Jose Ortelli and JOS Aladar (ARG): Facebook
I met Jose and his family for the first time at The Fork because our camper hookups were next to each other, and he struck me as a very nice, very laid back guy. Our fun fact about Jose is that his father was also a very accomplished rider. JOS Aladar has considerable experience and took Jose to the Pan Ams in 2007, and placed 26 at Rolex last year. I expect Jose to be in the back half of the field after dressage, but it’s all up from there because JOS Aladar looked like a XC machine at The Fork.
Kate Hicks and Belmont: Facebook
One of our wonderful readers (who asked to remain anonymous) had mercy on me for having so many horses to preview and wrote this very nice bio about Kate and Belmont:
“Kate Hicks (nee Ditchey) hails originally from Vermont where she and her sister were avid pony clubbers. At 10, her family moved to Northern California where she continued to event. After high school, Kate moved south to take a working student position with Bea and Derrick DeGrazia (sp?) with whom she remains very close. The DeGrazia’s encouraged Kate to move east to ride with Phillip Dutton. She took their advice and earned a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science at the University of Delaware while training with Phillip (and working as a working student for him in the summers). After earning her degree, Kate took a job in the Neo-natal intensive care unit at New Bolton Center but shortly realized that riding horses was her true passion. She became a full-time employee at True Prospect Farm. Roughly two years ago, Kate and her finance (now husband) purchased Cedar Springs Farm in Cochranville, PA. Kate now runs her own boarding and training business but continues to train with Phillip Dutton and Silva Martin.
Kate purchased Belmont while a working student at True Prospect. Belmont had been sent to Phillip to be sold and Kate fell in love with him. Her own horse had just suffered an injury requiring extended rest so she purchased Belmont as a project horse (he had never gone above training when he arrived at Phillip’s). Over time, Kate and Belmont developed a deep bond as she took him up the levels. Kate made the very difficult decision to put Belmont on the market two years ago due to the financial pressures of the sport in general, buying a farm and getting married. Boyd Martin took over the ride on Belmont for about a year campaigning him. Kate kept him at home during that time, keeping Belmont fit and doing all of his training. Boyd liked Belmont so much that he tried to form a syndicate to buy Belmont so that he could keep the ride. Due to the implosion of the market, Belmont did not sell. Kate, with lots of encouragement from her family and friends, enthusiastically took back the ride on Belmont.
Since that time, Kate and Belmont completed Fair Hill CCI3* with a clean cross country run, won the February Pine Top Intermediate division on a dressage score of 28, were 2nd in the Advanced division at Southern Pines and ran a combined test at the Fork. Belmont has completed four CIC & CCI 3* since 2008 and won the 2009 CIC*** at Jersey Fresh. Kate is an incredibly hard worker and dedicated to the welfare of her horses. She and Belmont are an excellent team who completely adore each other.”
So, obviously our fun fact about Kate is somewhere above. Belmont is excellent on Saturdays, with zero stops in his last 14 events (7 with Boyd, 7 with Kate), so look for a quality weekend from this first-time 4* team.
I think we all know who Oliver Townend is, but if I had to sum his eventing career up in a sentence, I would say that he is an extremely talented rider with a chance to be considered one of the best riders ever, but his reputation is marred right now by questionable horsemanship decisions and unsettling stories. Our fun fact is that Master Rose was sired by Master Imp, and that Oliver follows Eventing Nation on Twitter. After two 4* wins (nearly 3), Oliver has a chance at the $350,000 Rolex Grand Slam, and you can expect him to be doing everything within his considerable faculties to win at Rolex. Master Rose will be competing in his first 4*, and has not placed higher than 3rd in 10 previous 3* events. But, I wouldn’t want to bet against any horse that Oliver is riding.
Our fun fact about Karl is that he apparently likes Vanilla Ice. The musician performing artist, not the food. Rocking the Yellow and Green, Karl is an easy person to root for, and a good rider as long as he can correctly recite the 5 rein aids (inside joke). Charley Farley (17.1 Grey ISH G) has some question marks coming into Rolex, as Karl’s Fanpage explained that he scratched from The Fork due to a sore hoof, but Charley Farley is a talented horse and the pair will be competing for a WEG spot.
Honestly, when I started my research, I coulnd’t have told you if ‘Stanislas’ was a male or female name. And then I realized that Stanislas (fun fact: male) was eliminated on Saturday at Rolex last year after sitting in 17th (50.3) following the dressage. Stanislas represented France later in 2009 at the European Championships, where he and Quirinal placed 18th. Quirinal is a very athletic and handsome bay horse, and should place well if he can get around the XC. Stanislas will be wearing light brown in both the dressage and show jumping due to his service in the French armed forces. Ok, I just got through an entire sentence about the French army without making a single joke, give me some credit.
Leslie Law and Fleeceworks Mystere Du Val (GBR): Homepage
Our fun fact about Leslie is that he usually pumps his hands at his horses when approaching XC combinations. Watch: when you see him do it at Rolex, you will think of this preview. Olympic champion Leslie Law brings a very nice horse in Mystere (17hh Chestnut Selle Francais G) to Rolex this year. Mystere Du Val is one of the top 5 combined test horses in the field, and is a proven winner; Leslie and Mystere have won 10 of the last 16 competitions that they completed. However, the last two XC rides have raised questions for Mystere with a fall at the Poplar Irish bank, two stops at Chattahoochee.
Bonnie is one of our favorites here at Eventing Nation, and so is Merloch. As a fun fact about Merloch (16.1 Grey TBX G), he won the Young Riders 2* in 2006 with his previous rider. Our fun fact about Bonnie is that she used to be a professional downhill skier, which is probably where she gets her great balance. Merloch has a nearly perfect XC record, with only one stop in 19 events with Bonnie. That one stop came at Rolex ’09, but with a CCI3* (Jersey ’07) together, Bonnie and Merloch are a pair that could place well within the top 10 if they put together a good weekend.
The return of the brackets! (kinda): Between our competitors preview part 1 from yesterday and this post, we have previewed 12 riders so far. The plan is to have an Eventing Nation Rolex pick, chosen by all of our readers, at the end of all the previews. After every 10 previews or so, we will publish a poll to pick the top riders from that group of 10, and then we will have the winning competitors from several groups face each other, and repeat (probably 3 rounds of voting) until we have an EN pick. In the first round, everyone gets 3 votes, and the three top combinations from each group will advance to the next round.
The Chronicle published a piece today about riders withdrawing from Rolex and added Holly Payne’s Madeline, Barbara Crabo and Everready, Clayton Fredericks (AUS) and The Frog, Heelan Tompkins (NZL) and Sugoi, and Sandra Donnelly (CAN) and Buenos Aires to our previous list of Oliver Townend’s Carousel Quest, Woodburn, TruLuck, Connaught, Ballynoecastle, Bobby, and Vaugnted. There are even more horses I believe, including Nicki Henley, and one of Jose Ortelli’s horses. This list will only grow as Rolex nears.