We knew it was going to be a long shot for Boyd Martin to ride at Rolex, and he’s now officially made the call that he’ll sit out at Kentucky. Phillip Dutton will ride Trading Aces at Rolex in Boyd’s place, and Otis Barbotiere and Shamwari 4 will re-route to Jersey Fresh CIC3* and ultimately Luhmühlen.
“I’ve thought long and hard about this, and it would be crushing if I tried to ride Oscar and came up short again,” Boyd said. “I think I’d be lying awake at night wondering if I let the horse down due to my physical condition. Looking back from last year, we were basically 20 seconds from the finish line (before pulling up), and this year I think he’s a lot fitter and a lot more well prepared. The horse has had a wonderful preparation, and he’ll have arguably the best cross-country rider in the world in Phillip.”
It’s possible we still might see Boyd ride in some capacity at Rolex, as he’s considering just riding the dressage with Otis and Shamwari before withdrawing from the other phases. “They’re both going around the Fair Hill CIC3* with Phillip this weekend, and I’m considering taking them down to Kentucky to do the dressage,” Boyd said. “The reality is I don’t want to go down and do a bad test because I’m not strong enough.”
While it’s an easier decision to withdraw Otis and Shamwari from Rolex, Oscar’s entire season has been pushing toward this event, winning the Red Hills CIC3* and Advanced Test A division at The Fork. “He’s in the best shape of his career,” Boyd said. “He’s looking like a racehorse and fit as a fiddle. He had a wonderful prep at Red Hills and The Fork, and I really think the horse could do exceptionally well at Rolex, especially with Phillip’s brilliance in riding cross country.”
Boyd said he and the syndicate members are very grateful Phillip can step in to ride Oscar, especially considering the implications that could have for the World Equestrian Games. As for the other horses, Boyd is optimistic. “A lot of things will change after Rolex,” Boyd said. “If Otis or Shamwari do brilliant at Luhmühlen, I would hope to think they’d both be in the mix. At the moment, it is what it is. I just have to push forward and keep that goal in mind.”
With his schedule freed up considerably at Rolex, Boyd has volunteered to be a speaker at the Thoroughbreds For All event hosted by New Vocations and the Retired Racehorse Training Project next Friday night. Boyd, whose Thoroughbred partners Ying Yang Yo and Neville Bardos are well known by fans, will join Linda Zang, Lynn Symansky, Nuno Santos, Daniel Clasing, Cathy Wieschhoff and many of the competitors riding OTTBs at Rolex. Get your tickets here.