Rolex Rookies: Alex Green and Fernhill Cubalawn

It's that time of year again: spring flowers, warm weather and, most importantly, Rolex Kentucky. This year, we will be highlighting riders who are making their first appearance in North America's only CCI4* event. This week, we begin this new series with Alex Green, a Tennessee native who is excitedly counting down the days to the last weekend in April. Thank you for your time, Alex, and thank you for reading.

Alex Green and Fernhill Cubalawn at The Fork in 2013. Photo by Jenni Autry. Alex Green and Fernhill Cubalawn at The Fork in 2013. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Alex Green is chomping at the bit to make her first Rolex appearance. Together with her coming 10-year-old Holsteiner Fernhill Cubalawn, she has spent the last five years of their partnership working for the goal that is Rolex. Based in Tennessee, Alex views her location as a blessing, as she is relatively centrally located to many eventing hotspots, such as Aiken, Virginia and Georgia.

Alex first came upon Fernhill Cubalawn while she had two OTTBs of her own who were, in her words, a difficult pair. “They were kind of runaways on cross country, didn’t really like the dressage and usually had rails in show jumping,” Alex said. On a stroke of luck, her longtime coach Julie Richards was in contact with UK eventer Jonelle Richards, who was campaigning Fernhill Cubalawn at the Preliminary level. Alex recalled many people’s first reaction upon seeing the then 5-year-old, who was quite short coupled and small. “None of the girls really liked him. He was really like a pony on long legs, a little short coupled and short necked,” Alex said. “Julie showed me his sale video, and I really liked him, so I ended up buying him off the video.”

Alex and Cuba, as he is known at home, quickly formed a solid partnership, completing their first Intermediate together at Surefire Farm in 2011. After moving up to Advanced, the pair successfully completed the CCI3* at Fair Hill in 2012 and were thus qualified for Rolex in 2013. “Being so green to the level, I felt that it might be better to put another three-star under our belts instead of going straight to Rolex. Since we are both young, I thought it would be better to get some more experience first,” Alex said.

Alex and Cuba at Bromont. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Alex and Cuba at Bromont. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Alex took Cuba to Bromont in 2013, finishing 10th in the CCI3*, and finished out the year at the Advanced level with an 11th place finish at the American Eventing Championships. After Bromont, Alex and coach Julie sat down to map out a plan for the next year, and they decided that Rolex was a logical next step. “We figured we might as well try something harder,” Alex laughed. This year, the pair most recently completed the Red Hills CIC3* and plan to head to The Fork as their final prep for Rolex.

Coming in to Rolex as a first-time competitor, Alex doesn’t show any sign of butterflies or stage fright. “I’ve always liked being the underdog,” she said. “It has to be much worse to be William Fox-Pitt or Phillip Dutton, when everyone is expecting you to score well in the dressage, have a double-clear cross country and not even think about touching a rail in show jumping. I’d much rather be Alex Green! I feel much less pressure. Looking back, last year I was so gung-ho for Rolex, but I’m glad I took the time to do another three-star, so I feel really good about it now.”

After The Fork, Alex and Cuba will return home to Tennessee to put the finishing touches on their fitness and flatwork before heading to Kentucky. “I’ve worked with Phillip (Dutton) this winter to put together a good fitness plan, and it seems to be working because he feels ready. I wouldn’t mind if Rolex were tomorrow, actually, because he feels like he’s ready.”

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