Toothpaste Trousers, Flying Squirrels, and One Heck of a Hat: Welcome to the 2023 LRK3DE Golden Chinch Awards

One of the things that makes these long-standing five-stars feel so special is the chance to relish in tradition: to boldly go where the forefathers of our sport have gone before us; to take the well honed elements of our sport and refine them into something that’s both new and old; to embrace this evolving beast and celebrate what it’s been before us. It’s also about starting new traditions that will outlive us — our legacies.

And this one’s mine: the Golden Chinch Awards, in which I, a professional armchair commentator, gently and lovingly take the piss out of the outfits of the stars. I like to imagine that the next video in the Behind the Barn series will feature a segment asking riders how they feel about me, and it’ll kind of have this vibe:

If one can’t dare to dream, what can one do, really?

Anyway, we like to sweeten the deal for the riders by offering them a consolation prize (even though they already look incredible, to my endless chagrin) – and this time, there’s a pair of the brand new Le Chameau x Fairfax & Favor l’Alliance boots up for grabs. Keep scrolling to meet this week’s contenders, and then head on down to the bottom to vote for your winner – there could be something in it for you, too, you lucky devil.

The Golden Chinch for Being a Barbie Girl in a Barbie World

Booli Selmayr and Millfield Lancando. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The bubblegum blazer. The pink aviators. The high blonde pony tail. The ability to RUN in HEELS. Booli Selmayr has evidently seen the previews for Greta Gerwig’s soon-to-be seminal classic Barbie movie, and she’s moving hard in the direction of Margot Robbie and her pink dream car. But who needs Ryan Gosling and his olive oiled abs when you’ve got a great hunk of a man like Millfield Lancando? A man who can do the fancy trots, the big jumps, and even the smiling at the camera thing that a lot of horses simply do not manage. A catch! A ten! Life in plastic might be fantastic, but I reckon life in the entry list for a five-star might be even better. If I don’t see a hint of pink in her tailcoat, though, I shall simply revolt. In the meantime, I’ve been asked to do, like, loads of hard work here in the EN house, but instead, I’ve just been making these:

The Golden Chinch for Mastering the Meatloaf

Meghan O’Donoghue and Palm Crescent. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

One of my favourite outfits of the day came from Meghan O’Donoghue, whose crocheted two-piece set goes full Stepford Wives on the Trot Strip. This woman will cook you a nourishing three-course meal; will ensure your chrome plated appliances are sparkling; will help the children with their homework; will ultimately slay you in the living room when a pair of teeny weeny rifles erupt from her brassiere and her head spins around. Hang on, have I mixed up the Stepford wives and the fembots again? Maybe. They’re all much of a muchness, right? In any case, I think the general vibe is exactly what Meghan’s gone for: lull everyone into a false sense of security by looking sweet as peach pie on day one; leave ’em all in the dust (…mud) come Saturday. Boom, boom, pow.

The Golden Chinch for Getting the Leg Grease Out Three Days Early

Hawley Bennett Awad and Jollybo. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

It was a pretty warm afternoon at the horse inspection, and I was pretty sure my mascara was starting to migrate down my cheeks at the midway point — until Canadian phenom Hawley Bennett Awad appeared and provided me with a perfect mirror for making sure I was still presentable. I wasn’t.

She, though, brought the noise. Homegirl wore COMBAT BOOTS to the TROT-UP. She swapped her trademark Daenerys Targaryen plaits for a bit of recreational parrot abuse. She donned a lipstick so pink that I’m reasonably confident that she left the Horse Park immediately after the trot-up to go dance on stage at a White Snake gig. In short, I loved it.

The Golden Chinch for the Most Minty Fresh Man in Town

Zachary Brandt and Direct Advance. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

9 out of 10 dentists recommend a mouthful of Zach Brandt morning and evening for improved gum health, minimised risk of gingivitis, and pearly, pearly white gnashers. I’m not sure I’m going to get that one past the censors, but I’m hoping we’ve got enough content coming out today that the EN overlords (and the tenth dentist) just…forget to read this one before we hit publish.

