Tuesday at Rolex Kentucky CCI**** 2013

Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM

Tuesday at the Kentucky Horse Park saw sunny skies for most of the day, and lots of hacking and flatwork from the assembled competitors. I saw Buck ride Reggie down by the main arena where they looked very nice, and earlier watched him ride Mar De Amor up by the stabling.

Mar De Amor is a LOT of horse but Buck rides handles him like a little sports car, making it look easy.

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Becky Holder’s Can’t Fire Me looked super;  Becky was being brave and asking for plenty in the trot and canter extensions, and Teddy delivered.

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Kristi Nunnink rode with David O’Connor early Tuesday  morning and R-Star is looking really good; in the background of her lesson you can see Max Corcoran grazing Master Rose, and Becky Holder grazing Teddy.  Boyd rode Trading Aces with his wife Silva in the afternoon while David looked on.

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Michael Barisone also arrived in the afternoon and helped Phillip Dutton (above on Fernhill Eagle) with both his horses.

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The Canadians are here! Jessie Phoenix worked Exponential with coach Clayton Fredericks, as did Shandiss McDonald and Rockfield Grant Juan (stunning!) Shandiss told me afterwards that this is her first trip to Rolex, although she did come to the WEG here in 2010, but she has never ridden in any competition at the Kentucky Horse Park before.  Conversely, I chatted briefly to Erin Sylvester (13th here last year) and she is adamant that No Boundaries remembers exactly where he is; she told me he got nervous going up to the main arena and kept staring out towards the cross country.

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Seacookie heading out for a hack with William Fox-Pitt

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William’s groom for Rolex 2013,  the super-experienced and lovely Alex Van Tuyll –  she said she’s thrilled to see Max Corcoran again (Max is freelancing this week for Ecaudor’s Ronald Zabala-Goetschel but gutted not to see Will Faudree’s groom Nat V-C, “I know she’s not traveling to competitions anymore but I thought if I was coming then she HAD to come!”).

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Last year Hawley Bennet-Awad’s hair was streaked with red to represent Canada, and Hawley told me it’s blue this year because her colours are blue and white, but I think she’s trying to earn extra Kentucky (Wildcat) points and must be a closet UK fan!

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Hawley joined fellow Olympians and Rolex competitors Boyd Martin and Phillip Dutton, and double World Champion Reiner Lyndsey Jordan to visit at the University of Kentucky Childrens’ Hospital. The hospital is one of the charities that benefits from Rolex each year, and this is the second consecutive year that a group of riders have spent some time with the kids there. Bonte, 10, above, seemed to especially enjoy the company, particularly Boyd, asking him “What? Are you like Crocodile Dundee or something?!” as soon as Boyd said hello! He then showed Boyd his scar and seemed surprised and slightly disappointed when Boyd remarked on how cool it was, “I can’t scare him at all!”  At the end of his visit he chose to pose with Hawley and Lyndsey alone, and when Boyd teased him, “Don’t show that picture to your girlfriend!” he quipped right back, “Which one?!”

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Hawley was a total natural and afterwards said she really enjoyed her time there, while Lyndsey has plenty of practice with children as she teaches Riding for the Handicapped.

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Back at the Kentucky Horse Park it was all business. Andrew Nicholson’s groom Arthur, above with Quimbo, watched Andrew ride on the flat, occasionally offering his opinion when Andrew asked how a certain movement was looking.

 

When Andrew was finished riding I asked him to explain the family tree; Quimbo and Qwanza were both bred by Ramon Beca’s sister, Ana, and may be related to Ramon’s Armada and Nereo (also brothers), “If you traced the mothers back they probably would be, because Nereo’s mother originally came from Ramon’s father – he was a big breeder and when he died he left the breeding stock to his daughter Ana. I would think Nereo’s mother would go back to Quimbo’s mothers but probably three or four generations ago. Quimbo’s father is German, Lacros, a Grand Prix jumper and the mother is by a horse called, she might be by Florian, he was a thoroughbred.” Andrew has had both Quimbo and Qwanza since they were three years old, and when I asked him how long it took him to assess how good a horse might be in the future, he answered without hesitation, “Five minutes. As three year olds – one minute! Put it this way, when Quimbo was three I bought him and Qwanza, they were the only two I bought.  Ramon had asked me to go and look at some young horses Ana had bred for show-jumping that she couldn’t sell them so I looked at half a dozen, and brought this one (Quimbo) and Qwanza.”  Qwanza was seventh here in the Rolex Kentucky CCI**** last year. Andrew shared that he has since gone back and bought more, “I’ve got a bunch of them now, and they’re all related and quite similar. It’s a good breed.”

Perhaps Andrew’s best horse currently, Nereo’s father is a racehorse who raced in Spain and his mother is “English/Irish/French/American….” Nereo’s full brother Armada will be first out on the course next weekend at the Badminton Horse Trials CCI**** with Oliver Townend, after Andrew recommended him as a jockey to owner Paul Ridgeon, “It’s all good publicity; it was my suggestion that Oliver take the ride on the horse, and if it goes well people might buy me horses!” The combination looked very impressive last year, notching up an 8th place at Luhmuhlen CCI**** in the Spring, and then coming back to be 4th at Burghley CCI**** in September, and I had to ask Andrew if he was now worried that he might have helped his competition out a little too effectively, which he completely denied, “The whole idea is it goes well for them; if he beats me he beats me. The owner is still going to have horses with me. I think a lot of people get upset if they lose a ride but although Armada had been very good, I’ve got horses like Nereo, Avebury, Mr Cruise Control all coming along so Armada had become surplus to requirements and I suggested they try Oli.”

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Quimbo working on the flat.

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The riders briefing is Wednesday morning at 1o o clock, and the First Horse Inspection is at 3pm. Last I heard the weather forecast was for heavy rain until about 1pm, and then much cooler here in Kentucky. The rain will do the footing good, but may spoil some of the outfits if it doesn’t clear up on time. Much more on the ‘jog’, and general Rolex coverage to come on Eventing Nation over the next few days; thanks for visiting and Go Eventing!

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