excited? While most competitors still have one last major obstacle waiting in North Carolina, the Rolex entries have closed and it's time to take an early look at the Rolex entries.
Notes: The entries are up from the starters of the three previous years. 2007 had 44 starters (33 USA), 2008 had 42 (32 USA), and last year 50 horses started Rolex. (28 US),
Certainly, less than 69 horses will start Rolex for a variety of reasons. Injuries are most likely in the last month before three-days; I have heard estimates from top vets that as many as 30% of horses withdraw due to injury in the last month before four-stars.
Additionally, several of the horses are cross-entered at Badminton, inclusing WFP's Cool Mountain, Woodburn, and OT's Carousel Quest and Master Rose.
Notes: 65% of 2010's entries are US pairs, which is right on the average percentage from the three previous years: 2007 (75% US riders), 2008 (76%), 2009 (56%).
Well, the end of March draws near and our Bracket Challenge is down to the very best, as voted by you. Our Final Four has been determined: CUSTOM MADE, WINSOME ADANTE, MURPHY HIMSELF, and CHARISMA. A truly deserving group of horses, each of whom really showed us what eventing is all about. From here out, we will present only one matchup each day, as I'm sure it will be tough to decide!
COMMENT OF THE DAY:
"Kim" had a wonderful story about Charisma from last Friday's post. It's amazing how these horses impact our lives, despite the fact that we may never even meet them in person.
The first time I ever even saw eventing was in 1984. I was 17, had longed for years to someday learn to ride a horse (I was still a few years away from it). On a summer afternoon I flipped on the tv to whatever the coverage was from the LA Olympics, and saw the most wonderful thing--gorgeous acres of green, huge solid jumps, horses galloping over things I'd never dreamed existed. It was cross country, and I was mesmerized, hooked from that moment on. A few days later I sat with my boyfriend and parents to watch the closing ceremonies, and into the LA Colisseum came two big horses and one little. Then the riders dismounted--two little and one big. Mark Todd and Charisma had won their first Olympic medal.
I started riding a little over a year later, but it wasn't until almost twenty years after that that I finally began to event. Charisma's photo hangs in my guest bathroom (my husband--that boyfriend of 25 years ago--won't let me hang it above our bed). I'll vote for Charisma first, last, and always. What a horse!
TODAY'S MATCHUP: Best of the US
Who will earn the right to represent the Stars and Stripes in the final showdown? Both (2) CUSTOM MADE and (1) WINSOME ADANTE proved their competitive greatness on the biggest of stages. Tailor has an Individual Olympic Gold; Dan has an Individual Silver, Team Bronze, and WEG Team Gold. Tailor won Badminton; Dan won Rolex three times. Both excelled in all three phases, in the long format. I would give a slight edge to Winsome Adante; David O'Connor was a very big name aside from Custom Made, but Dan really pushed Kim Severson to the top of the world scene. I don't think you can go wrong selecting either horse!
1. WINSOME ADANTE vs. 2. CUSTOM MADE