The Golden Chinch for Kicking Ass and Taking Names

Jennie Saville and Twilightslastgleam. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

I unapologetically fight for front row centre when Jennie B comes along for a trot-up, because these last few years, the girl has been killing it. It’s giving 90s grunge princess meets online goth girlfriend. It’s making me want to spend fifteen hours on Reddit arguing about whether or not she was behind Kurt Cobain’s death. I feel like if I meet her after dark behind the stables, she’d give me a prison tattoo with some India ink and a plaiting needle. Sometimes I think I’m really rock and roll, hoiking around a massive camera with a half-sleeve tattoo on show, and then this one appears with her thigh highs and her leather and her SILVER STREAKS poking out from under her black hair and I realise that I am what I always feared I’d be: a poseur. On the outside, you see a high-powered elite horsewoman, but inside of Jennie, there’s this:

The Golden Chinch for Vaudeville Shenanigans

David Doel and Galileo Nieuwmoed. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Come one, come all: it’s the David Doel show, filled with thrills, I very much hope no spills, and almost certainly an interlude in which he’ll juggle while riding a unicycle while also singing the blues. I just know that this man secretly has a dancing dog and a fast-track pass for the finale of Britain’s Got Talent. Here’s a fun fact about David that’s actually true: alongside being a very busy, very hardworking, and very talented event rider, he’s also a key part of his family’s ice cream business. In this get-up, he could have wheeled the soft-serve machine out straight after handing his horse off and I think we’d all have bought into the progression with nary a batted eye. You know what this is, folks? It’s versatility. What could channel the spirit of the sport more than that?

The Golden Chinch for Donning a Technicolour Dreamboat

Allie Knowles and Morswood. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Except this story, I hope, will be a bit less…exciting than the hit musical and the Bible story on which it’s evidently inspired. No less toe-tapping, though, if I have anything to do with it.

It’s mee-maw’s quilt, but this time, it’s actually kind of great. Sorry to your mee-maw.

The Golden Flying Squirrel Award for Destiny’s Child Tribute Acts

Remember back in the day when Beyoncé, Kelly, and the other one would show up on like, TRL or the MTV VMAs in outfits that were kind of the same thing but also kind of not at all? Like, maybe there’d be a camo theme, but Tina Knowles would have sliced Kelly’s up into the teeny-tiny crop top and miniskirt combo that we all aspired to, Beyoncé would have a curve-hugging bodycon dress that was a real 12/10 showstopper, and the other one would have, I dunno, the offcuts or something, I can’t remember. Can anyone remember? Where is the other one now? Anyway, in the case of Alina Dibowski, Liz Halliday-Sharp, and Sydney Solomon, there’s definitely no ‘other one’, because they all look smoking hot, in a ‘frighten me and I’ll take flight into the trees and gaze down at you with very big eyes, for you are an apex predator and I am but a tiny marsupial’ sort of way. It’s also very this:

Never change, ladies.

This Golden Chinch is Brought to You Courtesy of the Red White and Blue

Sandra Auffarth and Viamant du Matz. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

If you’d asked me this morning which non-American-born rider would wear something outrageously patriotic for the trot-up, I’d be wallowing in shame right now for getting it so wrong. Gone are the days of Boyd Martin’s stars-and-stripes suit, and in their place, we have something arguably even better: honky tonk cowgirl and former World Champ Sandra Auffarth, who’s here to put a boot in yer you-know-what, [because] it’s the American way, or something like that, anyway.

As country music star(?) Gretchen Wilson sang, “[Sandra Auffarth’s] a redneck woman; [she] ain’t no high class broad. [She’s] just a product of my raising; [she] says, “hey ya’ll” and “yee-haw”. (Truly, though, if you can get a hey y’all and a yee-haw from her on camera this week, I’ll find a prize for you myself in the EN swag closet.) Now excuse me – I’ve got another hoe-down to organise. And, of course, a poll. It’s time to cast your vote, cow folks and pokes.

Good luck this week, you spicy little fashionistas, and git ‘er done. And for the rest of you?

LRK3DE: [Website] [5* Dressage Times] [4* Dressage Times] [Schedule] [Live Stream] [Tickets] [EN’s Form Guide] [EN’s Coverage]

[Click here to catch up on all of EN’s coverage of the 2023 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event]

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