Paris Ahoy: Seven-Year-Old World Champion Sold to the USA

Kevin McNab’s newly-minted World Champion Cute Girl shows why she’s head and shoulders above the rest at Le Lion d’Angers in 2021. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

There’s not a lot that gets our heart rates up in February – but high-profile horse transfers certainly do the trick, and truly, ’tis the season for them. Following on from the transfer of Chris Burton‘s Jefferson and Blenheim eight- and nine-year-old winner Clever Louis to young British star Bubby Upton, and Kevin McNab‘s Osberton CCI3*-L victor Scuderia 1918 Humphreys to Piggy March, we’re excited to reveal the news of yet another Australian superstar switching camps this week – and this time, the horse in question is joining the US efforts with an eye on Paris 2024.

Kevin McNab‘s 2021 Seven-Year-Old World Champion Cute Girl (Coventry x Caligula, by Clearway) has joined the string of Ocala-based young professional Hallie Coon, who has previously represented the USA at Houghton Hall Nations Cup, taking team silver in 2018 with former top ride Celien, and finishing seventh in a hot field in 2021’s Nations Cup finale at Boekelo CCI4*-L, where she competed as an individual with the inexperienced Global Ex. (Spare a thought for her head groom Tabby Fiorentini, who now has two grey mares to prepare for competitions – perhaps a purple shampoo sponsorship should be in the works, too?)

Hallie Coon and Global Ex. Photo by Shelby Allen.

“She just has every quality you could possibly want in a championship horse — she tries so hard; she’d basically try and give you anything,” says Hallie. “I’m such a mare person, so we meshed really, really well — I can’t even describe the feeling. It’s so incredibly exciting for me to have another unbelievable mare in my string, and I’m so grateful for all the support I’ve had to secure this — I’m pretty overwhelmed at the whole thing!”

We’ve been following Hallie through her career with her powerhouse mare squad — click here for a flashback to her 5* debut at Pau in 2018 and a little more on Hallie’s own origin story — and we’ve devoted no small amount of time to our love of Cute Girl, too, who’s been so expertly produced by Kevin.

Kevin McNab and Cute Girl. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

“We were thinking that Cute Girl would be a great horse for us to aim at Paris, but unfortunately, part of what we have to do in this sport is sell on some good horses,” says the Aussie Olympian. He’ll play an integral part in the getting-to-know-you process, as Hallie plans to travel back to the UK for a bonding bootcamp before the mare makes her way across the pond.

“Now, hopefully we’ll still get to see her go on to Paris. It’s great to see her go to Hallie and we’re looking forward to following them in the future – we wish her all the best and all the success we’ve enjoyed, too,” he continues.

For Hallie, part of the enormous draw of finding her horse of a lifetime is that the mare is coming, quite specifically, from Kevin’s yard.

“Getting to ride such a well-produced and established horse is an unbelievable opportunity,” she says. “To take on a ride of Kevin’s is particularly special, because I’m a huge fan of his style of riding and production: he rides incredibly lightly and brings his horses along to enjoy their work, which was the quality that made me fall in love with Cute Girl from the moment I sat on her. She’s very much her own person, and she’s been given the room to express her opinions – and now, she’s a world-class competitor who’s hungry to find her way to the other side of the flags. She’s got everything you dream of finding in a horse that will go all the way, and for someone who’s dreamed of representing the USA on the world stage my whole life, riding her makes it all feel tangible.”

“I’m incredibly excited about the whole situation and feeling so lucky to have even had the chance. I can’t believe I have the opportunity to do this with such an unbelievable horse who has so much to her name already, and not only is it very exciting, but it’s quite a bit of pressure as well — in a good way! Kevin’s done such an unbelievable job of producing her; I’m honestly a bit speechless.”

Hallie Coon and Global Ex at Boekelo. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

But Hallie and her team won’t be the only lucky folks who get to enjoy the journey — and, with any luck, a French destination — with the sparky, talented mare. Cute Girl is to be syndicate owned, with a novel new model that splits her ownership between several traditional syndicate shares and a microsyndicate club, too, allowing fans of the sport with smaller budgets to get involved and enjoy access to behind-the-scenes exclusive content, training tips and advice, and the chance to join Hallie at events and training sessions. Even more excitingly, Hallie hopes to use the club as an opportunity to get access groups, such as inner-city riding schools, involved for free, creating a community and a chance to learn and network for aspiring riders who hope to get a foot in the door in the industry.

“I think it’s really easy for us all to get caught up in the enormous amount of day-to-day work that comes with producing a string of horses and running a business, and then this disconnect can happen where we don’t see the barriers to entry as easily purely because we have such an enormous degree of separation from them,” says Hallie of her split-syndicate model. “The idea that we all had to work to get where we are and that that path is open to everyone comes from a good place a lot of the time, but it’s not cognizant of the many very real barriers that people from marginalized communities may face. The syndicate offers owners the chance to join an incredibly exciting journey as it happens, but I wanted to give people who might not have the same resources the chance to join in as well and enjoy being an important part of the story. My hope is that this creates a friendly community of people bonded by their love of horses and the sport, allowing for a gateway inward for anyone who wants to take steps up the ladder and take a more active role in the sport.”

We’ll be bringing you plenty more information on this over the next few weeks, but for now, anyone interested in snapping up one of the remaining larger syndicate shares can contact Hallie and her team at [email protected] for more information. In the meantime, Go (US) Eventing!