Last week’s Ocala Jockey Club International was special for a whole variety of reasons: it was a showcase of girlpower at its finest, it offered generous prize money – always an enormous boost in a sport too often plagued by poor winnings, and hey, it was sunny! (Look, I’m British, every conversation comes back to the weather eventually. Fight me.)
But there was one thing that was extra-special about Ocala: it saw the return of Phillip Dutton. Now, I lived and evented in the States for long enough to know that if there are thirty horses in any given division at any given event, P. Dutty will be riding approximately 28 of them, so his absence is felt keenly when he’s not around – which isn’t often, because I’m not sure the man knows what a holiday is and, for the most part, he’s pretty indestructible.
True to form, he well and truly Dutton-ed Ocala, entering what appeared to be every single horse in his barn, and doing rather well on them, too. So to that, let’s raise a glass: to the continuing domination of Phillip Dutton. What. A. Legend.
Dutton verb To claim dominance over something through sheer force of will and hard work. Alternately, to enter a competition so many times that, statistically, you’re destined to do quite well. (If said statistics also take into account superhuman talent.)
In honour of the man of the hour, here’s a little throwback to the lead-up to Rio, featuring some wise words and behind-the-scenes glimpses into what, exactly, makes a champion.