Remembering Antigua

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Will Faudree this morning shared that his friend and the partner who carried him to countless career milestones, the Australian Thoroughbred gelding Antigua, has passed away at the age of 32. Truly the “one that started it all” for Will, “Brad” remained a beloved member of his family through his retirement and golden years.

I always thought I would have something profound to write. A eulogy that would encapsulate the impact you had on my…

Posted by Will Faudree on Saturday, May 8, 2021

Found in Australia by Phillip Dutton to be a teacher for Will, who was 20 and working for Phillip at the time, Antigua would emerge as Will’s first-time then-four star horse and the one who would take him to his first team and overseas experiences. Above all, Antigua was the patient partner and a teacher on whom Will had zero cross country penalties throughout their partnership. “I didn’t teach that horse a damn thing. He taught me so much,” Will told us a few years ago.

Together, Will and Antigua traveled the world, touring five-stars (casually completing Kentucky twice as well as picking up a top-25 finish at both Badminton and Burghley) and representing Team USA at the 2003 Pan American Games and the 2006 World Equestrian Games. Antigua was retired at Southern Pines, near Will’s home base at Gavilan Farm, in 2009 and would do a little show jumping later on, always the energetic worker bee looking for more to do.

“Brad taught Will so many things: how to be competitive, how to win, patience,” Jessica Bortner-Harris wrote for EN in 2012. “However, Will says the biggest thing that Brad taught him is work ethic. Every day that Will got on him, he marched away from the mounting block with purpose and ready to take on the task of the day. Brad loved his job.”

Even at the height of their success, Will held on to a reminder from U.S. Olympic gold medalist Karen Stives: “At Carolina International [in 2014], we honored the members of the gold medal winning 1984 Olympic team,” Will recalled in a Thoroughbred Legends interview a few years ago. “I told Karen Stives that I owed a large part of my career to her. After I’d gotten around my first WEG in 2006, she congratulated me and said, ‘Don’t expect your next horse to fill his shoes.’ I always remembered that and was always so thankful to be reminded of how special he was for me.”

“My favorite Broadway musical is ‘Wicked,’ and there’s a song that will always remind me of him: ‘For Good’,” he continued. “One of the lyrics says ‘Who’s to say if I’ve been changed for the better, but because I knew you, I have been changed for good.’ That’s Brad to me. He changed my life. He gave me the plane ticket to the career I’ve dreamed of my entire life.”

During Antigua’s retirement ceremony in 2009, Will gave the following speech to his friend:

I know if I let Brad, he would be the one up here. After all, it is his party and like most of his big occasions, I am just along for the ride!

It all started 8 years ago when I was at Phillip and Evie Dutton’s house. Phillip and I were on the phone with my parents talking about getting this horse called Antigua from Australia. My mom asked the obvious question of “would I be able to ride him?” and Phillip gave the obvious answer of “a monkey could so I had half a shot.” The same applies tonight, providing the monkey has a tux and a lisp.

There are so many people that are here that have been a part of Brad’s career and I know how thankful Brad is. I want to thank Joanie Morris and Doretta Gaudreau who were there for him day in and day out at different times of his career—helping to make his stars reachable. His vets—Dr.’s Tom Daniels, Kevin Keane, Christianna Ober, and Brendon Furlong; his farriers—Dave Kumpf, Greg Davis, and Steve Teichman. Colby Saddington for teaching me what I know about horse management and going with me to try him (and me telling everyone on the flight that we were going on out honeymoon, so we could get up-graded to Business class). Didn’t work. That was when I really irritated her.

Coaches—so many people that helped me with Brad over the years that I cannot begin to name you all. Phillip Dutton, thank you for your belief in Brad and me and your time that helped develop our partnership. Bobby Costello, when I ventured out from the constant direction of Phillip you gave me the knowledge of believing in myself as a rider and as a person—thank you. Captain Mark Phillips, who is not here, but in my last lesson on Brad with him we were at The Fork the day before the mandatory outing this past summer and I had set up what I wanted to jump. He and Sandy came over and I jumped what I felt Brad needed (not much) and Mark leaned against a standard and said “What an amazing athlete.” Those 4 words summed it up.

Which brings me to the Guiding force behind Brad’s career. MY FAMILY! My Mom and Dad who have never questioned what Brad was doing or where Brad was going and were always there with no expectations. Y’all have given so much to us always putting Kristen, Keegan and I first in all that we wanted to do, never doubting our dreams and sacrificing so much to help us achieve our dreams—from baseball to Africa to Aachen. No words can justify your support.
And lastly I want to thank Brad. I think that the biggest thing Brad has taught me is that when a true champion gets to the end of the road they find another gear and carry on no matter what. With that said, what I have learned recently is that a true champion also knows when to bow out, leaving a mark that few will ever forget. Whether it is lighting up a room with an infectious smile or simply leaving the start box—here’s to Brad!

The EN team is thinking of Will and all who were lucky enough to know Antigua. Please share your favorite memories of “Brad” in the comments.