Rolex Competitors Preview (part 6/7)

Check out Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7 of EN’s Rolex competitor previews. 

Stephen Bradley and Brandenburg’s Joshua: Wikipedia, Facebook, Homepage

Our fun fact about Stephen is that he has been part of the last two US gold medal winning Pan American teams in ’03 an ’07.  Stephen is leading the trend in our sport to save experienced horses for three-days and Joshua has done only one competition (March Full Gallop intermediate) since Rolex ’09.  This is probably the most conservative 4* prep I have ever seen.  That said, in three Rolex tries (’06, ’08, and ’09), Joshua places 3rd, 4th, and 10th respectively.  Joshua never stops, makes time when it counts, and has 8 show jumping penalties since 2003, what’s not to like?

Diana Burnett and Manny (CAN): Homepage, Facebook

Our fun fact about Diana is that she is yet another Rolex entrant who likes Vanilla Ice.  Diana and Manny only have three stops on their record in their last 18 competitions, but those came at their only two 4*’s together: Rolex ’09 and Burghley ’09.  The key for Diana is to keep Manny focused and calm.  Hopefully third time’s a charm for this Diana and Manny.

Dorothy Crowell and Radio Flyer: Homepage

Dorothy’s farm is just 30 minutes from the Kentucky Horse Park, making Dorothy and ‘Red’ hometown favorites and the only Lexington area residents competing at Rolex.  Red has really matured on the flat recently, and he is a XC machine to say the least.  While some rails in show jumping will take away their shot to win, I will be cheering for this pair loudly, and so should you

Buck Davidson and Titanium: Homepage

Buck’s chances of picking up his first 4* win fell considerably when he withdrew Bobby and Reggie from Rolex, and he will look to give Titanium a good steady ride around Titanium’s first 4*.  The nine year old ‘Ty’ is one of the best looking horses in the Rolex field, but his show jumping form still needs considerable work and Buck did an incredible job leaving every rail but one up at The Fork.  The show jumping issues will be magnified as horses feel completely different on 4* Sundays.  But, that’s why they pay Buck the big bucks.  Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Hilda Donahue and Extravagance (IRL): Jimmy’s Prediction

Hailing from the land of Leprechauns and beer, otherwise known as Orlando, Florida, Hilda and Extravagance have had a busy spring.  They have completed 6 events, but 5 of those events were at the intermediate or prelim level, which raises questions about whether they are prepared to run clean and fast around a 4*.  They had a decent competition at The Fork CIC3*, and will be hoping for the same at Rolex.  

Philip Dutton and Waterfront: Surefire Eventing

Phillip picked up the ride on Waterfront while Jan is recovering.  The pair did have a stop in their first run together at Southern Pines, but they looked great at The Fork CIC3*.  I doubt they will put together a three perfect enough phases to win but a solid weekend will give them a shot at the top 10.

William Fox-Pitt and Cool Mountain: Homepage, Wikipedia

William is one of my favorite riders to watch because he rides with nearly perfect form for his height.  One fun thing is to watch his helmet: it almost never changes height throughout the entire XC course as he protects his horse from sudden changes in his center of gravity.  Speaking of his height, make sure you see William standing on the ground once, he is very tall, and typically stands almost a foot taller than his entourage.

Cool Mountain ‘Ollie’ placed 9th, 7th, and 1st in three CCI3*’s last year.  Ollie has a very good show jumping record, but he has had double digit XC time penalties at all but one of his advanced level competitions.  Because of this, I can’t pick them to win Rolex, but a top 10 is well within reason. 

Boyd Martin and Rock on Rose: Homepage

Toward the end of the day on Saturday, you are going to see someone riding a red horse wearing very bright yellow and red.  Do not be alarmed.  ‘Lusty’ is owned by Bruce Davidson and so Boyd rides her in the Davidson colors.  The mare usually lives at Chesterland and Bruce is extremely involved in Lusty’s daily routine, which gives Boyd a tremendous advantage.  Rolex will be Lusty’s first 4*, and she stopped once at her only CCI3*, but she is one of the best show jumpers in the field and I would bet Boyd finds a way to get her around the XC.  The dressage is a major question mark with this pair as Lusty’s horse trial flat scores with Boyd have ranged from 35 to 66, and I am concerned that the tension of Friday afternoon at Kentucky will lead to a sub-par dressage score, making them play catchup all weekend.

please excuse the music: Silva makes a much better dressage rider/supermodel than DJ

Becky Holder and Courageous Comet: Homepage

The beautiful ‘Comet’ is one of the most talented and most experienced horses in the field.  Comet’s dressage test will have the Rolex crowd gasping, and he will be in the top 3 after dressage.  In terms of experience, Comet has been to 8 four-star events (Rolex ’04, Luhmuhlen ’05, Rolex ’06, Burghley ’06, Rolex ’07, Rolex ’08, Olympics ’08, and Burghley ’09).  The problem, and we all know what is coming, is that Becky and Comet have struggled to put together a good weekend under pressure.  In the three of their eight 4*’s where Becky and Comet didn’t have a stop or more on XC, they had 16, 12, and 8 show jumping penalties.  The 8 SJ penalties at Rolex ’08 was still good enough for second, but it’s hard to win under those circumstances no matter how spectacular the dressage. 

Becky and Comet make me think of the last 5 Yankee teams where all the ESPN pundits kept picking them to win the World Series and then the Yankees would fizzle in the post season.  Last year the pundits finally gave up on picking the Yankees-and then they won.  If Becky and Comet get around the XC, Becky and Comet are a lock for a top 10, no matter what happens show jumping, but I can’t pick them to do any better than that.

Amy Tryon and Leyland: Homepage

Leyland’s fun fact is that he is known as “Trouble Tryon” at home.  Last year at this time, Leyland was one of the young guns hoping to make his imprint on eventing.  A year and two four-stars later he is well on his way, but there is still work to be done.  You can pretty well book him for a clean cross-country, but he has more ability in the dressage and show jumping than he has displayed thus far.  With a 48 and a 49 on the flat a Rolex and Burghley last year, he should be able to drop that by 5 points on Thursday.  He also needs to polish up the show jumping with an average of 8 penalties in his last 4 rounds with Amy.  Two better extended trots, and a little extra jump here and there will put them in the top 10 and book his ticket for the WEGs.

EN’s Rolex Pick: Remember that you can vote for three combinations, and the top three will advance to the next round. Please vote for the 3 pairs that you think will place highest in Kentucky.

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