Phillip Dutton and Mighty Nice’s Olympic Performance Honored at Plantation Field

From left, Emma Ford, Mighty Nice, Phillip Dutton and Roy Burek. Photo by Jenni Autry. From left, Emma Ford, Mighty Nice, Phillip Dutton and Roy Burek. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Charles Owen sponsored a recognition ceremony for Phillip Dutton and HND Group’s Mighty Nice at Plantation Field International Horse Trials on Sunday to honor their individual bronze medal performance at the 2016 Olympic Games.

It was Mighty Nice’s first public appearance since wowing the world in Rio de Janeiro, and super groom Emma Ford had him turned out to the nines, beautifully braided and sporting a custom cooler.

Mike Tucker emceed the ceremony, and Boyd Martin first shared his thoughts on the Olympics: “It was a really tough cross country, and if anyone saw it on the live stream, you saw Phillip and his horse Mighty Nice come to the corner at fence 6. He didn’t quite read it, and there was a moment where any normal horse or normal rider would have glanced off the jump.

“But Phillip being Phillip and Mighty Nice being Mighty Nice somehow found their way through the flags. For me that was a defining moment. It really speaks to the character of Phillip, and it also speaks to the heart of Mighty Nice.”

Roy Burek, Mike Tucker and Boyd Martin during the ceremony. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Roy Burek, Mike Tucker and Boyd Martin during the ceremony. Photo by Jenni Autry.

“Phillip for me has obviously been a life-long mentor,” Boyd continued. “On these Olympic trips he’s our unofficial team captain, and you see the quality of a person by the way he leads the team. I can tell you I’ve been on a few U.S. teams, and I don’t think I would have completed a couple of those courses without Phillip’s guidance. He’s a selfless person and a great guy, too.

“This is a special horse. The late Bruce Duchossois passed away two years ago, and this was Bruce’s horse. It was one of those events where we all felt Bruce was watching from above cheering Mighty Nice on. It’s a huge achievement, and it’s awesome that in our back yard here in Chester County we have one of the greatest riders in the world,” Boyd concluded.

Roy Burek presented Phillip Dutton with a plaque and photo from the victory gallop in Rio. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Roy Burek presented Phillip Dutton with a plaque and photo from the victory gallop in Rio. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Roy Burek, president of Charles Owen, then presented Phillip with a commemorative plaque and photo from the victory gallop in Rio. “It’s been an extremely proud time to work with Phillip, and we’re really honored to recognize Phillip’s achievements. We’ve been working together for more than 10 years, and when we choose riders to work with, we want their input and we want them to push us to be our best,” he said.

“The AyrVest was very much Phillip’s idea. After a few years of development Phillip said it was right, and we’re proud to be sponsors of the equipment for the U.S. Olympic team. Certainly for us we really look at the sport and try to think about how we can improve safety all the time and really invest that. Phillip pushes us on to find the new boundaries.”

Lastly, Phillip thanked everyone for attending the ceremony. “To be in a community that really gets behind its riders and supports everything we do is wonderful. It becomes a little bit more than a sport. I’m so proud and pleased to be a part of this community.”

Happy loved all of the attention from his fans. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Happy loved all of the attention from his fans. Photo by Jenni Autry.

The best part of the ceremony had to be when Phillip and Emma invited fans to come into the ring and meet Mighty Nice. This horse is named “Happy” for a reason, and he genuinely seemed to enjoy all of the attention, plus the surplus of mints and carrots from Emma.

Thank you to Charles Owen for sponsoring such a touching tribute to Phillip and Happy. Keep scrolling for a full gallery of photos from the ceremony, and click here to catch up on all of EN’s coverage from Plantation Field. Go Eventing.

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